Want to learn how to make money on Medium. Here's a detailed at the real odds of making money through the blogging platform, including an interview with a top Medium editor.
If you did a quick search online for “how to make money on Medium” you'd see 2,070,000,000 results pop up. Of course, not all of those pieces of content answer the question you're really asking. You'll get inundated by experts claiming it's the next best thing and showcasing eye-popping income.
The phrase, “how to make money on Medium” appears in articles about how to make money as a side hustle, and it's featured on about every writer resource out there.
You'll also find a lot of articles that tell you that blogging through Medium is a waste of time. Those articles claim the Medium Partner Program doesn't pay well. They showcase that there's only a small percentage of Medium writers who make money writing Medium articles.
What if I told you that both of those things were true?
About 6.4% of writers on Medium earn over $100 per month. That is a small percentage and those are full-time writers. They get featured on the homepage.
Those Medium members boast high-quality content and their hard work has paid off with curation. Successful writers on medium.com often write for a Medium publication, like The Startup, and earn subscribers through their Medium stories.
That really only answers the question of how many writers Medium pays through the Medium Partner Program. What it doesn't tell you is that there are other ways to earn directly through your efforts on Medium.
What Is Medium?
Medium.com is an online publishing platform. A new writer can start their own blog on Medium to make money online and earn a passive income. This makes it attractive to active writers. There are strategies that a freelance writer can use to create great content and increase the number of claps to reach the top writer category.
For bloggers, the Medium platform ranks well in search engines because the algorithm favors the platform. So you're more likely to find your audience here than you are on WordPress. A single story on Medium will outrank the same piece on your own blog or website.
Medium.com has a lot of great content and active writers. Search engines favor the platform and their monthly subscription is high. Your Medium stories are more likely to be read by a wider audience. There are also publications on Medium. Some of the publications do pay their writers and all of them have editors who view work before it's accepted.
Strategies to Earn on Medium
There are new writers who earn well on the Medium platform, but they also put in hard work and time. They pay attention to SEO, work on trending topics, pay attention to their metrics, and reap the rewards in their bank account.
In short, you need to know how to write an article.
You can earn money. I'll say that again for the writers in the back who don't believe it. There are countless first-hand accounts of people who do earn monthly through the platform. They do this in a few ways.
The Partnership Program: This is Medium's payment method. Writers can sign up for the partnership program and put all of their content behind Medium's paywall. Your articles will earn money based on the amount of time that readers spend on the content. Some articles can earn really well this way. Remember, the platform gets hundreds of thousands of visitors a month.
Ways to get Curated on Medium
Just signing up for the partnership program isn't usually enough. You also want to get curated by Medium's editors. Being curated means that the editors have approved your writing and they promote your work, which brings you higher traffic.
Getting curated is not as easy as it sounds. You need to study Medium's Distribution Standards and make sure that you're adhering to their guidelines. Getting your work placed in a publication will also help your chances of being curated.
Curated work receives far more views than you can garner alone. More eyes on your writing means more chances to earn. Being accepted to a publication can also be used as a professional publishing credit, so it's great for newer writers who need clips for their portfolios.
Other Ways to Make Money on Medium
The Partnership Program is the most talked-about way to earn on Medium. But for professional writers, it might not be enough to sweeten the pot. After all, if you wrote a post on Medium that only made $20 over months, it doesn't seem worth it. You can easily write the same amount of words for $100-$150 in a freelance capacity.
There are other ways that your work can earn on Medium besides the Partnership Program. Medium offers you a much larger audience. For writers, that can mean the chance to get your work in front of editors, small business owners, and anyone in your target market for your services.
You can use your published articles on Medium as samples when you apply for paying writing work. You can also use the Medium platform to network. You have a space on your bio to include your website link and contact info. Use it the same way you'd use social media.
You can also use affiliate links on Medium. You need to abide by Medium's rules and the rules of any publication you're in. But affiliate marketing is allowed on Medium and the platform gives you a wide audience, so this can be a lucrative way to create income from your work there.
Other Ways Medium Writers Benefit
You already know that you can earn some money from the Partnership Program. You know that you can use affiliate links and that you have access to a wider audience. But there are also some benefits to you as a writer that you might not readily think of while looking at monetary figures.
