Is It Still Worth it to Write on Medium?

Is Medium dead or are they headed to the promised land?

What should you do if you’re a brand new writer and want to publish on Medium?

How should writing platforms factor into your strategy?

The CEO of Medium posted transcripts of a keynote presentation he did called the State of Medium.

I’d read the whole thing first if you haven’t and then come back to this.

I took quotes from the piece and added my own two cents and analysis to them.

After that, I provide my own analysis, insights, and tips on how you should use Medium moving forward.

“The bottom line for writing is that it’s a product for a human to read, and yet we spend all of this time considering these non-human factors, like virality and algorithms and SEO.”

This quote, and the tone of the entire talk, makes me think that Tony doesn’t see or understand the human element involved in marketing techniques like engineering virality and SEO.

Take SEO for example. When you write an article that’s optimized for search engines, you are writing a post based on topics and ideas that human beings have literally expressed interest in because they are searching for them.

When it comes to virality and marketing techniques like headlines, hooks, and irresistible subheadings, you are often helping the reader absorb and consume your ideas more easily.

I teach my students to focus on marketing and provide depth with stories and personal experiences. I get the impression that Tony believes these are mutually exclusive goals. I don’t.

By definition, every single person is an expert in their own life. The power of giving everyone a voice, which is what we do at Medium, is that we get to learn from every variation of expertise.

Medium, other writing platforms and social media sites have been trending in this direction for a while now. This trend is supported by the wants and needs of readers.

People are tired of hearing regurgitated and remixed ideas.

You should draw from your own life experiences to give advice or tell stories instead of having to ‘come up with’ content.

You will have to demonstrate how you’ve implemented what you’re talking about in your posts nowadays or else people won’t listen to you.

My advice:

  • Learn concepts, test them, then teach them
  • Take an inventory of all the problems you’ve overcome, challenges you’ve faced, skills/lessons you’ve learned, and relevant stories you can share then use those as ideas for content
  • You might, for a time, have to go out and get some more real-world experience before you start positioning yourself as an authority

I am in agreement with Tony and Medium’s thinking here.

He was right when he said:

There’s a lot of fake stuff everywhere else. We’re trying to help encourage writers to share the real stuff — real wisdom — and help give readers an opportunity to receive it.

If you’re a writer, especially if you’re a full-time writer, you start to pick up certain marketing skills. But I don’t think these marketing skills should be required for everyone. You shouldn’t be required to build your own mailing list, you shouldn’t have to learn SEO, you shouldn’t have to build a social media following. Yes, those are all valuable tools of the trade for professional writers — but they undercut the idea of social media giving a voice to everyone.

Maybe you shouldn’t be required to learn skills and build assets like an email list. But you have to if you want to be a professional writer. And many writers on Medium want to become professional writers.

I’d argue that if you removed all the people who are motivated by dreams of turning pro from Medium, the website would die. Medium was built by audience builders, not people who wrote one-off posts. Without all the content from these types of writers, Medium wouldn’t have grown to the size it did.

I am always wary of people who use collectivist phrases like ‘giving a voice to everyone.’ Never in human history has it worked to try to level up the playing field and redistribute wealth. Usually, everyone collectively just ends up worse off. Social media sites, writing platforms, and economies are built by outliers. Power laws make the world go around.

It does appear that Medium is going ‘Robinhood’ and taking views from the power writers and giving it to the up-and-comers, which is fine by me, but they shouldn’t be surprised when the power users leave. Many of them have.

“Medium is special because it’s a place where you can be heard just for sharing your academic research, or for being a great software engineer and telling people what you’ve learned, or for sharing new tools, techniques, or strategies as a designer. There’s a million definitions of merit that aren’t dependent on knowing how to market your writing.”

Tony’s right. There are definitions of merit that aren’t dependent on knowing how to market your writing, but that doesn’t discount the importance of marketing.

Pure merit doesn’t work as a model. It never has. Take business for example. You can have the best product in the world but if you have no method to get people to know about your product it doesn’t matter.

Tony’s advice is great for people who want to write as a hobby and create one-off posts from insights they gained from living life. There should be posts like these sprinkled into the mix. But if you want to become a writer and become a commercial success, you must understand that there’s no such thing as a meritocracy in the writing world. Promotion matters.

“[…] our original approach led to this algorithm that was very similar to an algorithm that YouTube or a TikTok would use. But we had readers who were telling us they read a lot, but it didn’t feel like it was truly time well spent. So the game-changer for us, for our algorithm, is that we put humans back in the loop […] One of those layers is a growing community of subject matter experts within the Medium community. These are the people that are looking for and nominating stories that they think are exceptionally important within their topic. The other is an internal curation team, the Medium curators, who act as a double-check and help keep the standards of quality and substance high. Once a story passes both standards, it’s Boosted and it’s treated with special care by our algorithm.”

Here Tony is talking about the boost system:

  • Publications owners nominate posts for boosts
  • Medium editors hand-pick from those nominations and hit the boost button
  • Then the boosted posts go through normal algorithmic distribution after getting the extra lift

I appreciate the goal of adding a human touch to combat clickbait, viral engineering, and just churning out content. But adding more humans to the mix always runs the risk of creating a new set of gatekeepers.

From what I’ve seen and based on my conversations with other writers, the boost is creating a feast or famine cycle. Either your post makes a bunch of money or it basically makes no money. There was already a Pareto distribution to views, but now it’s even more pronounced.

There was a time when you could write a solid story, get pretty good views, and make pretty good money. Those days are gone.

“What we found with Boosted stories is that readers are 3% less likely to click on them. I think that says something that speaks to something that I was saying earlier about how you shouldn’t have to be a marketer to get your things read […] However, by far the most important finding is that when a reader reads a Boosted story, they’re twice as likely to then become a paying member. This is how we know that we’re finally, finally building a recommendation system that meets this higher bar of time well spent.”

We will see how this plays out. Medium is making a bet that it will be a net positive to promote the type of stories that drive memberships and de-prioritize what they consider clickbait.

This could work. Or it could lead to a version of Medium where a small group of people are happy and satisfied with this in-depth and valuable content, while more and more people begin to spend less time on the website because, due to a lack of packaging, none of the articles they see inspire them to want to read the posts.

We’ll see.

If you run a publication and you’ve suspected for a long time that maybe Medium wasn’t giving you the attention that you warranted, I can completely validate that you were right. But now things are changing.

Medium is putting an emphasis on publications in multiple aspects. You get more money from posts that are read by followers of the publication you post to. Publications owners are the backbone of the boost system. The love is being spread around to more publications so you don’t have to just publish in the huge ones to have a shot at success.

I like this. I have always been pro-publication and I’ve always advised my students to post nearly 100 percent of their work in publications.

“So now, because of solutions like the Boost and publications, we’re feeling more and more confident in our ability to play matchmaker between quality and the reader and that we can treat the quality of the story as primary.”

This paragraph scares me because it sounds like something the New York Times would say, not Medium. Medium has flirted with this idea of becoming more of an editorial sort of site multiple times. It hasn’t worked.

They tried pushing their ‘in-depth and quality’ stories on the homepage with their big fancy Medium publications featuring stories by journalists, experts, researchers, etc. You were forced to see these stories at the top of the homepage regardless of your interest. And the engagement on these stories was horrible, even with the push they tried to give them.

Matchmaking sounds a lot like gatekeeping to me.

From the outside, Medium is irrationally attached to doing some things differently. Why does Medium have human curators, when TikTok, YouTube, and Twitter just use an algorithm? Why does Medium have a membership instead of ads? In fact, authors often ask us, couldn’t you make more money if you ran ads? Why do we focus on time well spent instead of attention? Why do we base credibility on the content of an individual story rather than the influence of the author? Of all the lessons from the past, the main lesson that we took from the rest of the internet is this: Attention is not merit.

Again, on its face, all these goals seem noble. Maybe it will work out for both the readers and the writers. But it is kind of weird for a business to go on an ideological crusade when the point of a business is, you know, making money.

Don’t want to run ads even though it would make the writers more money? Cool. But don’t be surprised if your labor pool shrinks because people aren’t, you know, making money.

‘Focusing on time well spent’ is subjective. It’s also susceptible to bias. It’s also clear that the company has biases in a certain direction. What Tony misses is the fact that learning techniques to garner attention can help you write better stories.

A good headline can change the nature of an article. Marketers, copywriters, and persuaders have a better understanding of what humans think than most people on planet Earth. You can’t win as a marketer in the long run unless you know how to connect with people in a real way.

A lot of writers try to just post their writing without learning marketing at all. And as a result, their writing suffers. If you are the type of writer who wants to make a living from your writing, then posting into the void without understanding the attention game is a fool’s errand.

There needs to be a place for people to share their most thoughtful, passionate, curious, and kind voices. When we say we want to give everyone a voice, it’s that — it’s in a way that’s different than what you’ve already seen on the internet.

Again, this is noble and I agree with the attitude and intention behind it. I just don’t know how well it will work. Medium doesn’t owe us as writers anything. They don’t owe us money, a full-time living, or a place to become full-time professional writers.

They can do whatever they want. But you, as a writer, should be looking out for number one. If you want to become a professional writer, Medium is now a place to re-post stuff you were already going to publish, use it as a portfolio to showcase your work, and try to siphon as much traffic from the site as possible and use it to build an audience you own in the form of an email list.

What Medium has done is typical of platforms. On the come up, they incentivize user-generated content to build their user base. Then, once the platform is big enough, they just do whatever they want and ignore the wants and needs of the people who built it.

