How Medium Promotion Increased My Earnings by Almost 1000%

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

When I started my Medium journey in January 2020, I didn’t think about money. I was super excited to have found a platform to share my knowledge. Then, the money started rolling in. My first payment was $213. I thought this was normal and continued writing.

After a while, I understood that the vast majority of writers never make more than $100. According to the September newsletter from Medium, only 6.2% of active writers on Medium made over $100.

Like every new writer on Medium, I became obsessed with articles about how to succeed on Medium. What were the tricks? How would an article go viral? Most writers agreed that consistency and quality content matters. The rest will slowly cook into success. You put in the work over a long period and then you eventually get to cash out. You also need a tiny dose of luck.

I did everything I could to make things right, hit my first viral story in May, and kept writing. Maybe I was onto something.

Then Medium changed.

Everything is always changing. If you don’t adapt, you get eaten.

In September 2020, Medium launched its massive overhaul and the new strategy for the whole platform. Followers would matter more. Your audience would see your articles, but you would get more traction if you had a fanbase (Maybe). Curation isn’t gone, but it’s not the same focus as before.

Writers started complaining in various Facebook groups about how their earnings had collapsed. Some blamed Medium for it and others left the platform. Everything is always changing. If you don’t adapt, you get eaten.

I started seeing the results of the change myself. My earnings dropped and I was preparing for the worst month so far. In my ten months of writing, I had only dipped below $200 once. For October, anything above $100 would be great.

Adapting to a new system takes time, and I was expecting a dip before I could figure out how everything was put together. Then it is a matter of getting back up the following months.

All aboard the Medium Spaceship

Screenshot of the stats one story generated by author

Boom, out of the blue, my reading time skyrocketed. Not across the board, but one article in particular

Why on earth did this article, that died a long time ago, suddenly get traffic?

While reaching for my Inspector Gadget costume, I started thinking about why this happened now. I guess Better Marketing got a boost by the new Medium design? I don’t really have a follower base (760-ish), so it couldn’t be that I suddenly started appearing on readers’ front pages.

Did I get Top Writer status? No, checked my e-mail and profile. No signs of top anything.

Was my story popular in a tag? That has happened before for my python tutorials. I started checking the tags for the story. Nothing…

Right before I decided to give up finding a reason, I reached out to one of the readers who had left a response. I asked him how he found my article and he replied:

I guess you hit the Medium jackpot. Your article was in the daily digest email from the Medium staff.

My article was listed under “Quick Read” in the daily digest e-mail. My story was sent to thousands of people, maybe more, and it resulted in a massive spike in reading time.

Screenshot by author. The headline of the story was later changed by the editors.

How can you make this happen?

The question most people ask themselves when they succeed is how they can do it again. If you know how I can end up in the newsletter again, please let me know, cause I have no clue…

If I try to break it down, the only thing I can think of is that the theme is fun, the story is short (4 min), and it is a counterbalance to the never-ending Covid - and Trump stories. People need something else to read about and they need stories that have a low cognitive load. Sometimes, you just need to be entertained.

If I can get into the daily digest again? Probably not…

Did it matter?

I have articles with close to 60.000 views, but we all know reading time is the only thing that matters. A keen observer has already spotted the incredibly low view count my article has. While this is true, there are some other uplifting stats here. The ratio between internal views and external views is 89% / 11%.

A few thousand views can’t possibly add any value to the earnings, can it?

In October, the reading time was over 140 hours. The views generated quality reading time. When Medium pushes links to its subscribers, they are likely to read it. If the Medium algorithm works well, it will also hit the target audience. The audience who will read your article. My earnings for this story increased by 817%

Final Thoughts

Good content will find its audience. To succeed on Medium you need to write good content that your readers want to read. You need to be consistent and you need a small dose of luck.

You can’t control these circumstances, but you can control your writing. You have to learn what works and what does not work. What does your audience want and what can you give them?

Keep writing quality content and eventually, it will pay off.

Happy writing!

Written by

CG supervisor with 17 years of experience in the Animation- and VFX industry. Studying Design, Use and Interaction (UX) at the University of Oslo

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