Medium gives you a platform to improve your craft. You can, of course, work in solitary and never show anyone your early work. But that never really helps writers improve.
If you study the articles that do well on your Medium blog, you can get a feel for what you do well and where you need to improve. The act of writing on a regular basis also improves your ability to create and use words well. And the community aspect of the platform can help you find other writers to network with that can help support your growth, and vice versa.
The Final Word on How to Make Money on Medium
What's the final word on making money on Medium? There are a few things that we'd like you to take away from this.
- You can earn money through their Partnership Program.
- You can make connections that will lead to paid writing work.
- You can use the reach of the platform to earn through your own business or market yourself.
Medium doesn't pay the same way that straight submissions to magazines or online publishers often will. But it is a viable and worthwhile platform to cultivate new followers and build your credibility. With Medium, if you're willing to put in the effort and pay attention to your strategy, you will reap rewards from the work.
Remember, Medium isn't the only place to find a writing job.
Make Money on Medium Through Writing With Adrian Drew
Medium is the number one platform for non-fiction writers who want to find readers, share their message and earn a little for doing it. Members of the partner program regularly earn four and five figures a month.
But what if you’re just starting out and don’t have and subscribers, much less a portfolio?
Is it too late to start writing on Medium?
He explains how you can earn your first $100 on Medium even if you have no subscribers.
In this interview, Adrian explains:
- How to get started writing and earning on Medium, even if you have no followers
- What editors of top Medium publications usually look for
- How much you can expect to earn as member of the Medium partner program
- What types of images and tags to use
- How to drive traffic to and attract readers of your articles
Like the show? Please, leave a short review or rating wherever you're listening to it.
Adrian: It just starts with content. So you have to write. And one of the biggest things really is making the article engaging. I always tell our writers that no matter how valuable an article is, if people don't enjoy reading that piece, they're not going to stick around, and they're not going to be able to extract that lesson.
Introduction: Welcome to the Become a Writer Today, podcast with Bryan Collins. Here you'll find practical advice and interviews for all kinds of writers.
Bryan : I think we can all agree that it's nice when you get paid for something that you've written. Hi there, my name is Bryan Collins and welcome to the Become a Writer Today podcast. Getting paid for writing is something that I talk a lot about on the show and on my site, because one of my missions is to help you get paid as a writer or as a creative. Why? Well, you see, about 10 or 15 years ago I studied to become a journalist, and I spent a couple of years after I graduated journalism college, working as a journalist in Ireland. I wasn't a particularly good one, but I did manage to find some paid work.
Bryan : I remember when I found my first job as a freelance technology writer for a broadsheet in Ireland, a Sunday broadsheet, and I wrote articles like roundups of the latest printers that business people should buy and also, articles about topics like CRM software and business tools and so on. So it was quite dry, but it paid. And I remember when I got my first pay-check from the broadsheet and seeing their logo on the payslip, I felt like I'd made it. I was finally a journalist, I was finally getting paid to write.
Bryan : Then about 18 months later, the recession happens. This is the one back in 2008, not the one in 2020 related to the coronavirus, and eventually my freelance contract dried up and I found myself out of work, or at least out of freelance contracts. And I had to find work in a different profession in social care of all places. And I said to myself back then that I didn't want to be in the kind of position where I was overly dependent on a freelance client. But I also wasn't quite sure about how to earn a living as a writer online. And to be honest, I'd say looking back, at least in 2008, it was more difficult to earn a living as a non-fiction writer in that I was overly focused on writing for newspapers and publications and so on.
Bryan : Whereas these days, if you're starting out, you have plenty more opportunities thanks to the internet. For example, it's much more easy to write and self publish a book now than back in 2008. And even back when I published or self published my first book five years ago, and that's thanks to great tools like Vellum and services like Reedsy. It's also easier to earn a living from writing or freelance writing, thanks to Medium, because you can publish an article on Medium and if you join the Medium partner program and it does well, you can easily earn a couple of hundred dollars for that article in question.
Bryan : Now, what if you're starting out? What if you have no portfolio? What if you have no followers on Medium? Is it too late? Well, I would say no, because Medium is the number one platform for non-fiction writers today who want to find readers, even if you don't have any, and you can get paid well for doing this. Adrian Drew is the editor and owner of one of Medium's top publications, Mind Cafe, which I've been lucky enough to write for over the past year or two, on topics like mindfulness and meditation.
