This post is for you, if you’re just starting out.
If you refresh your MPP page every night and see a dollar or two. Or a quarter or two. If you look at other people making much more and it frustrates the hell out of you.
If the whole thing — this writing gig — is starting to feel like a giant waste of your time, this post is for you.
First, I want you to know a few things.
You actually already know them. So I’m just going to remind you.
- Writing is a long game. This is a profession, not a lottery.
- If you’ve been trying to be a professional writer for less time than it takes to get a bachelor’s degree, then you’re not behind at all.
- Writing takes horizontal and vertical growth. You can’t just keep doing the same thing over and over. You have to get better, too. Quantity and quality, guys.
- Your readers aren’t doing you a favor by showing up to check out your work. You are in a service industry. Remember that.
- Octavia Butler believed that habit mattered more than talent or inspiration.
- Ray Bradbury believed that writing and reading every day was magic.
Got all that? Good. Remember it all. Remind yourself of it when you’re frustrated or feel like giving up.
Second, it’s time to make a plan.
Now that we’ve cleared up what you already know, let’s talk about where to go from where you are right now.
Humans are funny creatures. We have a tendency toward limiting beliefs. It’s very easy to believe that where we are now is our upper limit. When we do look ahead, we look way ahead. Not the next step, but the very tippy top of the mountain.
We compare upward — only seeing the people who are doing so much better than we are, who we compare poorly to. We are fantastic at comparing our beginnings to other people’s middles or ends.
As a result, you might check your MPP every day and see that you’re making $.50 or $5.00 or $50.00 or whatever amount you’re making every day right now that doesn’t feel like enough. And you keep making that much, every day. Day after day.
Because instead of thinking about making a little more — just getting to the very next step — you’re focused on making as much as someone else.
Let’s think about adding 10 percent to your daily earnings.
If you can do that every week, you’ll double it every ten weeks.
So, if you’re making $1.00 a day on average right now, focus on getting to $1.10 on average next week. And $1.20 the week after that. And in ten weeks — $2.00.
Then do it again. Focus on $2.20 the next week and so on until, in ten weeks, you’re making $4.00.
If you double your income five times in a year, starting with $1.00 a day, you’ll be making just about $1000 a month at the end of a year. That’s if you don’t make any bigger jumps in pay.
Once you get to that level, it might be harder to increase your pay by 10 percent every week — but you could definitely do one percent. You can improve by one percent a week, pretty much forever.
Here are some ideas for getting that increase.
- Work to make sure that you have one more curated post every week.
- Build your email list. Aim for at least 1 percent growth every day. Use your list — once a week, send your readers links to your top posts.
- Consider starting a Substack and using it as an RSS feed. Add an excerpt to each of your posts with a link for readers to finish reading it. Invite your readers to subscribe if they’d like to be notified of your new posts.
- Start a publication. You can use Medium’s letter feature to let publication followers know that you’ve posted something new.
- Write one more post every week. Pay attention to which of your posts get the most attention and make your extra post another one on that topic.
- Republish your older posts, once you have a larger following. It’s a good way to get a little more traffic, without too much more work in your week.
- If you have content you’ve written somewhere else, that you own, consider moving that over to Medium a little at a time. Another good way to pretty painlessly add more traffic every week.
- Pay attention to the questions people ask you. Watch your comments. Just listen in general. Answer those questions with blog posts.
- Search your topics at Ubersuggest and Answer the Public — you’ll find a ton of amazing possibilities for posts that you already know people want to read.
Shaunta Grimes is a writer and teacher. She is an out-of-place Nevadan living in Northwestern PA with her husband, three superstar kids, two dementia patients, a good friend, Alfred the cat, and a yellow rescue dog named Maybelline Scout. She’s on Twitter and Instagram and is the author of Viral Nation and Rebel Nation, and The Astonishing Maybe. She is the original Ninja Writer.