It is what it is. Medium has been great to me and I’ve made a hell of a lot of money on the platform. But their changes have made me re-think the way I am going to use it as part of my efforts as well as the advice I’d give to a new writer starting on the platform.

The rest of this piece will focus on advice I would give to writers as well as my own independent thoughts on the platform.

You Can’t Rely on Medium to Make a Full-Time Living Writing (Anymore)

At best you can earn $1-5,000 per month on the platform if you’re good. That’s a lot of work for that amount of money. I’ve had conversations with tons of writers whose earnings have been decimated, with some reporting an 80 to 90 percent drop in their views and earnings.

My numbers have shrunk quite a bit too. If you are writing often, improving your skills, and putting out higher quality work, yet your views and earnings are going down, that’s not a good sign.

Just look at this comment from Ossiana Tepfenhart, a popular Medium writer:

When is the algorithm going to be fixed? The payouts I’m getting are literally pennies and they are in line with the boost standards. I feel like there is something wrong here.

There’s a valuable lesson to learn here. You shouldn’t rely on earning money directly from platforms, period. Take the money, but use the platforms to build your own distribution:

  • Build an email list you can sell products and services to
  • Treat Medium as a re-posting platform (don’t cater your posts to Medium to make money). Write optimized content on your blog, then copy and paste to Medium for free money
  • Build an income stream with guaranteed income and cash flow like freelancing.

I will still re-post all my blog content to Medium, but I’m focused on building my own home turf and distribution. You should too.

Do Take This Piece of Advice From Tony To Heart

Tony is 10,000 percent accurate when he says that readers are tired of hearing fake made-up content. You do have to back up your flashy headlines and intro hooks with real value.

But there’s a way to provide value and be a good marketer at the same time. You want to combine traditional blogging and marketing techniques with depth.

Here are some tips to do that:

  • Each time you give a piece of advice, add an anecdote explaining how you’ve implemented it
  • Only write about topics you’ve either researched and tested or lived yourself
  • In general, learn how to become a better storyteller because stories make lessons stick better than tips anyway
  • Don’t speak to your readers from a pedestal. Bleed on the page. Talk about your struggles and vulnerabilities
  • Spend time studying what readers are saying in comments. Take real feedback from their words and use it in your posts

Good News For Beginners and Intermediate Writers

The big-name writers are getting shredded right now.

But, the little guy or gal is getting a chance. So, if you are new or have a smaller following, take advantage of it. I have had students report their earnings going up. The size of your following really doesn’t matter anymore, so go ahead and post on Medium and try to get some wins in the form of boosts.

You shouldn’t rely on Medium to make a full-time income, but as a new writer, it is thrilling to make hundreds or thousands from a single post, so it does make sense to get a taste of that sweet mulah because it will inspire you to do the real work it takes to build a well-rounded writing business.

When you’re new, you just need to get better at writing, period. So, use Medium to practice and get paid at the same time. Right now Medium is an amazing platform for beginner writers who are looking to get their feet wet. I wrote on Medium before the partner program even existed because there’s value in practice. You still get the chance to get paid, too. Win-win.

Esoteric Writers Are Getting Their Shine

The essayists, memoirists, poets, and other writers who have zero interest in writing traditional blog-style stuff now get a chance to shine and earn from their words. I’m happy for them.

Because, honestly, outside of a place like Medium, you won’t make much money for that type of writing.

If you want to become a full-time professional writer all that marketing stuff is required. And some writers just don’t want to do that. Medium will be their home. More and more of these types of pieces will emerge.

Totally fine by me.

We should have places on the internet where different styles are rewarded. It might be bad news for ‘audience builders’ but it’s great news for those of you who don’t want to ‘sacrifice the quality of your art.’

It’s your time now. Show us what you got.

Medium Doesn’t Want Audience Builders on the Platform Anymore

Even though we built the platform from the ground up, they just don’t want us here anymore. Even though most of the fan favorites on Medium have been audience builders, they just don’t care.

Again, this is fine. It’s their company.

I’m an audience builder. Most of my students are audience builders. If you want to go full-time, you have to be an audience builder. Here’s what you must understand as an audience builder.

Platforms come and go. Algorithms change. You have to weather the storm and build an audience you own. Medium isn’t the first platform I’ve seen make moves like this and it won’t be the last. I’ll keep on keeping on, pivoting along the way, and so will my students.

Even though they might not want us here, we can still use the platform to our advantage. Keep posting on Medium. Just detach yourself from the outcomes. Start a blog, post to it, learn a bit of SEO sauce, and use Medium to get links to your site. Use Medium to get email subscribers. Write books, sell products, and monetize in other ways like affiliate marketing and ads.

If you’re the type of writer who has ambitions to go full-time, here’s what I’d do:

1. Publish blog posts to your website

2. Copy and paste to Medium for free money

3. Learn basic SEO

4. Optimize your site for traffic & earn from ads, affiliate revenue

5. Become a freelance SEO writer

6. Quit your job

7. Build your big personal brand after 1-6

This path help will help you:

  • Build cashflow much much faster: write a blog post for a guaranteed $300-500 as a freelancer instead of posting to Medium and crossing your fingers
  • Build a real business independent of Medium: One of the guest experts in our community received a multi-six-figure offer for her blog. She built it by posting on her blog first and then copying it over to Medium.
  • Create a more secure and reliable path to going full-time: This strategy isn’t as sexy as the glory days of writing posts and earning a bajillion dollars per month on Medium. In retrospect, it was a faulty strategy that just happened to work.

A lot of top writers were canaries in the coal mine on this trend.

I tried to fight tooth and nail to defend Medium.

I’m done. Because I no longer can.

Medium Isn’t Dead…It’s Just Different

I will always love Medium. If I do happen to post something to my blog, I will re-post it to Medium. If you create long-form content, you should post it on Medium. There’s no downside to posting on Medium.

There’s just less upside.

So instead of hoping to ride the wave of the Medium algorithm like people used to in the past, just recognize Medium for what it is and act accordingly.

The leadership in the platform straight up says your writing career is of no concern to them. They want to use your content to build their member base. The members are the top priority, not the writers.

This is a mistake on their part, but it’s a mistake they have the right to make.

Use Medium to your advantage. Don’t let it use you.

There are competitors on the horizon. Build on Medium and put yourself in a position to take advantage of them when they emerge.

Writing is a life-long game with ups and downs. Play it well.

Medium Isn’t Dead: Thoughts From a Medium Veteran can help you make cash and build your audience. Get exclusive access to your free five-day email course to become a top Medium writer and make thousands each month.

I’ve been here longer than pretty much every other writer on the platform.

I’ve seen all the changes. I was here before the clap feature: you used to be only to tap the ‘heart’ button once. I was here pre-partner program. That’s right. I wrote articles on Medium, gasp, for free.

I used Medium to do all the things writers had to do before having the luxury of making money directly from their writing with Medium – hone my voice, build an audience, and grow my email list to have a functioning business that didn’t rely on one single platform.

I was here when we were paid for claps instead of read time. I was here during the ‘gold rush’ a lot of new writers like to complain they missed. And I’m here now, like I always have been and like I always will be as long as Medium is still around, which it will be for a very long time.

I’m coming up on year seven of my writing career. I started writing before Medium ever really existed. I’ve earned the right to write about writing and to write about Medium since I’ve been here longer than all of you spring chickens.

So, settle in and read to get some of the tough love you desperately need.

A Rule to Follow Not Just For Medium, But For Life

Medium doesn’t owe you a damn thing. It’s a for-profit business, not a charity. Nobody owes you their attention either. There’s this belief among new writers, hell even experienced ones, that people should read your writing just because you wrote it.

I’ve seen so many writers complain that the readers ‘just don’t get it’. You can talk about what’s quality and what isn’t, but the market always decides.

I’ve been able to write for a living for the past three years. Everyone looks at the quality of my writing as it exists right now and acts like I just learned how to write out of nowhere. I’ve been banging the keyboard for the better portion of a decade. I’ve done the work. You need to do the work.

When you focus on doing the work you come to this realization.

There’s Only One Variable You Can Control

Back in 2012, you could throw up garbage articles, jam them with keywords, and rank number one on Google. Those days are gone, so everyone pronounced SEO dead. Thousands of people visit my personal website each month through Google, SEO works just fine.

There was a time where you could get insane organic reach on Facebook. The algorithm changed to favor paid ads. In general, being an early adopter to a platform makes things easier, but a platform maturing doesn’t mean you can’t be successful on it.

The rules to being successful on any platform are simple: figure out the basics of how the platforms work and create your best quality work. That’s it. There are ways to increase your reach on Medium, but you become a hack the minute you start trying to game the algorithm.

So, don’t try to game the algorithm. Write good stuff. Pay more attention to the comments on your work. Are people finding value in your articles? Are you getting good feedback? Do you feel you’re doing your best work? Those are the questions that matter.

The Truth About Income on Medium

Every few years or so, there’s a new guard that comes onto Medium. I always see a handful of newer and intermediate writers that rise to prominence on the platform and become a household name.

And they all start the same way I started. At zero. How could it be that Medium is discriminating against new writers when I see new writers gaining traction on Medium all the time?

The new guard that makes it on Medium is always a small handful of writers among the massive wave of newbies that come in. It’s always been that way.

