How to Become a Top 1% Writer (Without Freakish Talent)
I have a simple process you can use to become one of the best bloggers in the entire world.
Will you do it? Very unlikely.
Will my advice ring hollow if you don’t do the work? Yes, Kevin Bacon hollow.
Is it going to be harder for you to pull it off than it was for me? Hell yes.
Should you care? Hell no.
I say this to people all the time…blogging is a god awful way to make money. Don’t become a blogger because you think it’s cool. You will surely burn out.
Don’t jump on Medium because you think it’s cool either. You will quit.
Medium is like the s&p 500 — even if you didn’t buy during the crazy bull market, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dollar cost average to get those 7 percent annual returns when that market cools off, or even buy and hold throughout recessions.
Has Medium jumped the shark? Doesn’t matter. You’ll understand why by the end of this article.
The number of writers with the experience and following to join Medium and pull 100k+ views within weeks is in the single digits. Sean Kernan can do that. He’s been writing for four years. He has 250k followers on Quora. He’s established, works hard, and can adapt quickly. Just look at his profile. The man knows what he’s doing. He’s a pro. If you’re learning the game itself and figuring out the platform at the same time, you can’t expect to hit it out of the park after four weeks.
I take that same sentence and consider Sean Kernan a case study on why you should still be bullish on Medium. If you have the skills, the audience will come. Just…get the skills. You can still be successful on Medium and beyond, a few years from now. And if Medium is gone a few years from now, just take your ball and play on another court.
I always give people the same advice — write for three to five years and be successful.
Who cares if you won’t become a superstar blogger right away? Nobody becomes a superstar blogger right away. Who cares if you don’t make a bunch of money on Medium? You’re here to practice.
I started blogging in 2015 at the tail end of the old school blogging paradigm that had the following benefits:
- You could pick up hundreds of subscribers at a time with a single guest post
- SEO was 1/10th as competitive as it is now
- Articles went viral on Facebook regularly
- You could make a killing on kindle because self-publishing was still underground
- Online courses were still new and fresh so you could make a killing selling them
As all of those benefits started to disappear, I kept writing.
They keep saying blogging is dead. And they’ll keep saying it. While others analyze, you do the work and find out for yourself. The written word will never die. As long as there are humans there will be writing.
What kept me going when blogging was pronounced dead? About a year or two in, I realized I was going to be a writer for the rest of my life. I understood that platforms come and go.
At one point, the Huffington post published my articles before it became the sad content-mill that it is today. It disappeared over night and my main source of traffic was gone.
Did I cry about it? Nope. Kept writing. Kept my eye out for new opportunities.
Stumbled on this website called Medium. And now I’m here.
If I were you, I’d still go all-in on Medium. Here’s why.
The Simple Truth You Must Understand About Medium
You don’t have any better options right now. Trust me.
You think getting traction on Medium is hard?
Go try making your bones with a WordPress site, doing SEO, creating courses, doing affiliate marketing, guest posting, etc.
You think your Medium check for $27 is bad?
I guarantee you if you try other strategies, you will make zero dollars. And you’ll quit. And you’ll regret it for the rest of your life.
If you want to become a successful writer, use the platforms available to you now. Then, when a new one pops up, you’ll have a catalog you can use to become an early adopter on another platform.
Do I think the company is stable? Yes. Do I know how long it’ll be around? No.
But since I have spent so much time building a catalog and becoming a better writer, if Medium were to disappear today, it would crush my soul, but I’d survive and build another equivalent income stream.
Don’t focus on making money on Medium.
Focus on using it to build profitable skills and siphoning off as much of an audience as you can.
If that means you write on here for three years making little to no money, but make money in year four and five plus have an audience you can take with you anywhere you go….then so be it.
How is that a bad deal at all?
Guess how much money I made my first few years writing? Basically zero. Negligible.
But unlike most aspiring writers, I wasn’t entitled or felt like anybody owed me anything. And here’s the real key to my success — I like writing. Always have. Even when I sucked.
Do you actually like to write?
Do it long enough, and you’ll easily become one of the top 1% of bloggers in the entire world.
The True Math Behind Becoming a Successful Writer
In the general Medium writer population, typically only 7%-8% of all active writers earn more than $100 in any given month.
He also goes onto say:
53% of Medium writers following Blogging Guide earned over $100 per month, compared to the Medium platform average of 7–8%.
Hm…what do you know? A group who actively focus on techniques had a 5–6x result as the average population.
Let’s look at interpreting these numbers a little further:
- How many writers write even a dozen articles in a month? I’m guessing not that many.
- How many writers practice iteratively, meaning they don’t keep writing articles titled “What I learned about my vagina in Virginia”? I see the timeline. Few.
- What percentage of Medium writers not only publish consistently but do so for six to 12 months? Almost zero.
The idea that only 7 to 8% of writers make more than $100 means nothing to me because 90% of writers aren’t that good, don’t write a lot, and don’t make it that long.
Maybe I will put together a study of Medium writers who started writing in the beginning of 2019 and stay consistent throughout the entire year.
Medium was already saturated at 2019, but I personally know a few writers who cracked the four-digit code in that timespan.
Are they anomalies? Yes.
But your goal in life is to be an anomaly, no matter how long it takes you. Give it enough time. And it will.
How to Become a Top One Percent Writer
The way you become a top one percent writer is the same way you become a top one percent wealth earner — have a father named Sam Walton.
No, really, though, when it comes to becoming a popular blogger it’s just as hard as running a successful business.
Just like most businesses fail, most bloggers and writers fail.
You have to think differently.
I started to take writing seriously a few years in. At that point, I knew words like “most” “average” “many” didn’t apply to me.
I finished the top blogging courses and became a top blogger. I took self-publishing school and wrote three books even though my first one totally flopped.
If you keep writing. Again, iteratively. Good things will happen.
I remember when I used to blog at Thought Catalog. Brianna Wiest was a columnist on the site and already a superstar back then (she’s a god damned supernova now). I’m sure she had absolutely no clue who I was. Last year, she quoted me in an article she wrote.
The work takes you full-circle. I find it hard to believe you wouldn’t have amazing results if yo practiced your writing iteratively for a half-decade.
People I looked up to, and still do, respect me now because I did the work. There are no tricks to this.
Funny, as I checked Brianna’s TC profile out of curiosity, I see she’s still publishing there. Wanna take a guess when she first started publishing on the website?
Look at this screenshot from her profile page:
Each page has 10 articles. Want to become a top writer? Write 800+ articles like Brianna.
Look at my Thought Catalog page:
Those are the articles I wrote before I knew Medium existed. Articles I wrote for free, for love, for the never-ending game of self-improvement that real writers don’t shy away from.
“I didn’t get curated on my 9th ever article I’ve written in my entire life.”
You say you want the keys to writing success? I just gave them all to you. What you do with them is on you.
Want 3 Free Writing Guides? Get them here. Did I mention they’re free?