While May was my best month so far as a writer on Medium, I’m clear that the growth in Medium earnings has just begun. I didn’t write every day, I mostly self-published, and I published more on my personal blog than on Medium. Still, as a recently awarded two-time top writer (in Writing and Entrepreneurship), I am learning the model for making money on Medium.
My First Lesson: Choosing The Right Audience
I was a writer on Medium long before joining the Medium Partner Program. I didn’t join to make money with my articles. I had no desire to become a freelance writer, either. I was writing to promote my Las Vegas real estate business.
Back then, Medium articles ranked high on Google, and it made sense to borrow the “authority” of Medium while building my personal brand.
I would write about the local market, seller strategies, and tips for buyers. Later, I branched out to topics that taught real estate agents how to generate leads online.
My favorite thing about that strategy was that some of my articles got published by large real estate publications like Inman, gaining brand visibility.
But in 2022, I decided to test out the Medium Partner Program, and see where I could take it.
As an experienced marketer, blogger, and content creator, I had an inkling that I could do well if I published articles that helped a specific audience.
One of my skillsets has always been learning the algorithm of a platform, and what the audience was looking for.
I have the soul of a teacher, and guide, and generally spend time finding out how something works, and then sharing that with others.
For example, an audience on Youtube might be a group of new content creators that want to make money with their Youtube channel but don’t know-how.
I would then make videos that show them step by step how to do it. For example, the video below shows a writer how to create SEO content designed to rank on Google.
With Medium, I noticed there were many writers writing about making money as writers. I also noticed that in order to make money with the Medium Partner Program, you need to have readers that are paying for the program. Many of which, are writers. (More on that in a bit).
I then decided that would be my audience, and my strategy was to show them how I made money as a writer on Medium. And, I would tie in the multiple income streams that earn me 6-figures per year, because most of them are perfect for writers.
I became one of the top writers in the Writing and Entrepreneurship categories in my 6-months in the program and had my first three-figure month, increasing my earnings by nearly 318% over April.
I’m not saying this to boast, but to show you what’s possible if you get strategic about who your audience is, and what they want to read.
My Second Lesson: Quality Over Quantity
When I first started writing on Medium, my strategy was to write a lot of articles, in the hopes that one of them would go viral.
I was coming from a world of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) where the more articles you had, the more traffic you could get to your website.
Medium is a different animal.
While Google does index Medium articles, it’s not like a typical blog where the search engine is the primary source of traffic.
The primary way people find your articles on Medium is through the internal algorithm.
The more popular your article is, the more likely it is to be shared and read by paying Medium members, which is where your earnings begin to grow.
This is why you’ll see a lot of writers with only a handful of articles that have earned them thousands, or even tens of thousands of dollars.
It’s not about the quantity, it’s about the quality.
When you’re first starting out, it can be tempting to write a bunch of fluff articles in order to get some quick wins and build momentum. But those articles are not going to help you in the long run.
The articles that will help you build a sustainable business are the ones that show your audience how to do something or solve a problem they’re having.Watch and Be Amazed: How to Write a Captivating Medium Bio and About PageUsing Jasper, an AI Writing Assistantloriballen.medium.com
My Third Lesson: The Money is in Followers
As I mentioned before, discovering a specific target audience, and writing specifically for them, is key to success on Medium.
But there’s another important piece of the puzzle, and that’s followers.
Your followers are people that have told the Medium algorithm that they want to see your articles in their homepage feed. They do this by clapping, commenting, subscribing, following, mentioning, and reading.
Followers are people that have put you on their newsfeed, which means they’re much more likely to read your articles.
The more followers you have, the more money you can make.
This is because of the Medium Partner Program. In order to get paid through the program, you need people that are paying members to read your articles.
If you don’t have any followers, your articles are not going to be seen by many people, and you’re not going to make any money.
It’s that simple.
But how do you get followers?
The answer is two-fold. The first way is to write great articles that solve a specific problem your target audience is having. If you do that, people will start following you.
The second way is to be active in the Medium community.
This means commenting on other articles, following other writers, and sharing other peoples’ articles that you think your followers would like.