Even in the ‘gold rush’ days, the vast majority of writers who tried to make it on Medium failed, not because of Medium but because of their own actions:

  • Most new writers won’t change their strategy if they’re not getting views. They’ll keep writing stuff no one wants to read. I had a student in my Medium course who finally started making more money once she decided to, um, listen to me instead of trying to keep doing things her way.
  • Most new writers don’t write enough. You don’t have to publish every day. But you should be working on your craft every single day.
  • And last, most new writers love to complain in Facebook groups about why people aren’t sharing their posts. Trust me, post pyramid schemes don’t work. Never have, never will.

You can start from scratch and win. I’ve even seen experienced writers make new profiles and start making money from them. Success is always going to go to the few instead of the many. Just the way things work. Become one of the few.

A Note For Intermediate and Experienced Writers

It’s tempting to become a one-trick pony when your style seems to work for you. But, if you always write the same stuff in the same way, your readers will grow tired of your work.

I really enjoyed Sean Kernan’s piece about the 70/20/10 rule for switching up your content style:

70–20–10 of Variety: Keep 70% of content with a few comfortable topics while expanding with experimental stuff in the outer 30% (with 10% being the most off-the-wall).

He jumped onto Medium a few years back and was a breath of fresh air because he played around with different styles – self-help, relationship advice, satire, fiction, business profiles, history, personal essays, you name it.

And instead of coming up with their own style, other writers just tried to copy him. Totally missed the point. You want to build a niche that works for you and helps you get traction to start. After that, though, you have to experiment and switch things up.

Some of my favorite pieces are the ones where I stepped outside my usual box. I’m branching into new topics as well. It’s fun for me and keeps things from getting stale. It also keeps my readers on their toes.

How to Succeed Medium 3.0

My friend Tim Denning calls this version of the site Medium 3.0.

The layout of the site is different. Medium is rolling in other features and buying up different Medium companies. It’s the ‘relational’ phase, which means there’s more of an emphasis on building a connection with your readers. I don’t see a problem with that at all. I’m game.

Here are some tips to be successful on Medium now and into the future:

  • Be an active participant – Are you reading articles on Medium daily? Are you highlighting, commenting, and sharing articles? Do you actually want to be a part of the community or are you just in it for yourself? If you want to succeed on a platform, get to know the platform.
  • Keep your eyes peeled – Often, during coaching calls for my program, I’ll show students how I observe what’s going on with the site. I check the top articles for different tags. I’ll notice when a new publication has popped up. I pay attention to what topics seem to rise to the surface. Again, the point isn’t to game the algorithm, but to be aware.
  • This gets overlooked – How many of you actually, you know, read the stuff Medium puts out? Do you follow the Creator’s Hub? Have you read their guides on how to build an audience, write titles, and connect with readers? Maybe try getting your information directly from the horse’s mouth.
  • Buy a course – Doesn’t have to be my program. There are several courses out there that can help. Mainly, they help you become a better writer, which is your main issue. I spent a few hundred bucks on a writing course a few years back and got a literal 1,000x ROI from it. Imagine wanting to make money without investing in yourself.
  • Stop crying – Notice how I just keep on writing? The irony of some of you guys is astonishing. You write self-improvement content but hide in a corner when you’re not getting the results you want? Makes zero sense.

Final Thoughts

Warren Buffet famously said:

Be greedy when others are fearful, and be fearful when others are greedy.

I remember a few years back when a bunch of writers quit writing on Medium. This was pre-partner program. The partner program kicked in and I was in the perfect position to take advantage of the opportunity.

So many of them tried to jump back in but they didn’t have any momentum. So, they just quit again.

Right now is your time to decide. Are you going to keep writing while so many are complaining? Or will you fold like most people tend to do in life?

Your choice.

Me? I’m still going to be here making great money and building a writing business I love.

Effective Writing Tips to Make the Readers Finish Your Posts

When you write a blog post, each sentence only has one job.

Get your reader to read the next sentence.

This is crucial for writing on Medium because you get paid based on how long people spend reading your articles.

The more people finish your posts, the more money you earn.

If people click away from your blog posts quickly, you get paid less and they’re less likely to read the next post you publish.

These effective writing tips will make your reader feel surprised that they’re already done reading your article.

Use This Word Short-Cut

Instead of you will — > You’ll

Instead of I am — > I’m

Instead of we are — > We’re

Contractions make your words flow smooth like butter.

Make Your Words Drive the Story Forward With This Subtle Tweak

The reason why people read blog posts is that they’re entertaining.


People read blog posts for entertainment.

This transition shows the difference between passive voice and active voice.

From The Write Practice:

A sentence in the active voice is structured traditionally: subject + verb + object.

The opposite of the active voice is the passive voice.

A sentence is in the passive voice when the word that is the recipient of the action is the subject of the sentence.

Ditch These Phrases to Command Authority

Don’t use phrases like:

  • I think
  • I believe
  • In my opinion

People already know you think, believe, and have an opinion about the subject you’re writing about because you wrote it.

State your arguments with conviction.

Speaking of the word because…

Use This Word More (And a Handful of Others)

Studies show that people are more likely to say yes to a request if you use the word because even if the reason you give is arbitrary.

People want reasons.

Use because to provide reasons for your arguments to make them stronger.

Because is also an example of a transition word, which is a word that drives the post forward by moving between points with ease.

Others include:

  • Therefore
  • In short
  • Next
  • In addition
  • In conclusion

Stop Your Readers in Their Tracks

I got shot in the head three times.

Ok…I didn’t.

But, you stopped your train of thought and got startled a bit, didn’t you?

This is an extreme example of a pattern interruption. You want to add pieces to your post that make the reader stop and think for a second, which takes them out of a trance and keeps them from getting bored while reading your posts.

Crazy statements work, but you can interrupt patterns in other ways:

  • Using clever sub-headings
  • Adding bulleted lists
  • Italics and bold
  • Quotes with quote blocks
  • Inserting images

All of which reminds me of this next important point

Stop Writing UGLY Blog Posts

Formatting is critical. Clever use of whitespace gives readers a mental break while they’re reading. You don’t have to use nothing but one-sentence paragraphs to achieve this. Actually, that starts to look boring and dry over time too. But make sure you’re not droning on and on with long-winded paragraphs.

Medium has a great user interface that helps your blog posts look pretty:

  • Line breaks
  • Image embeds
  • HTML embeds
  • Sub-headings
  • Drop-caps
  • Blog post inserts

Use them.

Take some time to read popular Medium posts and see how the writers format their posts to make them stand out.

Become An Architect Instead of a Construction Worker

The words in your posts don’t matter as much as you think they do. The frame you put around your writing matters more. Hit a few crucial elements and you’re golden. This is why I tell writers to spend time mind-mapping and outlining their posts first. I also tell them to come up with the idea for the headline before they write the article. You should have a solid premise and structure before you start typing at all.

The most important elements of your article are, in order:

  • The headline: “When you write the headline. 80 cents of your dollar is spent.” No clicks = no reads
  • Intro/conclusion: Start with a bang, get to the point, and end with a motivational rallying cry for your readers with a strong call to action
  • Sub-headings: Give readers a sneak peek of what’s to come
  • The book-ends: Begin and end each section of your post the same way you would the intro/conclusion
  • The words in between: These are still important, but it’s better to use a ‘color in between the lines approach’ instead of thinking your words themselves are the strength of the piece

Add Subhead Here

Remember what I said earlier about sentence structure? This graphic shows you how to switch things up to keep your words from getting dull.

Play around with different styles to see what works well.

Speaking of style.

F#@$ the “Rules”

Don’t be afraid to break conventional writing rules. And never let grammar nazis get in your way. I have no idea how to use proper writing techniques because the techniques don’t matter as much as the emotion behind the words.

Who cares if I start a sentence with a conjunction?

Who cares whether or not I use an oxford comma?

I love em dashes even though I’m not quite sure if you use them properly. I don’t care.

I remember Ryan Holiday used to use {*} instead of the typical bullet points in his posts. It’s clever and unique. Find little writing styles and strategies other writers don’t use.

Speaking of something most writers don’t do…

Say it With Your Chest

Most writers are deathly afraid of controversy.

If you have the balls to say what you really think, consequences be damned, the people who agree with you will flock to you like moths to a flame and people who hate the message will hate-read your articles, which still earns you money. 

Never polarize on purpose, but share your honest beliefs, always. Don’t pull punches. Never be afraid of the mob. Speak your truth and let the chips fall where they may.

You Know What to Do Next…

The final piece of advice is simple:

Put these tips into practice.

There’s a right and wrong way to practice.

The wrong way involves continuing to throw spaghetti at the wall even if your results never change. This is a great way to remain broke, frustrated, and unknown.

The right way involves conscious practice. Study one technique, drill it to perfection, find the next technique, and do it again. I picked up many different writing strategies — one by one, over the span of nearly a decade.

Now I just intuitively weave them into my work without thinking.

You’ll get there.

Just do the work.

Ok, you’re done 🙂

See how fast that was?

8 Years of Experience Taught Me These Lessons About Writing

Before I found writing, I quit everything I ever tried.

I sold knives door to door, joined pyramid scheme companies, got hired and fired at many jobs, flunked out of school, and tried several business ideas.

Nothing stuck.

I was that person who was full of ideas, but also full of hot air. I started projects but never finished them.

Call it fate, but I always knew I’d be a writer someday, and the perfect opportunity presented itself to me almost a decade ago. A friend of mine asked me to write articles for his website. I agreed. I wrote one post and I’ve been writing pretty much every day since then.

