How to make more than $10,000 a month by writing on Medium from the beach (or anywhere else in the world).
If your goal is to start making money writing, Medium is perhaps the best place to start. Three of my biggest passions are startups, cooking, and politics — as a result I began writing about each here on Medium. I’ve been a Medium member since February 2018, have over 14,000 followers, and have written more than 1,500 stories. I try to write articles for my Medium publications, Startup Muse, Sous Vide Science, and Political Muse each and every day. In this post I’ll share my methods for generating more than $10,000 a month writing on Medium.
To start, in my experience, I don’t think you’ve got to be a great writer to make money writing on Medium — my only evidence of this is the fact that I’m poor to middling writer. I don’t have an editor so I basically write and publish simultaneously. Typically, after I get a clap or a comment on a story, I’ll reread it for errors and edit. If one of my stories is distributed or starts trending I’ll go back and spend an hour or two improving the grammar, organization, and content. The good news is that you can continue to edit stories on Medium for years — don’t be shy.
Your first step is to sign-up for Medium’s Partner Program. Medium describes their program as follows, “In the Partner Program, writers are paid based on how deeply readers engage with their work, not based on clicks or attention. Every month, we distribute each member’s subscription fee in proportion to the authors and stories she read and engaged with that month.”
My first publication on Medium was Startup Muse where I share experiences from my 20+ year career in the startup world. I began writing posts that could eventually become chapters in a startup book I planned to write. Startup posts tend to do rather well on Medium. My good posts will earn more than $100 over time and once you’ve got enough they’ll generate a nice monthly income in aggregate. I harvested viewership data from Medium to determine which articles would make good chapters for my book and eventually included them in my self-published book on Amazon — using the same title that I used on Medium. You can expect the income from Medium, book sales, and affiliate revenue to eventually exceed more than $10,000 a month if you’re writing in one of Medium’s top categories.
Once I had published Startup Muse on Amazon I began including links to the book in my posts on Medium (even in my past posts). Instead of simply providing direct links I used Amazon’s Associates Program links so that I would generate affiliate revenue as well book sales. The truth is that the vast majority of affiliate revenue is NOT for my book, but surprisingly for feminine hygiene products and diapers. Once a reader clinks on one of my affiliate links I get an affiliate fee for everything they buy for the next 30 days or until they click a link from another affiliate. I earn a lot more from book sales and affiliate revenue than I earn from Medium.
PRO TIP: You’ll notice that revenue from stories tends to decline over time. Go to your stats dashboard and sort based on popularity. Take your oldest and most popular story and rewrite it. Change the title, change the pictures, update the content, and spend twice as much time on it as you did the first time around — and publish. Do this after a year or so and you’ll make even more money than you did the first time on the story.
Learning from my experience with Startup Muse I decided my next book would be a cookbook focused on the sous vide method. Shortly after becoming a bachelor, following a twenty-year marriage, I realized that I needed to learn to cook for the sake of my children. After watching Bradley Cooper and Sienna Miller star with a sous vide circulator in the movie Burnt I bought my first circulator and began my culinary journey. I began posting my sous vide recipes on Medium and unfortunately I didn’t have the same sort of financial success I had in the cooking/food categories than I did in the startup/entrepreneurship categories. I was getting views but almost no money — for some reason the food/cooking categories on Medium aren’t as popular as others.
Despite my failure to monetize my sous vide recipes on Medium I decided to move forward on my sous vide cookbook — Sous Vide Science. Surprisingly my cookbook is doing far better than my startup book on Amazon — the opposite experience I had on Medium. It turns out that overall book sales are down, but cookbooks sales are going through the roof. I’ve updated all of my sous vide posts on Medium with links to my book through Amazon’s affiliate program and I’m getting quite a bit of traffic despite a dearth of income from Medium on the posts as a result of a lack of claps.
After my vocation (startups) and my passion (cooking) one of my favorite topics is politics. I began sharing my political opinions, never terribly popular, on Medium in a publication called Political Muse. Topics for political posts are never hard to come by, especially in the era of Trump.
While not as lucrative as startup or entrepreneurial articles, political posts are far easier/faster to write. Good startup articles can take hours to draft to generate while a good political article can take just a few minutes to write. In general I expect to make around $5–$20 per year on each — not a bad return on effort compared to my startup posts.
I’m currently in the process of culling my Political Muse articles for chapters in my upcoming book Unpopular Politics (working title). I suspect I’ll have everything pulled together by early 2020. Unless I can come up with a better plan than I currently have I suspect that this will ultimately be my worst performing book — of course I’ve already done so much work it would be shame not to get it done and publish it — done is often better than perfect.
PRO TIP: Medium doesn’t allow you to make your responses to other authors eligible for the Partner Program — so you can’t get paid if you respond inline. For example, I replied to a post by one of GEN’s writers and it generated a LOT of claps — more than 400 none of which were worth a dime to me. If you’re going to spend significant effort responding to an article go ahead and create a new article and link to your response in your reply to the original article. This way you’ll get paid for your writing.
While it is possible earn a lot of money from Medium alone — just last month one author made $5,957.56 on a single article and a total of $30,638.81 for the month — it is smart not to put your all of your eggs in one basket. First, volume is your friend. If you’ve got 1,000+ legacy articles on Medium earning just a $1 each per month you’re making $1,000 before you do any work. Then assuming you’re writing 10 quality articles on a popular subject earning $30 in their first month and another 30 quick articles on less popular subjects earning $3 in their first month — you’ll have earned almost $1,400 from Medium. Now combined those earnings with ebook, print, and affiliate revenue and it isn’t a stretch to multiply your Medium earnings by 6–8X.
PRO TIP: Spread the love. Follow the best authors in your category, read their work, and reward them by clapping if you love what they are doing.
- write prolifically on two or three topics — one or two posts per topic per day
- write with the purpose creating a book on each topic within a year of starting
- use affiliate links to promote your books on Medium
If you’d like me to help you start earning more just DM me and I’d be happy to help you make more from your writing on Medium. Best of luck!
About The Author
Alexander Muse is a serial entrepreneur, author of the StartupMuse and Sous Vide Science, contributor to Forbes and managing partner of Sumo. Check out his podcast on iTunes. You can connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.