I didn’t expect to begin making money on Medium in 2016.
That’s when I got started. Back then, Medium actually didn’t have any way to directly monetize–it was all up to the writers to sell products by themselves.
When the Medium Partner Program was announced in 2017, though, that’s when everything changed on the platform.
Now you have writers making money on Medium that you wouldn’t believe. Some make upwards of $10,000 per month just from publishing their personal blog posts.
It’s intimidating starting out at nothing, but I think success on Medium boils down to three things.
- Get into top publications
- Publish often
- Target topics that will actually take off on Medium
Easy, right? These are the exact steps I used to build an audience of 50,000 followers and earn thousands on Medium. Let’s talk details.
1. Get Into Top Publications
Publications are the name of the game on Medium. You start with 0 followers, while a top publication on Medium can reach an audience of 100,000 or more.
Publications can also help you get “distributed” on Medium, which means your work will appear on the homepage and in the email digest.
Getting into top publications is absolutely critical to making more money on Medium. You’re using a platform to get in front of more people.
Here’s a post that’ll teach you how to get into top publications.
Truth be told, some publications get distributed more than others, but I think that makes sense. I’d usually rather read something in Better Humans than Bob’s Blog (no offense, Bob).
But you should be shooting to get everything you publish in a publication, right from the beginning, if you want to make money on Medium.
2. Publish Often
I think Millenials will eventually start saying “Consistency, Consistency, Consistency” about social media influencing the way people say “Location, Location, Location” about real estate investing.
Yeah, you got to publish a lot: 3 times a week is plenty to start out, but 5-7 is even better.
My tip to publish often is to focus on telling stories, but keep your writing short and punchy.
Since it’s tricky to know if you’ll ever hear back from a publication (sometimes you might wait 1-2 weeks, or longer), it’s actually harder than you might think to publish often.
Sometimes if you have a lot of work submitted to publications, all of your pieces end up getting published at the same time. I’ve had two weeks of work come out in one day.
One option would be to start your own publication — but there are obvious downsides there, unless you plan to hire an editor and play the long game.
Instead, you might try shooting for a minimum (like 3 articles a week) while you write more than that, so you always have a reserve of ready-to-publish posts.
3. Target Topics That Will Take Off
I wasn’t expecting that anyone would want to hear from a kid in his 20s about personal development, but it was one of the first topics that did well for me.
People love learning how to be more like-able, respected, or attractive — can you help? Some of the articles that make the most money do exactly that, particularly if the advice involves a successful business mogul.
Speaking of, how to make money is a perennially great topic on Medium. Share your best advice about entrepreneurship, personal finance, and business, and you’ll likely see a lot more money than you’d earn with posts that read like diary entries.
Personal stories do well on Medium, especially if they’re unbelievable. You can also get extremely personal about relationships and see success, like writer Shannon Ashley (35K Followers).
Here are some of my headlines that have done particularly well:
- 90% of Blogging Success Comes Down to This
- 9 Business Lessons I Learned Making $1,000
- The Counterintuitive Response to Negative People
The thread that connects these works is that everyone wants to know those things — what’s sometimes called a “curiosity gap.” They’re all stories based on real-world situations and my actual experience.
Here are a few more:
- Want To Become The Best Version Of You? Take More Risks
- I’m A Full-Time Vlogger At 25—But I’m Still Not Happy
- To Unlock Your Full Potential, You Need To Write Every Day
What resonates with my readers is often a desire for self-improvement. For me, it’s helped my writing stand out by being deeply personal.
When you tell an interesting story and open up to the audience, you’re going to find more readership.
That’s why you need to write only on topics that can take off. Otherwise, you’ll not only fail to make money, but you’ll start to doubt yourself.
Making Money on Medium Is That Easy?
It’s easy to look at the recipe above and think Piece of cake!
And, well, it is easy to earn money on Medium! Those 3 steps are the minimum required for success.
You can’t expect to make money on Medium if you aren’t doing all three of those things. First, You need to be in top publications to get the views and reads — often 10x or 100x more than you would get without the publication.
Second, you need to appearing in top publications just about every day. Consistency matters, because we all love familiarity… even Medium’s algorithms.
Third, focus on topics that can take off. Once you’re writing 5 or more posts a week, you’ll have an easier time finding your voice — which is key to writing about the topics people like. You don’t need a niche to earn money on Medium, but it definitely helps.
Targeting a specific, small group of top publications will let you make sure you get the submission guidelines exactly right for each article, which will help all 3 steps in the strategy.
Finally, your results can help guide you. I never would have expected personal development to do so well for me, when I feared I lacked credibility in that space, but it’s been.
If you’re following all three steps, the audience will tell you what they’re interested in. But you have to reach that audience where they’re at, using the topics that do well on Medium. That’s the secret to making money in the Medium Partner Program.