If you love writing online, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of Medium before. Medium is a popular platform where you can find everything from fiction to self-help content and more. It’s also incredibly accessible since all you need to do to publish articles is create a free account. But Medium isn’t just a place to get your content out there. There are also a number of ways to make money from it so you can turn your passion into a side hustle.
How Much Money Can you Make With Medium?
The amount of money any given author makes varies widely on Medium. It depends on the income streams they have, how much content they put out, how popular their stories are, and so on. But to give you an idea, here are some statistics Medium reported from its Partner Program in 2020:
These statistics are not meant to discourage, however. Even if you only take the Partner Program into account, it can be a good way to earn a bit of passive income on your writing and get your name out there. There are also many other ways to make money on Medium, which I’ll discuss further below.
Proven Ways to Make Money With Medium
1. Sign Up for the Medium Referral Program
Medium has a referral program where you get a special link you can send to fans of your work. This link directs them to buy a membership to Medium. This referral program is enabled automatically when you join the Medium Partner Program (I’ll discuss this more in a later section). Once you join, all you need to do is click on your profile picture, then go to Settings, Audience dev, and Promote memberships. There, you will find your referral landing page.
Below is the earnings breakdown for the Medium referral program:
For each reader’s membership fee, you’ll get $2.01 or $2.27 (depending on if they signed up for a monthly or annual membership). While it might not sound like a lot, this amount can add up quickly. Referring 100 members will get you $201 or $227, making it a great source of passive income to help fund you on your journey as a Medium writer.
2. Publish Engaging and Relevant Stories
Medium Partner Program earnings are based primarily on read time, so maximize this as much as possible. The best way to do this is to make your stories engaging and relevant to your readers. Here are some tips to do both of these well:
The point of engagement is to grip a reader from the beginning to the end of the story. I will talk more about reader engagement in a later section, but one important tip is to cut out fluff. Fluff is anything that doesn’t add to your story. It can include:
- Unnecessary repetition of ideas or sentences
- Overly wordy sentences that can be simplified
- Overused idioms and cliches
Fluff kills engagement because readers find it boring or hard to follow. Ideally, you should avoid it before you even start the article. A detailed outline will help you stay on-topic, so you don’t repeat yourself unnecessarily. When you’ve finished the article, listen to it out loud by reading it to yourself or using Medium’s listening feature. It’s much easier to find areas for improvement when you’re listening to it than skimming through it.
Relevance is one of the most important factors to keep in mind, as you should base your content around it. It can mean different things depending on the story you’re writing:
- The topic is timely, based on recent news events and their implications on your niche.
- The topic is trendy, being searched about frequently on search engines, or part of a growing hashtag on social media.
There are often overlaps between these two definitions of relevance since recent events often contribute to trending topics. Relevance in these two senses is important — the more people search a topic, the more likely they will find your content.
How can you make your content relevant? Make sure to stay on top of what people are searching (using resources such as Google Trends) and to stay active on social media. While not all trends or events will be relevant to what you’re writing about, they can be a source of inspiration when it counts.
Of course, being relevant now and staying relevant are two different things. The best way to stay relevant is to update your old content as the topic evolves. That way, your old articles won’t be outdated.
3. Grow your Audience and Engagement by Sharing Stories on Social Media
Social media is one of the best free ways to grow your audience.
To share your Medium stories, it’s best to use a text-centric social media platform like LinkedIn or Twitter. Don’t just share a post saying, “Hey, check out my article on Medium!” with a link. Social media users tend to respond better to value-added content over self-promotion, especially if you have few followers. I recommend creating a short version of your post by including one or more key insights or takeaways. Then you can tell your audience to read the full article by clicking on your link.
Though you can venture onto image-centric platforms (such as Instagram and Pinterest) if you can turn your post into an infographic. For example, if you have numerical data, you could put it into a pie chart or bar graph. Or, if your post doesn’t include statistics, you could turn its key points into a flow chart.
4. Gain 100 (or more) Followers for More Income
Like any platform, more followers equals more money on Medium. Besides the tips mentioned above, here are some other ways to get more followers:
- Follow other writers: Many of the readers on Medium are also writers themselves, so if you support writers, they’re likely to support you back. Of course, don’t just follow random accounts and wait for the followers to come pouring in. Make sure to follow other writers in your niche, since they will be more interested in what you have to say.
