How to Make Your First $50 on Medium

You can do this…here are the 3 steps you need.

Ok, as of publishing this I’ve only made about $43 and change…but looking at my Medium stats I’ll reach $50 soon. I am going to teach you the (less obvious) things I’ve learned, and 3 steps you need to start.


One of the things that I never expected when I first discovered Medium was that I would make money there.

I wrote on my own blog for a few years off and on, and thought the initial Medium experiment was just that…an experiment. The earliest posts on Medium were all about the clean design, typography, and quality content.

the very first Medium article
the very first Medium post!

A couple years ago when the Medium Partner Program started up, my interest swung back around. The program matured and the metrics for payouts moved away from “claps” to time spent reading content. A much better method. A little like YouTube video watch time for creators making money there.

How Do You Get Paid?

From the FAQ page:

Partner Program writers are paid monthly based on how much time Medium members spend reading their stories. Earnings are calculated based on two components:

– How long members spend reading your story. As Medium members spend more time reading your story (“member reading time”), you’ll earn more. When we calculate your story’s earnings, we’ll also include reading time from non-members if they subscribe to Medium within 30 days of reading your story.


– How much of their monthly reading time members spend on your story. By calculating a share of member reading time, we support authors who write about unique topics and connect with loyal readers. For example, if last month a member spent 10% of their monthly reading time on your story, you will receive 10% of their share (a portion of their subscription fee).

Imagine an author writes about fly fishing. She finds an audience of fly fishing enthusiasts who subscribe to Medium primarily to read her stories, meaning she receives a strong share of reading time from each of her readers. In contrast, a generalist author might receive smaller shares from his readers, who also read a variety of other authors. The fly fisher can earn relatively more through the share calculation, even with a smaller audience.

Pay close attention to the last bit. My own earnings seem to confirm that writing towards the interests of a specific audience is important. Almost 70% of what I’ve earned came from 1 article. That story was about when I almost died rock climbing. It got picked up for Medium’s “Outdoor” section…thus getting pushed to more people with that interest.

my highest earning story on Medium

How can you make sure your articles pop on Medium?

1. The Push and Pull

This is my term but others may call it the flow. The reason I call it the push and pull is because that is how you write something engaging. Good articles start off with the author’s position, promise, or a primary question for exploration.

To engage readers past that initial push, you pull them in with a story that almost takes their mind off of that first promise. Then you push them back to the main point. This cycle can repeat throughout your post. Done well, this makes for an engaging read…especially for long articles.

And on Medium, higher “member reading time” is how you make money.

2. The “Medium Format”

This may seem obvious to some but it wasn’t for me at first. Yet I have learned that there is a format that works well here. I came across another author that spells it out quite well.

This article is FULL of great tips, tricks, and advice. After reading this and adjusting how I format my posts on Medium, I started getting picked up by Medium editors for distribution.

I recommend reading this article. Using images and white space, linking to your own work, and having a strategy for choosing the right tags…it all matters. Trust me.

Read that article and save it. I still go back and refer to it every now and then.

3. Spend Time (but not too much) on the Title

Obvious I know but it’s important.

On YouTube they say to spend a lot more time than you think on your video thumbnail. After all, if people never click on your thumbnail, they will never watch your video. The same advice applies for titles on Medium…or anywhere. Luckily titles don’t need photoshop expertise.

But you do need a cover photo that matches the tone of your title.

BE AWARE though. I came across the above article that did a statistical analysis on all the “standard title advice”. The author boiled it down to this:

The only thing that matters is writing about a subject people care about, and writing a title that suggests you’re giving them something of value. That’s it.

Great advice and a valuable read that will save you some time in the future. I skimmed past the data science parts of it to the meat of what most of us are looking for. What works, what doesn’t.

Topic + Simplicity + Value Proposition = Good Title = Clicks = Readers = $$

Photo by Gia Oris on Unsplash

Where to Start

  1. Sign up for the Partnership Program!! – It’s easy and I was surprised when I started getting paid. Although I guess I shouldn’t have been.
  2. Save this post for future reference – Click that bookmark or archive button. I saved the articles that inspired me and you will be happy you did too.
  3. Start writing – You can even import old stuff you’ve written from other websites. Don’t be afraid to share your free ‘friends and family link’ with…your friends and family. Sharing is caring and helps get your article read.

I hope this has helped give you that push to start writing here. YOU CAN DO IT!!!

This was first posted over on Medium. If you like these longer form posts, you can get early access to them by becoming a Patron for $1 a month.

Author: Scott

The mountains are calling, let me grab a jacket and my kids.

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