Loot From 30 Days on Medium

Oct 3, 2022
8 min

Medium’s payment structure is most similar to YouTube Memberships, where you must acquire a number of followers in order to be monetized. Once this has been achieved, you are eligible for Medium’s Partnership Program which allows you to gate content solely for members of the platform. These members pay a subscription to Medium, whose platform shares a percentage of the revenues to creators based on the aggregate read-time of a member. Writers may benefit from the Medium algorithm, which promotes their articles to other members of the platform.

Starting From Scratch

I decided to pursue Medium in an effort to raise funding for numerous purposes. However, I must make it clear that — contrary to the previous statement — I don’t write for monetary gain. I have found that my pleasure in writing stems from self-expression; which I engage in due to a number of circumstances that will eventually be explained elsewhere. I have maintained a blog for 9 months without any expectation of monetary gain; charging a membership for access to my personal experiences rather than to increase profits. This information is significant for multiple reasons.

First, it’s evident that you are reading this article in self-interest. As a reader, you may be interested to find out how much I have gained from thirty days of posting on this platform. As a prospective writer, you may be looking for justification or motivation to start your career on Medium. As an established writer, you are looking to gain insight on what I’ve done thus far; such that you may increase your success on this platform. In any case, I am using this series as a method of tracking progress.

In a similar manner to an MMORPG, every money making method requires a certain level of skill. In most cases, this skill level also determines the scale at which you earn rewards from said activities during the method. Out of courtesy, I must make it clear that I’m NOT a new writer in many aspects. I have been creating music with lyrics for 7 years; public-facing for 5 with 16 songs released. I established the SwitchUpCB Blog in December 2021, with 40 articles published.

An inexperienced person will focus on the amount of time I have spent writing, but ignore other skills — such as marketing — that are necessary to reap a reward from this craft. If you are to analyze these articles, it’s important to understand the level that I have achieved with these “other skills” before arriving at a conclusion for yourself. These “other skills” are multipliers that affect the results one would achieve in thirty days; in addition to luck (or a lack there-of). In other words, don’t try this at home.

An Imported Problem

I posted my first Medium article on August 23rd, 2022. However, when you check my profile, this article shows a publish date of December 15, 2021. What happened? Well, I decided to import 6 articles that were already written on my existing blog instead of creating new content off-the-bat. The Medium import tool allowed me to do this quickly, but there were a few problems.

In “What Is An Algorithm?”, algorithms are described as rather simple to understand: Platforms want to make money and algorithms are designed to further this cause. In other words, “the algorithm” simply rewards people who make “the platform” money. How does Medium make money? That’s explained at the start of this article: People buy memberships because they find value in the platform’s content. This value is a direct result of read time. So while shares, views, and all of that other stuff may factor into your article’s ranking, it’s not as important as read time. Sound familiar (to YouTube)? There we go. We figured the Medium algorithm out! Wrong.

With the advent of machine learning, it’s possible that even a platform’s developers fail to understand the algorithm. Instead, “a number of the metrics (statistics) of an input (such as a piece of content) are fed into a system (the algorithm) which finds a pattern (model) in relation to the content’s output (results)”. Over time, the algorithm is able to predict what will be successful based on specific metrics and recommend content accordingly. This is how you end up with an algorithm that promotes videos containing white people over minorities (on TikTok), because people are viewing white people’s videos longer; since white skin fits the modern standard of beauty.

What’s the point? When you import an article on Medium, it uses the publish date of the original post. This may be problematic because most algorithms place a weight on the time since the content has been posted. If the Medium algorithm weights older articles negatively, it would affect the chances that my imported articles have at being recommended. In fact, the results of these imported articles (< 100 views total) show that they haven’t been recommended.

Solving The Algorithm

Article stats after 30 Days on Medium (non-imported except for Aphantasia)

The screenshot above includes the stats of multiple stories and their views, reads, and read ratios after 30 days of being on Medium. The imported story — What Is Having Aphantasia Like? — contains views from 100% of external referrals (373 from Reddit and 286 from Email, IM, and Direct). The published story — Uber Was Hacked— contains views from 78% of external referrals (677 from Reddit and 867 from Email, IM, and Direct). This means that Medium recommended the article about Uber’s breach, but not the one about Aphantasia.

The only major difference between those two articles — besides the publish date — is that the Aphantasia article maintains 0 minutes of Member Reading Time, while the Uber article maintains 403 minutes. Following the theory about algorithms above, the difference in internal referrals (that come from Medium recommendations) indicates that Member Reading Time is important for the algorithm. You could also argue that the date since an article has been published matters, but there is not enough evidence here.