- Comment on other Medium posts: Similar to following other writers, commenting on other writers’ posts can lead the writer to follow you. This is especially true if you have an important takeaway, a related personal story, or constructive feedback. Writers enjoy getting valuable comments like these since it lets them know how they’re doing and that people genuinely enjoy their content.
- Engage with your commenters: Most writers post something on Medium and leave it alone, but there is a lot of hidden potential in your comments section. Some people don’t comment because they think the author will never see it. But if you actively reply to others’ comments, they will be more likely to share their question, concern, or feedback with you. As more people leave comments, it will improve your engagement and give your article more traction.
5. Be Active and Publish Stories on a Consistent Basis
Publishing stories consistently has many benefits, including:
- It gives your loyal readers something to look forward to.
- It makes you unforgettable to your followers.
- You’ll earn more money in a shorter period.
But make sure your posting schedule is one you can stick with. It’s easy to get burned out if you force yourself onto a schedule that doesn’t fit your lifestyle. Trying to put out content every few days when your capacity is every few weeks will make you more likely to quit. Plus, it will lower your writing quality. Just go at your own pace.
6. Join the Medium Partner Program
The Medium Partner Program allows you to earn money from readers with a Medium membership. The money you get is mainly based on how long members spent reading (or listening to) your article. This is a simplified explanation, but if you want a more in-depth look at how Medium calculates read time earnings, check out the official Help Center article.
To join the Medium Partner Program, you need to have at least one story published and 100 followers. You also need to be at least 18 and live in one of their eligible countries. (See the Help Center article linked above for the current list).
If you’re eligible, it’s a good idea to join. It’s one of the most direct ways to monetize your content and gain income from your growing audience.
7. Utilize Author Bonuses
In the past, authors have received bonuses for being among the top writers in Medium’s Partner Program. While it is not clear whether this is an ongoing thing or not, it has happened multiple times, including April and May of 2021, and other writers have reported receiving bonuses outside of this window. The writers who received these bonuses were top writers in the Medium Partner Program. If you decide to join, you may bonus money for growing your audience and putting out valuable content if Medium decides to bring back the bonus system.
8. Make Money from Tips
Through tipping, your audience can send you a donation if they want to support your work. Medium has a native tipping feature. Just navigate to Audience Development Settings and click “Manage tipping.” There, you can add a donation link. Some popular donation platforms include Ko-fi, Buy Me a Coffee, Patreon, and PayPal.
9. Sell your Offers on Medium
If you run a different business, you can promote it on Medium. Many companies already write on the platform because of the marketing benefits. When you’re doing this, make sure to balance salesy and informative content. Readers are looking for value above all, not blatant self-promotion. I recommend writing helpful articles related to what you’re selling and then leaving a call to action at the end.
10. Write Sponsored Content
Creating sponsored content is one of the most lucrative ways of making money on Medium. To do this, you’ll first need to build a following. Companies sponsor content creators to market their products and services, so they need assurance that your posts will reach a wide audience. Once you have a following built, you can start reaching out to companies in your niche. These should be companies that are related to your niche. You wouldn’t want to write about gourmet food and suddenly recommend that everyone buy a drone — it would be difficult to mention the product in this content in a natural, authentic way.
Tips for Making More Money With Medium
1. Make Sure Your Profile Stands Out
Profiles on Medium consist of a profile photo and a bio. For your profile, it’s usually best to put a picture of your face. People tend to connect to faces more than generic icons, so it will make your profile more memorable. As for Medium writers’ bios, they are limited to 160 characters. Every word counts. Give readers a good idea of who you are, what you write about, the experience or education you have in your niche. If there’s any room, it’s also a good idea to add a fun fact about yourself. This will make you more relatable to your audience.
2. Write Long-Form Content
Long-form content tends to be more valuable to readers since it has more information on a topic than a short-form piece. It can also improve your read time, so you earn more from the Medium Partner Program. Although keep in mind that not every piece of content should necessarily be long-form. If you feel like you have to force in sections that don’t quite fit or add filler just to increase the word count, that’s a good sign you should stop writing. Otherwise, your long-form content strategy will end up backfiring.
