I don’t know about the rest of you, but I cannot believe that it’s December! Wasn’t it just July? While December marks the final weeks of the year, it also means that our first full month under Medium’s new earning system has come to an end.
I will admit that at the start of November I was worried. I feared the new system would result in a large drop in revenue. I know that for some writers this has been the case, particularly for poetry and fiction writers, and others have seen their profits jump by a good amount or remained relatively stable. My overall profits for November were higher than October — in fact, this was my best month on Medium to date.
Rather than being a massive boost in readership, I believe my higher revenue can be attributed to the fact that one of my stories was picked up by Heated, an official Medium publication. Otherwise, my earnings would have been completely on par with October’s.
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I believe that a full month under the new MPP gives us a much clearer picture of the pros and cons of the new system. I’ve made a list of five of the most important things I’ve learned from my experiences during November.
Curation makes a big difference
Before the new system came into effect, there was a large debate taking place about the effectiveness of curation on Medium. During the summer, many writers began to notice that even curated pieces were suffering from a noticeable decline in viewership — I experienced this too.
It had been the rule that having a story curated was one of the most surefire ways of getting a wider audience for your piece. Under the new system, this appears to be the case once again.
My stories that were curated in November, made more money. These stories typically earned double (if not triple) the amount of revenue and garnered far more views and reads. I’ve also noticed that Medium seems to be promoting curated pieces on the homepage more regularly.
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For me, the debate is settled. Curation still matters no ands, ifs, or buts about it. With Medium’s policy change that no longer allows writers to delete and re-re-post old stories, we now only have one shot at curation. While I still think the final decision about curation is based more on a curator’s personal preferences than an automated standard, you must take a moment and read Medium’s Curation Guidelines.
Cast a wider net
There are many different viewpoints on how a writer can maximize profits on Medium. Some say that a writer should pick one niche and stick to it, others suggest writing on a variety of topics. I admit to subscribing to the latter.
Having a niche is a good thing, it helps to build an audience, but I think that is more important when you’re running a personal blog or are applying for freelance work. I feel that Medium, with its diverse readership, allows you to be freer and write across a wide range of topics.
Now that earnings are based on the amount of time people spend reading your stories, I think expanding your horizons is a prudent move. The more topics you write about, the greater the potential to reach a larger audience.
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In November, I expanded my range of topics. I posted poetry, cooking stories, and social interest topics. I noticed an increase of anywhere from 50 to 100 more views compared to October. While I see how my larger repertoire performs in December, I do believe that writing about more issues did contribute to my higher income.
Everything old is new again
I’ve written about this a couple of time back in November, but one of the first things I noticed under the new MPP was that my back catalogue of old stories were earning more money collectively than my new ones.
Now, this didn’t hold true by the time the month came to an end. My new stories earned the most money all together, but this is to do with my Plum Pudding story being published in The Heat. That story generated a big chunk of income during the second half of November. When I take that piece out of the equation (because it’s an exception, not the rule), my stories published between November 1 and November 30 earned 49% of my income, while my old stories posted before November earned 51% of my income.
Don’t Be So Quick To Delete Old Stories
Under the new MPP, your old stories might be working hard for you.
This confirms my belief that our old stories are back in play. While it’s important to promote new work heavily, you might want to consider giving your oldies but goodies some love. Many of the writer’s groups on Facebook have throwback threads that allow you to promote older material. Also, if you don’t publish every day, why not promote older pieces on the days you have no new material to promote.
It’s all in the timing
According to Medium’s updated MPP guide, your daily earnings reflects the amount of reading time you had from 12:00 am UTC to 11:59:59 pm UTC.
UTC is aligned with Greenwich mean time, so, this requires you to do a little math depending on what time zone you live in. If you’re in EST your earning day runs from 7:00 pm to 6:59 pm. If you’re in PST it’s 4:00 pm until 3:59 pm. This explains the occasional discrepancies where some writers don’t see earnings on a story they’ve recently posted until the following day.
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While you’ll earn income regardless of the time of day, if you want to see your latest work reflected in your earnings the day you post, you have to publish the story before your time zone’s cutoff. This might be important to some people who want more ‘instant gratification’ after a low performing day.
Short attention spans
It really shouldn’t come as much of surprise in our era of constant distractions, but people don’t stick around to read. The average read time on my stories is about 1 minute and 30 seconds. Having spoken to several other writers, this seems to be about average. Even stories I felt were very engaging had limited reading time.
This has a negative effect on short pieces of writing like poetry or flash fiction. It’s much harder to earn money on pieces that are deemed 1 or 2-minute reads. I do wonder if Medium’s estimated reading times are really an accurate reflection of how much time a typical reader takes to finish a story? I am a bit of a quick reader, but even a piece that is listed as a 4-minute read, I can usually finish in half that time.
If you write shorter pieces, publishing more frequently may help to compensate for lower income potential. This is an imperfect solution and does mean that poets and prose writers have to work harder to generate revenue.
There is an element of guesswork when it comes to figuring out how to keep your earning potential as high as possible. Indeed, it’s something of a joke that Medium doesn’t even fully know how it pays its writers. What works for one writer may not always work for another. But these are the observations made and lessons I have learned during November. I intend to keep studying these trends in December.
Daryl Bruce is a freelance writer, blogger, and writer of flash fiction. Writing across an expansive range of topics, he specializes in personal development, the craft of writing, LGBTQ+ issues, and politics. He is the owner of the Top 3 Publication on Medium. When he’s not writing, Daryl can be found in the kitchen or at the local movie theater. Daryl holds a BA with Specialized Honours in English from York University and is currently working on his first novel.
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