Why I Stopped Reading About How Much Writers Earn on Medium
I’ll be honest; I am one of the many people who started writing on Medium after watching Shelby Church’s YouTube video, “I made $6,000 from my Medium article.”
I think a big part of me was in disbelief that one person could earn that much from writing in such a short time span, but she sparked my curiosity enough to give it a try.
My first few stories exceeded my expectations. I didn’t come close to Shelby’s results, but it was enough to make me want to keep going.
For the next couple of months, I devoured stories from other writers detailing how much they earned on the platform. I convinced myself that this “research” was time well spent.
Maybe I would come across some nugget of wisdom that would help me craft a viral story like Shelby’s?
However, the problem I encountered with these types of stories is that they rarely provide the reader with any real value or actionable takeaway. There are some exceptions of course, but in many instances, the only benefit is to satisfy the reader’s curiosity.
Learning about what is possible can be incredibly motivating when you’re a new writer. However, compulsively reading about other people’s results can quickly become a comparison game that is detrimental to your mental health.
The comparison game
My understanding is that Medium was designed as a place for writers to share stories that positively impact others' lives and get rewarded for good writing in the form of monetary compensation.
However, income reports on Medium are basically the equivalent of fitness influencers on Instagram. Sure, looking at those pictures once in a while can motivate you to take your own health more seriously, but if you’re constantly bombarded with images of bodies that aren’t realistically attainable, it’s going to take a toll on your self-esteem.
Once your confidence starts to take a hit, it’s easy to find solace in the “negative Medium reports.” These are the stories that complain about how no one really makes any money here and how the powers that be change the rules so frequently that it’s not worth investing your time here.
I eventually found both positive and negative Medium stories to be anxiety-inducing. Either I wasn’t writing enough or well enough to make it into the top 1% of writers who earn a living here (which is 100% true), or I was wasting my time writing new stories each day.
That’s when I decided it was time to stop reading the reports.
Set your own goals
One of the reasons we are so obsessed with other people’s results is that we want to understand what is possible and realistic.
We look to high-earning writers to find the ceiling, and we look to the negative posts to find the floor. Most of us will find ourselves somewhere in between.
We look to the successful writers to give us a model to follow, and we use negative stories to justify our own subpar results.
In reality, the only ceiling to our potential is the one we set for ourselves. Allowing someone else's results to influence your expectations is dangerous and limiting.
Many writers sacrifice their own ideas and voices while trying to follow in the footsteps of others they deem to be “successful.” The goal then becomes cranking out content as fast as possible for the sake of getting views and income, rather than writing pieces that are truly moving or life-changing.
Please be careful when reading income reports on Medium. It’s fine to look to other talented writers as unofficial mentors — there are certainly plenty of them here.
But take a moment to define your own goals first.
I understand that money is important. We all have bills to pay. But there is more to be gained than just a paycheck here. If we start to value clicks and money over developing as writers, Medium will quickly devolve into BuzzFeed.
Who wants that?
The non-monetary benefits of Medium
Since starting my Medium income report detox, I’ve decided to focus on the following non-monetary benefits of Medium:
- Developing a daily writing habit.
- Connecting with other writers I enjoy reading on the platform.
- Starting my own publications on niche topics that I care about.
- Submitting to publications as a way to get feedback on my writing.
Ultimately, my goal is to become a better writer, marketer, and communicator. Maybe yours is too? Each day that I make progress toward that goal, I consider it a win.
I refuse to beat myself up because I didn’t get a certain number of views on my stories. I write about what inspires me or that I think may add value to others. I am confident that as I improve as an authentic writer, I will be rewarded for it.
But that’s not something I need to worry about today.
I just need to write.
The next time you are tempted to click on someone’s clickbait income report, make sure that you are firmly centered on your own goals first. If you are easily influenced, please skip them and invest your time reading something that will actually help you improve as a writer.