I’ve published three books, written thousands of blog posts, and exceeded my expectations for my writing career. If you’re a new writer or have a bit of experience, I can tell you what’s ahead.

Here are some of the crucial lessons I learned along the way.

It Takes About a Year Until You Find Your Voice

In the beginning, you’ll copy other people’s styles. The seeds of your voice will be there, but you have to give them time to grow. You have to give yourself time to improve your delivery.

If you look at my old posts, my voice is in there, but it took time to refine my style. I refined my style by elimination. I got less wordy. I learned to remove redundant phrases. Instead of dancing around subjects, I learned to get straight to the point.

Don’t expect to have a voice, a loyal audience, or decent earnings on places like Medium for 12 months.

Top Writers All Have This One Thing in Common

I used to feel envy and get pissed off when I saw big-name writers who had huge followings and monthly earnings. But I realized my envy wasn’t justified. Every time I checked the archives of these writers, I’d see years, even decades’ worth of work.

There are people like Mark Manson who wrote a best-selling book that sold millions of copies. He published it in 2016, but he has archives dating back to 2006. Seth Godin has been publishing daily for more than 20 years.

Amassing a huge following is a product of…waiting.

It took me about four years before I started to see huge numbers. You can get small wins along the way, but if you want to be a star, it’ll take years.

Writing Full-Time Isn’t For the Weak of Heart

I’ve seen the writing game chew up and spit out most people who try it. That’s why I try to be straightforward and honest, even to the point of seeming cruel.

I enjoy teaching others how to write and I have helped many students develop their skills and grow their audience. But most everyone quits.

They quit because making a living writing is hard work. Not hard in that, it’s difficult to do, but hard in that, it’s difficult to do every single day for years at a time.

About two years into my career, I decided I’d never quit writing. I meant it. You have to mean it, or else it won’t work.

There’s Only One Way to Stand Out

“Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But since no one was listening, everything must be said again.” – Andre Gide

At best, you can remix and synthesize ideas that came before you. It’s difficult to find original ideas, but you can stand out from the crowd by being yourself and maximizing your personality.

I write the way I talk. I write the way I think.

I’m curious and contrarian with a disdain for authority. I have a libertarian ethos. There’s a hint of cynicism in my optimistic worldview. I’m crass and like to talk shit. If I believe something, I’ll just say it, consequences be damned.

When you expose your real personality, you force people to pick a side. People either think I’m a genius or a charlatan. They love or hate my writing. You want to avoid a lukewarm response from your audience. That’s where your dreams go to die.

Once You Learn a Skill, It’s Yours Forever

You have to learn skills you don’t want to learn to build your writing career. You just want to write, but you have to learn tech skills to facilitate your career. Things like building landing pages, learning bits of html code, setting up email marketing software, or putting a blog together.

You have to fight against boredom, which is strangely painful to experience. You have to watch an instructional video, pause it, do one step, hit play, and pause it again to do another step. It’s the tedium that kills you.

Once you learn how to do these tasks, though, they become second nature. It won’t always be this difficult, I promise.

You Need Armadillo Thick Skin

If you can’t handle criticism and naysaying, just quit. It’s unavoidable.

I’ve been called every name under the sun. Someone compared me to Vladimir Putin once. I’ve been called a white supremacist and a neo-nazi, even though I’m black. People have told me my writing is dangerous and harmful.

Oh well, comes with the territory. And it only gets worse as you grow. Comments become entire hit pieces. People start to get obsessed with taking you down.

It all comes down to deciding whether or not you’re going to let other people kill your dreams. Their comments only bother you if you agree with them deep down. If you believe in your message, it shouldn’t matter what anyone says.

It’s Impossible to Predict Virality

This is why you need to write a lot.

20 percent of your articles will get 80 percent of the views. You can bake in persuasive elements to your writing, but you’ll never know how well it’ll do until you hit publish.

I’ve had pieces I thought were gonna be hits just flop. I’ve had posts I published thinking “meh, this isn’t all that good” and they went crazy viral.

Put your work out there and see what happens. Far too many new writers try to predict the future.

Packaging Matters

You could write the world’s greatest blog post, but it won’t matter if no one clicks because the headline sucks.

The most important sections of a blog post are:

  • The headline
  • The intro/conclusion
  • Sub-headings (labels for each main point)
  • Opening and closing sentences of each sub-heading

If you get those parts right, you just have to color in the lines with words. Yes, the words themselves matter, but getting the frame right matters more.

Start Building An Email List From Day One

My only regret is the fact I waited about a year before I started keeping an email list. You need an email list because it’s an audience you own.

You can get more views on your articles by sending them to your list.

You can sell more of your products, e.g., books because you have an audience who wants what you have to offer.

No matter what happens to the platforms you write on, your email list will always be yours.

My list started at zero, now it has more than 33,000 people on it. I never thought it would grow that big, but I’m glad I eventually started collecting emails.

Reverse Engineer Success

When I first started writing on Medium, there were no Medium courses. I just figured it out on my own by looking at what top writers were doing and swiping their strategies. Not plagiarizing, but looking at the things they did to get views and emulating them.

A lot of new writers aren’t conscious observers of the game. They don’t study it. They just write random posts and wonder why they flop. You should be reading articles from top writers and taking notes. You should be studying the platforms you write on daily.

Instead of just feeling envy, I turned it into curiosity. Anytime I saw someone who had what I wanted, I figured out what they did to get it and tried to do it myself.

You Gotta Love the Game

I stuck around for so long because I love to write.

It’s one of the few things I do that while I’m doing it I don’t feel like doing anything else.

It’s hard for me to empathize with people who struggle to write. I’m working on it. But for me, I never needed much motivation to write because there are so many things to write about. There are so many ideas to be curious about and explore. Life provides endless material.

I’ve made so much money as a writer because I wasn’t motivated by money, I was motivated by the love of the game.

You say you want to be a writer so badly, well, prove it, write stuff.

If you love the game, there’s no need to be in a rush or get discouraged by a lack of progress. I thought you were writing for love. If you were, the views wouldn’t even matter.

All success in writing comes as a byproduct of loving the game.

Don’t stress over your writing career. Just share ideas you love, every day, and see what happens.

How to Make Sure You’ll Never Make Any Money on Writing

I have psychic powers.

Every time I see someone complain that they’re not making any money writing or getting people to read their work, I know exactly what I’ll find when I visit their page.

I know all the mistakes you’re going to make before you make them.

I also know what will happen if you don’t take my advice seriously.

You’ll write articles nobody wants to read and you’ll continue to make pennies on Medium instead of hundreds or thousands each month.

Some of you won’t ever reach the point of consistently publishing your work. You’ll write in fits and starts and have huge gaps between articles you publish, which means you’ll never build an audience of loyal readers.

When you do sit down to write, you’ll often get writer’s block.

If you finish a draft, it won’t sound as good as you imagined it in your mind. Your posts will be jumbled and hard to edit, which will frustrate you and cause you to have a bunch of drafts that never see the light of day.

Sadly, many of you won’t write much at all. You’ll stay on the sidelines because you’re afraid nobody wants to hear what you have to say, you don’t know what to write about, or you’re just lost about how to get started.

9 out of 10 of you will get so frustrated with the process that you’ll quit forever. Only 1 out of 100 of you will ever become full-time writers.

It doesn’t have to be this way. You’re more than capable of succeeding, but you have to know what to do.

If you want to succeed at anything, learn how to invert – figure out what causes failure and avoid it. This post contains a list of easy-to-avoid pitfalls and mistakes pretty much all new writers make.

This Mistake is Fatal: If You Make It, Your Chances of Success are Zero

Let’s start with the first and most obvious mistake a bunch of new writers miss.

If you get into writing for the wrong reasons, you’ll fail.

Wrong reasons include:

  • Your primary goal is to make money. There are so many easier and more efficient ways to make money. If you’re motivated by cash, you’ll fail because most new writers don’t make much money, to begin with
  • You want to post your journal entries online. Journal entries are for you. If you want to make money writing, you have to write for an audience
  • You’re just hopping on a trend. Whether it’s Medium, Substack, Twitter or LinkedIn, if you’re just writing because you see other people succeeding at it, you’ll fail

There’s only one good reason to write:

You like do it. You have a burning desire to share your insights and stories with the world

I’m Sorry, But Some of You Need to be Put Out of Your Misery

This next point is controversial and will piss some people off, but it needs to be said.

A lot of writers fail because they just don’t have the aptitude for it.

The only writers who make it full-time had ‘raw talent’ that needed to be refined. If you don’t intuitively understand how to write blog posts and essays, you’re going to struggle.

From day one, I understood:

  • A post needed a headline to communicate what it’s about and get people to click
  • Blog posts followed a certain structure with broken-out sections
  • An essay or post needed to explain or tell a story about a specific argument, theme, or thesis

A lot of newbies just don’t get it.

Natural talent matters. The good news is most of you have enough aptitude to give it a try. But some of you just don’t.

I can’t tell you which one you are, but the idea of how to write a post shouldn’t be that confusing.

Why Most Writers Are Broke

You’ll fail as a writer if you refuse to learn marketing.

You’ll fail as a writer if you fail to understand how markets work.

Attention is the currency of the writing world. If you don’t know how to generate and capture it, you won’t build an audience. A lot of new writers suffer from Hemingway syndrome.

