How I Became A Top Writer On Medium (I Stopped Being A Dick)

And why I’m excited about it — being a top writer and not being a dick

So here’s the deal, I had been a junkyard of false starts (thanks, Elliott Smith!) on Medium.

Over the last few years, I created accounts, made a post or two, received basically zero views, and gave up. Each time I walked away frustrated because I knew others saw success and made money on Medium.

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Me, Reading And Writing Circa 2019 / Source: Author

I’m embarrassed to admit that.

Who did I think I was that I should be able to stroll into the Medium platform and be instantly successful?

My success, experience, and earnings elsewhere do not and should not guarantee success on Medium.

After receiving a dose or two of humility elsewhere in my personal and professional life, I took a different approach to two central areas of my day-to-day existence — investing and writing. On the ground, the two things have lots in common.

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The email Medium sends when you become a top writer.

I follow an investing style called dividend growth investing.

It’s a slow burn.

In the shell of a nut, you buy stocks that pay dividends. You add money to these stocks incrementally on a regular basis. You reinvest all the dividends into these stocks as well. Over time, the magic of compounding takes effect and you build wealth.

You can see it starting to happen early on (as the dividend payments begin to roll in and you add new money to your account), but it takes a long time for the portfolio to generate a significant amount of income. Say, enough to live on in full or in part someday.

From what I can tell, Medium works similarly in terms of getting views and making money.

Things start painfully slow, but show life in short order, as long as you’re writing well, authoritatively, and frequently.

I have only been writing on Medium for three weeks.

Medium curated my first story in Money. Medium hasn’t curated any of my remaining 17 stories. This doesn’t bother me. I used to be an editor. I imagine the volume Medium editors see makes it difficult to get curated regularly. I hope if I keep at it, Medium will curate more of my work.

But I don’t think curation is the end all, be all.

I researched publications. I found a few I like. I am not playing the numbers game. I only want to end up in publications I read regularly.

To date, I have had my stories published consistently in Making of a Millionaire. Ben Le Fort does a nice job there. I think he’s Canadian, so all the better.

Getting into Ben’s publication helped views considerably.

I also write elsewhere, mostly at financial media platform Seeking Alpha. I have a solid following there. I love Seeking Alpha.

When it’s appropriate I will link to one of my Medium stories in a Seeking Alpha article or vice versa. But I don’t do it too much or for the sake of doing it. I only do it when the link provides the reader information she needs or could use, but doesn’t get in the article she originally clicked on.

I assume Medium and Seeking Alpha appreciate that approach.

My Medium earnings still stink. However, half way into August, I have already made roughly three times what I made in July.

I get the sense Medium earnings grow much the same way compounding dividends build wealth over time. But I think Medium earnings can make a more meaningful impact faster. That is if you write well, authoritatively, and frequently.

In summary —

  • I stopped being a dick, thinking I somehow deserve instant success on Medium.
  • I treat views and earnings on Medium the way I treat dividend growth investing. They have a fair bit in common.
  • I don’t stress over curation.
  • I made my way into a solid publication and hope to do the same with a couple more.
  • I like to think I write well, authoritatively, and frequently.
  • I read articles, mostly on Medium, about other people’s experiences on the platform. Most of the time, they’re useful and inspiring.

That’s straightforward. But it’s exactly what I have done and how I think things will go.

The toughest part of the equation is the well, authoritative, and frequent part.

I know it’s not a big deal, but I am excited to be a top writer. Every little win counts, as they really do build on one another, practically and psychologically.

Written by

I write about doing life and personal finance, focusing on the psychology of our relationships with other people and money. I’m anti-guru, pro-empowerment.

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