The answer is not as straightforward as you think.
Medium has been going through some intense changes lately. So intense that it’s given new depths to the concept of ‘polarizing’.
Some love them, some hate them, but everybody is talking about them. Loudly and publicly: everybody knows Medium’s business and they’re taking sides!
And for a polarizing steeped-in controversy writer like myself, I don’t know why I’ve been holding back for so long. Probably because I’ve been in freeze mode and Medium has had its way with me, while keeping me strapped to its crazy rollercoaster.
But that’s it, I woke up, I’m alive and kicking!
So here’s the tea.
I’ve been on Medium since April 2022. I started making 4 figures a month in a matter of 6 months and soon chose it as my full-time income source.
Medium made me over $20,000, with some articles going way over $1,000. Here’s proof, and you’ll see plenty more of it throughout this article.
All this Medium business happened to me completely by accident.
In March of 2022 I had recently lost my job, got Covid and was stuck in bed for 2 weeks. Everything was messed up and I was sliding into deep depression.
That’s when I discovered Medium and I’ve said it in many articles before: Medium saved my life. I started writing with the fierce desperation of a tired and drowning swimmer hanging on to a lifeguard.
To tell you the truth, I had no idea what I was doing. I’ve never written before, not more than my sad little journal entries and a few articles for my art blog (comprised of 5 stories in total).
To top this crooked cake with a wrinkled cherry, I’m not even a native speaker.
But all that proved to be unimportant. I dived into Medium’s depths and went all in: I was writing, posting, engaging, and researching daily. When I look back at my initial posts I shudder. I even deleted some of them, I was that embarrassed to read them.
But I kept writing, reading, studying the platform, and making friends among writers. And you know what happened? I kept growing. Growing on Medium and growing out of depression. Medium gave me a chance to find a side of me that I had no idea was in there.
It also gave me a chance at a job! My portfolio of articles on Medium landed me a job as a junior copywriter. I had written 0 copy until then, just to be clear.
After 2 months, the job proved to be awful and I quit it in favor of my new king and lord: Medium. It paid off! Starting with my 6th month, I was making 4 figures on the platform almost monthly.
In my 9th and 10th month, I made $3,771 and $5,589 respectively. Wild, isn’t it?
When you don’t live in a first-world country, such sums are unfathomable. They feel like you’ve had a heart attack that never stops.
It’s so surreal that you expect Santa Clause holding hands with Jessica Rabbit to walk in at any moment and give you a foot massage.
Yes, it’s that intense.
Yes, I had written a book about how to succeed on Medium and I was sharing it with the world. I had the method and I wanted others to have it as well. If I have something that works I can’t just keep it for myself.
In April 2023 I celebrated 1 year of my Medium glory with an exotic trip to Cuba. I missed writing the whole time I was there! I published only one article that month and still made $1,000.
And then I took it slow: I renovated an apartment, published around 12 articles a month, wasn’t engaging with anyone anymore, although it’s a key component of success on Medium and I was literally breaking my own rules.
I was basically just basking in the glory of my success. My earnings were still over 4 figures, although I was only boosted once.
Had I published like before (around 30 articles a month), I would have been closer to $5,000. But I took my sweet time and sweet freedom.
At the end of July, I had just moved into my newly renovated apartment and was ready to go back to Medium. Full-time, all-in, give it all I’ve got.
I even started posting daily for about a week, and then… August hit. Hit me right in my earnings.
The first week I didn’t even understand what on earth was going on. Then I saw the writers fleeing left and right, cursing Medium and leaving in droves. Most of them to Substack, some to YouTube or personal blogs, and others to the dreaded 9-to-5.
For a while, I did nothing. Frozen in place, like a deer in headlights, waiting for the Medium truck to run over me already.
And, oh, did it hit me hard! And then drove back and rolled over me again.
August hit me with a 75% drop in earnings. I got up, dusted myself off, and reduced my drop to only 40%. I made $726 in September. Still a far cry from my good months, but I took it, spent it, and wrote some more.
In October the Medium truck went back for more and hit me again, this time with a $524 month and a lack of will to write on the platform ever again.
Finally, I started to wake up, promote my side hustle as a relationship coach, and consider Substack as an alternative.
Sure, I had opened it months ago but ignored it, unlike other more savvy Medium writers who have diversified their efforts much sooner and more focused.
So at the beginning of November, I finally took the time to reconsider. Where am I going with this? Is it still worth my time? Or am I too angry to see the forest for the trees?
This is my conclusion and my reasoning: strictly from a financial perspective, don’t stop writing on Medium.
- Algorithm changes come and go. If you don’t like this one, the next one is just around the corner. Please keep in mind that only this year Medium has been through 2 major algorithm changes, plus plenty of smaller tweaks just in the last 2 months.
- With every algorithm change, there are winners and losers. Just because you lost this time doesn’t mean you should stop playing, you might win next time.
- Imagine Medium like the stock market. Sometimes the market is low and if you pull your money when everybody else is, that money is lost. Leave the money there and most likely you will eventually make a profit. Give it time.
- The numbers, always read the numbers. Let’s take my worst month — August. I made $361 and wrote 11 stories. That leaves me with $32.8 a story. Of course, this is faulty Medium math, because that money didn’t come from those exact stories, but it’s useful for the sake of getting an idea of how much you can make. This was done without boosts and with very limited engagement. Tell me where else you can make a few hundred dollars a month writing whatever you want, with no bosses or clients to make you jump through hoops for them?
- I’m not even counting the friendships, connections, business, good reading, and various opportunities (jobs, clients, sales) that Medium can bring. Because I’m only talking about money here. Sure, you make friends at work, but you’d stop going if they stopped paying you, right?
- Medium is a business and you should treat it accordingly. Just because you’re having a few bad months doesn’t mean you should give up. Sure, at some point, the business might go under and then you take what you can from it and invest it elsewhere. But before that, you need to keep working on it if you want it to thrive.
So, to Medium or not to Medium? The answer is: YES. Yes, absolutely, go ahead and Medium. Medium is still a thing and it’s still a big thing. But you have to use it right.
If you want to earn from it, don’t just write for the sake of writing. Have a plan, do it right, find your voice, and share it with the world.
Nothing is an impediment: you don’t need experience, marketing, followers, to be a native speaker, you need none of that. All you need is a method and the pleasure of sitting down with your own thoughts and pulling them out into the world.
I might not be able to help with the latter, but for sure I can offer the method. It’s compacted in The No BS Book of Success on Medium.
You get it free if you subscribe for a full year to my Word Whisperers Substack, chock-full of tips and tricks if you want to become a successful author, a wealthy word whisperer, and unapologetic writer.