In October 2019, the most I’d ever been paid from Medium (back when it was still engagement-based) was $140 and change.
I was actually pretty happy with that number, knowing that according to Medium’s newsletters, only about 6% of writers earn over $100 per month, and the fact that I do not rely on Medium for my salary. I love blogging and have been an avid online blogger since the Myspace and Livejournal days (and journal writer prior to that) in 2001-ish.
Writing, for me, is a passion, a love, a vocation, and also my career.
But blogging through Medium is not my salary. I make my money through working with clients, whether that is editing books, blogging for companies, or copywriting. In fact, October 2019 was my best month yet in my business, and I had my first $10,000 month as a freelancer!
In November 2019, I wrote my first big “how I made $xxxxx through writing” post. And it went viral. I am not a big fan of all the “how made x dollars on Medium” posts because there seem to be new ones every single day that all say the same thing. I tried to make mine very specific, more transparent, and as informative as possible.
I’d done one similar post prior in a slightly different way. In September 2017, I wrote a post called “Freelancing: Show Me the Money!” that went into specifically how I made $6500 that month as a full-time freelance writer and editor, and used another writer’s numbers and stats as one example and my own clients and work as a different way (not a blogging grind) to make a good salary freelancing. It was a good piece, one I’m still proud of.
I have long been very open and transparent with how much money I make, the kind of work I do, and the types of clients I have. I am also very vocal about getting paid what you’re worth and not working for free.
At the time of this writing, 2.5 years later, that “Freelancing: Show Me the Money!” post has 12.3k views and 402 fans. It still gets clicks.
But in November 2019, when I posted this:
How I Made $10,016 in October Freelancing
Without selling courses or doing the blogging grind.
It went viral much more quickly. It’s a complete breakdown of what I earned and from where — with details.
As of right now, just 3 months later, it has 35k views!
And it made an immediate impact on my Medium earnings.
In November, I made $651.43 from Medium, with over $455 from that one article.
In December, I made $850.48 from Medium with over $627 from the same article.
I don’t know if it will continue to go up, but it’s really cool how this one article has impacted my earnings.
I assume it has also impacted my follower count, but I am not completely sure, as I was already previously gaining new followers daily.
Other changes which positively impacted me on Medium
While that one article has certainly made a positive impact on my Medium earnings, it came in the midst of me making three other big changes.
1. I was writing daily.
I had started an experiment where I went from posting longer articles weekly to posting shorter articles every day (Monday through Friday) for three months, to see what would happen.
What happened was that my follower count increased faster, my curation rate increased slightly or stayed around the same, and my view count/clap count went up.
2. I added a call to action at the end of every article.
See the end of this one. I had previously had a “sign up for my mailing list” note at the bottom of some posts but often forgot it.
I added a note about my most recent book, had the mailing list link, AND (the most impactful change, I think) added an “other stories you may like” section with links to 3 other stories related to that article’s content.
This seems to have increased my view count and also has increased my mailing list subscriber count.
3. I went back and made sure every single article of mine was behind the paywall.
I realized around this time that MANY of my older posts were NOT behind the Medium paywall and I went back through every. single. post. and updated the distribution settings to make it a paid article.
I even wrote about it to warn others.
It took HOURS. I had SO MANY articles not behind the paywall, some that had been curated, some which were quite popular with a few thousand views, others which will die in obscurity.
There is no doubt that changing that setting, especially on the more popular posts, added to my earnings.
4. Not my change
As a note, during this time, Medium also changed how they pay (now view-time-based), which I am not sure yet how or if it has impacted my earnings.
Yes, I made $850 last month on Medium. Yes, it is likely due in largest part to that one specific article, and article popularity is often skill combined with quite a bit of luck. And curation doesn’t really seem to matter. Some of my curated posts do ok, a couple have done well, most have not done anything.
But I also have done several other things to grow my blog and increase readership and I hope that those changes result in more sustainable longer-term success, as one viral post is certainly not sustainable.
Is $850 a lot for Medium? Yes. Is it as much as these top-paid Medium writers with 40k followers? Certainly not.
But I am quite happy to see how all of this comes together and see the positive impact!
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