Lessons Learned From Two Months On Medium

As a writer who knows her worth, I don’t love Medium as much as I first thought I did

In the period of July-August, I published over 25 articles on Medium. I earned $37.33. In the subsequent period of August-September, I published 5 articles on Medium. I earned $41.67.

A number of personal commitments last month meant that I didn’t have as much time to commit to Medium as the month prior. I ended up spending a much needed week in Greece on holiday, where I actively avoided doing any form of work, including writing (which I enjoy, but ultimately, is still work).

I spent a bit of time pitching my work to national media outlets, and have a few commissioned pieces that I am working on. I also had a number of assignments due for my part-time journalism course, which ate up a large amount of the time I would have otherwise spent writing for the site.

Taking these factors into account, I’m pretty happy with my recent monthly earnings. To have come to the end of September having earned more than I did in my first proper month of writing on the platform is a sign of continued growth and development. But it’s also a bit of a head scratcher, because how can I have earned more, by doing less?

Potential to earn is almost exponential on Medium

One of the most exciting aspects of the Medium payment structure is the ability for your stories to continuously earn. In theory, if your work is curated and/or you continue promoting your content on social media and it receives claps from paying Medium members, you could earn money for the rest of your life.

I certainly benefited from this pay structure last month; the five articles I wrote earned a grand total of $10.20. That means that the remaining $31.47 that I earned came from stories that I had written in the previous month, that continued to be read by paying Medium subscribers. I did very little in the way of promoting my content on social media beyond sharing it on its initial publication date, so there’s definitely a lot to be said for the additional exposure that your stories get when they are curated by Medium — they continue to appear on peoples’ feeds long after you hit publish.

Forget content — curation is king

Prior to this, I hadn’t really understood what the big deal was about curation. I’ve certainly come to realise the value of it, and will employ the same strategies I used last month to ensure that 9/10 of my stories get curated.

When I first joined the site I would regularly read ‘How To Make It On Medium’ listicles which swore by producing a regular stream of content, with several part-time or even full-time Medium writers I admired posting multiple times a day. I think my earnings for September show that as long as you publish something on Medium month to month, even if it’s not an article every day, there is the potential for you to continue to grow and earn more as a writer.

But is it really worth it?

Ultimately it comes down to what your goals are on this platform; are you aiming to read a wider range of voices than you get from traditional media outlets? Do you see it as a tool to develop your writer’s voice? A blogging platform with an easy-to-reach community of readers? A way to transition from full-time employment to freelancing? Or, are you one of the lucky few that sees Medium as a full-time income source?

I think I’ve decided that for me, Medium is a way for me to experiment with different forms of writing — from my first poetry piece that was published with P.S. I Love You last month, to my recently published ‘How To’ guide to social media stories.

I use the unique metrics the platform provides me as indications of engagement (how many people actually read the article all the way through?) and indications of salience (how many people liked it so much they clapped?), which I can use to guide my pitches to other publications that I know will pay me more for my work.

Going forwards, I’m going to continue having some fun with Medium — and if people decide they like my work enough to follow me and keep tabs on my progress along the way then that’s great. The extra few bucks a month I get from fans is great, but it’s certainly not — at this point at least — worth tirelessly committing several hours a day to producing content exclusively for this platform.

I’m not saying this from a bitter ‘I can’t believe I’ve not broken the £100 mark’ standpoint either. I shouldn’t have to even say this, but it’s ridiculous people are writing an article a day (sometimes more) in the hope of earning three figures a month. If I can earn this much from an hour’s work outside of Medium, that suggests there’s something drastically wrong with the ecosystem here, and not simply that I suck as a writer.

With a plethora of articles like this one, which examine in quasi-pornographic detail earnings that really aren’t that impressive at all, it’s no wonder that we’re all obsessing over our stats and dashboard week-in, week-out. We’re all desperate to be better — in the short term, that means being better than someone else at the same point in their Medium career as us, and in the long run, that means being better than our favourite writers who manage to earn a living on this site.

But instead of obsessing over how much Medium and its readers values us, as creators, I think it’s time we start asking how much we value ourselves.

Do you agree or disagree? Tell me below.

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The Indiependent Founder, NCTJ qualified journalist, Oxford University grad. Interested in tech, political communication & data ethics. Tweets: @BettyKirkers

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