Bryan : Now, his publication focuses on personal development and he regularly receives over 200 submissions a week. So I was quite curious about how an editor can manage so many different submissions and what they look for before they actually agree to publish something. So in this week's interview, Adrian explains how to get started writing and earning on Medium, even if you have no followers. And he talks about what top editors usually look for when they receive a submission. He also explains how much you can expect to earn as a member of the Medium partner program, and what types of images and tags you should use for your articles. And if you're not quite familiar with what tags are, don't worry. We actually walk through step by step, how to write and publish an article on Medium towards the end of the interview.
Bryan : Adrian also talks about how to drive traffic to and attract readers of your articles. There's lots more we cover in the interview, but before we get into it, if you enjoy the Become a Writer Today podcast, please can you leave a short review or rating on the iTunes store or wherever you're listening to the show, because more reviews and more ratings will help more people or more listeners find the Become a Writer Today podcast. Now with that, over to Adrian. And I started by asking him why he set up the publication, Mind Cafe in the first place.
Adrian: Yeah, for sure. So it's a long story. I'll try to shorten it down, but I mean, I've always had a passion for self-improvement and happiness and that kind of thing. And through various different personal struggles that I went through last year, I decided that a lot of the things that I'd been reading and researching and learning about happiness, I wanted to share that with a wider audience, rather than just writing my own articles and sharing those. And yeah, I guess that's kind of where it began and things are just going really fast since then. So things are going well, but we're just a self-improvement publication about happiness and all that good stuff.
Bryan : So my takeaway from writing on Medium is that the self-improvement genre is probably one of the biggest genres on Medium alongside perhaps entrepreneurship.
Adrian: Yeah, for sure. It is huge, huge. I mean, I think a lot of writers are disheartened by how popular it is, because it can be harder to break into as a niche, but it's massive, that entrepreneurship and a few other things.
Bryan : Why do you think it's so popular on Medium?
Adrian: If I'm honest, I think it's because it's a very accessible topic because I do believe that every single person has something they can share about happiness. For you, it might be meditation that helps you. For me, it might be something else. And I think self-improvement is something that anyone can tap into, whereas something like politics or biology, not anyone can write about that. So I think it's more like everyone feels a personal connection to that industry and therefore they have a passion to share information.
Bryan : So if somebody wants to get started on Medium, could you give them a few tips that can help them write an article that they could get ready to submit to a publication?
Adrian: Gosh. Yeah. How do I condense that answer? There's so many. I mean, I think step one is obviously, you just have to write. So many people look for a key and a secret that's going to get them into a publication or get them an audience. It just starts with content. So you have to write. And one of the biggest things really is making the article engaging. I always tell our writers that no matter how valuable an article is, if people don't enjoy reading that piece, they're not going to stick around. They're not going to be able to extract that lesson.
Adrian: So I think you have to read everything from another person's perspective and ask yourself, is this interesting? Every sentence, is this keeping people interested? And if it isn't, then understand that you're going to lose people. So it's all about really just seeing your work through other people's eyes and just editing the hell out of it, like read, reread, read again, and keep changing things, keep working on it.
Bryan : Storytelling seems to be a key for any of the self-improvement articles that I've read that I've done really well. Basically the writer seems to relate a principle to something that they've done or experienced.
Adrian: Yeah, definitely. I think every article is a story, whether it's fiction or not. It could be anything, but it is a story because you're taking a reader on a journey and you force them to ask questions in the beginning of an article, just as you would in a thriller. And you promise to answer those by the end of the article. And it's a story because you have to make it interesting, you have to include bits about you and other people and introduce characters. So I think that's why they do well. People love that.
Bryan : So in terms of Mind Cafe itself, do you have a team that helps you or are you running it solely?
Adrian: Yeah, I have a team, so it's just been me and my co-editor, Reid Rawling since near the beginning for about a year. And then I also have another editor, Jordan, submissions manager, John and we just brought on a social media marketing intern as well.
Bryan : Okay, fantastic. And could you give me an idea of how many submissions you get on a given week?
Adrian: Yeah, I'd say average per week is at least 200.
