#1: Write about outliers
I joined this platform in June after seeing Shelby Church’s YouTube video on her astronomical Medium earnings. While it has taken me four months to make what she made in just over a month, I realize these numbers are rare no matter what the time frame is, so I’m deeply grateful.
I also realize $11,918 is nothing compared to what many others are earning. Nevertheless, I’m writing this article because I want to talk about a few strategies for virality I haven’t seen mentioned a whole lot. I’ve only been here for a few months, so I’m not an expert by any stretch of the imagination. But I think I may have cued in on some things that can help you increase your earnings.
All the things you’ve read in other “how much I’ve made” articles have held true for me too:
- Include numbers in your headlines to increase your chances of virality
- The bulk of your earnings come from a few of your articles
- Articles often go viral months after they’re published
But to add some fresh thoughts to the conversation, here are three things I’ve learned I’ve rarely seen mentioned elsewhere.
1. Find the Extremes
Would you rather read about how to make $1,000 or $1 million? Learn how to hold your breath for 30 seconds or five minutes? Lose three pounds or 30 pounds?
If you’re the kind of person who starts with smaller goals, I understand — I’m wired the same. But when it comes to content consumption, people are more likely to read stories about outliers. In other words, the bigger the better.
Therefore, to increase your probability of going viral, write about extremes.
This is the mentality I used to create my highest earning article so far. After reading several stories on how someone made [insert amount of money] in [insert timeframe], I challenged myself to find the craziest version of this possible. The result: “How Two College Students Made $600,000 in 24 Hours,” which has earned over $7,000 to date.
Keep in mind I’m not saying to write clickbait. Instead, I’m suggesting you can increase your odds of success by digging deeper. Play journalist and find the outliers in your niche, then bring their stories to life on Medium.
2. Personal Finance Is King
Personal finance is one of the hottest and most lucrative topics on the internet right now.
Whether you’re a corporate employee or a blue-collar worker, everyone’s trying to get out of the rat race and achieve financial freedom. As a result, creators who talk about personal finance are seeing above-average ad revenue on just about every platform (Graham Stephan and Michelle Schroeder-Gardner for two great examples).
On Medium, the difference in read times between my personal finance articles and my articles on any other topic is astounding. For example, “Six Simple Mindset Shifts I Used to Elevate My Mental Wellbeing” and “7 Ways to Become More Persuasive When Negotiating” currently average 50 seconds in read time. Both are curated.
In contrast, “3 Profitable Side Hustles No One’s Talking About” and “How 3 Millennials Make $1 Million a Year in Passive Income” average two minutes and 30 seconds, even though neither are curated.
Here’s the thing. You don’t have to teach your audience something new to write about personal finance. If you make money and pay bills in any way, write a monthly update on how much you’ve made as well as how much you’ve saved.
On the surface, this may sound like an overdone topic in an oversaturated niche. But the reality is that these articles continue to perform well because everyone is curious about money. This principle holds true whether you’re on Medium, YouTube, or Instagram. If you’re willing to be transparent about your financial journey, you will attract readers.
3. Write the Headline First
If your content doesn’t teach, inspire, or provoke emotions, good luck getting views.
There’s a simple way to test for this. Write the headline first, then ask yourself, “Would I click on this?” If you can’t come up with an attention-grabbing headline, don’t write the article. This will save you from wasting energy on topics that never had a chance at virality to begin with.
Many Medium experts preach that success requires churning out volume. I agree with them, but I also believe you have to be mindful of what you’re writing.
Can your audience learn something from your article? Will it motivate them and trigger optimism, fear, or sorrow? If not, all the volume in the world won’t get you anywhere. Avoid fruitless efforts by optimizing your headlines first.
I like to describe Medium’s payment model as the “YouTube of writing.” To my knowledge, no other platform on the internet pays writers through the platform itself, and I’m incredibly grateful it exists.
One of my goals going forward is to beef up my own publication, which will unlock the ability to reach a readership with whatever topic, whenever I want. Concoda has pulled this off, and I greatly admire how they’ve built their audience.
Until then, I’ll continue writing according to the three principles above. It has worked for me so far, and I believe it will continue to work going forward, especially in light of the new Medium layout.