Sam Holstein

How To Write For Medium & Why You Should

This week at Craft + Commerce I spoke to a lot of bloggers about this platform called Medium. Craft + Commerce was full of bloggers who are trying to build their audiences on their website and newsletter (as well as make money, of course) and wanted to know what Medium did for me.

I told them all the same thing: That Medium is great for writers. If you’re a blogger who doesn’t have an established audience yet, writing for Medium gives you access to a built-in audience of however-many-millions of readers Medium has.

Oh, and not to mention the silly little fact that Medium has built-in monetization, meaning a writer with no articles and no audience can start making money on day one. ?

All this, and you can still have your blog and mailing list.

Using Medium to build your blog and mailing list

The generally accepted model for writers right now is that the key to making money as an independent writer is to have an independent blog and a mailing list.

I’m happy to say that having a Medium blog is helping me achieve both these goals. Every time I publish a blog article, I double-post that article to Medium. (Medium allows me to retain the copyrights to all my work, so there’s no copyrights cost). Then at the bottom of that Medium article, I have the following call to action:


Like What You Read?

If you want to read more thought-provoking articles like this one, my weekly digest is just the thing for you.

Click to join Megan’s Weekly Digest today.


Click the link and you’ll see it goes to a landing page for my weekly newsletter. I re-launched that landing page a month ago and it’s got a crazy goodconversion rate.

(Prior to this landing page, I tried to incentivize signups with free resources like little guides and booklets, but they didn’t convert very well. The above call to action and landing page are by far my most effective signup strategy).

Thanks to Medium, I went from 45 subscribers on March 1st to 388 subscribers as of today, June 11. Since I started using the CTA above, my signup rate rose dramatically.

See the graph get steeper
See the graph get steeper ^

My subscribers are engaged, too. My average newsletter open rate is above 40%, and my click rate is usually 5% to 9%. I also get reader emails all the time discussing what I’ve written.

My list isn’t big enough to monetize in any way yet, but now I feel it’s only a matter of time until it is, and it’s thanks to Medium.

Using Medium to Get Paid ?

Medium pays writers according to an algorithm that rewards engagement. Half the time when I try to explain it to writers their eyes glaze over, but it goes like this: Each article can receive claps. Readers pay $5 for a membership a month, and their $5 is distributed to each clap they give that month. If they clap once that month, that’s $5 to the article they clapped. If they clap 285 times that month, that’s 1.7 cents paid to writers per each clap. Here’s more information on how it works. The point is, writers are paid based per engagement, not per view, so writers get paid to write good articles, not clickbait.

After learning how Medium pays writers, the next question asked of me typically was “which topics do well?” The answer is: all of them, really, provided you write a good piece. I’ve seen articles that made hundreds of dollars on esoteric topics like trans ideology and what a threesome is like when you’re in a polyamorous relationship. Popular topics on Medium include sexuality, self-improvement, tech, and cultural commentary, but pretty much anything can fly on Medium as long as you abide by community rules.

Not every article on Medium makes money. I have had articles make bank, but the majority of my articles make next to nothing, and I’m not yet a skilled enough writer to predict which ones will do well and which ones won’t. But no article will make money on Medium without the basics:

  1. Tag your article properly. When doing keyword research for blogs, the generally accepted protocol is to pick a keyword as specific as possible. Do not do this on Medium. Pick tags that are the name of a Medium topic, like Self, Mental Health, or Leadership. Here is a list of the Medium topics.
  2. Pick a good photo. Medium has a built-in integration with Unsplash. Your photo doesn’t have to be directly related to the topic of your article as long as it’s the kind of photo people want to click on. In my experience, photos of attractive young hipsters doing hipster stuff works well.
  3. Format your articles the way people do on Medium. This means making liberal use of pull quotes and subheadings. Read articles on Medium in topics you like to get a feel for how you should format your work.
  4. Join some publications. It’s really easy. After you’ve written a few articles, go to the pages of publications you like on Medium. In their menu there is usually a Write for Us or Submit header. Click that and follow the directions to submit your piece.
  5. Don’t forget your Call to Action! If you don’t know what to write, just start by copying mine and linking to your own newsletter signup page.

I’d like to take a moment to address everyone’s favorite question, “How much do you make on Medium??”

I don’t want to answer it directly because what I think they’re really asking is “How much money can I make on Medium?” and I can’t answer that. People can make bank on Medium. Writer Shannon Ashley once made $8000 in one month, but when you’re starting out, you can’t expect money like that. Medium newbies usually make less than $100 a month for a few months. You may even earn nothing for a while, and that’s okay. That doesn’t mean Medium isn’t awesome. Medium is awesome, but it’s not a get rich quick scheme. It takes time to build an audience on Medium the same way it takes time to build an audience anywhere.

But, if you’re a blogger, you’re already writing articles all the time. Medium is no extra work. All you have to do is copy some articles over to Medium, making it super easy to get started. Since it’s that easy, there’s no reason not to.

Want to learn more about what it takes to succeed on Medium? I benefited a great deal from Tom Kuegler’s email course about Medium, which you can sign up for on his website’s homepage. (Tom, if you’re reading this, please make a dedicated landing page to which I can direct people since I mention it to folks all the time).

If I’ve convinced you to start writing for Medium, shoot me an email at hello@meganeholstein.com with your Medium profile link once you do. I want to see what you write. ?