They think marketing and using clever hooks to get people to read their work is low-brow. They consider themselves above marketing because they’re true artists. If people don’t read their work, they blame the readers and claim ‘they don’t get it.’

Iron-clade rule of writing online: If people don’t read your work, it’s not on them, it’s on you.

If you want to make money writing, you have to understand you are selling a product, your words, to an audience. If you want to be an esoteric artist, that’s fine, but don’t get upset when the dollars come pouring in.

Cry Me a River…

You’ll fail as a writer if you expect anything to be handed to you.

If you feel the platforms you write on owe you something, you’re going to quit when you don’t get what you think you deserve.

I see this happening with Medium. The new crop of writers on this site is the most entitled I’ve ever seen. It’s nauseating. They complain, whine, and cry about their views and money instead of doing the work.

I wrote on Medium for free before the partner program even existed. I was just looking for a place to practice my skills and build an audience.

If you want a guaranteed living wage, go get a job.

If you want to make money online as a writer, it’s up to you to make it happen and no one else. Medium was never intended to be your sole means of making money online.

You’re going to eventually have to turn your writing into a business if you want to succeed. And just like any other business, there are no guarantees of success.

Now let’s take a look at some specific writing mistakes you should avoid as a new writer.

You Won’t Get Readers If You Don’t Learn This Core Skill

If I could pick one skill all new writers should focus on to the exclusion of all others, it would be writing headlines.

I’ve written dozens of blog posts that tell writers to practice writing 10 headlines every single day. My blogging mentor used to write 50-100 of them each day.

I keep telling people this cheat code over and over again, almost no one does it.

“When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.” David Ogylvy

Most newbies write cryptic headlines that keep readers from reading their posts.

Here are some examples I found on Medium:

  • Death Meditation X (???)
  • Home Feels Like a Hug (Meh)
  • Giving and Taking (Better, but still vague. Giving and taking what?)

They do none of the things a good headline is supposed to do:

  • Give readers a clear idea of what the article might be about
  • Speak to the benefits of reading the article
  • Spark curiosity in the reader by creating a curiosity gap, which means you tell people what the article is about, but don’t give it all away in the headline

Check out these resources on writing solid headlines:

You Have to Give Yourself a Shot at Earning With Your Words

When I look at a writer’s profile who doesn’t earn much, I’m certain I’ll see a list of topics and blog posts that are just incapable of making any real money.

The type of writing that falls in this bucket are:

  • Posts about topics that are just too obscure to earn money like heavy metal band reviews
  • Naval-gazing journal-style posts about random things the writer is interested in
  • Article styles that aren’t conducive to earning on places like Medium. Poetry comes to mind. Medium pays you based on the amount of time people spend reading articles, which means you have to write somewhat long posts. One-minute poems won’t cut it

Again, due to entitlement, these writers think that people should read their work just because they wrote it.

Don’t write about a topic just because it makes money, but you have to write about a topic similar to a topic that already earns well that you happen to enjoy writing about if you want to make money.

“The riches are in the niches”

Writing When You “Feel Like It”

If you don’t have a system for writing posts and publishing them consistently, you…won’t publish consistently.

I can’t think of a worse way to build a writing career than writing whenever you feel like it and then just opening up a blank document and trying to write a draft.

Yet this is exactly what most writers do.

This goes back to this poisonous mindset of fake artist types. They think discipline and structure kill their creativity when the opposite is true.

When you have a system for coming up with ideas for posts, mapping out the content, writing the posts, and editing them, you’ll produce a lot more, which will inspire you to create more.

My system is simple:

  • Write 10 ideas per day
  • Choose an idea to write for the day
  • Create a mind-map brainstorming the ideas for the piece
  • Make a formal outline in a google doc
  • Write the first draft
  • Edit three times maximum
  • Publish
  • Repeat

You should either be writing, editing, or publishing something every single day.

You should work at the same time every day. Your process should look exactly the same each day, even though you’re writing about different ideas.

This doesn’t mean you have to publish daily posts. You can take a long time to write an article and only publish one or two a week, but you have to use a system and create a regular cadence.

This Mistake Shows a Total Lack of Self-Awareness

I’m amazed at how hard-headed some writers can be. They don’t listen or follow directions.

I’ve been writing for almost a decade. I know the ins and outs of the digital writing world. I know the pitfalls because I made all the mistakes on my own.

If I have the results you want, it makes sense to listen to me.

When I was a broke writer with no views, I didn’t question the advice of popular writers. I just listened to them. If I read a guide with 12 steps to follow to achieve a certain outcome, I’d do all 12, not just the ones I wanted to do, not just the ones that are easy to do.

I’ve gone out of my way to write detailed guides about almost every aspect of writing imaginable. I publish them for free. Yet very few writers actually do what I say in these posts and they’re surprised when they fail. Total lack of self-awareness.

If doing things your way worked, you wouldn’t be in this position, to begin with. 

Listen to those that came before you or you’ll fail.

Developing This Addiction

When I get a comment like this on my posts, I cringe.

Something along the lines of:

Thank you! This was so insightful. I’m going to marinate on this.

I’m giving you highly detailed advice on how to make money writing, not steaks or chicken kabobs. What the hell are you marinating for?

There’s so much information about making a living writing, but if you don’t execute it, you’ll fail. Most writers fail because they just won’t execute.

There’s no substitute for doing the work. You can read all the blog posts you want. You can take courses. But unless you actually do what you’re told, you’ll fail.

The next time you read a blog post with tactics, do the tactics instead of skipping to the next blog post.

The Biggest Mistake of Them All

I learned about the concept of inversion from Charlie Munger.

This piece of advice on what to avoid was at the top of his list:

If you’re unreliable it doesn’t matter what your virtues are, you’re going to crater immediately. So doing what you have faithfully engaged to do should be an automatic part of your conduct. You want to avoid sloth and unreliability.

Most writers fail because they’re just lazy.

Let me destroy your illusions right now.

If you want to make real money as a writer, you have years of work ahead of you.

You have hundreds of days of monotonous routine ahead of you.

You will have to learn boring and tedious tasks aside from writing that you won’t want to do, but need to do if you want to have a career.

Your results won’t match your effort in the beginning. If you can’t make it through that period, you won’t make it, period.

If you want some roses and sunshine pep-talk about how it’s simple and easy to make a living writing, you got the wrong guru.

It is simple. It’s not difficult. It’s just not easy.

You have to get a few basic things right and repeat the process over and over again. You should be excited that the steps are simple and repeatable. It’s just a matter of doing them.

I’ll leave you with this quote:

You should do so much volume that it would be unreasonable for you to suck – Alex Hormozi

Put up more shots.

Get more reps in.

When I decided I wanted to be a writer I told myself I would keep working at it until it worked, no matter how long it took. Since I liked to write, burnout wasn’t an issue. I’ve been writing for eight years and I’m not tired.

You definitely shouldn’t be.

Get to work.

How to Build an Email List For Beginners With ConvertKit

This is a detailed step-by-step guide you can use to start an email list. Download a PDF version here so you can walk through it and implement the steps on your own time if you don’t have time right now

If you learn how to build an email list, you can make a bunch of cash quickly.

Example: I did a promotion for my writing course a month or two ago and made $25,000 in the span of five days.

It took time to build a list that does those numbers, but once you learn how to build an email list, you can set yourself up for long-term success as a writer.

Starting an email list is confusing for new writers, maybe you.

You think you need to be a tech whiz to build a list, you don’t.

You think you need to be a marketing master to start an email list, you don’t.

Last, you think you need to be this big shot expert for people who want to join your email list. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

I don’t have many regrets in my writing career, but waiting to start my list was one of them. I managed to get a lot of people to read my writing in the first 18 months of my career, but I wasted all of that traffic because I didn’t have a list.

If you don’t have one set up already, stop writing. Get your email list set up, then resume posting your blogs.

Why You Need to Learn How to Build An Email List

You need to have an audience you own.

Yes, use other platforms to get traffic, but understand that writing on other platforms means you’re renting traffic. Platforms are great until they aren’t. One day, the traffic is rolling in. The next day, it slows or disappears.

I used to write articles on the Huffington Post, then they shut down their creator program. I get most of my traffic from Medium, which has seen its ups and downs over the years. Even if you have your own website that gets traffic from Google, you can see your traffic drop in half overnight if they change the algorithm.

Once someone joins your email list, they’re a part of an audience you have one hundred percent control over. Sure, they can unsubscribe, but the ones who stay are people you can communicate with any time, about anything, as often as you’d like.

A short list of the benefits of using an email list are:

  • You increase the odds of people viewing your content. On Medium, you have to compete with tens of thousands of writers. With your list, you’re competing with others in their inbox, a much lower number
  • You can sell stuff to your email list. A lot of platforms have rules against blatant promotion
  • With a ‘funnel’ you can sell to your list or promote your work on auto-pilot. It’s like having a full-time salesperson that works 24 hours per day.
  • Instead of guessing what products to make for your audience, you can just ask them directly
  • The bigger your list, the more you can promote your content, which makes your list bigger, which helps you promote more content

Eventually, you’ll create a ‘flywheel effect’ where your email list will grow on its own without any additional effort from you.

Let’s take a look at the nitty-gritty details when it comes to figuring out how to start an email list.

Use Convertkit for Your Email List Software

You need software to collect emails. This software stores all the emails of people who sign up to your list and lets you communicate with them whenever you want.

I use Convertkit (affiliate link) because they built their software to fit the needs of creators, instead of being a solution for every type of company. Also, a higher percentage of people read my emails with Convertkit than on other platforms I’ve used like Mailchimp.

