What I’ve Learned As A Writer On Medium In The Last Two Weeks
From clap counts to follower goals, why don’t they make this stuff simpler?
Betcha Can’t Clap Just Once
I just finished reading Bernie Pullen’s article “Stop Looking For Followers” and I just learned something new.
Apparently you can ‘clap’ for an article more than once. I’ve been on Medium for close to a decade, and this is the first I am hearing of this.
Every single other website has a system where you can only like something once. Or rather, you can only react once per post, of one type (ie you can’t both laugh and love, you have to pick one). But on Medium, you can ‘like’ (clap) an article up to 50 times.
This is not intuitive and to be honest, expecting me to sit here and clap for each article I like 20, 30, or 50 times makes me feel a bit silly. I did it for Bernie’s article because I appreciated being informed but I wonder why they don’t make this more obvious?
Bernie also informed me in a comment reply that you can click and hold the clap button to increase the number, so you don’t have to sit there and drum on your mouse button to get it to 50, you just have to click and hold for a bit.
When every other site limits you to one like per post, why would medium do differently and not tell us? Or did they tell us and I just missed the memo.
What I suggested in a comment on Bernie’s article, was doing something like what Facebook and LinkedIn have — a like react and a love react. Or, as I suggested — Snaps and Claps.
Snaps are often used at poetry readings to show support because they are audible but not as loud and distracting as applause. So snaps would be the ‘like’. Claps would then become the applause, or ‘love’ for an article. This is more intuitive I think. What do you think?
Write About Writing Or Right Kind Of Writing?
Another thing I’ve learned is that the most popular articles these days on medium are the ones about writing and the ones where people are writing about how to get more followers and better engagement. At least, these are the ones I’m seeing most often on my homepage and in my recommended readings.
There’s the ‘just write good content and people will come’ contingent and the ‘do follow backs and comment a lot’. Both are valid approaches and it never hurts to interact more with fellow writers!
Aside from this article, I don’t really write about writing. I write about life. I write about my experiences, the things I learn from living. I write the kind of posts that I like to read.
Through 9 years of writing blogs I’ve become confident enough in my own writing that I can finish writing an article and be comfortable about hitting publish without seeking feedback from 10 friends.
I’m not a professional writer (though I have published a book), I just enjoy writing and am happy with what I produce.
Over 4 years with this Medium account I had only gained 77 followers organically, but also wasn’t publishing terribly often. Once I became aware of the partner program requirement and started doing follow backs, that number shot up by 50 in about two weeks (from 77 to 128).
I’m not sure how many of those same people would have still found me and followed me just for my writing on its own merit, but I am glad to be part of the partner program because I’ve been ‘writing for free’ for a long time and it’s a nice step forward to finally make a bit of coin from it!
Are You Feeling Lucky, Partner?
I applied for the partner program the moment I hit 100 followers. The requirements were simple — have 100 followers, have published at least one article, and live within one of the approved countries.
I applied, and figured it would take a few days so I let it be. A week later, I had heard nothing, so I went back to the application page, and re-applied. I then received an email that said ‘we noticed you applied for the partner program, but you’ve already been accepted’.
Huh. News to me.
I hadn’t received any kind of communication to suggest that. I came back to Medium and tried to set up one of my articles for metering but didn’t see the option.
I got busy and kind of forgot about it for a week, but finally came back and applied again a few days ago and finally received an official email from Medium saying I had been accepted. Hooray!
I’m curious if anyone else had a similar experience? I’m sure medium has been flooded with applications lately.
There’s Always Another Option
Simily. Substack. Patreon.
I most recently learned of Simily.
Noelle Beauregard wrote “Why I’m Moving (Some Of) My Content To Simily”. I’d never heard of this site before, so I was curious. Noelle writes about a few reasons for making this decision.
Simily isn’t as over-saturated as Medium. It’s an up-and-coming platform. It pays a flat rate of $0.02 per read unlike Medium’s metering.