The more active you are, the more likely it is that people will follow you.
I also like to follow Medium writers on Twitter, Retweet their work, and use appropriate hashtags, like #mediumwriters to gain more followers.
Then, when I share my own Medium articles on Twitter, I may gain more views on that article.These are the Top 7 topics that Pay You as a WriterAt least on this one platform, that is.loriballen.medium.com
My Fourth Lesson: Tags Matter, but Medium Adds them For You
I spent a considerable amount of time on Medium in the beginning, researching how tags work.
First, I learned that tags are not keywords.
They are topics. That’s key.
Understanding how topics work on Medium helps me know which tags to include. I realized the importance of using the right tags early on due to the following benefits.
- Readers follow tags
- Top writers are awarded based on tags
- Your articles can be found more easily by using relevant tags
- The Medium algorithm will match your article with readers based on the tags you use
However, after a few months of writing, and anguishing over which tags to use since we have a limit of five, I realized something important.
Medium was adding additional topic tags to my story for me.
For example, In this story, I published a Blogger’s income report. I used the following 5 tags.
When I pulled up the stats for that story, I saw this note at the top of my article.
Medium added the tags freelancing, and marketing.
I was surprised.
I didn’t even think of those topics when I wrote the article, but it appears that Medium did, and they added them for me.
This is good news! It means that we don’t have to agonize over which five tags to use. Just use the ones that are most relevant to your story, and let Medium add the rest.How I Save my Business Hundreds of Dollars with One Simple TrickAnd make money too, using the same method.loriballen.medium.com
My Fifth Lesson: You Have to be Consistent
When I first started writing on Medium, I would write a story, post it, and then not write anything for weeks.
I quickly realized that this was a mistake.
The more consistent you are with your writing, the more likely it is that people will follow you.
This is because when you’re consistent, you become predictable. And when you’re predictable, people can count on you.
They know that if they follow you, they’re going to see new articles from you on a regular basis.
I also noticed that my earnings per article increased almost every day over the past 30-days. It seems there was a tipping point where I started to gain more traction, and my articles were being read by more people.
I averaged 2 articles per week, so it wasn’t a lot, but it was enough to keep my readers engaged, and coming back for more.
While I know many successful Medium writers will say write every day or multiple times per day, I have other businesses, and that strategy isn’t possible for me, at least not yet.
I’m also not outsourcing my writing on Medium. While I do outsource for my niche websites, My personal Medium blog is me.
Jasper AI helps me with compelling headlines, with outlines, and helps me through writer’s block, and is an essential part of my team.
I’m passionate about the project and enjoy creating money-making guides, and tutorials, as well as performing case studies. And as I said before, My heart is in the teaching of it all.Finally! I’m a Top Writer in Writing: Here’s my 10-step process.113,000 Writers on the topic, and I entered the top 50.loriballen.medium.com
My Sixth Lesson: Headlines Matter
You know the old saying, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.”
Well, that’s not true. You can, and people do it all the time. Just look at any magazine rack in your local grocery store. The headlines on the covers are designed to entice you to buy that particular issue.
The same is true for Medium articles.
Your headline is what’s going to entice people to click on your article and read it.
You want to make sure your headline is interesting, but also accurate. You don’t want to make false promises in your headline just to get clicks. That will only backfire when people realize your article doesn’t deliver on what your headline promised.
As an SEO girl, I’ve also created very literal, keyword-rich headlines that get a lot of clicks because they answer a searcher’s question.
For example, “Who are the best product review bloggers?”
This is a headline that tells the reader exactly what they’re going to get when they click on the article. And since it’s a question people are searching for, it ranks well on Google.
That being said, while generating traffic to my medium blog on Google is great, it seems to me that there is more money made in the existing audience. Since money is made by members of the partner program, creating headlines that appeal to that reader, is essential.
In this article, I did a case study on the best headline strategies for Medium.25 Little Known Ways to Get More ViewsThese headline hacks are a game-changer.medium.com
After completing my analysis, I changed my strategy. It worked.
Hence, the 318% growth.
