The 16th of this month will mark exactly 8 months of writing on Medium for me. Of these past 8 months — and roughly 75 published stories total — I was averaging approximately $4.89 in monthly earnings for the first 4.
That’s less than enough to even cover the cost of my Medium membership.
Somehow, just enough to motivate me to keep going.
Currently, as I sit at my computer today, Valentine’s Day 2021, I am filled with gratitude for every article I ever stumbled across that encouraged me to keep going — to keep plowing ahead in the creation of digestible content for an audience. An audience that ceased to actually exist at that time.
More importantly, I’m delighted that amidst all the writing advice out there, both of the helpful and completely useless kinds, that I chose to focus on the ones that simplified the steps for obtaining success on this platform into two core suggestions: write well and write often.
Why am I so filled with gratitude and delight?
Well, because it worked for me, and I want it to work for you too.
Like all meaningful tales of triumph, my story as it pertains to my experience on Medium consists of a beginning, a climax, and a continuation —notice there is no conclusion, and this is because I’m no-where near ready for it to conclude (can I get a hell yeah!)
This was my thought process as I first signed up for an account on Medium: I love writing — I do it for myself regardless of whether or not I’m being asked to — and I’d like to build a portfolio of subject areas that exemplify my interests and creative skillset.
Cool. We were going open minded and with the desire to learn. Even my bio said, and continues to say, that ‘I’m just here to learn ;)’ — a wink included for good measure.
What came next was a decent amount of work. I worked to reorganize my old psychology essays into engaging and informative articles. I worked to learn my way around the ropes of Medium’s build-in editing software, and I read any and all articles that sparked my interest or came my way, one way or another.
Sometime during this period of self-educating, it occurred to me to start reading those articles on ‘How To Achieve Medium Success In Less Than 60 Days,’ or ‘How I Made $4,000 In My First Month Of Writing,’ etc., so I did.
Now, I’m not saying that all of the advice I came across was bad — what works for one person has absolutely no guarantee of working for another — however, the tips and tricks, for the most part, were over complex.
They suggested only self-publishing.
They suggested only pitching to publications.
They suggested doing between ample and implausible amounts of both.
They suggested you must write an article every single day.
They suggested you have to follow along with the weekly trends.
They suggested you have to stick to an average reading length of no-more than 7 minutes.
They suggested it all, and you know what’s the most impossible thing to do?
So, in a fashion I have become highly accustomed to in my 21 odd years of life, I decided to only take the advice that suited me, the advice that I liked to read, and the advice that I could handle the doing of.
That is, to write well and to write often.
At 4 and a half months into my writing experience on Medium, averaging $4.89 in earnings, I had made it into a handful of wonderful publications such as Curious, The Startup, BeingWell, and Fellowship Writers, yet somehow continued to evade any real ‘success’ — I put ‘success’ in quotations, because that shit is 100% yours to define exactly how you like.
My thought process at this time was something along the lines of: I enjoy the experience of making progress on Medium and getting to watch my portfolio develop and improve is a reward in and of itself. It’s damn good thing that I decided to write for myself because getting picked up by prominent publications — come to find out — does not necessitate instant success.
At this point I was also beginning to relax into the idea that this might be all there was for me on Medium.
I would continue, no doubt, in making slow but steady improvements to my followers count and weekly stats, but, perhaps I should get used to the disappointment that accompanies publishing an article I self-deemed as outstanding, and seeing it only amass 12 measly views, I thought.
Alas, the end of my exposition came when I hit ‘submit and publish’ on my article titled, The 15 Foods You Should Be Eating Every Single Day and Why, and watched the views triple, quadruple, and unquadragintuple (it means to multiply by 41), right before my eager eyes.
Currently, this piece has over 63k views, 7.7k reads, and 1.1k fans, and it is my most viewed and highest earning article, to date. The precise day that it peaked, I had 9,641 people view my stories. Wow.
Now don’t get me wrong, I have an immense amount of pride for the sheer research and hard work I put into that article; there is no doubt it acted as a catalyst for increased writing motivation, improved self-marketing skills, and a new heightened degree of focus on my craft.
At the end of the day, however, and despite however much as I would have liked it to have been otherwise, it didn’t guarantee me on-going success. After only a few weeks, my daily view count returned to the 100–200 mark, and I felt a ridiculously spoiled sense of personal defeat.
Why couldn’t my new articles go just as viral? What was with Medium deciding not to curate that last one? What am I doing wrong???? This lasted for enough time for me to become thoroughly sick and tired of my own attitude towards writing.
Thus, shortly after consciously deciding to get the hell over myself, I’m happy to report that I fell back on the advice I knew best:
Write well and write often, I thought.
In lieu of a conclusion, I’d like to share with you where I’m currently at, and why I feel the need to encourage you to keep going with where-ever it may be that you’re currently at.
As I said at the beginning of this article, there is no magic, money-making formula that you haven’t already heard of.
Instead of throwing in the towel when my 15 minutes of fame began to rapidly fade, I continued — and do continue — to keep going.
Not all of what I write hits, but thankfully not all of it ever misses, either.
In fact, I have begun to receive freelance job offers from companies and individuals that have found me from my articles on Medium. I have been accepted to a vast range of high-quality publications that not only humble me as a writer, but also inspire me to continue growing.
I feel it’s important to mention that I also love Medium! Medium is a platform that offers opportunities to writers like no other website I’ve encountered before, and I’m hugely grateful for what it’s enabled me to accomplish so far.
Last but not least, I have come to understand that the only way any of this will continue to work in my favour is if I consciously practice the best advice I was ever preached.
So go ahead and forget the rest — further to learning some basic Medium formatting that will enable your stories to more effortlessly get curated, there is no one thing that will ensure your success on this platform.
Aside from writing well and writing often, of course.
Alexandra Walker-Jones — February 2021