Making My First $500 With Medium.com's Partner Program

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I must admit, when I first heard about Medium, the online publishing platform many years ago, I thought it wouldn’t take off. An article site for people to share ideas?

How is this going to be more popular than people sharing content on their own blog or on social media, I thought?

But this year I have reconsidered that thought.

Good content on the web is hard to come by, and there are a lot of people churning out articles just for the sake of it. I find that on Medium you find ideas of a different nature - they’re just on the edge of the current zeitgeist to be relevant; yet not so far ‘out there’ to not appeal to a broad audience.

As of last year, Medium had 60 million monthly unique readers. That’s too big to ignore.

Medium established their Partner Program last year in order to encourage more writers. Essentially, your articles are behind a paywall ($5 a month for readers), and you can receive ‘claps’ (the equivalent of likes) in return for payment.

The more claps you get, the higher pay - simples!

Of course, starting to earn is about learning Medium’s platform inside and out - something I am still doing, but I have learned a lot so far, and would like to share what I have learned with you.

  • Write about topics that you have experience in AND that would help others

    My article on the emotional side of freelancing got picked up by the Medium editors, and they put it on the homepage. It got me over 5.5k claps, and a fair amount of new followers. I just wrote about my own experience here, and I was surprised by how many people it helped.

  • Learn how Medium likes to present content

Medium likes to make things look pretty. It pays to learn their editorial guidelines, and read a few of their most-read articles to see the style, tone, and formatting.

  • Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable

Hiding will get you nowhere on Medium. The best articles are personal stories that are real, raw and authentic.

  • Be a good writer

Obvious point maybe, but before Medium, I thought I was a decent writer. Now, I realise I have a lot of work to do. The quality of writers on there are incredible. The best writers can take an idea in their heads and articulate it in such a way that you are captivated, learn something, and can revisit the idea or thought again and again.

Use Medium as a way to hone your craft.

Study the best writers. Notice that how they write is like a stream of their consciousness, clear, and structured, and always returns to the central point.

  • Don’t go for what you think the audience will like - write what you want to write

There are some articles I’ve written and then made unlisted, simply for the fact that I felt that they weren’t coming from a good place within me. By that I meant writing topics that I thought I should write about, rather than ones that I actually feel that are right for me to write about. Writing is all about feeling inspired. If you’re faking that inspiration or just trying to copy what’s ‘on trend’ to write about, it will come across. Medium is all about authenticity.

  • Write regularly

I’m trying to write at least once a week, even if I’m not 100% happy with the articles (nothing’s perfect, right). I see it as a way to practise my writing, and also as a testbed to test the content with my audience - what kind of articles do they most resonate with? By writing regularly, you’ll come to learn not only the types of people that are on Medium, but also perfect your own writing style.

  • Titles and images are VERY important

What is your piece saying? Sum it up in your title. Or give the audience a teaser; a lead in to an interesting idea. Make it something that you would click on if you saw it on there. Also, think about the visual element. You can be fun and use .gifs, but I like to use photos that are a metaphor for what I’m actually writing about. Don’t be afraid to change it if you’re finding that you’re not getting the engagement you expected.

  • Realise their audience is vastly different to other platforms

People who read on Medium want to better themselves. In fact, they are people quite committed and dedicated to their own personal growth. When I first posted my freelancing article on other platforms, it got one or two likes from my social networks. I could have thought (as I used to think) that my writing wasn’t valuable or didn’t help anyone, but the truth is it just needed the right platform to be appreciated. The Medium platform may not be right for you or your business, but the partner program is a good way to test the waters.

  • Link your social channels back to Medium

From that one featured article, I’ve had people contact me through Twitter, add me on Linkedin, and ask for my work to be published in their magazine. Medium is powerful! Don’t underestimate the power of connecting back with your Medium audience on other platforms. Build relationships with those people - these people get what you’re about!

  • Submit your stories to online magazines that publish on Medium

This is something I haven’t really explored too much, but I have three publications on Medium whom I can submit my articles to, and it will go out to their followers, thus increasing my overall reach. I’m going to search for more online magazines that fit who I am and what I write about.

Summary

From Sept-Oct, I earned just over $514. Not a huge amount, but not bad for what I essentially see as a enjoyable pastime. The total hours I spent writing? Probably no more than 4. But that’s not the point. The point is I am writing about things I love and getting paid for it.

Here’s a copy of my most recent Medium report. It’s shortened slightly as I have a lot of articles on there now, but as you can see, the majority of income came from one article.

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For now, I will continue to focus on growing Medium as one of my income streams by writing through their Partner Program. I believe it’s an exciting time for Medium, and it’s clean and simple platform and app means that it can only go from strength to strength.

Do you have questions about writing on Medium, or building a remote freelance career? Get in touch to see how I can help.