Here are some of the things you can do with Convertkit:

  • You can create ‘landing pages’ where people go to enter their emails and join your list. Here’s an example
  • You can send people broadcasts, which means you send an email to your list one time
  • You can also create sequences, which just means a series of emails that automatically send emails for a certain period

There are other advanced features, but you just need to know how to do those three things if you’re a beginner

Sign-up to Convertkit, read these startup guides, and you’ll know the basics on how to use it to start an email list:

Those two guides along with the instruction I’m going to give you in this post will give you everything you need.

If you buckle down and do this process, you’ll have a list. This whole process won’t take more than an hour or two.


Next, let’s talk about what you need to do after you start an email list to get people to sign up.

Lead Magnets Will Help You Build Your List Faster

If you want zero people to join your email list, just tell people something like:

Subscribe to my email list for updates!

Nobody wants to ‘subscribe’ to anything. This feels like an obligation. Nobody wants updates, they want valuable information that will help them.

You need a compelling reason for people to join your email list.

This is where lead magnets come in.

A lead magnet is something you give people in exchange for giving you their email.

The more compelling the lead magnet, the more likely they are to sign-up.

But what should you give away?

Here are a couple of options:

  • An email course: I have a 5-day email course that teaches people how to make money writing on Medium
  • Resource lists: Curate useful resources in your niche and tell people exactly where to find them, e.g., The Top 20 websites You Can Use to Find Writing Gigs or 5 Breathing Techniques You Can Use to Reduce Stress
  • Checklist: Give people a bite-sized version of a process you teach, e.g., How to Start a Morning Routine That Takes 10 Minutes or Less
  • Save For Later: Anytime I write a long and detailed post, I just convert it to a PDF and say “If you want to save this post for later, download this PDF guide to read on your own time.” The easiest way to start an email list would be to take your longest and most detailed post and turn it into a PDF you can exchange for emails. I did that with my Ultimate Guide to Starting Your Writing Career.
  • E-Book: Write a 10,000-word manifesto about your niche. This takes longer than the other methods, but a high-quality lead magnet means more conversions

Don’t overcomplicate this. You can have an idea for a lead magnet in 10 minutes. Use the 10 ideas strategy I’ve talked about for coming up with ideas for articles. Write down 10 ideas for headlines, choose the best one, and make it.

Make a Lead Magnet in Minutes

When it comes to technical know-how, you don’t need to be an expert to make a lead magnet.

Let’s say you want to create a PDF lead magnet, the process is simple.

Copy and paste the content onto a Google Doc:

Click file –> Download — > Save as PDF

All done!

If you want to make nicer-looking lead magnets, there are some options for you:

  • Attract by Growth Tools: This solution comes with done-for-you lead-magnet templates. You just have to add the words
  • Canva: Canva can help you create all sorts of graphics. Once you get the hang of it, it’s easy to use and creates awesome-looking graphics. You can go to Canva and search something like ‘e-books’ and then get a pretty template. Just add the words.’

Create a Landing Page to Collect Emails

Now that you have a lead magnet to give away, you want to create a landing page so people can get the lead magnet in exchange for their emails.

Again, you don’t have to be a tech whiz to do this. ConvertKit comes with landing page templates. You just need to fill in the words and set up your lead magnet after.

Let’s talk through it.

Select grow at the top of the page when you’re signed into ConvertKit then select Landing Pages and Forms:

When you’re on that page, scroll down a bit and on the bottom right-hand side you’ll see a button that says create new:

Select the landing page option on the right:

Next, choose the template you like best. I like Union because it’s plain, simple, and easy to use:

If you want to change something on the page, just click on that area. I want to change the headline and the text underneath, so I’ll click on that section and edit it:

After you’ve made the changes you want, just hit save and then hit publish. When you hit publish, you’ll see a pop-up that shows you the link to your page. This is what you’re going to add to the bottom of your articles to get people to sign-up for your list, also known as a call-to-action.

Let’s talk about how to add your lead magnet to the page so that when people sign-up, they’ll get the thing you promised them.

Go to settings and then incentives:

Change the part that says ‘after confirming redirect to’ from ‘url’ to ‘download’ From there, you can choose the file you want to add and it will automatically send it to someone who signs up for your list.

Next, go back up to the part where it says ‘send incentive email’ and hit ‘edit email contents’

I like to go in here and change the words to make them look more appealing. Here’s a look at how I re-wrote the email:

Voila, you now have a functioning landing page that you can send people to and get them to sign up to your email list in exchange for your lead magnet.

Call to Action: How to Get People to Sign Up To Your List

Now that you have a lead magnet, a landing page, and a link to send people to view your page, you’re going to add that link to the bottom of every single blog post you write.

This is known as a ‘call to action.’

Again, you don’t just want to tell people to ‘sign-up for updates!’

At the end of your post you want to tell them:

  • What they’ll get if they sign-up
  • Why they should want the thing you’re going to give them when they sign up
  • Exactly what they should to do get the thing they signed up for. It seems obvious, but sometimes telling people to ‘click here’ helps. A rule of thumb online: you can never be too obvious.

Here are some examples of solid calls to action from great writers on Medium:

email list sign up call to action example 1

This one is from Tim Denning:

  • What you’ll get: A free email course.
  • Why you should want it: To unleash your inner writer. Note how it’s a step above a statement like ‘become a better writer.’
  • What to do next: He doesn’t directly say ‘click’, but learn how still prompts the reader

email call to action #2

This one is from Sinem Gunel:

  • What you’ll get: 40+ lessons from best-selling books
  • Why you should want it: You get the core lesson of dozens of books without having to read them. This saves time and if some books stand out, you can buy them.
  • What to do next: Download the collection

This one comes from Alex Mathers:

  • What you’ll get: An illustrated booklet. This adds extra value because most writers just make simple PDFs
  • Why you should get it: It’s cool and helpful at the same time
  • What do to next: I wouldn’t have chosen the words ‘subscribe to my newsletter’ personally, but it still does the trick

What Beginners Should Do After They Learn How to Build An Email List

So you now have:

  • Convertkit to collect emails
  • A landing page set up to capture emails
  • A call to action to get people to visit your landing page

But what do you actually send them?

I don’t want to overwhelm you with things like ‘funnels’ and ‘welcome series’ just yet.

Stick to the basics.

You want to make sure you’re regularly communicating with your list. I don’t care if you only have 2 subscribers, send them something. If you spend months collecting emails and then randomly send them one, people will forget who you are.

Here are two basic recommendations.

Send Them Links to Your Blog Posts

Once or twice a week, send people links to your blog posts.

This way, you add an extra boost to your posts, which helps them spread further, which gets more people to sign up, which gets more people to click on your posts.

For a while, I did nothing but write blog posts on Medium and send my email list links to my posts. This was good enough to get me 30,000+ email subscribers.

Super simple.

Create a Themed Newsletter

Some of the most popular newsletters out there have a theme:

  • James Clears 3,2,1 newsletter: Each message includes 3 short ideas from James, 2 quotes from others, and 1 question for you to ponder.
  • Tim Ferris’s Five Bullet Friday newsletter: Every Friday, Tim sends out an exclusive email with the five coolest things I’ve found (or explored) that week.
  • The Monday Motivation Email: For years, I wrote a weekly motivational email every Monday to help people start their weeks off right

Do what makes sense for you, but just do something you can keep up with week after week and communicate with your list once per week.

In the future, I’ll cover advanced email marketing techniques, but this is more than enough to help you get a full head of steam.

What To Do Next

Don’t be like 99 percent of newbie bloggers.

Actually do what I just told you to do.

Don’t read another blog post on writing until you’ve done this.

Don’t write another post.

Set up your email list right now. Drop what you’re doing or set up a time to do it tomorrow. Don’t be a slacker.

Sign up to Convertkit here. Make your landing page using the steps laid out in this guide. Create your call to action to add at the end of your posts.

Have any other questions about email marketing?

Let me know in the comments.

7 Insights About Medium From a 7 Year Medium Veteran

Don’t worry, uncle Ayo is here to set you all straight.

By the time you finish this article, you’ll have a proper understanding of how Medium works and what you need to do to be successful on the platform.

You should trust me, if for no other reason, because I’m one of the longest-tenured writers on the website.

I published my first Medium article in November 2015. I have been regularly writing and publishing on the site, pretty much every day, for the past seven years.

I’ve seen writers become superstars on the platform, only to burn out and leave.

I’ve seen like six dozen “Why I’m leaving Medium” articles from writers with the wrong mindset.

I know the pitfalls new Medium writers fall into. I see your mistakes coming from a mile away.

Medium is a different platform than it was way back when.

If you want to succeed in life, you need to be adaptable and ready to change. The same can be said for thriving on this platform.

Let me show you how.

The Mindset You Must Have to Succeed on Medium

Medium owes you nothing.

It’s not a charity. Hell, it’s not even your employer. When you write on Medium, you are a contractor who gets paid based on your performance. I’ve noticed a distinct change in the attitudes of new writers on the platform.

When I started writing on Medium, I was just happy to have a place to share my words. I’m glad I started on Medium before the partner program launched because I didn’t have money as a motivator.

If you want to make it as a writer, you have to improve your craft for the sake of improving your craft. Rid yourself of a sense of entitlement or you will fail.

The Partner Program created a great opportunity for writers, but it also created a perverse incentive because the promise of money makes you focus on the money itself too much instead of focusing on your craft and making money as a byproduct of writing stuff people want to read.