Bryan : Wow. [crosstalk 00:08:14].
Adrian: Sometimes we can do that in a couple of days. So it really varies, but it's a lot.
Bryan : What does your process look like for getting through so many submissions?
Adrian: So we have a few different stages. So stage one is people submit an article through our form which will then go to John, our submissions manager. So if John rejects the piece, he'll let you know, and it's gone. If he accepts it, then you'll get added as a writer to Mind Cafe where you can then submit the article internally for myself, Jordan or Reid, our editorial team to review it again. At that point, it might still be turned down, but you're in as a writer at that point. And then if you're accepted by them or by myself, then we'll copy edit your work, maybe change up the photo, the headline, and then publish it.
Bryan : And how many articles would you publish on a given day?
Adrian: So our range is seven to 10 per day.
Bryan : Yeah, that's quite a lot.
Adrian: It is a lot. We could definitely do more, but just I feel that that's already so much and it's a shame to have to turn down so much content. Seven to 10 seems to be the happy middle ground between enough and too much.
Bryan : A question new writers often have, is who will own the article when they publish it on Medium?
Adrian: That's a really good question. As far as I'm aware, they retain all the rights to their work. So we don't take those rights and I'm pretty sure Medium don't have them either.
Bryan : I think that's my understanding as well. That's why I recommend writing on Medium compared to other publications, because it's a way to get started without necessarily having to worry about copyright. So I'm in the Medium partner program and I got an email that Medium partner program members get each month talking about earnings of writers, but would you be able to just give a rough idea of how much the top Medium writers can earn per month when they're in the partner program?
Adrian: Yeah. Well, as an editor, we can see all of the stats for each of our stories. So looking at some of our best performers, some singular articles that I've seen have been upwards of $8,000 for one article. And then there are others that might average say, I mean, some will get $2. It's such a range, but I think a writer with enough work and some luck and everything else, can definitely expect to get a few thousand a month from Medium, if they really put in the grind. But yeah, some guys are earning like eight, 10, 15K a month. So it's a really diverse kind of pool, but there are people doing it.
Bryan : I read an article in Medium recently that says that the earnings are skewed more towards writers who've been on the platform for a while because they built up larger followings. Do you find that's the case or is it possible for somebody to still break through?
Adrian: I think it certainly provides those writers with an advantage, but the truth is that followers don't, while they help, I think it's less about the follower count or more about that writer's external audience, like their mailing list and the other things they've built up. So the people that have got hundreds of thousands of followers on Medium now have been around for a long time. So they've built that audience and they got in at the beginning. There are some exceptions to that rule. But I think the truth is the follower count isn't really the main thing. It's more about how your story performs today, and also how much you're doing externally to drive people to that story.
Bryan : So what tactics would you recommend a writer do to drive traffic to their story?
Adrian: So mailing list is still a big one, as much as people think the whole mailing list model is dead, it certainly isn't. You can add a CTA to every Medium article as well, invites people to join that. Then you got social media, there are some creative things you can do with graphics and create a link for graphics or stories or put them on. So Pinterest or Instagram, those are the two main ones. And then the third one is really just networking. Networking is going to be your super power in this industry. Really just reaching out to new people, chatting with them, supporting other people by clapping their stories, following them. You'll get that back. If you're an active player in your community, you're going to be supported in return. So I think those three of the biggest for me.
Bryan : Yeah. That's been my experience that if you engage with other writers, they will engage with you.
Adrian: Definitely, yeah.
Bryan : So it seems like you mentioned an interesting tactic there about building a mailing list through Medium. It seems like some of the most high profile Medium writers over the past few years have done that and they've gone on to do other things like getting a book deal and so on. I think one person who springs to mind is Benjamin Hardy. So if somebody wanted to build a mailing list through Medium, what will be a way to do it?
Adrian: Well, I think the first thing is to choose a platform. So Mailchimp, for example, is free. So you set yourself up on there, and then decide what kind of content or what kind of value you're going to provide with that mailing list. So are you going to send out a weekly email with different tips or a roundup of all of your content? You have to decide how you're going to provide value. And then literally just promote that. At the end of every Medium article, you're allowed to add a call to action that says, "Hey, sign up here," without jeopardizing your chances of being curated.
