How I Increased My Earnings from under $100 to over $1,000 in Three Months
As far as I can remember, I’ve always yearned to be a prolific writer, with the sort of writing that can be transformed into a side hustle with a tangible extra income. With that mindset, I first began writing on Medium a little over a year ago and while the first year was largely without yield, the past couple of months have been rather rewarding. Now that was not the result of coincidence or sheer luck, but instead the culmination of a careful observation and learning process. And in case you are wondering, no I do not have an abundance of free time on my hands, I do indeed have a demanding full-time job as perhaps most other writers do. And nor have I published hundreds of articles and I most certainly do not have a large follower base. In fact, as of this moment, I have 306 followers on Medium.
I joined the Medium Partner Program earlier in January of this year, and for the first three months, I had a return of $82.47, $70.61, and $84.18 respectively. But then something spectacular happened in April, and I registered an earning of $1,109.22 to my name. And that does not include the income I received from affiliate marketing which was another $110.97.
The intriguing part is that I never anticipated nor even hoped for such returns, and honestly speaking my desires would have been quenched with far less. Having cracked the formula for this relative success, I have developed the confidence to scale up my revenue and am blissfully witnessing the results on an almost daily basis. Now I’ve set my crosshairs on achieving a 5-digit monthly income, although I do believe that is some time away.
As you can tell, my sudden exponential increase in earnings was not the result of natural growth, but more so the effect of a change in strategy. I’ve noticed that to break the thousand dollar a month glass ceiling, you generally need to do four things. Namely, get a stellar article featured, use that as a springboard to join a reputable Medium publication, deliver quality content on a regular basis and be on the scout for great writing opportunities. And I’m going to show you exactly how to do each of these four.
1. Get Featured
This is arguably the single most difficult step in breaking that glass ceiling I talked about earlier. In itself getting featured won’t deliver any tangible results, it is more of a stepping stone. See, to gain traction and publicity on Medium you will need to join a reputable publication. Writing a featured article will render your radar signature large enough to catch the attention of these heavyweights, and if you make it this far, chances are the publication itself will approach you and request you publish with them.
Perhaps there are other ways of expanding your literary footprint, but in my own anecdotal case, I had to get featured before Towards Data Science agreed to publish any of my work. Prior to that, I compiled a multitude of novel and stellar articles one after the other only to get rejected, failing to garner much attention or traffic. But once I published UIUC Online Master of Computer Science: A personal post-mortem, I finally hit the nail right on the head and made it through.
2. Join a Reputable Publication
This is perhaps the second most arduous task to get to the $1,000 mark and the logical successor to the previous step. Joining a publication is not easy and will take a near herculean effort, but once you get your foot in through the door, it will be much simpler to publish other articles with them.
Publications will effectively supercharge your articles, exposing them to greater and higher quality audiences that will convert into more minutes read and consequently greater revenue. The key here is to distinguish between highly acclaimed and mainstream publications. The former will realize your dreams in short order, while the latter will bearly make a dent. The goal for you is to join at least one of the eminent ones and stick to it religiously.
It goes without saying that you must obviously have a keen interest in whatever you are writing otherwise you can hit writer’s block fairly quickly. And most importantly avoid complacency at all costs, joining a publication does not mean that anything you write will be accepted, in fact, I personally have had more rejections post-admission than prior to it. Also, try to synchronize your writing to your professional life. It will be an order of magnitude easier to write about something you’ve already attended to at work than having to compile something from scratch — assuming your work is related to your writing.
3. Deliver Regular Quality Content
The keyword here is regular, not abundant. I cringe every time I hear someone claim that you absolutely need to be writing non-stop. I’m not saying that continuous posts won’t help, but it is not necessary. My delivery pipeline itself is a testament to that, I typically write four articles a month, hardly more. What is critical though is to write regularly and with quality. You need to make content delivery a routine, otherwise, you risk losing engagement with your followers and perhaps even the attention of some publications.
Also, it is a good idea to research the best times to publish. There is indeed a best day of the week and a best time of the day in terms of acquiring the greatest number of viewers and reader engagement. And try to only submit unpublished drafts to ensure your article will be the latest one seen by readers.
As far as content goes, quality is the word. Provide a rich combination of text, multimedia, and supporting widgets wherever necessary. In my own case, given that I write about data science, I always provide snippets of code and links to my GitHub repositories to provide readers with a seamless experience. Also, in my relatively infant writing experience, I have been able to draw the following conclusions:
- Titles are King and sub-titles are Queen, if you want to route greater traffic to your articles then you must get this part right
- Content is God King, if you want to keep your traffic engaged, ensure that you are delivering rigorous and relevant content
- Tutorials fare better than op-eds
- Shorter less wordy articles acquire more traffic and higher read ratios than longer articles
- Niche articles generate longer reading times and greater revenue than generic articles
4. Be on the Scout for Writing Opportunities
Blogging is a market in itself. There is a supply and demand for every topic and the price of an article so to speak, is determined by market forces. In the same way that you wouldn't invest in an unpromising stock, you should also avoid writing about subjects that are irrelevant or over-saturated. Instead, you should be on the look for content that is in surplus demand and attend to it before someone else does.
One way of discovering opportunities is to peruse a variety of topics on publications to decipher which ones are getting the most claps, chances are that those topics are the most sought after ones. A more empirical way of determining what readers are demanding is to check the statistics of keywords and phrases using Google Trends. A quick search there can provide invaluable insights that can save a lot of agony later on.
In my own experience, I noticed that there were several topics that were in higher demand in the field of data science such as automating Excel spreadsheets and Word documents. I quickly realigned my efforts to address them and was astounded to witness traffic that was several orders of magnitude higher than other subjects I had written on. This step is probably the most impactful one out of the four.
In the final analysis, it is fair to claim that making it above the $1,000 monthly mark was not easy and it should not be either. But it is definitely attainable for many of us out here. One must pay close and careful attention to the outcomes of others to learn what it solicits to make it this far and even higher. In my experience, I needed to get featured before I made it into any publication, and I needed to publish under the auspices of a reputable publication to gain enough traffic. But that wasn’t enough, I also had to deliver regular quality content and keep an eye out for writing opportunities whenever one presented itself. In short, stay vigilant and persevere, and you’ll be in for a pleasant surprise.
P.S. feel free to explore more of my articles here.