3. Make Your Articles Engaging, Interesting, and Valuable for the Reader
Sometimes when you’re writing, it’s easy to get into the habit of writing for yourself over the reader. Remember this: just because it’s interesting to you, that doesn’t mean it’s interesting to the majority of people. Here are some ways you can make your content more engaging:
Pay Attention to the intro
When you’re creating engaging content, the intro is one of the most important parts. Going on an unrelated tangent for a few paragraphs in the intro can cause readers to click off. It’s best to grip them with some kind of story, rhetorical question, fact, or statistic that’s related to what you’re writing. Then at the end of the intro, tell the reader what they can expect from the article if they keep reading on.
don’t forget the body sections
Of course, the importance of the intro doesn’t mean you should neglect the rest of your post. In the body of your content, makes sure to get straight to the point under each header. You can have a small introduction if needed, but remember that readers aren’t interested in filler. In fact, many readers just scan an article and go to the relevant headers rather than reading the whole thing from start to finish. So if they don’t find the information they’re looking for right away, they are most likely to leave.
Speaking of avoiding filler, make sure that every section contributes to the main point you’re trying to make. Readers aren’t going to like looking at an article on the benefits of owning a pet only to find sections about what it’s like to have a greenhouse. Your readers came there for a reason, and if your content doesn’t meet the mark, they will find a different article that will.
answer questions your readers might ask
As a final note of advice, to make your content valuable, center it around answering any questions your readers might have. If you need inspiration, search for your topic in Google and go to the “People also ask” section.
4. Make Your Headlines Pop!
When readers are looking for something new to look at, they are usually attracted to the headline first. The headline is a great way to appeal to readers who might be interested in your content. They should reflect the content that you wrote while still being exciting.
Make it specific
Let’s say you wrote an article about AI technology. You wouldn’t want to call the article just “AI Technology.” This wouldn’t appeal to readers because they won’t be sure what it’s about — after all, AI is a broad topic. But if you call it “How AI Technology Will Change the World,” readers who are interested in that subject will click on it.
Also, make sure to avoid click-baiting your readers. While you might think this will make your content stand out, most people are sick of clickbait and will avoid it wherever possible. The key to avoiding clickbait is to make your titles accurate to the entire article. For example, if your article includes a quote from an anonymous Reddit user, you shouldn’t call the article “Experts Reveal Why AI Technology Will Take Over the World.”
Even if you’re not doing it intentionally, some readers may think your content is clickbait if you use certain phrases in the title. Phrases such as “you’ll never believe,” “#10 will shock you,” and “this weird trick” are all commonly used in clickbait headlines.
5. Build a Following Before Requesting Payment for Full Article Access
Imagine that you’re a Medium reader for a moment. You found this new writer that writes on topics you’re interested in, so you click on a few of their articles. But then you realize that every single story is locked behind a paywall.
If you’re like most readers, chances are you would just click off the article and move on to something free. After all, if you don’t know how good a writer is, how will you know paying for their content is worth it?
So, when monetizing your content, always come at it from the reader’s perspective. They want to see that you have a reputation for putting out gripping Medium stories. When you’re first starting out, the only way to do that is to create some free content. Then, once you have enough interest, people will be more likely to pay.
6. Promote Your Articles to Medium Members
Most members don’t just read one Medium article and call it a day, no. If they’re willing to pay for full, ad-free access, they’re there to read as many stories as they can before their subscription runs out. So if you want to find people eager to read your articles, existing Medium members are your best bet.
The best way to find Medium members is on the platform itself. Here are two ways you can find Medium members to promote to:
- Create Guest Posts: Creating guest posts for other Medium pages is a great way to promote your own page. When they read a post from their favorite writer’s page and realize you wrote it, they’re more likely to follow you.
- Leave Comments on Paid Medium Posts: If you comment on a paid Medium post, the people who read it will be Medium members. When leaving comments, make sure they are insightful and unique. Many other Medium readers will likely say something like “Good post,” so you’ll stand out if you say something more.
What is Medium?
Medium is an online publishing platform where anyone can contribute content, including individuals and Medium publications. Some of Medium’s content is free, while others require a subscription. This depends on whether the writer chose to make money writing through the Medium partner program.
How Does Medium Work?
To start writing, you’ll need to create a free Medium account, then click “Write” in the upper right on the navigation bar. This will send you to a new draft so you can start writing your story. When you’re finished, just click the “Publish” button on the upper right. If you don’t finish your story, don’t worry — the Medium platform autosaves your content as you write, so you can pick back up where you left off.
Is Writing on Medium Worth It?
Overall, being a freelance writer on Medium can be worth it. While success is never guaranteed, it can be a great platform to start getting recognition for your work and gain new opportunities. I hope these tips help you to start turning your love of writing into a source of income.