January was my breakthrough month on Medium.
I didn’t make any real money, but the green shoots of possibility have finally begun to make themselves known.
I made $55.
Let’s delve into the numbers to work out if my investment was worth it.
What I did differently in January
Prior to this month, I had not given Medium its due attention. I would write whenever the moment struck me. But in January I decided to be more intentional about it:
- I wrote every day
- I published more articles
- I ruthlessly pursued getting published in high-end publications
- I wrote about what I know, and what I love.
I probably worked three times longer than in previous months, but the pay-off was 300 times greater.
(December, my second best month, earned me $0.18)
What I’ve learned from this record-breaking month
I published 15 articles. This meant approximately 30 hours writing time.
Despite this chump rate I find myself incredibly excited about what the future could bring. There are three reasons for this:
- The model is proven —we have a hungry readership here and if I can make $55 in a month, I can make $550
- Like compound interest, each article you write is an asset — it will continue to create value for you in the future. Some articles led readers to older pieces written last year. That generated cents, but imagine it at scale.
- I really, really enjoy writing — if I can make even a modest living doing this, I’ll be a happy man.
My experience also revealed some interesting insights:
- The top publications are hard to get into. It can take over a week for review and in most cases you’ll get rejected. For me The Ascent is the toughest. But, as universal law dictates, when they did publish my article it yielded the greatest return.
- Getting published seems to increase the chance of distribution — most of my articles were distributed in January but distribution had almost no impact on my views.
- Medium really is about quality and quantity. Filler content wastes everybody’s time. You need to dig deep and pull up the good stuff on a regular basis.
If you’re struggling to break through on Medium it is probably because you’re not posting enough high quality content in publications with an established readership.
From where I’m sitting right now, that seems to be the key for unlocking success around here.
A step into the unknown — what next?
January was an extraordinary month for me. My partner and I welcomed our first baby into the world, a little girl called Sylvia, named after my late grandmother. She was born early term, but with a very capable pair of lungs.
I’m self-employed but taking paternity leave from the “day job”.
I still haven’t worked out whether my opportunity to write has been positively impacted by this massive life change or not.
My days and nights are broken up, which means I’ve had fewer chunks of time to work on my writing. But this has given me lots of little chances to open the laptop and spill my thoughts.
I never thought this work ethic would suit me — my usual role as a web developer demands focused stretches of time. But writing in short bursts seems to produce some good stuff; inspiration strikes hardest when constrained.
As for what comes next — my plan is to repeat this formula of writing good content that gets published by top publications.
Over time this will build a back catalogue of strong material. A readership will follow. My instinct is telling me that this will take patience and consistency, but I feel ready for the challenge.
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