Building a sustainable and realistic online content business is a dream held by millions of budding writers and content creators.
Millions of content creators are making money using their knowledge, skills, and abilities and sharing them with the world.
Of course millions of people have flocked to sites like Medium.com to consume content and a sizable chunk of that population is testing their luck by producing their own content.
I know I was there in early 2017…
I had just lost a job that I hated due to an unforeseen fire in the building. It was a restaurant that Joe Rogan ate at the night prior.
I was in bad shape:
- I drank too much
- I ate poorly
- I hung out and partied with the wrong people
4 years ago, I decided to start writing and I never looked back. This decision helped me build a life where I now work for myself, my income is solely on my work output, and I create content involving topics that bring me fulfillment.
A lot of this has been through the help of Medium's Partner Program. As many of you know, this is a redistribution of payments from Medium's paying members calculated by read-time of content.
And that's the most important piece that you should take away from this article of mine…
Medium isn't paying you anything…
Of course — now as we see ourselves in 2021, the number is far greater.
As of December of 2020, Medium announced that they would be making more changes to their platform by coming down on "clickbait" article headlines.
This was supposed to be great news…
But the Medium-sphere acted like the world was burning.
"My views dropped!"
"I used to make so much money — where is it all going?"
"This platform is dying!"
Perhaps I'm being hyperbolic.
But there was a significant drop for everyone — this handsome wordsmith included…
All of this got me thinking about what it really meant to be a content writer.
I posted multiple times a week, articles aimed at helping people realize the same dream.
And that's when it hit me…
Even with the algorithmic and editorial changes with Medium — it isn't the platform that pays you.
"Well then… Who does, Jon?"
I'm so glad you asked, sexy reader…
Who pays you if Medium doesn't?
Let's go back to what I said a few hundred words ago…
"Of course millions of people have flocked to sites like Medium.com in order to consume content and a sizable chunk of that population is testing their luck by producing their own content."
Did we forget there are eyes on the otherside of each view?
I run a healthy subscriber list filled with several thousand email subscribers.
I mean humans.
I almost just did it again!
We tend to confuse these numbers (views, reads, subscribers, leads, sales, etc.) for what they really are.
All the numbers you see in your dashboard; whether it's 300,000 or 30 are made up of unique human individuals who are taking a chance by reading your work.
Did Medium make it harder to get those eyeballs by making algorithmic changes?
But the principles remain — Medium isn't paying you anything, all of the human beings on the platform who are looking for content are.
So how can you improve your earnings?
I know you're probably already ahead of me with this question.
I always try and hammer the point down that your content should always be addressing the question your potential reader has (and trust me — everyone has this question),
"What's in it for me?"
Considering that every time you get a read of your content it's an actual human on the other side reading (and not a number), this question should always be answered by your content.
What is your reader going to get by reading this content?
Also — put something realistic in the headline that will let them know!
If you need help with this, please use this free tool: CoSchedule Headline Analyzer.
While it's isn't ironclad (meaning just because you get a high score, that doesn't mean you'll get the reads), it will help you with your copywriting efforts.
Your audience is smart…
People can understand and spot a lofty headline when they see one.
It's the modern-day snake oil.
Don't over-promise and under-deliver. You're better than that.
You know it.
I know it.
What else can you do to improve your earnings?
I'm not one to forget how lucky I was to find out about Medium in 2017.
I was one of the early adopters (even though the platform had existed for several years by that point).
I joined the platform even before they had a redistribution partnership plan.
It was literally the Wild, Wild, West in terms of what you could write:
- Clickbait didn't matter
- Requests for claps existed
- Publications weren't as prominent
Don't believe me? Just ask people like Tim Denning, Tom Kuegler, and Anthony Moore who have been on the platform for longer than me. Hell, I remember when Tim had like 7,000 followers — he was already a fucking badass.
What am I trying to say here?
No…I'm not trying to do a bunch of ass-kissing.
Actually, I'm trying to illustrate how important longevity and consistency are with building an online content business.
Again, was I lucky to find this platform 4 years ago?
You bet your bottom dollar I was!
But was I "lucky" to continue showing up every damn day in pursuit of providing an audience with actionable, educational, and motivational content?
No — that was a choice I made.
And it's a choice you can make too.
Probably just as important as providing your human audience with great content, is showing up every day and doing the work.
Those aforementioned gentlemen I highlighted above can probably speak to the countless names over the years who have jumped on the platform all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed with striking their fortunes. They would network and publish content.
But then after a few months — they were gone.
Like so many other important things in life (skill-building, learning, investing, exercise, etc.) things don't happen overnight and then remain. Important things in life, things that can grow, require consistency.
- You don't get a six-pack with one exercise.
- You don't get rich off one investment (wait… someone don't point out Bitcoin).
- You don't learn a new language with just one lesson
- You don't learn to ride a bike after the first fall
- And you don't build an online content business with just one (or a handful of articles)
With my Quora and Medium accounts combined, I've written over 800 articles.
Most of them were average (that's how basic statistics work).
- Some were great.
- A lot were terrible.
But I kept showing up.
All the other successful content producers kept showing up.
Now it's your turn.
Your last article was a home run?
Awesome! Now show us the next one.
Your last article didn't really hit?
Luckily for you — you have another at-bat.
So get up to the plate and swing, baby!
“Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It’s a gift to the world and every being in it. Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got.”
― Steven Pressfield
Ready to Make More?
If you want to excel and earn more than what you’re currently making by doing what you love, check out my guide.