How I Made $5,161.57 in One Month on Medium (New Advice)

I didn’t think I could write — but here I am

Isaiah McCall
Feb 15 · 6 min read
Image captured by the author

I didn’t think I could write. Not seriously at least, and never for money.

Not even when I got my first job out of college reporting for a USA Today affiliate. There I was, stuck inside a newsroom with dozens of other talented writers and suffering an intense feeling of imposter syndrome.

It was like a piercing scream going off in my head from 9–5. I quit the job three months later. I wasn’t a writer. I was an aspiring writer who was in over his head.

I was very depressed and joined the Army only for the global COVID outbreak to prevent me from leaving for boot camp. So I left the Army too. I had nothing left except writing.

So, I joined Medium in May 2020. It was something to do.

Something, however, changed this time around when I wrote. And it has now given me back-to-back $5000 months of writing on here. Today I’m going to share it with you.

First and Foremost

I don’t want to overlap my last earnings report, but here’s some great advice for writing on Medium that you need to know before we go forward.

  • Perfect Formatting: Don’t offend your reader's attention span with excessive sloppy formatting. I made that mistake with this awful looking article. Believe in your words and format your story as a minimalist would.
  • Deliver on Your Headline: You need attention-grabbing headlines. This is obvious. But if you do not deliver on the promise you made in your headline, you betray readers. I have no problem, however, with clickbait if the article is packed with useful content. Just try not to make promises you can’t keep. (Also use a high-quality headline analyzer tool)
  • Edit Your Photos: I just discovered a big secret from the top writers on Medium. They edit many of their cover photos. They use eye-popping filters, dramatic zooms, and several editing techniques to create the perfect image. In other words, invest in Canva Pro and do not undervalue the importance of an image.
  • Don’t Publish in Big Publications: You should always publish in publications when starting out. But, big publications don’t matter. I’ve been published in The Startup, The Writing Cooperative, and Better Marketing. Most, if not all those stories did very bad for me. Instead, I publish in my own publication Yard Couch and a few others small ones that I love like Scott Mayer’s In Fitness and in Health.
  • Don’t Waste Your Reader’s Time: I’ve never paid for those $1000 writing courses that some successful Medium writers offer. However, I’d assume they tell you this: Readers click on your story to have their lives enriched, so please don’t waste their time. In other words, edit to the bone. Eliminate unnecessary words & paragraphs.

Now, with the basics out of the way here are some new tips for making it big on Medium.

4. Realize the Power in a Subheading

Thomas Oppong once said that writing a subheading is like creating a second headline. This means it’s one of the most important parts of your article. Do not undervalue it.

Always remember that most readers on Medium skim. I do it. You do it too. It takes a lot of trust for a reader to engage in an entire article. It’s the job of a subheading to stop them in their tracks and reengage them in the story.

Readers skim down to a subheading, if it sounds interesting they engage. And if it doesn’t, they skim down to the next one. [We’re all guilty]

Reverse the psychology of your own reading habits and you’ll find yourself attracting more followers.

3. Embrace Your Writing Super Power

Spoiler alert: Imposter syndrome does not go away.

It doesn’t matter how many followers you get.
How many big paychecks you receive. [Or]
How many people compliment your work.

In fact, that last one makes me feel more like an imposter.

You just have to keep imposter syndrome at bay. The only way to do that is to write every single day without fail.

The most magical part about writing is the act of doing it. The fact that you stopped scrolling on your phone, that you could turn off the noise in your head and actually commit to this sacred activity is a testament to you.

As you write every day, you will go from an “aspiring writer” to a writer. You will say it proudly.

The more you write the more you’ll stand by your words and continue to develop your deepest thoughts. Sure, you may not be the next Dostoyevsky no matter how much you write, but you will find your own style and grow into it.

If you’re writing gets rusty — if you aren’t on top of it every single damn day — you will begin to feel like an imposter even more.

2. Write Like You’re Emailing a Friend

My worst performing articles are when I drag the point of the story. I had that fear when writing this article. I thought, “Alright, they heard enough of your USA Today/Army sob story, let’s give them what they came for.”

It’s all about finding the Yin and Yang of your article. Tangents and anecdotes are important, but shouldn’t be overused. Balance is key.

The reader can only stand being teased for so long before they get bored and click away.

Treat your writing like emailing a friend. Tim Ferriss was the first to introduce this concept to me. In an email you get to the point; you present all the necessary information and get out.

Nothing more, nothing less.

So, take that basic structure and use it as if you’re emailing a friend. Keep the information light and digestible. You wouldn’t send your friend ten bloated paragraphs about the most boring parts of your life.

Send them the meat and potatoes and cut out the extra fat.

1. Stop Writing So Much

“A writer is only as interesting as their life” — Tim Denning

I was listening to Shark Tank’s Kevin O'Leary recently, and he explained “Four things that poor people do, that the rich don’t.” He said that in order to be successful, you have to have another passion outside of your profession.

This is a big deal for me.

Your passions fuel your profession. If you’re fortunate, there will be some overlap. However, when it comes to writing, for example, I have many other things I’m passionate about.

  • I’m an ultramarathoner who’s run 30 miles at once
  • I love to read sci-fi dystopian novels (or watch sci-fi TV like Star Trek 🖖🏾)
  • I love to listen to experimental hip-hop trio Death Grips.

Heck, some writers I know don’t even have the best writing skills, but they’ve lived such interesting lives that it comes naturally for them.

The more experience under your belt the easier it will be to change the world with your prose. However, you aren’t getting away with not writing every day. But please incorporate a life worth living to fuel your work.

We all stand to benefit from it.

Thanks for reading this article. During this crazy growth period I’ve interacted with so many amazing people on Medium. I’ve had phone calls, email exchanges, I even got featured in an article by the legend himself Tim Denning!!

Writing on Medium is a wild ride, and I highly recommend you continue doing it. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this will one day be the YouTube of writing. And we’re still on the ground floor working out all the kinks.

One day you will see the fruits of your labor.

Yard Couch

Just Pals on a Couch in a Yard

Isaiah McCall

Written by

Blockchain Enthusiast, Former USA Today Journalist, and diehard Trekkie 🖖🏾| Catch me on my publication Yard Couch. mccallisaiah@gmail.com

Yard Couch

For those seeking long-term success. Open, honest, with nothing left hiding behind the curtains. Share your story with a few pals on a couch in a yard. #Bitcoin

Isaiah McCall

Written by

Blockchain Enthusiast, Former USA Today Journalist, and diehard Trekkie 🖖🏾| Catch me on my publication Yard Couch. mccallisaiah@gmail.com

Yard Couch

For those seeking long-term success. Open, honest, with nothing left hiding behind the curtains. Share your story with a few pals on a couch in a yard. #Bitcoin

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