The upside: You get paid as soon as people start reading your posts, and the site isn’t as heavily saturated as Medium (not yet anyway).
The downside: The flat rate means that once your popularity grows on Medium, it will eventually outstrip Simily.
I went over and signed up, because why not? It’s easy enough to cross-post to maximize earning potential. You can sign up for free, but that limits you to 5 posts per month, or roughly 1 post per week plus one extra at some point.
They also pay for external linking, which apparently Medium doesn’t.
Noelle shared a figure of how much her poetry would have made on Simily vs Medium, and the figure was larger.
Click here to check out my Simily page.
I’d heard of Substack before but only from journalists, so I thought it was only for journalists. I’m not a journalist, so I didn’t bother looking into it.
I recently came across a (now defunct) article here on medium about why that writer had chosen to move their writing over to Substack.
In short, because on Substack you can get paid right now, and you don’t have to wait for 100 followers. The article also talked about how the calculation methods and metrics for making money on Medium were a bit hazy and dubious, whereas on Substack they were very plain and clear.
I rushed over and signed up.
What I’ve learned is that Substack functions much the same as Patreon, ie you make posts (writing primarily, but you can also start/host a podcast there) and people can subscribe monthly or annually. You can also have ‘free’ posts and you have full control.
The upside: Technically, yes you can get paid immediately, and Substack isn’t as heavily saturated as Medium.
The downside: You still have to build an audience of people willing to pay for your content.
But arguably you can still make more money faster because it will probably take you at least a week or two to gain 100 followers on Medium (if you’re really, really proactive) and then you still have to publish content to be able to get paid.
On Substack I can publish one post, charge $5 USD/month for the content, get one subscriber and boom. I’ve already made more for one post in one day there than on here. However, if I had thousands of followers here and was posting daily, that may not be the case. So it’s a question of where are you in your writing journey on Medium.
From the earnings figures I’m seeing for newer writers here on Medium, $5 earnings in a month is not common.
So if you do cross-post on Substack for $5USD/mo, even if you only have one subscriber there, you’re going to make a LOT more in 2 months on Substack than 2 months on here. But if you can churn out content here and gain followers more quickly then it might be a closer competition.
But again, you have to actually get at least one real human to subscribe on Substack and agree to pay you $5/month for whatever you post.
Click here to check out my Substack.
(There will be more posts there than here)
So What Does It All Mean?
Medium is the big fish in the pond. Like Facebook, I get the sense that ‘this is where everyone is. But as a result, it’s definitely oversaturated, and lately is being flooded with posts about getting 100 followers and tips on getting better engagement.
Simily lets writers focus on writing the content they want to write. Substack seems to do the same. Both arguably pay better than Medium depending on how established you are here and how often you publish new content.
Is it a race to the bottom on here? It feels a bit like that to me sometimes. But I’ve been on here for a while, found some writers whose content I really enjoy, some of my legacy articles have got a lot of views and claps, and I’ve just joined the medium partner program. So I don’t plan to abandon ship.
I think it will be very interesting to compare in a month or three, how much I’ve earned on here vs elsewhere. My current rate of writing is about one article per week (with some exceptions), which I plan to cross-post. Again, writing isn’t my main gig but I certainly enjoy it when I can.
The question for me will become ‘which site do I link to externally?’
Do I link to Simily? Medium? Substack?
Perhaps I will alternate each week. But as someone trying to grow a variety of income streams, the small amount of extra effort it takes to cross post one article to three sites is not a big deal. I’ll happily take the extra cents.
If you enjoyed this article, please consider giving it more than one clap. I am grateful for any and all support!
Footnote: For any women out there looking for a good way to increase and improve their writing (and get published), I recommend checking out Julia Rose’s writing programs. And also a shout out to my friend Casey Lawrence who writes some really good thoughtful articles that I consistently enjoy!
Lacey Artemis is an author, artist, musician, podcaster, and more. You can find all of her work online at www.artemiscreates.com.
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