Adrian: So just like that, it's about providing value and then putting that value in front of people and watching it grow. And it takes time, but patience, commitment, it will happen.
Bryan : So the focus of Mind Cafe is personal development, but if we dig a bit deeper into it, what type of personal development topics are quite popular at the moment?
Adrian: Yeah. I mean, it changes depending on a lot of things, I'd say the main one that we cover is we get a lot about mindfulness, productivity and it what works well, to be fair. But at the moment it's all about coronavirus and New Year's Eve. It was all about New Years resolutions. So it does change based upon trends, but generally it's those three. And then really, it can be anything under the umbrella of self-improvement. And it's such a wide area that I don't like to restrict our output to any particular topic, because I think that the purpose of this is to teach people to reach their full potential. And that isn't necessarily about one thing for one person. So it can be varied. It can be more specific sometimes.
Bryan : And the actual publication itself, Mind Cafe, how did you come up with the name? I just think it's a great name for what it's about.
Adrian: Yeah. A few people ask me this. I honestly don't know. I spent a good three days just brainstorming ideas. And on the third day it kind of just popped to mind. I mean, I've been in various bands for quite a while as a musician and we've always had to do this horrible thing of trying to come up with a name, and it takes forever and eventually you just land on something. So I think it's a case of just thinking about everything that relates to your topic and then everything that relates to those words and then just trying to pull something together. I think it just kind of comes to you sometimes as well.
Bryan : Yeah. Kind of like a headline.
Adrian: Yeah, exactly.
Bryan : Which actually brings me to my next question. Headlines are incredibly important on Medium. Do you have any tips that you recommend for writing a good headline?
Adrian: Yeah. So be wary of clickbait on Medium, because any headline that's very clickbaity, like this one thing will transform your life or whatever, anything like that, won't be curated. They don't like that. That's in their guidelines anyway. But as for coming up a headline in general, I mean, don't make it too long. Don't make it longer than two lines because otherwise it just looks like a lot to read. Make it punchy, make sure that it invites the reader to discover that one little thing that you're going to teach them by the end of the article and make it interesting.
Adrian: I had one, the title was, I think This is Why Nobody's Reading Your Articles, or something like that. Maybe that's a bit clickbaity, I don't know, it certainly interested a lot of people because it's a common issue that people face. So if you can kind of play upon that issue, they're going to read it and be like, "Oh, I was struggling with that. Maybe I should read this." You've got to get in people's heads a little bit and try and figure out what they're trying to learn.
Bryan : Yeah. Looking at that article actually the three reasons were over-complicating things, using boring sentences and delivering a weak introduction. What was your background in writing before you set up Mind Cafe?
Adrian: So I didn't go to university. I studied English language at A level, but I'm not sure if that really counts so much. And then literally at 16 before I even left sixth form, I just went straight into a freelance job in writing and just found it online, then used that to get a lot of others. And then by 18 I was earning a decent amount of money just from doing that. Then started writing on Medium, probably around the same age, then set up Mind Cafe and a few years later, here we are.
Bryan : Freelancing can be difficult, but it's great to be able to turn it into a business. You're 100% focused now on Mind Cafe?
Adrian: Yeah, 100%.
Bryan : Okay. You also mentioned there about curation. So would you be able to walk listeners through what curation is and how it works?
Adrian: Yeah. So on Medium, it's their responsibility as a platform to make sure that everyone paying their five pounds gets to see good content, content that's going to genuinely help them. And the way that they regulate that is through curation. So it's a system whereby a team of curators will sit and read hundreds of articles on Medium every day. And they will decide if each individual piece should be curated, which essentially just means that more people will see it, it will have the opportunity to reach more people by being featured on say, the email digest or maybe even the homepage or in different tags.
Adrian: Curation is something that you'll hear a lot of people talk about on Medium. Its something that everyone kind of chases because it's almost like the key. It's like the initial spark that will get an article going. And then if it's really good and people like it, it will do really well. But without that spark, it's quite difficult to reach people because without curation, the article will only reach your followers and your audience. And if that's quite small, it's very hard to grow. So it's important.
Bryan : Are there any other guidelines that Medium has that we should follow if we want to get curated? Firstly, avoid clickbait headlines. Is there anything else?