My Seventh Lesson: You Have to Be Patient
I’ve been blogging for over 25-years (ouch, I’m dating myself now), and I’ve seen firsthand that the real money is made in the long game.
It’s easy to get discouraged when you don’t see results right away.
I’m not going to lie and say that it’s easy to keep going when you’re in the red.
But, if you can hang in there, and keep writing quality content, eventually, you will be rewarded.
The best thing you can do is just keep swimming.
Too many people quit 5 minutes before the miracle happens.
Out of 50 articles that made money for me, 30 were less than $1.00.I Finally Got 2000 Views. Here’s How Much Medium Paid Me.I was surprised, to tell the truth.loriballen.medium.com
My Eight Lesson: The 80/20 Rule, and the One Hit Wonder
As with all my niche website blogs, most of the earnings come from a small percentage of my articles. The 80/20 principle says that 80% of your results will come from 20% of your work.
This is definitely true on Medium as well.
I had one article that earned 47% of my total revenue in the month of May.
While it’s great to have a “one-hit wonder” every now and then, it’s not sustainable long term. That being said, it’s generally what it takes to start the ball rolling.
How many times have you heard a Youtuber say that it was one video that launched their career?
How many authors published many books that we never heard of before their best sellers?
All too many actors have created movies that went straight to video before they hit it big.
The same is true for Medium bloggers. That’s why you need to keep writing quality content on a regular basis. You just don’t know which article is going to make the difference and take your blog to the next level.
But, it all adds up, and I’m grateful for every article that makes me money.My Exact Formula For Creating Long-Form ContentUsing an AI Writing Tool to Assistloriballen.medium.com
My Ninth Lesson: You Can’t Please Everyone
This is a lesson that took me many years to learn, and I’m still learning it every day.
You just can’t please everyone.
No matter what you do, someone is going to be offended or upset by something you say or do. It comes with the territory.
The best thing you can do is to just be yourself, and don’t try to please everyone. It’s impossible, and it will only make you miserable in the process.
I’ve had my share of haters over the years, and I’m sure I’ll have many more in the future. But, I can’t let that stop me from being who I am, and doing what I love.How I Made $2,751.23 Writing About This One ToolIf you’ve seen my work on Medium before, you know that I share small income reports based on how I monetize my writing…loriballen.medium.com
My Tenth Lesson: The Niche Matters
If you want to write about a particular topic because you love it, that’s a great place to let your creativity flow. But if you are writing to make money, then you need to focus on a particular niche.
The more focused your writing is, the better your chances of success.
I’ve seen too many bloggers try to be all things to all people, and it just doesn’t work. You may get some traffic from search engines, but you’re not going to build a loyal following that way.
People are looking for specific information when they go online, and if you can provide that, you’ll be successful.
In addition, certain niches tend to earn more than others. For example, business, finance, and investing are all great topics to write about if you want to make money.How I Ranked #1 On Google: The Immediate Traffic Surprised MeHere’s the exact step-by-step process.loriballen.medium.com
My Eleventh Lesson: Internal Linking
I think it’s one of the most important things you can do to improve your website’s SEO.
But, it’s also important for Medium bloggers.
Internal links help to keep people reading your articles longer, and they also help to improve your SEO.
If you’re not familiar with internal linking, it’s simply linking to other articles on your site from within your article.
For example, if I’m writing an article about tips for new bloggers, I might link to my article on choosing a niche.
When people find a new writer that captures their interest, they are likely to binge-read their articles.
Between paragraphs, I include links to my most popular articles and highest earners on Medium.This is How I Sold $153k in Courses During a Pandemic10 Lessons I Learned Along the Wayloriballen.medium.com
My Twelfth Lesson: Networking
Networking is one of the most important things you can do as a blogger, no matter what platform you’re using.
When I first started blogging, I thought I could just write my articles and people would find them.
But, that’s not how it works. You have to be proactive and go out and find your audience.
The best way to do that is to network with other bloggers in your niche.
You can do this by commenting on other blogs, creating shout-outs, sharing each other’s work on social media, and collaborating on projects.