You need to get better at writing, period.

What’s Your Alternative?

If you can’t make it on Medium, then where else are you going to go?

If you think Medium is hard, let me tell you about the way writing worked when I got started.

You had to build a WordPress blog.

If you wanted traffic you had to:

  • Guest Post: This involved pitching random websites to publish your articles. If you got accepted, you had to spend 10-20 hours writing a single article. If the piece did well, you might get 50-100 subscribers.
  • SEO: With SEO, you need to write 2-3,000 word articles and reach out to dozens and hundreds of people to link back to them. You’d also have to wait six to 12 months before your article made it to the first page.
  • List Building: You’d have to configure an email marketing software, set up a landing page, create a lead magnet, and learn how to write compelling copy to get people to sign up.

Then, if you somehow managed to claw your way to get a few thousand email subscribers, you’d have to sell them something to monetize your work — books, coaching, courses, affiliate programs. If you’re really good, maybe three percent of the people who see your offers would actually buy them.

I was on that path until I discovered Medium — the easiest path to making money writing I’ve ever come across. If you can’t make it here, good luck dude.

Really, go ahead and try the other options.

Start a substack and try to get 100 people to personally pay you $10/month or 200 to pay $5 instead of making $1,000+ per month just writing Medium articles. I have a substack, too. I diversify, too.

Twitter and LinkedIn? Both have a ton of organic reach, and you should write on those platforms, but you’re still going to have to create offers for sale to make money.

But I still understand that standing out is an uphill battle no matter where you publish.

Keep your eyes peeled for opportunities. Nothing wrong with hedging. But you won’t get anywhere in your writing career by having mediocre success on a bunch of random platforms.

Get good at at least one them…

The Indie Model Works Best

A few years back, Medium hired a bunch of fancy editors and brought in outside writers — subject matter ‘experts,’ journalists, quote un quote real writers.

They pushed these journalistic-style publications hard.

They featured the articles on the homepage of every single Medium reader, flooded their inboxes with these ‘substantive’ pieces, and took the time to edit and curate the work of indie writers who got accepted into these Medium-owned publications.

It didn’t work.

No matter how hard they tried, nobody wanted to read that shit.

Indie writers and publication owners built Medium. It belongs to them. I agree that pivoting away from them was a mistake. Medium would be smart to pour its resources back into the people who built the platform in the first place.

Yes, increase the editorial standards, make curation more difficult so it actually means something, push the algo to feature the best writing, but do it through the independent creators and focus on what the readers want.

It comforts me to know that the editor of one of the publications with the highest editorial standards is taking the helm. I welcome the growth of publications with high standards like Better Humans. It can be done. I think it will be done.

Don’t Focus on the Competition, Outlast Them

It’s true. The number of writers on Medium has grown dramatically. There is more competition.

But competition has never been relevant to me for one simple reason.

Most people quit. For everyone 100 writers who try to make it on Medium, maybe one or two do. The other 98 writers have what it takes to succeed, but they’re soft and quit when faced with any sort of challenge.

If you want a hard number, you need to write about 100 articles before you find your voice.

The students who do well in my writing program usually stick with it for 90 days to six months and then experience a jump in stats.

The beginning of the journey is the most difficult because you have to fight your way out of obscurity. But if you just stay the course for a little while, good things will start to happen.

Why no staying power my friend?

I thought you loved to write.

I wrote for free for two years because I love the game. I was hungry to get good. Are you? I never got discouraged. Will you? I never blamed my results on anyone else but me.

Medium ebbs and flows. It has ups and downs. If you can’t ride the waves, you’ll wipe out.

If You Want to Succeed as a Writer, You Must Understand The Power Law

The 80/20 rule is ubiquitous.

20 percent of the people make 80 percent of the money. 20 percent of the writers get 80 percent of the readers. Even for your own words, 20 percent of your articles will account for 80 percent of the views.

Most writers don’t make huge bank on Medium, but it’s always been that way.

The percentage of writers who made more than $100 a month was exactly the same during the ‘gold rush’ as it is now. Medium could create the perfect algorithm, but the 80/20 effect wouldn’t go away.

A lot of people have a hard time grasping power law effects. They want things to be ‘fair’ and ‘evenly distributed.’ Every time an institution tries to arbitrarily flatten out the distribution and make things ‘fair,’ it never works.

Medium shouldn’t try to do it, nor should you want it to.

You should want to reach the top 20 percent. There’s plenty of room up there because, as I said, most writers quit and don’t try hard enough. I can make pretty much anyone a top ten percent Medium writer as long as they’re willing to do the work.

If you’re willing to do the work, you can become a top Medium writer, period.

Write About Subjects You Love, But Do It the Right Way

When it comes to becoming a top writer, get rid of the myth that you have to write about certain subjects to get paid. I would say to avoid giving out writing advice articles if you don’t have much experience. I waited years before I did it.

There are a bunch of writers who achieved success without writing about writing, or money, or tech, or self-improvement.

I appreciate Medium trying to find a diverse array of topics and styles. I want to step up my game and be more creative while teaching my students to do the same.

Focus on finding the best intersection between your interests and the interests of readers. Yes, you’ll have to jazz it up a bit with marketing, but it’s a lie to say marketing and art are mutually exclusive.

I succeeded in the crowded space of self-improvement because I blended marketing and craft together. I may package my words in a pretty box to get you to read them, but my readers can tell that I care about my craft, so it works.

Maybe you consider certain writing low-brow. Fine. But other people enjoy it. So, let them. Who died and made you the emperor of all things literary?

Some people may think my writing is low-brow. From the bottom of my heart, I’d like them to know that I don’t give a fuck about their opinion at all.

If you want to succeed in the digital writing world, you gotta throw a little pizazz on top of your art. It doesn’t make you a sell-out. It makes you someone who understands how the game works.

Where We Go From Here

I’m excited.

The present moment presents the perfect opportunity to make a bet on Medium. I look at it like a stock that’s been beaten up a bit. Now is the time to ‘buy low’ and ride the wave back to the top. My views were down for a while, but they’ve since rebounded.

New leadership presents new opportunities. I’m confident in Tony and I’m pushing in all my chips.

Medium has gone through, I’d say, three major pivots. We’re probably at Medium 4.0 right now.

Here’s what it looks like to me:

  • Instead of a few writers making $20-50k, there is a large number of writers making $1-5k and a few still at 10+.
  • There are a lot of new writers and publications in the mix. Some will stick around and others won’t. That’s how it always has been, though. I can spout some names of top writers and pubs you’ve never heard of. I’ve stuck around for every cycle and I’ll stick around for this one.
  • Medium has every imperative to continue to step up its game because it does have competitors. That’s why it’s important to stay sharp. You want to be ready for every opportunity that presents itself in the writing world. Medium is still king, for now, so practice on the platform while you can. Maybe it dies one day, but we are nowhere near that point.

Obviously, if I were in charge of Medium, I’d make some changes. But I’m not, so I can only adapt as best I can. I’m confident that I can do that because I always trust myself and my craft above all else.

I will continue to teach and inspire others to step up their game as well.

Let’s have some fun.

I’m going to start experimenting with all sorts of writing styles, marketing techniques, and new Medium strategies. This new publication is one of them.

If you’d like to be a part of Practice in Public, send a pitch to

Be creative and I’ll accept you 🙂

Write On Medium in 2023: Your Medium Blogging Guide

Want to write on Medium? Get exclusive access to your free five-day email course to become a top Medium writer and make thousands each month.

Consider this your ultimate Medium blogging guide.

I decided I wanted to write on Medium in 2015 after I saw someone post about writing a viral article on the website. That decision changed my entire life.

Since then, I’ve published hundreds of articles on the website and made a six-figure income just from Medium’s partner program. If that weren’t enough, Medium helped me build an email list of 35,000+ subscribers that have bought books, programs, and coaching.

This single website alone built the foundation for the writing business I have today.

I’ve seen the way Medium has changed over the years. I’ve seen writers on the platform come and go and come back and go. There’s always been a debate about how viable Medium is for helping people make money writing. People have pronounced Medium dead for as long as I can remember.

Yet, it’s still here. It’s still one of the top 150 trafficked websites in the world. I wouldn’t call that ‘dead,’ but I’ll be honest about what it takes to successfully write on Medium in 2023 and beyond.

Why You Should Write on Medium No Matter What

There are zero downsides. You can still make good money on Medium and use it as a tool to build your writing business.

If you plan to become a full-time writer, you need to write a lot regardless of what platforms are available to you. When I started writing seven years ago, there weren’t opportunities to make money directly like writing on Medium.

Trust me, it was much harder to monetize your work back then. You had to get traffic to your WordPress blog instead of relying on Medium to get views. That meant strategies that are much harder to pull off like SEO blogging and writing guest posts to build your list.

On top of that, you had to create a ‘back-end’ to support your writing.

Your options were:

So you had to do a ton of work just to get eyeballs on your writing and you had to create a product or service. You couldn’t just write and get paid as you can now.

The types of writers who think it’s tough to write on Medium in 2023 wouldn’t have made it in the era I came up in.

If you’re new to blogging, understand that you still have a massive advantage over bloggers of the past. Consider yourself lucky that there’s a platform you can get paid to write on and lets you use it to build a writing business.

You can do everything required of you to build a successful blog and use Medium to get paid to learn how to do it. Let’s dive deeper into how to write on Medium.

