I told myself I wasn’t going to make a post about Medium. So, well, this is awkward. But I think my family and boyfriend are tired of me droning on about my stats and revelations, and I still want to talk about Medium, so I figured I may as well just go ahead and write this article.
I started with low expectations
I became a paid Medium member at the end of August and started by reading articles whilst I tried to suss things out. I aimed to start writing on September 1 and to publish at least five articles a week.
I was lucky enough to find the Medium Facebook groups before I started writing; this made it a lot easier for me to learn about curation, formatting and submitting to publications. However, I became somewhat disheartened to see so many people in these groups complaining about the ‘Views Apocalpyse’ and implying that Medium was now becoming a lost cause. Had I already missed the boat?
However, I didn’t know of any alternative, and I figured that posting regularly on Medium would still be a great way to practice writing whilst getting engagement. So I decided to give it a go.
My first posts: high and lows
In the last few days of August, I submitted three of my draft articles to publications, hoping that one would be accepted by September 1. I didn’t hear anything back in time, so I decided to self-publish a story instead; it was a rant against ‘extreme early retirement’ that I didn’t really know what to do with. I didn’t think anyone would take much stock of a recent graduate talking about retirement. Imagine my shock when, a couple of hours later, I got an email to say it had been triple-curated! The next day I woke up to find it had received over 200 views and four comments. I was over the moon.
However, this high soon turned to a low on Wednesday. I hadn’t realized that this was the day of earnings projections until I saw people talking about it on Facebook. I was disappointed to see that, despite the relative success of my article, it’d only earned me 39 cents. I remember thinking that I’d be unlikely to make much more than ten dollars for the whole of September, even if I posted nearly every day.
I was disheartened, but still enjoying the process.
The earnings of my first full week
I now realize that the earnings on that story were probably low because I posted it on a Sunday evening and a lot of the engagement came from Monday, which wouldn’t have been counted. Yesterday, I received my earnings for last week — my first full week — and saw that same story had earned me $13. That was more money than I’d been expecting for the entire month! I was over the moon.
That took me up to nearly $20 in total, which I’m pretty proud of for my first week. If I can keep this up for the whole month, then I could be close to reaching the golden $100 a month reserved for the top 8%.
I was somewhat confused that my story about manifesting my boyfriend earned less than a third of what my most profitable story had given me, despite it having significantly more fans and claps. This shows that Medium earnings can’t be easily predicted. Or maybe it’s normal for stories to do better in their second week — I just don’t know.
Reflections on what I did right and wrong
So far, all nine articles I’ve written have been curated. That streak will be broken by this article, so this is the last time I’ll ever be able to say that I have a 100% curation rate. Of those, one was triple-curated and five were double-curated. I’ve heard lots of people say that curation isn’t important, but I don’t buy it.
These are my stats:
My triple-curated post is the only one to reach over 300 views. All the posts that were double-curated achieved over 100 views, and most of them close to 200 — the only exception was my most recent post, which still has time to grow. In contrast, the posts curated in only one topic achieved less than 100 views. My worst-performing article was the one about UK tuition fees, but this is to be expected: British Medium users are in the minority and most of them probably aren’t interested in tuition fees anyway.
My general reflections on Medium
The platform has surpassed my expectations. I’ve received more engagement and earned more money than I expected, and I’ve found the Medium community to be very welcoming and supportive.
However, there are plenty of trends that worry me too.
I share the fears expressed by others that Medium may shrink the earnings pool available to independent creators to allow them to fund their team of journalists and freelancers.
I’m concerned that the proliferation of posts about Medium and writing (yes, posts like this one) will encourage Medium to pursue this route.
I’m disheartened by the amount of low-quality content. There are lots of amazing writers here who inspire me to hone my craft, yet there are also far too many writers who consistently produce articles with grammar mistakes and cover generic topics. I’m tired of seeing unoriginal posts about personal development, productivity, and entrepreneurship by people who only have a surface-level understanding.
I say that as a 22-year-old who has read a few self-help books and taken a few businesses classes; I’m hardly the harshest critic. If even I’m feeling like I’ve heard this all before, then we have a serious problem.
Looking to the future
I don’t know what the future of Medium will hold, and I’m trying not to dwell on it.
For the moment, this is the best place for me to improve my writing whilst being part of a community of like-minded individuals.
I’m hoping for the best but expecting the worst, and I’m up for the challenges that may be thrown at me.