Adrian: Yeah. They've got a detailed list on their site. I mean, it's things like if you're making claims of "27% of people do this", well like, who says? So you have to back your claims with evidence. And that they're very rigorous articles, it's a word they use a lot. They want people to be providing in-depth articles on specific subjects rather than quite thin overviews. And takeaways as well. Especially in self-improvement, they want people to provide clear, actionable takeaways, which is what we do at Mind Cafe.
Adrian: So if you're going to read my article, what are you going to get from it? And is that obvious or is it just a throwaway sentence that says go meditate for five minutes? What do you gain and is it trustworthy? Do I come across with a credible source of authority, somebody that is in a good position to give this information or have I just made it up? Have I completely made it up? So it's all about just making sure that you're providing genuine value and I guess that's all it comes down to, really.
Bryan : You mentioned there about thin articles versus longer articles. Is there a particular length that works quite well, or does it depend on the topic?
Adrian: Well, I'd say it's less about length and more about thickness, maybe. I don't know. You could have a three-minute article that's still really in-depth, but it covers quite a small subject. So it's more about however long the article is, are you giving that area a decent amount of coverage? Are you really exploring that topic? And length, I mean, I wouldn't like to say whether they prefer shorter or longer articles. I mean, I do think with a longer article, you have more of an opportunity to go more in depth. So maybe try and lean more towards longer pieces.
Bryan : So you mentioned there about traffic sources for the articles. So when I log into my dashboard on Medium, I can see how much each article earned and how much traffic got over the past few months and the sources. So apart from getting curators, what are some other high traffic sources that you would see for the top articles?
Adrian: Yeah. That's a good question. You mean for within Mind Cafe right?
Bryan : Within Mind Cafe, for example, should somebody optimize their article for search, does that work or is there some other thing they could do?
Adrian: Good question. I mean, to be honest, I'm not entirely sure because we personally aren't involved in that, the optimization side of things, but again, social media is a really big one. We were two and a half million views for this month. And I know that on the last traffic report we got, they told us that I think it was 2%, for example, came from LinkedIn. And LinkedIn is a platform that we've posted on, at the time we posted four times in the past six months. So we weren't active there at all. Yeah. 2% of two and a half million is a lot of people. So it made me think that, wow, even that is bringing people to our platform.
Adrian: So I think every avenue you explore is worth its weight in gold. And you should try and explore that as much as possible. It's all about off-platform and who can you bring in? And then Medium kind of takes care of the internal stuff, if that makes sense.
Bryan : What about tags? Is there any approach to tags a writer could follow?
Adrian: Yeah. Good question. To be honest, I don't think that there's... I could be wrong here, but I'm not sure how much weight tags hold anymore. I mean, now that things are curated based on topics and you don't even have... Before, at the top of Medium, they would have a section for self or work or whatever, and you can click on those and see articles within that tag. Whereas now, I don't see that and it's more difficult to scan through a particular tag on Medium. So I think how you tag your articles is still important. Still make the effort to make sure they're appropriate, but it's not that important. There's no, you couldn't use tags to improve the performance of an article, if that makes sense.
Bryan : Okay, that's interesting. I hadn't considered that. But Medium has a great tool that brings in imagery and photographs directly into the piece. That's fine to use no copyright issues, but one of the issues I've had with that is that a lot of images get overused because it will be the first image that appears when you click the search button. So how could somebody find a good image for their piece or for their article? Because it's actually important if they're going to use it on social media.
Adrian: Yeah, true. I'd say tip one is just don't go for the first one that comes up. We have a lot of people, and they're doing articles about love. And so I'll try and find a replacement image on Unsplash, search love and see that the first picture on there is the one that they've used. [crosstalk 00:23:24]. Yeah, exactly. It's just these generic photos and they're fine, but I think outside the box. So what I like to do is I always use Unsplash, but I'll go on there, search a word and then actually clock onto collections and look at the different collections people have created and then try and find something that's still on brand, because we try and maintain the same kind of scheme, but something that's a bit more esoteric and that people aren't going to see straight away.
Adrian: So it's a case of, I mean, if you read a lot, then you'll see the kinds of images people use all the time and then you just try to avoid those. Go for things that are a bit more unique.
Bryan : Yeah. Is Unsplash, is that the image source that Medium use, or are you using a separately to what Medium has?
