Last month I earned over $100 on the platform, breaking through a long time barrier and reaching a new milestone.
You could argue that a lot of my success came from luck and things beyond my control. You’d be partially right. The truth is, a lot of my earnings did come from one article. But half of my earnings came from several other articles.
Whether you focus on the roughly 50% I earned from one article, or the roughly 50% earned from several, all of my earnings come from one dominant source: hard work and tenacity. I just kept coming back for more.
I feel that much of my success on Medium has come from the constant and sometimes tiring habit I’ve carefully developed of simply showing up, doing the work, and trying to learn as much from the whole process as I can. And each time I come back for more, I look for the lessons that help me improve and do better the next time around.
Curious about what I learned? Let’s dive in.
Lessons from my biggest earner
Almost half of my earnings came from one piece, 3 Steps to Better Blogging: Keep It Simple to Make Something Powerful.
The simple and honest truth is, I had little say in its discovery or in large part, much of the success that followed. That isn’t to suggest that I didn’t have any say. The piece would have never been discovered had it not been written to begin with, had it not resonated with readers or connected with them, and had I not put in the innumerable hours before this piece to learn how to write for an online audience and what makes a (relatively) solid blog post.
Luck is its own thing, hard work is another. Between the two, it’s the latter that I have direct control over. When it comes to success, I like the things I have direct control over. Whether I succeed or fail, that’s on me, and it can be measured, reviewed, and likely repeated.
The success of this piece — as measured by its growing reads, engagements, and yes, money — has largely been beyond my scope of direct influence. It was discovered by editors and shared across the platform. This little fire led to other fires and eventually to a continuous and steady sharing by others.
Control what you can, double down on the work, look for what’s repeatable. That’s the top lessons I continue to learn from the success of this one piece that continues to pay out pretty well a month later.
What to take from the experience overall
Though a lot of my financial success in October stems largely from one article, I still made up at least half or more of my financial earnings from several other pieces. The core lesson from these is the same as the core lesson from the one piece that earned the most: whether you believe in luck as some mystical force or not, don’t let it find you sitting on your ass.
Translation? Show up, do the work, repeat often.
That’s my recipe for success. Oh, and balance the work you’re doing between hard work of the sweat and effort variety with smart work of the strategy and tactics variety. You need both, and you need repetition — so pace yourself and pay attention to any signs of burn out. Feed your fire steadily, not all at once.
I have written on Medium for over a year now, which means I have hundreds of articles, poems, and stories stacking up little wins all across the board. These combine to larger and larger victories, especially the more I write.
Plus, I comment on other people’s work regularly. These may not earn me any financial success, but they do help me plug into the larger community, to discover new writers and possibly get discovered by them, and to show the algorithm and maybe even the editors of this platform that I’m not just a fly-by-night writer. I’m planting roots here, I’m putting in the effort and building something. I’m doing the work, the real work that success demands.
Consistency and showing up
I believe the number one credit for earning over $100 largely goes to consistency and showing up. Sure, there’s an element of unexpected but welcomed good fortune that’s out of my control that certainly helped. But, I’m not a fan of relying on these kinds of things for your success. For whatever luck, good fortune, or welcomed surprises that come along, match it tenfold and just keep showing up. Keep doing the work.
That’s what you do as a writer, an artist, and a creative. You chase your passion, you show up, you do the work and you keep moving forward no matter what. Win or lose, succeed, or come up short, just keep creating, treat it all as practice. You’ll go much farther with an attitude of growth, progress, and studying both your wins and your failings. You’ll go farther when you accept that it’s all practice.
It was a lucky break having the editors pick my work to feature but it would have never happened if I didn’t show up consistently many times before and it would have never happened if I hadn’t spent as many days and more simply learning and practicing the craft
Real talk, there are few genuine mysteries to most of the success you’re after. You can accomplish this too. There are no secrets to it, just putting in the practice, learning, applying the lessons, and showing up regularly to do the work.
So, to recap:
- I broke a personal best and reached a new milestone
- Half of my earnings came from one post, but roughly half came from several sources
- This all leads me to believe that the biggest reason I was able to pull this off was simply showing up, doing the work, learning the lessons, and being stubborn about quitting.
That’s it. Just do the work. Which, I get, can be the hardest part of the whole thing. But, if it weren’t hard, it wouldn’t be as rewarding, would it? And remember, no matter what success means to you, you should keep it flexible so that when you reach it, you have something else to climb to. Make success a ladder and keep climbing.