LIFE ON MEDIUM

What I’ve Learned from My First Month Writing on Medium

Hint: The big takeaway is that what mattered most is what I did before I wrote my first article

Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

I’m writing this article for two reasons:

  1. I’m still learning a lot about writing on Medium and this is an attempt to get a handle on what I’ve done so far that is working as well as what isn’t working (at least, up to this point) or what I can do better.
  2. I’ve learned a lot from what other Medium writers have posted about their experience. It has helped me avoid a few mistakes and has encouraged me to find that there is a learning curve here for everyone. Maybe my one-month self-evaluation will help somebody else.

Why I’m writing on Medium

I’ve been a blogger in the past (I had a garden blog for ten years) and I’ve done lots of other kinds of writing, but for me one of the most intriguing things about Medium is that I could write and publish anything here, assuming, of course, that it doesn’t violate Medium’s terms of use and guidelines. In a world that tries to squeeze us more and more into one narrow niche or another, I love having the latitude to explore whatever topics I want to dive into.

The other reason I was drawn to Medium was that it was a more immediate form of publication. I have been submitting pieces to magazines and looking for a literary agent for a book proposal and the pace of all of that is glacial. Everybody takes so long to accept or reject (usually it’s a rejection!). But with Medium, I can hit Publish and it’s done, it’s out there. Even submitting to Medium publications is relatively quick turnaround compared to submitting to other non-Medium publications. Even The Startup, Medium’s #1 publication, promises to take only 36 hours for submissions. That means my writing gets out there fast, or I can move on to submitting somewhere else.

Photo by Maddi Bazzocco on Unsplash

So, I’ve decided to do a three-month trial run of posting as much as I can manage on Medium. Sometime around mid-July I’ll evaluate how it’s gone and decide whether or not it’s worth it to continue.

What would make it worthwhile? Well, it’s nice to get the publishing credits, but I think what I really need to get out of this is two things: earnings and followers. I need to grow an audience for my writing and I also need to make some $$$. It would be great if Medium can be a way to do both.

Where I’m at after one month on Medium

I became a Medium member in January 2020 but I didn’t publish my first piece on Medium until April 16, 2020. What was I doing during those three months in between? Reading a lot of stuff on Medium, especially about how people were making money writing and publishing on Medium. I was studying how Medium works, how Medium publications work, and how the Medium Partner Program works.

I definitely didn’t learn everything about Medium in those three months, but I learned enough to get started. So on April 16th I posted my first piece, something I wrote for an op-ed class I’d recently taken called “Tending Your Mental Health in the Garden.” Since then I’ve published nine more pieces on Medium.

Curation

A lot of writers seem to have found curation to be an elusive goal, but I have to say I’ve been really lucky in that respect. Of the ten stories I’ve published, eight of them have been curated in at least one topic.

I thought that the articles I’d published were really just about two things — either gardening or writing. But I recently made an Excel spreadsheet to track what topics my articles are being curated in and I was surprised to see that so far they’ve been curated in 11 different topics. And the topic that came up the most? Food! That was a big surprise. I’m the woman who hates cooking! But several of my gardening articles are focused on edibles, and those were curated in the Food topic.

The other topics I’ve been curated in are: Lifestyle, Mental Health, Outdoors, Travel, History, Makers, Environment, Writing, Remote Work, and Productivity.

Publications

When I published my first article, I didn’t expect it to get much attention but something surprising happened. On April 30th I got a private note from the editor of Age of Awareness asking if I wanted to publish it there. Of course, I said yes, and boom! I was published in my first Medium publication.

Then on May 6th I got a private note from the editor of The Startup that it wanted to publish the 7th story I posted, “Spice Up Your Victory Garden with Herbs.” I couldn’t believe that the #1 publication on Medium wanted my story!

Since then I’ve had Age of Awareness and The Startup each publish another of my stories, plus The Writing Cooperative and Tenderly each published another. So out of the ten stories I published, six of them are in Medium publications.

Followers

I’ve read different opinions about how much it matters to have a huge number of followers; some writers don’t think it matters that much. But my gut feeling is that having a significant following matters greatly, so I’m trying to keep track as my followers grow in number.

Unfortunately, I didn’t write down how many followers I had at the time I published my first piece. It think it was around 112. And now, one month and ten published articles later, I have 131. So at least the numbers are headed in the right direction.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Earnings

Get ready to be spectacularly unimpressed! My earnings so far total a whopping $3.37 ($.26 paid for April and $3.11 earned to date for May). I don’t even want to think about what that boils down to as an hourly rate. However, I think most of what I’ve written so far is evergreen so they may continue earning, especially if I can grow my followers. I’ve read reports from other Medium writers who have said they’ve had posts that didn’t take off for a week or two after they were published, so who knows?

I’m not discouraged with my earnings so far. I knew when I started that it would take time to earn anything substantial. That’s why I’m giving this experiment at least three months to see if I can make writing on Medium a significant income stream.

My takeaways

  1. Those months I spent reading and studying Medium before I started writing was time well spent. Not everything on Medium is as intuitive as you might think. To all those writers who have posted about how they make writing on Medium work for them, thank you! I’ve learned a lot from you.
  2. Getting my articles picked up by major Medium publications and getting curated has been relatively easy for me and I think there’s one reason in particular for that — my writing is pretty clean. I won’t swear that a typo never gets by me, but I take pains to read and re-read my work before publishing, in addition to running spelling and grammar checks. I’m still learning Medium’s formatting but I try hard to get that right too. I think that pays off.
  3. Publications that I wouldn’t have thought my writing would be a good fit for have asked to publish my stories. I mean, The Startup? I’m not really an entrepreneur. And Tenderly? I’m definitely not a vegan. But that tells me that when looking for publications to submit to, I should look broadly and take some chances with mags that may be more of a reach.
Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Goals going forward

So what’s next? Here are my Medium goals for the coming month:

  1. Publish 20 new stories. I made good strides with 10 stories, so let’s double that.
  2. Get to 250 followers. This is probably a reach, but I want to try.
  3. Start an email list. I need to work out how to do this and embed a link for signups in all my stories.
  4. Earn at least $100 in the next 30 days. This is probably a stretch, but I’m going to give it my best shot.
  5. Work toward becoming a top writer. To achieve top writer status, I need to pick a couple of topics to focus on and publish as much as I can on those subjects.
  6. Look for more writers to follow. I’ve learned a lot from writers like Shaunta Grimes and Shannon Ashley and I want to look for more writers who are experienced and successful on Medium.

Written by

Author/Editor. Writes about gardening, writing, etc. Website: ClaireSplan.com. Newsletters: WritingInPlace.substack.com and GardenToTable.substack.com

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