Adrian: I think a lot of Medium's come from either individual illustrators or Getty Images. I see a few from there. So they're paid for, from what I understand. As Unsplash, that they're all just free, available to the public.
Bryan : Okay. Very good. And what about the email distribution of Mind Cafe? I notice you have an email course that readers can sign up and get. Are you sending out your own digest or have you moved over now to the Medium's newsletter?
Adrian: So at the moment we're sticking with our own digest. And so we use that. We have a free course, which is a 10 day reset your mind kind of thing. And then after that's done, subscribers will get a different email from a different member of our team every week. And it will be a short, 250 word tip on a different topic. It's just something nice and simple. So that's how we kind of continue to market our stuff.
Adrian: But we did use to just use letters with Medium, but for me personally treating this more as a business, I think it's important that we also have our own mailing list. And so that's why we're just happy to stick with that for now.
Bryan : Yeah, that makes sense. This is two edged question, but why do you think some writers fall off Medium and some publications maybe fall by the wayside?
Adrian: I think it could be one or two things. I think big writes that decide to move off are probably doing so because maybe their goals have changed or they see more financially stable outlet to pursue, like Zach [Rana 00:25:37] for example, recently moved off Medium, which you might be aware of.
Bryan : Yeah.
Adrian: And I think that's one reason is to pursue other things that might be more long term kind of projects. And I think the other reason is if people are at the other end of the spectrum where they're not getting the traction they want, they're not getting the earnings they want, they might just give up and decide to go elsewhere. So it could be either really.
Bryan : And what about publications? I noticed some big publications from four or five years ago aren't around anymore.
Adrian: I think some of them again, maybe found better options and decided to pursue, like Patreon or something else. I think some moved off. I'm pretty sure the mission, I might be wrong here but I think the mission when... Basically Medium used to curate articles, even if they were free to read, whereas now they have to be members only to be curated. And when they made that change about a couple of years ago, I think a lot of publications thought, "Oh wow, we don't want to restrict our audience by saying you have to become a member now to read our stuff." So they just kept publishing free to read stuff and essentially suffocated their publication because they weren't getting curated anymore. And then eventually thought, okay, let's go somewhere else.
Adrian: So I think sometimes people build that audience and they're like, this would be more better as a podcast or YouTube channel, and-
Bryan : Hacker Noon is one that comes to mind. They were a popular publication on Medium about technology and cryptocurrency and so on, but they moved off to their own site.
Adrian: Right. What do they do now?
Bryan : Well, they're still going, but they're just moved off Medium on hackernoon.com, I think it is.
Adrian: Okay. Because they were one of the biggest if I remember rightly. So a lot of people do that to be fair, which makes sense.
Bryan : So you also talked there about pursuing other opportunities like Zach Rana who you talked about. Props to Zach. I know he's a newsletter on Substack now. So that's a platform for monetizing your own personal newsletter. But is it possible for a writer to earn a full-time income on Medium? And to do that, do they need to publish every week or every day?
Adrian: It's definitely possible. Some people earn a very decent amount of money from Medium. And I say, yeah, you have to publish a lot, like a lot. You have some people like perhaps Ryan Holiday who publish less frequently, but everything they publish is gold and it just does incredibly well. I think other people resort more to, if I publish once even twice a day, then their earnings will kind of be balanced out because some of those won't do so well, but some will go viral. So then, by doing seven a week, it's like match betting in a weird kind of way. So they're covering the risk.
Adrian: I think it's definitely possible to earn a full-time income. It's just a question of how stable will that income be. Things change, things kind of fluctuate on this platform. So I think it's always wise to build your own audience as well.
Bryan : So does an article have a lifespan in Medium or can it go for months?
Adrian: I mean, I've got articles of my own. I think my best performing one is called The Three Pillars of Happiness, and that now still gets, I don't know how many views, but it still brings in a couple of hundred dollars of revenue a month, as do a couple of others. And I wrote that two years ago. So some will last for a month and die, but some will never even be born in the first place and others will live for a very long time.