The Reddit Ramp Up

Every other article I published has less than a few hundred views (from external sources). What happened with the Aphantasia article? Well on August 28th, 2022, I posted the Medium post to the Aphantasia subreddit; where it sat on the front page (of that subreddit) for a day. Despite the post containing multiple comments praising my work, no one actually converted: I still had 0 followers. The lesson to learn here is twofold: On one hand, you can’t just make “good” content; it has to spark a reaction. On the other hand, Reddit conversion is shit.

In a similar manner to the above, The Music Industry articles failed to bring sustainable growth (read: followers required for a medium partnership) because most musicians (in the 99%) don’t care about the business aspect of the industry; or because I don’t actively market the list. It doesn’t help that the best and rather simple strategy to pursue music full time in 2022 for a person in the general population is still getting signed to a label; contrary to what consumers may tell you.

The upcoming Pay Disparity series also fails for this same reason; however upcoming additions may change the course of its viewership.

Community Engagement on Medium

Every platform has a culture that rewards those who engage in it. When I started to research Medium, one of the “most successful” writers I found was Shannon Ashley, who creates articles about dating (from a woman’s perspective). It’s no surprise that this content is popular, since a human’s existence only occurs through evolutionary reproduction. Yet this has already been duly noted.

Another important feature of Medium is publications, which serve as article aggregators. I have already explained the value of an aggregator in Why Most Artists Rely on Luck, but the gist is that groups are more likely to succeed over individuals. As a result, one of the best ways to grow organically on Medium is through publications. I would apply to a number of publications, but only be accepted to a few.

Once you are accepted to a publication, you must also have your article accepted as a submission. This entails a process I won’t elaborate on in this article; because it’s different for each. More important was that I was able to publish a few articles on Illumination (by Dr. Mehmet Yildiz; via editor John Cunningham). Being published is just the beginning since your article still has to be interesting (to be read). Unfortunately, my imported submissions weren’t even appearing in the feed. I was stuck.

This led me to planning a variety of content that has yet to be completed and will be released in the future.

An Uber Event

Uber Was Hacked. Here’s What Happened. I recently moved to an apartment whose managers failed to do inspection prior to and during move-in. The place was NOT well maintained. As a result, there were humongous American and Brown Cockroaches; one of which I found on my electric toothbrush. FUCK! In addition, the walls are extremely thin and my neighbor sounds mentally ill… I couldn’t sleep.

So imagine my surprise while scrolling HackerNews to see that Uber had been hacked. What? It wasn’t even posted on Reddit yet. I sat around for a while — due to the roaches — before realizing that I could be the first to provide a real report on this news. Sure, New York Times and all of these other news stations can report on what happened using algorithms and reporters; but these people aren’t software developers. They have no idea what’s going on. Wait, these people are not software developers…

I finished my article and submitted it to Illumination, then went to sleep. I woke up in ̵a̵ ̵n̵e̵w̵ ̵B̵u̵g̵a̵t̵t̵i̵ what I can only describe as a state of restlessness. My emotional expression modeled the physical state of Hans Niemann after he beat Magnus Carlsen: “The article speaks for itself”, I’d murmur. It had only been 5 hours, but it felt like an entire week had gone by. At least, I still had my dignity intact… Then I promoted the article a bit more.

It was worth it, I guess…

What a Response

I went around responding to some people’s content. I found a post by a crackhead (or chain-smoker or whatever) and told him to stop because “it would destroy [his] lungs”. Then he coped. I told him to “give me [his] money if [he] was going to waste it”. Then he seethed (blocked me). Of all the responses I made, the one with the most engagement started along the lines of, “Uh oh. Someone on the internet is wrong.” This is what gets people going.

Loot From 30 Days on Medium

Views from August 23rd — September 22 (2022)

What did I gain from posting 11 articles and 9 responses in 30 days on Medium?

  • 3,454 views (1,915 reads with an Average Read Ratio around 50%).
  • 13 out of 100 followers (required for a Medium Partnership).
  • $0 earned.

Going forward, I’ve devised an enhanced strategy for posting on Medium. However, I also have a lot of work to do; both on and off the platform. Streamlining the posting process must be done in order to increase my efficiency and organization. I must also spend more time creating content in order to build upon the minor success I already have. In other words, after 30 days I learned that I have the potential to make money on Medium.

I have also found that it’s not in my best interest to post Medium exclusive content, so I won’t. Every article and list I create on Medium must be copied to SwitchUpCB. Every article from SwitchUpCB that I CHOOSE to copy to Medium must be optimized for the platform. This has led to increased complexity that I must deal with through an upcoming overhaul. Once this occurs, I will begin posting again.

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