I Get Out of Medium What I Put Into It
I’m not a Medium superstar. I’m slowly growing my presence and my income here. I love Medium, it’s not perfect, but perfection has never been something I’ve been looking for
I made one rule for myself when I started writing for the Medium Partner Program. I decided that I wouldn’t ever write about Medium. I’m breaking this rule today.
I didn’t want to write about Medium because I didn’t think I had anything interesting to say about the platform.
But, I was directly asked about my thoughts on Medium by Benek Lisefski in a piece he wrote:
Medium’s value for indie writers has gone down the toilet
I’m not here to write professional journalism, or earn money from my stories. So Medium doesn’t want me any more.
I’m not a Medium superstar. I’m slowly growing my presence and my income here. I love Medium, it’s not perfect, but perfection has never been something I’ve been looking for.
I joined Medium in August of 2018 after seeing a post from Shannon Ashley about her success here. I’ve found that I get as much out of Medium as I put into it.
Overview of My Medium Experience
Every month since September 2018 that I’ve posted at least one story, I’ve made at least $100 on Medium. I guess that puts me in the top 10% of writers on the platform. I peaked at $230. I then took six-weeks off because of a painful personal incident I haven’t yet figured out how to write about.
In February, I never posted a story and I still made over $90 for the month.
Initially, I joined Medium because I thought I could get more exposure for my work. It would be a way for me to get feedback from a paying audience. I needed to know if my work was any good.
I make most of my money as a freelance copywriter. The money from Medium has always made me happy, but in terms of my business, it was negligible.
Several clients have found me through my locked posts on Medium. I have made much more from them than I have directly from Medium.
I lock all of my posts for three reasons:
1. I believe in getting paid for my work and paywalls are better than ads
2. I have wanted to use Medium as a way to pivot from freelancing to making money from my creative writing
3. It seemed obvious to me that Medium gave preferential treatment to locked posts
Medium’s Business Model
I love that Medium is bringing in established journalists and publications. I love this as a reader. This means I get access to even more incredible content. I love this even more as an indie writer.
Imagine if only indie writers were on Medium. We all get paid based on the allocation of the $5 membership fees from the readers. Some portion of that goes to running the Medium business and is never seen by a writer. But, most of it goes to the writers.
If everyone on Medium was a writer, we would all be making less money. It would be a little like a Ponzi scheme. In order for writers to make a living wage from Medium, there needs to be a large audience of people who are readers only. This increases the pool of money that we writers can earn from.
Established journalists and publications attract more readers. This brings in more money. Medium allows indie writers to get a piece of the action. Curation of locked posts gives me a shot to get my work seen. If I just threw up the same work on my blog, nobody would see it or clap for it.
My goal is to write so that a reader has no idea if my work is the work of an indie writer trying to break out or the work of an established writer. I’m constantly working on my craft.
Most of my articles get curated. Every time I publish a story, my older work gets more attention. I don’t know the secret of curation. I work to make everything I publish the best it can be. I’m pleased with the direction of my growth even if the speed is slower than I had hoped.
The Only Metrics I Care About
Writing is a business for me. It is how I support my family. If I had another job, I’d still write. But, my writing would be limited to hobby time. When you’re a work from home dad, you don’t have much time for hobbies.
When it comes to my writing the most important metric is cash. How much money am I making for the time I put in.
That may sound like I’m some kind of mercenary.
I make much more money per hour as a freelancer than I do from Medium. I believe that can change and I’m working on boosting my hourly rate on Medium.
When it comes to Medium, things like views and followers are vanity metrics. I love seeing my views and followers go up. These will help me pitch my work to other publications outside of Medium.
But, the only metrics that matter on Medium are the fans, claps, comments, and time read. These matter because they affect how much money a story makes. I have found that the number of fans is the most valuable metric because it most closely correlates to the amount of money a story makes.
Not Everyone Agrees with Me
Many people disagree with me. I could be wrong. I have no problem liking someone who disagrees with me. I’ve decided to take a positive outlook on the future of Medium. I’m willing to keep putting in the work here.
It’s a risk that I’m willing to take.
I’ve been shocked to see friendships and personal relationships fall apart over differing views on Medium. That’s sad, and a poor reflection on the professionalism of anyone who would discard friends over a differing opinion of Medium’s policies.
Carving My Own Path
I’m carving my own path. That’s all any of us can do. I am working on making the pivot from full-time freelance copywriter to full-time creative writer. It’s not easy, but I know I can do it.
I’ve recently made some changes to the way I work on Medium that make me believe I can substantially increase the money I make here. My big shift is working harder here. I’ve published six posts in the past three days. None of them have gone viral, but they’ve all gotten some attention. I’ve also added more fans to older stories than I usually do when I only publish once or twice a week.
I plan on making Medium into a major source of my income in the next 90 days.
Eggs, Baskets, and Goals
We are guests on Medium’s platform. They make the rules. I try not to get flustered by the changes. I believe the changes will benefit indie writers in the long term. I try and adapt. But, if Medium stops working for me, I’ll do something else.
If Medium doesn’t work for you as a writer, it may be time to move on. Don’t waste emotional energy on a company.
Even if I stop writing for Medium, as long as there is great content here, I will continue to pay $5 a month to read great work.
Medium is working for me as part of my vision for my career. But, it’s not the only basket I have. Each writer needs to decide if Medium works for them. My only advice is to create multiple income streams.
You know what they say about eggs and baskets.