Write What You Love & Earn Money Doing It
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In February of 2019, I started a brand new relationship. Medium seemed like such a great catch. You know the type — handsome, smart, great conversationalist.
And, especially important, supportive of my creative pursuits.
When we first started seeing each other, it was thrilling, fun, and sometimes a little overwhelming. All those feelings you feel when you’ve stumbled on something that you know has tremendous potential — as long as you learn how to nurture it.
There’s a lot to love when it comes to writing on Medium. But there were also a lot of growing pains along the way. There still are.
I’m about to get really personal, honest, and completely transparent about my Medium journey now that I’m a year and a half in. I’ll share a bit about lessons I’ve learned, the monies I’ve earned, and the dreams for which I yearn.
(Okay, I know that last one is cheesy. Obviously I’m not really a poet. I’m a part-time Sex & Relationships blogger trying to supplement my full-time income.)
Whether you’re an experienced writer or a newbie, I want to share how Medium has been a real game-changer for me.
We have to learn before we earn
Before I wrote my first post here, I joined the Medium Partner Program so I could read a ton of other authors and learn for myself what kind of writing does well. I also read other writers who put out a lot of helpful content specifically about how Medium works.
This is a really important step — read other writers here!
Whether they write in your niche or not, observe what they’re doing. Look at how they promote on social media. Read their work to see what kind of quality Medium is looking for.
My very first piece published on Medium is called Stalking Writers on Medium (To Become a Better Writer).
I tagged a few of the authors I really enjoyed discovering — not just to be annoying and get them to see the piece, but because I genuinely loved their storytelling skills and wanted to recommend some of their work to others.
I also published this first post with a large publication (The Writing Cooperative) versus publishing it on my independent Medium blog. That’s something I’d highly recommend to new writers. It doesn’t have to be the biggest pub or the most competitive one to get into, but if you submit to a publication and get accepted, you have a better chance of getting eyes on your work. You also get skilled in the art of following editorial guidelines, which is helpful on all sorts of levels.
It took me a lot of research, a lot of time, and loads of hard work to start making any money. I figured out how to start a mailing list. How to market my work on social media — including which social channels were best for my particular brand of writing (often the NSFW variety).
At first it was a few bucks a month. A few months in, after some of my stories got curated, it was around the $50 mark. That was pure excitement for me. That was treating myself to dinner and a drink. (Or putting extra money on my remaining student loans…)
And, the best part: I was having a blast interacting with a creative community and learning so much through my writing.
A growing side gig
Building my writing home on Medium has helped me develop as a person, and it’s also been a means of therapy for me.
I write about whatever idea I want in the moment, and writing more consistently has really helped me do things like process emotions, work through my pain, have fun during quarantine-induced alone time, and learn about various topics of interest. When it comes to sex—my blogging has also helped improve my sex life and sexual confidence.
And — very important to me — writing for Medium part-time has meant taking better care of my family financially.
That, to me, is incredible.
Here’s a look into my annual income since I joined the Medium Partner Program.
Feb. 2019 — Dec. 2019
- Number of stories: 36
- Total annual earnings: $2,511
Jan. 2020 — Present (Aug. 2020)
- Number of stories: 42
- Total annual earnings: $3,168
Since February 2019, my total income for 78 stories is $5,679. That averages out to be around $73 per post.
Amazingly, a lot of these stories simply sit there and continue to earn passively because they continue to be read.
That’s a good bit better than when I was just out of college, getting paid $25 per article, flat rate, at an online magazine for writers.
As someone who is more skilled with writing than I am with how to monetize a self-owned blog, I guarantee you I wouldn’t have made this kind of side money with my writing outside of Medium.
Not bad for a fun and creative part-time gig.
My highest earning month was November of 2019, when one of my stories went what you might call “a little bit viral,” and my monthly payment hit $1,600.
I’d love to surpass that, but with curation guidelines around explicit sexual writing getting a whole lot more strict at around the start of this year, I began to earn less and less each month.
Then, this past spring, I went through some health issues and didn’t post as much, maybe two or three pieces per month. I saw my earnings linger in the $100 to $250 range.
But in the last two months, I’ve been pumping up my effort and putting out between nine and twelve stories each month. Last month my earnings started going back up, and I took home $400. This past month, it was more:
This shows me that increasing my effort can in fact increase my earnings, and if I keep trying, I can maybe crack the code and hit another viral piece.
But it’s not about churning out content every single day for me. It’s about taking my time to write quality work, creating something my audience enjoys, and attempting to write within curation guidelines at least every three stories or so. That way, my work will hopefully land with more readers.
Finding your sweet spot
If you want to grow your following on Medium, the most effective thing you can do is provide value to the reader.
Yes, your stories can be about you and your personal experience, but how can you use this experience to help others?