When you network with other bloggers, they are more likely to share your articles and help you grow your audience.27 Best Freelance Writing NichesFreelance writing is an excellent opportunity for bloggers to earn additional income, whether creating a book…loriballen.medium.com
My Thirteenth Lesson: Including a call to action for Referrals
In May, I referred 4 new members to Medium. With a total of five referred members, I earned $11.09 which will recur each month that member stays a paying member.
This is in addition to any earnings I make from my articles.
As a result, I now make sure to include a call to action for referrals at the end of every article.
If you’re not familiar with referrals, they are basically people who sign up for Medium using your personal referral link.
If you’re not already doing this, I would highly recommend it. It’s an easy way to make some extra money, and it doesn’t cost anything to do.
I earn 5-figures each month in affiliate marketing. That’s where I promote a product or service that I didn’t create and don’t service, personally. I simply refer the reader through a link to the brand. When they sign up within a certain amount of time, I earn a commission.
And when it’s subscription-based, I generally earn that money each month or with their annual renewal. It’s a great way to earn a living.
So while you may only earn a couple of bucks each month from a referral, imagine what that looks like at scale.8 of The Best Affiliate Programs for Writers to Make Money.Hint: The recurring commission programs are the best.loriballen.medium.com
My Fourteenth Lesson: Don’t Detour
I subscribed to a writer on Medium who was writing fascinating case studies related to digital marketing. One morning, I opened my email to find an article notification from the author related to how to win over a girl you want to date. Needless to say, this article was a complete detour from what got me interested in their writing, and I deleted the email.
I read a few more great articles from the writer, and then got another that was completely unrelated, and honestly, a complete turn-off.
Sadly, I was guilty of this myself before I experienced what it was like to be a subscriber to a writer on Medium. Back in February, while I was trying to figure out the algorithm, and audience, I wrote an article that cost me a couple of subscribers. I learned fast.
I needed to stay on topic and cater to my audience. A jack of all trades is special to no one. If you really want to talk about multiple topics on Medium, I suggest you create multiple accounts or publications.
While you don’t want to take a major detour from your niche, you can play with subtopics within the niche.
For example, I frequently write about affiliate marketing. But when pulling up the stats for my stories, I see that my audience is also interested in the following topics.
You can find these by opening the stats on a story. There have to be enough “reads”, however, for Medium to populate these stats so start with your most popular articles.
Since Medium is adding the Writing and Marketing tag to most of my articles, I could expand on topics related to those, or any of the 9 on the list without alienating my audience.
You can assume that someone that is interested in making money as a writer is probably also considering marketing, entrepreneurship, and productivity in their business strategies.
The better you are at determining your target audience, the easier it will be to come up with topics that appeal to that audience.Get Hundreds of Article Topics with One Free ToolThe easiest way to come up with content ideas fast.loriballen.medium.com
My Fifteenth Lesson: Cross-Promote
While making money on Medium is great, it’s not the only benefit. Since focusing my efforts on Medium this year, the audience has generated:
- New subscribers to my Youtube Channel
- Visits to my personal blog
- Backlinks that are great for SEO
- Affiliate income
- Social Media followers
The key to taking advantage of these benefits is to make sure you cross-promote your content.
- If you have a blog, be sure to include links to your latest stories in your sidebar or in blog posts. You can also share your stories on social media and in forums related to your niche.
- Embed videos in your articles
- In a Youtube description, make an offer to learn more and link to your Medium article
- On Twitter, share an interesting quote from your story with a link and appropriate hashtag
- Share links to your most popular articles on another article
The key is to be creative and not spammy. If you’re genuinely interested in helping your audience, they will be more likely to follow you to other platforms and engage with your content.
In closing, I want to say that these lessons are not meant to be a how-to guide on Medium. They are simply what I have learned from my experience so far, and I hope you can take something away from them.
I’m still learning every day, and I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.
Lori Ballen is a real estate agent in Las Vegas. She’s a digital marketing specialist, speaker, and marketing coach and loves to share her “Ballen Method” to generate website traffic and leads online. Lori’s specialties are SEO content writing (ranking on the search engines), social media strategies, and affiliate marketing. Need a website? Contact Lori’s brothers Jeff and Paul Helvin at Ballen Brands.