How Much I Earned During My First 6 Months on Medium

Photo by Avi Richards on Unsplash

I started Medium with three clear goals in mind. The first being able to teach others about what I know within the software engineering space. The second is to become a better writer. And finally, the last goal, to make extra cash on the side with the goal of it becoming a profitable side hustle. I tried to post once a week as opposed to some other writers on Medium that post more frequently.

I will be going over each month in more detail, highlighting the stats as well as my thoughts for each month. For those of you here just to see the number, the image and total will be right below this paragraph. Keep in mind, the content I create is geared towards the software engineering/programming space as well as a little bit of the productivity space. Numbers can differ depending on the niche. I also do not regularly promote my content outside of what Medium does on its own. I share with a few friends, but I let Medium handle the rest.

Breakout of each month when I first started and the number of followers as of the writing of this blog.
My stats page as of the writing of this blog.

For those of you who do not know how payments work on Medium, I will briefly cover it. Medium is a free platform with premium content behind a paywall. If users decide to pay for the membership, which is $5/month, they will get access to all content on the platform. When paid members read content that is behind that paywall, the author of the article will get a payout from that member’s $5 membership based on a few criteria. Those criteria being, the number of articles that a member has read for the month, and the amount of read time a member devotes to an article.

Creating high-quality content to engage your audience is key. Having a high read time is what is important as opposed to your followers or even to an extent, your views. So you want to focus on engaging your audience with your content.

If you are more curious about how Medium works as a platform for creators, there are tons of articles and videos on the Internet that cover more specific details that I won’t be covering here.

Month 1: July 2020

My first month on Medium wasn’t officially a full month. I wrote and published my first article on July 29th, 2020. I spent most of this month just researching Medium as a platform and how writers can leverage it to reach an audience and make money while doing so. I spent a lot of time understanding the concepts of publications and self-publishing. There are a lot of great resources on both YouTube and Medium that go into great detail.

As mentioned before, I only posted one article during July which results in a total of $0.03. Obviously, I had no following, but I was still surprised that I was even able to get any sort of money or views at all.

July’s earnings.

After seeing these results, I remember being super excited that I was able to reach some people. It motivated me greatly and really pushed me to write a lot more in the upcoming month.

Month 2: August 2020

August was the month I really decided to buckle down and get to work, using that motivation from the previous month to keep that momentum going. I stuck to a schedule to write a blog once a week. I wanted to keep a steady schedule so that I wouldn’t get burnt out since I’ve heard writers and content creators typically get that when overworking themselves or publishing too much.

This month, I wrote five blogs, earning a total of $224.43.

August’s earnings.

If you look closely, one of the blogs really took off. I remember having a casual conversation with my brother about Medium and how I wasn’t expecting anything substantial right before I decided to look at my stats for the night. We both were in shock.

Early breakdown of “7 Awesome Command-Line Tools”

I started comparing other articles to my successful one and it wasn’t fair to do so. It actually made me a little sad when articles would not hit the same standard.

I started hearing about an “80/20 rule” as I explored content creation more due to this feeling. The concept of 80% of your revenue comes from 20% of your content. After hearing about that, I decided to continue writing and keep the momentum up to test that theory out.

Month 3: September 2020

September was my most successful month so far. I had the momentum of the previous successful hit and another one of my articles started gaining more traction. Just for a little more context, almost all of my articles were published in publications. I tried to publish with Better Programming and The Startup as much as I could and for the articles that didn’t get accepted by them, I would either self-publish or publish with smaller publications.

This month I earned a total of $410.00.

September’s earnings.

All four of the articles that I published during this month didn’t do too great and I was perfectly fine with it. The content I created wasn’t my best, but I enjoyed writing them. Some of my older articles were gaining more views, but they were external users instead of Medium members. So in terms of generating revenue, they didn’t contribute too much, but I did enjoy the fact that they were helping a lot of developers.

Month 4: October 2020

October was an interesting month. Life got busy, specifically, I was interviewing for new positions. The software engineering interview process can be very extreme so I decided to dedicate more of my free time to practice and not write on Medium so that I could have a better chance to land those jobs.

This month I earned a total of $329.47.

October’s earnings.

I only wrote one article this month. My earnings were still being carried by my more two more popular articles written in August, but they were losing a bit of steam at this point and I felt like my momentum started to slow down.

I don’t regret my decision to spend time practicing interviewing for software interviews, however, I did realize that the decision that I made has hurt me as I was not producing any more content for the followers that I started gaining.

Month 5: November 2020

After I stopped writing weekly, it was really hard to get back into writing consistently. So hard, that I stopped writing entirely. I did not produce any content during this month and all the earnings were from previous articles that were written. I don’t know if I experienced that “burnout” that other writers and creators run into, but I definitely did not have the motivation to continue to write.

This month I earned a total of $271.70.

November’s earnings.

Granted, I was still able to generate $271.70 without doing anything. I started to become upset with myself since I lost the motivation to write. I think a lot of people can relate to this as it was becoming more of a chore than something I was enjoying.

At the end of the month, I told myself that I would take the next month off to recoup and spend time with my family. So I did exactly that.

Month 6: December 2020

The final month in this journey and was just as eventful as November. I did not write any new articles because I told myself that I would spend this time with my family and take care of myself.

This month I earned a total of $96.83.

December’s earnings.

Earnings dropped to a low and I have come to terms with it. The reason for it was because of my laziness and lack of motivation in the previous months. Granted December was a terrific month for me personally since I spent a lot of time with my family, but from a Medium perspective, it was not as good as previous months.

Final Thoughts / Lessons Learned

So, what did I learn from all of this? There are some main takeaways that I want to highlight:

  • The 80/20 rule. Don’t get discouraged like I did when blogs weren’t doing as well as previous ones. Know that the 80/20 rule happens to a lot of content creators and writers. Looking at my articles now, only two of them really generate a majority of the money which aligns with the 80/20 rule pretty well.
  • Quality over quantity. This helps you to get curated and published into publications which allows for better reach to readers. The articles that I felt weren’t as good, didn’t get curated due to the low quality and it really shows in hindsight. The blogs that did do well, were both curated and published in popular publications.
  • Consistently write to improve your skills as well as grow your content backlog. This should be a given for most things that are done in life. If you continue working on something, the small incremental improvements will magnify over time. James Clear says it best, “If you get one percent better each day for one year, you’ll end up thirty-seven times better by the time you’re done.”

I hope this article has given you some insight or has given you the determination to start your own blog. If there are any questions, please feel free to respond below so that we can have a discussion!

I’ll see you all in the next one!

Senior Software Engineer Consultant at Liferay. Passion for learning, teaching, and creating cool software tools for others to enjoy.

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