That’s what I think about when I’m writing articles about parenting, relationships, feminism, and mental health. These are all things I love to discuss and explore.
I also love to write about sexuality. I write erotic fiction from time to time, but most of my stories are educational or based on real-life experiences. Some of them are quite detailed, vulnerable, and explicit.
Turns out, my readers also love when I write about sex. They are the most enthusiastic about these articles, which tend to earn the most.
I still write about things that aren’t sex-related from time to time if I want to, but I’m incredibly passionate when it comes to creating content about sexual pleasure, sexual education, and sex in relationships — so I’m happy to give my readers what they are most interested in hearing from me about.
One of my top-earning pieces focuses on the ecstasy of sitting on a man’s face. It’s pretty erotic, and it was also curated (if you’re super new, being curated by the editors means your story is distributed to Medium readers through various outlets).
Since October of 2019, this story has continued to earn income. It’s currently at close to $1,200.
A combination of hot sex, an educational component, and curation in the Sexuality topic seems to be one of my sweet spots for earning more income.
So I try to figure that formula out, which is definitely a challenge. As I mentioned — curators aren’t as open to the sexier stuff now. But recently, a piece I wrote on exercise-induced orgasms was curated. It earned over a hundred in a month and a half, which is really a nice help when it comes to my side income:
But not all of my writing is focused on sexual pleasure. Some of it is about sexual trauma — something I’ve experienced for myself, and something I think we should be talking about if it helps us work through our pain.
This piece is my highest earning story to date. And I don’t feel one bit negative about earning money from this story or “exploiting” my trauma. I think that idea is utter bullshit. It’s my story to tell, it helped me process and heal, and apparently, it resonated with many others who have had similar experiences.
Writers to learn from
Another thing you can do is study up on how Medium works. There are some amazing people out there who are helping writers in so many ways — from getting curated, to submitting to publications, to how to promote your work.
Here are a few of my favorites:
Zulie Rane: I look to Zulie as one of the definitive teachers of writing for the platform. Her Medium blog and her YouTube channel provide a tremendous amount of resources for beginners. But the more seasoned writers can learn from her as well. Take her recent piece on writing fiction for example: My 3-Step Plan to Make Money by Writing Fiction on Medium.
Much of her work is also geared to help non-fiction writers, if that’s more your jam. I’m still learning from her, and I really just enjoy her writing style and her personality on camera.
J.J. Pryor: J.J. is a top writer in several topics, and he runs a glorious publication all about Medium. I’d highly recommend Freediumto anyone who wants to up their writing and earnings game, no matter their experience level.
For me, there just aren’t enough helpful articles about all the intricate ins and outs of how Medium works. Improving our writing quality is important, but so is being educated on how you can best utilize your publishing platform. J.J.’s work provides an insane amount of value for us. Check out one of my favorites: Why Don’t My Articles Make More Than $10?
Casey Botticello: There is so, SO much to learn from Mr. Botticello. One of my favorite posts from him is Active Medium Publications About Women/Female Issues or Perspectives. But this is truly the tip of the iceberg. He provides real, actionable steps to help improve your writing quality and your blogging income. Make sure you check out his amazing publication, Medium Blogging Guide.
Jessica Lynn: Jessica’s work is FANTASTIC and informative. I look up to her as a writer, and, because she’s so transparent and helpful with how to earn money on Medium, I’m also learning a lot of valuable lessons from her. One of my favorites is 3 Lessons from Making 4K on One Story. You need to read this awesome lady’s work!
Brian Rowe: I love Brian’s posts. I’ve been following him for quite some time because he writes about a lot of the things I’m interested in. He’s a top writer in many topics on Medium, including Writing, Creativity, and Productivity — all of which are topics I follow. Check out one of his latest for a positive look at the Medium community and the opportunities this platform has to offer: How Amazing Is It to Be a Writer on Medium?
Benny Lim: I love Benny’s passionate writing style, his optimism, and, again, his transparency in helping other writers on Medium improve (that kind of openness and honesty seems to be a repeating theme on this list). Read one of my favorite posts from Benny: It’s Definitely Possible To Earn A Full-time Income On Medium.
Tara Blair Ball: First, I LOVE that there are plenty of strong women writers to talk about here! Second, what do you do when you start to see success after you put in the hard work? One great piece on what to do after your post makes it big is How To Use Your First Viral Medium Post to Write More of Them. While Tara is a talented and popular relationship writer whose work hit it big on Medium, this article shares some valuable knowledge on how to keep advancing.
Speaking of advancing
I’m having a wonderful time learning and connecting with other writers on Medium. It’s a creative community I’d recommend to any writer who is interested in building a professional portfolio, working through their emotions, and maybe even earning income for their efforts.
To learn more about writing on Medium, click here.