Adrian: So I don't know what determines that. John, our submissions manager for example, had an article picked up by Google and they created a Google snippet, which means that it now consistently gets a good 80 or so views a day. So things like that can influence long-term performance, but really, I'm not sure if there's a pattern. So it just depends. I mean, I think if you write content that's evergreen as well. Something about coronavirus is relevant today, people won't be reading that in two years. And if it's about business life or self, then they will. So another question to ask, I guess.
Bryan : What about duplicate content? So if you published an article in one place and then you publish it somewhere else, is that something to worry about?
Adrian: It can be. I know Medium have an article about this, which the way that they cover that is by, I think they keep one of the articles as what they call the canonical link, maybe I'm saying that wrong, I don't know, which essentially means that that is... With regards to SEO, if somebody Googled say The Three Pillars of Happiness, if it was a duplicate article, only one of them would show up. And Google kind of recognizes that one is the original source, the other isn't copied, but it's just a syndicated version.
Adrian: So if you do it wrong, I'm not really the guy to ask, I don't know. But I think if you mess it up completely and end up cross publishing in random places, you will damage your SEO. But I know they've got documents on that. So it's worth a look before doing it for sure.
Bryan : So if a new writer wants to start on Medium and they would like to write for a publication like Mind Cafe, what kind of things should they do before they get ready to fill in your form or submit?
Adrian: So you mean, once they've written the article?
Bryan : Well, let's say they haven't even an account on Medium. So they've set up their account and they have zero followers, zero articles. What steps should they go to before they start applying for publications?
Adrian: Good question. So step one is set up an account with a decent bio, I'd say, and a decent profile picture because that's going to make a difference. Then step two is sign up for the Medium partner program, which essentially just means that you're eligible to earn money from your stories, because without that, essentially you won't get curated and we won't accept pieces that aren't members only. So that's step two.
Adrian: And then step three is, write the articles within Medium, or even just paste it into Medium. And then edit it heavily, really make sure that it meets our guidelines, but also that it's good, it's interesting, it's engaging, that it provides value. And then formatting is a big one as well. So you want to make sure that the piece is structured properly. So the headline is formatted as a headline and it has a subtitle and there's a picture. And that picture is credited because even silly things like if you don't credit your photo, you won't get accepted into most publications because we can't publish that kind of content. Everything has to be credited.
Adrian: And once that's all written, then it's a case of, for us in particular, you submit through a form which asks about you and the article, and then you wait and within five days, if it's accepted, we'll get back to you. And if not, we often won't get back to you simply because we have so much stuff to deal with. And that's it, really.
Bryan : Is it okay to do that even if I don't have a large following or I haven't published many articles on Medium?
Adrian: Yeah. So I won't lie here and say that people's followings don't influence our decisions. They're not a key factor, but if someone has say, 20,000 followers already, John might look at that and think, okay, well, this person is probably doing something right. So it's more likely to get in, but we also publish people that have maybe 10 followers whose content is just really good. And we like doing that because then it feels like we're helping them grow and get the recognition that they deserve. So really it's about the content, but follower count will help. It's not essential though.
Bryan : Okay. So Adrian, where can people find out more information about Mind Cafe?
Adrian: So we have a website which is mindcafe.co, and on there, you can hear more about our story. You can learn more about our team and everything else. And then within Medium, you can read all of our articles as well. So either of those spaces or socials. We're on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. So any of those.
Bryan : Okay. Out of curiosity, how come you picked .co for the extension?
Adrian: I think at the time is was a case of .com wasn't available and I like .co anyway. I like how, mindcafe.co. It's just so easy. It's so easy to type that in. And it's so short. So I'm happy with it. Maybe I'll buy .com one day, but I think it would cost me a lot. So we'll see.
Bryan : You know there's a .coffee or .cafe as well. So you can look into that.
Adrian: Oh. Mind.cafe.
Bryan : I think there is, yeah. There's an extension for .cafe and .coffee, might be worth looking at anyway. It was great to talk to you today, Adrian.
Adrian: Yeah, you too. Thanks for having me on.
Bryan : I hope you enjoyed this podcast episode. If you did, please leave a rating on the iTunes store. And if you want to accomplish more with your writing, please visit becomeawritertoday.com/join, and I'll send you a free email course. Thanks for listening.
Sign up to receive email updates
Enter your name and email address below and I'll send you periodic updates about the podcast.
Join over 15,000 writers today
You'll get a free book of practical writing prompts.