How to Make Your First $1,000 (And Beyond) On Medium
As much as I can see the opportunity available to aspiring writers with something as special as the Medium Partner Program, I can also see how easy it is to get discouraged.
See, sadly, 95 to 99 percent of the people reading this blog post will never make $1,000 or more on Medium.
Most of you will quit before you even make $100.
Hell, most of you will quit before you even get two dozen posts under your belt.
That being said, it definitely doesn’t have to be this way. Not only can you make $1,000 or more on Medium, but you can also work your way to making a full time living on Medium.
I have seen enough examples to show that you can still succeed even if Medium is more competitive than it used to be in the past. Take Kirstie Taylor for example who started posting on Medium one year ago and worked her way up to $4,000 a month.
My new friend Sean Kernan who I’m getting to know better has a growing profile of 4.8k followers even though he’s only been on Medium for a few months.
Megan Holstein made a cool $10,000 on Medium in 2019. Funny enough, a reader commented on how she “only” made $10,000 from 150 stories — roughly $66 per post. This reader is dumb and Megan will be laughing to the bank when her views hit an exponential growth curve and she 5 or 10x’s her income this year.
These writers all have a few things in common. Things I’m about to tell you. If you follow them, you’ll make your first $1,000 or more on the platform and set yourself up to make a killing in the future.
If not, you’ll be apart of the 99% of writers who quit Medium with pennies in their pockets.
Ready to win?
Here’s one element that comes into play not only on Medium but in life, period. Luck.
I’m sure all the writers above would tell you they’ve had stories just explode for no reason. Viral hits can pave the way to exponential follower growth. And, just as in life, the rich get richer on Medium.
In my case, I had roughly 10,000 followers when the Medium Partner Program started. I made a few hundred bucks my first month. I had my first $1,000 by month by month four. And I was able to quit my job 18 months into joining MPP.
Some would say I was at the right place at the right time.
Some would say the writers I listed above just popped.
I’d say, we all put ourselves in a position to be lucky.
I honed my writing skills for 18 months before joining Medium. Then, I joined Medium and focused on using it to become a better writer and grow my email list at the same time. By the time MPP hit, I was in a position to take advantage of it.
You see the number of posts Megan wrote, 150 posts, roughly three per week without fail. Go look at Sean and Kirstie’s profile and you’ll see daily or near-daily posts.
In my Medium course, I talk about the fact that article views on Medium have an asymmetrical distribution, meaning that a handful of your articles will have more views than the rest of your articles combined.
Also, the 80/20 rule applies to your timeline as a writer. The first 20 percent of your publishing career will account for 80 percent of your success simply because most people never stick with writing prolifically long enough to set themselves up for major growth.
Your first 20 percent of your path will garner little to no views, but because you wrote those posts, got better, iterated, and picked up a little traction along the way, you’ll be in a position to make $1,000, $10,000 and beyond.
Another thing all successful Medium writers have in common? We all use the same general technique to earn more money, get fans, and become better writers.
You need to know how to iterate. All practice isn’t equal. You not only have to practice, but also analyze why your work is or isn’t doing well.
Most aspiring writers just practice blindly. They don’t actively try to improve. They think writing alone is enough when that’s just the prerequisite.
If I could credit my success as a writer to anything, it’d be the fact that I started reverse engineering other writers very quickly. Even the first article I published on a major website had seeds of this.
I titled it — Escaping The Cubicle: How We’re Moving From The Industrial Age To The Information Age.
Not the best title in the world, but I intuitively understood that it would make no sense to write some weird and cryptic headlines. This was obvious to me as I’ve, you now, read articles before in my life.
In that post, I knew that writing an article or essay was about covering a concept or giving a lesson, not rambling on and on about myself.
If I went to the early posts of the writers I mentioned above, I’m almost sure I’d see headline styles and article formats that, while raw and unpolished, still fit the basic structure of an article.
I’m honestly not sure what sort of disease certain writers are suffering from, but if you feel like your articles are coming up short, it’s probably because you’re being weird about the way you write and title them.
Start to look at what’s working and reverse engineer it.
Some simple things you can do:
- Use simple blogging techniques to become more persuasive (article on that here)
- Get into good publications as soon as possible. Here are some of my favorites — Mind Cafe, Publishous, P.S. I Love You, The Ascent, Better Marketing, Live Your Life on Purpose, and the Post Grad Survival Guide. Here’s the thing, though, if your writing sucks, they won’t let you in. If you get rejected, practice and come back again later with some dope shit and they’ll accept it. If you want to make your bones on tiny publications first, do that, but don’t stick them with forever. That’s a huge mistake I see newbies make.
- Maintain a volume of 3–5 articles per week while iterating and using traditional blogging techniques like How-To articles and listicles instead of titles like “Why I love eating bugs.” Don’t want to write that much? Then give up. It’s a volume game on this platform. No way around it, especially if you’re new.
Have the attitude of what it takes to win at the writing game.
This reminds me of my buddy Tom Kuegler who probably worked harder than anyone I know to get where he is today.
Correct me if I’m wrong brother, but I’m pretty sure Tom started off on Medium by making the commitment to publish at least one article 30 days straight.
Also, he’d read 5–10 articles per day, minimum, and leave thoughtful comments underneath each post.
He’d carefully follow people, not in a follow for follow scheme, but to get to know and appreciate writers he looked up to or wanted to become peers with.
I recall once when Anthony Moore reached out to me. He left a thoughtful comment on one of my blog posts — that caught my attention. He did it a few more times. I noticed his name popping up on the feed more often. Later he reached out to me via email in a non-overbearing or, as the kids say, “thirsty” way. We’ve been blogging buddies ever since.
I’m in a secret group with many of the top writers on Medium. We all have the same thing in common.
We saw this thing called Medium.com, realized the potential pretty early on, and made a commitment to not only writing on the platform but studying it in-depth.
How much time do you actively spend studying other articles on Medium?
How much time do you spend trying to network with more popular writers in a genuine way? (Hint: Medium bloggers are only stars on Medium. So you will make them feel good reaching out to them and thanking them for their work. We’re not super inaccessible. Most of us want to help you, but only if you want to help yourself)
Keyword — genuine.
Here’s the number one word I’d probably use to describe aspiring writers who never get by — needy. They don’t really want to be successful. They are suckers of energy.
I’m more than willing to help people who have questions, but I almost never answer questions from aspiring writers. Why? Because I can smell the neediness. They want me to give them the answers to all things writing in one email, which is impossible. They know this is impossible.
It’s the equivalent to catcalling a woman on the street. You know it’s not going to work, but it’s your little coping mechanism to deal with the fact that you just don’t have the confidence to be a normal human being and talk to another human being, so you catcall to get your little perverse payoff in your mind.
It’s a weird analogy, but I think it fits most aspiring writers. Don’t catcall me by trying to “pick my brain.” I don’t have time to be your writing coach, and life coach, and therapist all at once.
Do the fucking work.
If you just used the techniques to become a writer and networked on Medium in a genuine way without being needy, you’d hit $1,000 sooner or later.
But…nope. Most of you will whine about not getting curated in Facebook groups with other aspiring writers who do little to no writing and networking but complain. You’re like a group of construction workers at lunch, seriously.
There is more competition, yes.
Few writers make any real money on Medium, this is a fact.
But the ones who write 150 posts in a year seem to do just fine.
The ones who will read 5–10 posts a day, comment, and send thoughtful emails seem to do just fine.
Almost 100% who start, commit to writing 3 posts per week minimum and learn the in and outs of Medium while iterating along the way, make $1,000 or more.
Be one of these people. It’s not all that hard.
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