One Year On Medium - A Review
My experience and thoughts on writing, topics, views, followers, and money30.04.2021 - 17:27
One year ago, I published my first story on Medium. Since then I have learned a lot, published 90 stories, got over 100 followers, and earned a small amount of money. Here is my experience and thoughts looking back at one year of writing on Medium.
In April of 2020, YouTube randomly recommended Shelby Church's Medium video to me. It sounded very interesting and almost too good to be true. You are allowed to repost content from your own website and you can earn money from it. I had been blogging about my game development journey and other programming projects for a while, but without any following online, none of my posts got any views.
Because there was no risk and only upsides, I decided to post my next game development log to Medium as well. For about a week, it didn't get any views either. But then, a random person read my story and I earned 3 cents. The first money I had ever earned online, which was very exciting.
After my first story got a few views, I tried to write my next game development blog post a bit more Medium friendly and it paid off. It got curated and accepted into The Startup. It was the biggest publication on Medium and I thought that meant I would get a lot of views and money. However, they were accepting a lot of stories back then and I only got a few views and earned a few cents. So for the next few months, I kept writing more stories, including a failed daily writing experiment in July. A few of them got curated, but they only got a few hundred views combined.
After my failed daily writing experiment, I went back to writing less frequently. Because of this, I had time to work on other things, which meant I had interesting topics to write about and I could take more time with the writing process. In August, I only published 4 stories, but all of them got accepted into publications and curated. Since then I am trying to write somewhere between 5 and 10 stories per month and my views have gone up slowly but steadily.
Photo by Wallace Chuck from Pexels:
When I started writing, I exclusively wrote about programming-related topics. I have been programming for many years, I have a master's degree in computer science, and I am working on creating an indie game, so writing about programming seemed like a sensible idea.
However, I prefer to write about things that I either have worked on in the past or am currently working on. I know that other writers don't have that problem and they write about everything, no matter if they have personal experience or not, but that still feels weird to me. It feels more authentic if I have personal experience in the topic I am writing about.
This is a bit of a problem when it comes to programming though. There is only so much programming I can do in a month and many things aren't that interesting to write about or I have already written about. Therefore, programming-related topics run out quickly. This is where one of Medium's best features comes in: You don't have to stick to a niche and you can try to write about other topics as well. I have a lot of interests so I slowly branched out into other areas like gaming, design, climate change, writing, TV shows, and even completely random shower thoughts.
Over the last year, my views have gone up a lot. In the first few months, I only got 100-200 views per month. Then I hit the 1,000 views per month mark around August, and then 10,000 views in January. However, since January my views haven't increased anymore and have fallen to around 9,000 per month. I have been working on a freelancing project in March and April so I didn't have as much time to write and none of the stories I published had a lot of success. The best performing story I have written was back in January and it has 7.5k views so far.
My Medium stats in April 2021:
Getting followers is very difficult. Why would anyone follow a weird nerd, who is writing about a lot of random topics? Not only is asking people to follow you highly disincentivized on Medium, but I wouldn't feel right asking for followers either way. I also don't like follow for follow, neither on Twitter nor here. This means I am so much more grateful for the people that chose to follow me. If you are one of them and you reading this: Thank you very much. Hitting the 100 follower mark a few weeks ago meant a lot to me.
I don't think I'm a good writer. In school, I was much more of a math and science guy and I hated analyzing poems and other pieces of writing. However, I always liked writing my own stories, but I never made anything of it and studied physics and computer science. Later, when I started to blog about my game development endeavors, I always felt my texts were weird and clunky.
I have improved a little bit over time, but I still believe there's a lot of room to grow. In programming, there is always an easy bar to judge your work: Does the program work? In writing, there is no such thing. It's very difficult to judge your writing, which makes it very difficult to improve. Even semi-successful stories don't tell you a lot, because luck and circumstance are more important to a story's success than the quality of the writing.
So part of the reason why I am writing is to try and improve my writing skill. I love learning and improving new skills and I would love to get to the point one day when I can write a good text in two hours or less, or let's be honest, a good text - period.
I couldn't leave out the financial aspect of writing on Medium. I would be lying if I would say money isn't part of the reason why I have continued writing. So let's have a look: Over the last year, I have earned a little over 150$ from my writing. Was it a financial success? No. Can I live off of it? Certainly no. But 150$ is still a nice additional benefit of writing.
Money isn't the main reason why I kept writing. The best thing about writing is the fact that there are people actually reading some of my content, as weird as that is to imagine. Creative work is so much more rewarding when it is seen by somebody else. I have been working on random projects for a long time and never published anything about them online. So when I started to share stuff on social media last year and got nice reactions from people, it was very rewarding to have your work recognized by others, even if it is on a very small scale.
Money is a bit of a weird topic, however. You see stories like "Here's how I made 10,000$ last month" or "In my 3rd month of writing I made over 1000$". As somebody who is far away from these kinds of numbers, it can be very discouraging to see these types of stories. I always have to take a step back and realize that at the end of the day, it's all about luck. You can try to influence your luck by writing more, but there's always going to be somebody, who writes three stories and earns thousands. And realistically, I'm not even at the bottom of the food chain. There's probably a lot of writers, who are having even less success than I do. But stories like "Here's how I made 10$ in my 10th month of writing" probably won't make it to the trending section. Similar to the rich getting richer, the best way to make money on the internet seems to be to write or vlog about how much money you make.
Overall, I am very happy with my first year on Medium. I have been able to reach a far wider audience than I ever could have on my website. It is very rewarding when real people are reading some of the stories I publish. Over 100 of them have chosen to follow me and I am very grateful to them. The ability to earn some money from writing is a nice cherry on top as well. I am certainly going to continue writing and hopefully reach even more readers in the years to come.
by Christian - 30.04.2021 - 17:27