Should You Write on Medium?

A lot of people who are new to writing on Medium have heard rumors about Medium’s ‘glory days.’

At the peak of this ‘gold rush’ some of the top writers were making $30 to $50,000 a month just from writing on Medium. If you were a blogger who had any sort of following, your articles would get 1,000 views almost instantly.

Then, the massive earnings and easy views went away. It’s true. If you’re starting with writing on Medium in 2023, you’re looking at the potential for a healthy four to five-figure income instead of astronomical numbers.

But let me ask you…would an extra few thousand dollars per month to practice your craft be enough to change your life? I bet it would.

Here’s what I do know. You can write for Medium, but the landscape has shifted. Now the game is about getting paid to practice with the chance at creating a decent side hustle you can parlay into a full-time writing career instead of a money printing free for all.

Writing for Medium in 2023 still presents the sort of opportunity I would’ve killed for when I first started writing. With the Medium Partner Program, you’re able to do all of these things at once:

  • Earn money directly from your writing
  • Add calls to action to your blog posts to build your email list (which is still a long-term strategy I advise)
  • Get paid to write posts you were going to write anyway if you have an existing blogging strategy

Plus Medium offers you exposure to a ton of writing opportunities and exposure.

Through Medium I’ve been able to:

  • Get freelance writing gigs that found me instead of reaching out to pitch.
  • Land book deals with foreign publishers
  • Find partners to help me launch products
  • Build a network of like-minded writers who skyrocket my career
  • Make money through affiliate marketing

All of those benefits are on top of averaging $100k/year just from the platform.

Medium still presents the opportunity for top writers to make $50-100k per year. Here are some tricks to help you reach the stratosphere.

Write For Medium Successfully in 2023

Instead of looking at Medium as the end-all-be-all cash cow, you have to instead treat it like the foundational piece to your writing business.

I’m still bullish on Medium as the best platform for writers on the internet. I still teach people how to blog on Medium. I have new students who are still rising up the ranks on Medium.

Medium is one of the multiple ways I monetize my writing and I use it to build other aspects of my writing business that help me make money.

Also, I still make a pretty damn good chunk of change each month.

You still can, too.

You can still make a living writing through Medium even if it’s not $20-30k per month. $1 to $10,000 at the high end is still in play for everyone on the platform. And there are still some anomalies that make more.

Truth is, even in its heyday, making big bucks on Medium is rare. Newsflash, making full-time money blogging, period, is rare. You need to be an anomaly to get the job done, period. That’s been true before Medium, it’s true now, and it’ll always be true.

To successfully blog on Medium these days, stop thinking directly about your Medium earnings. Use Medium as a place to learn how to become a better writer and use the traffic from the site to set yourself up for long-term blogging success.

Use The Marketing Technique For Bloggers That Will Never Go Out of Style

I’ve written a few emails and made $20,000 in a few days because I had a list of people who want to learn from me.

I’ve sold more than 20,000 copies of my books because I didn’t launch them without having an audience of people who wanted to buy them.

‘The money is in the list.’

Email marketing will never go out of style. You don’t need to build a list as part of your writing strategy, but it can accelerate your success.

I know a ton of writers who abandoned email altogether and went all-in on earning money strictly from platforms. This is a viable strategy, but email marketing offers additional support. And you can create this flywheel effect of getting more views for your Medium articles by adding subscribers to your list from Medium.

Here’s an article that talks about the process of building an audience in depth. In short, make sure every single article you write has a link to a landing page with a call to action for people to join.

Communicate with your list regularly. If you don’t know where to start just send them links to your articles once a week. One of my students, Niharikaa Sodhi, built an email list of 1,000+ people and used it to launch her own digital product.

She’s a great example of how you can go from amateur blogger to pro. You don’t need to wait forever to build a fan base you can sell to. Do it the way she did it. Make Medium a springboard to growing your list.

How to Write For Medium in 2023

I’m going all-in on search engine optimization in 2023. I plan to use SEO to build a ton of traffic to my personal blog and use that traffic to build my list and start to build a personal brand that’s totally independent of Medium.

I’ll be guiding all of the people I teach through this same as I gain experience with it myself.

When it’s all said and done I plan on my personal website traffic to be higher than my Medium blog.

Sira Mas is a great example of this. I spied on her site a bit after I saw her post in a Facebook Group about getting traffic to her personal blog:

personal blog

33,000 people visit her blog each month and according to Ahrefs, her blog alone is worth $7,000 a month in revenue. Often, Ahrefs shoots well below the actual numbers a blog does.

I didn’t ask her exactly how she pulled this off, but I’m guessing she did exactly what I’m about to do this year which is post content to your personal blog, republish it on Medium, and credit the articles back to your main website.

  1. Write search-engine-optimized blog posts on your website
  2. Copy and paste blog posts from your website onto Medium
  3. Credit articles back to your website using a canonical link

A canonical link just tells Google where the original source is. Also, it gives your blog authority because Google will credit the links to your Medium articles back to your blog.

Here’s what I mean.

Here’s a post I wrote a while back:

5 different websites linked to the post. Links to your post give it more authority with search engines which means it can rank higher. I’ve started going back through my old Medium posts and linking them to my personal blog so it gets credit for all those links.

If you want to credit an article to your personal blog, go to the advanced settings section of your Medium article and add a link back to your personal blog:

I’m going back through all of my old Medium articles and crediting them back to my personal blog. Also, I’m writing new search-engine-optimized blog posts and credit them back to my personal blog the right way.

As I improve my SEO skills, I’ll do a deep dive on SEO blogging for beginners, but for now, make sure to credit all your articles back to your website using this strategy.

Also, consider giving SEO a try because it can increase traffic to your website and help you come up with useful blog post ideas.

Here are some articles that can help you get started:

Be More Intentional With Your Blog

Begin with the end in mind. Use this as your Medium blogging guide and reverse engineer success.

In the future, your plan should be to have a writing business where you have a ‘back-end’ set of products to support your writing, an email list to develop a loyal audience who loves your work/will buy your products, and a traffic engine you can use to fuel your list which in turn fuels sales.

Here’s the recap of advice I’d give for beginners who want to learn how to write on Medium.

  • Set up your personal blog asap
  • Publish on your blog, copy to Medium, then use canonical links
  • Consider making a small product based on your writing to sell to your audience right away
  • Aim to get your first 1,000 email subscribers as a useful benchmark
  • Choose a monetization strategy you want to focus on whether it’s a product or service
  • After you’ve built a foundation on Medium, consider building further reach with different platforms

Overall, you have to adopt the mindset of a prolific creator and/or a business owner in 2023 instead of someone who just writes on Medium.

I always told my audience and students that I’d pivot when I thought it was necessary. We’re here now.

You want to put yourself in a position to have a writing career. Blogging on Medium still works quite well, but you have to think about your writing career as a whole.

Keep Medium as a central piece, but broaden your horizons, too.

How to Beat Writer’s Block to Death

Writer’s block isn’t real.

Before I dive into specific tips to cure it, I must dispel the myth that it even exists.

Sure, you might fail to write as often as you’d like to, but it’s not because you suffer from some disease that makes you unable to write. It’s not some mysterious cloud hovering over your keyboard.

Writer’s block happens when you don’t have the right:

  • Attitude
  • Strategies
  • Resources

Let’s take a look at how to defeat writer’s block through these three lenses.

The Attitude You Need to Beat Writer’s Block

I overuse this quote because it’s so good.

“Writer’s block is a phony, BS, made-up excuse for not doing the work.” – Jerry Seinfeld

I understand what it feels like to want to be a writer yet never get any writing done. But that’s only because I never started. Once I started, I never quit. I’ve been writing every day for nearly eight years now because…I liked it.

I’ve always had so many things on my mind that I felt like saying but never said, but once I had a forum to say them I let loose.

Why don’t you?

Alex Hormozi said something that resonated with me:

Make things for yourself— And assume nobody will ever see it. Then make it anyways. Art doesn’t need to justify its existence.

You should seek to build an audience with your work, but even if you don’t, the act of writing in and of itself should be the reward.

Why do the words need to come out just right?

Why are you so worried about what other people might think?

Stop giving a fuck

You don’t write enough because you care too much. You think all of this is actually important when it’s not. You’re going to die soon and in three generations tops, nobody will remember who you are.

Why so stressed about getting some words out?


Sit down, move your fingers, and make words appear.

It’s not that hard.

Strategies to Help You Defeat Writer’s Block

If you want to write more easily, confine your writing to a structure.

You could easily write a post like this day in and day out for years about any subject using this structure.

First, choose a premise or a theme, the main point.

Next, your post looks just like this.

[introduce the main point]

[Supporting point #1 ]

  • Sub-point 1
  • Sub-point 2
  • Sub-point 3

[Supporting point #2 ]

  • Sub-point 1
  • Sub-point 2
  • Sub-point 3

[Supporting point #3 ]

  • Sub-point 1
  • Sub-point 2
  • Sub-point 3

That’s it.

But most beginner writers won’t take the time to structure their ideas beforehand.

They’ll say things like “I want to be creative!” How can you be creative if you’re not creating anything?

“I just like to go with the flow.” How is that going for you?

“I don’t want to be formulaic.” These are just building blocks.

You will reach a point where you can write a more diverse array of styles. I rarely write listicles or simple how-to posts anymore. Treat basic blog post formats as gateway drugs to start writing more.

Just in Case You Haven’t Seen This Before, I’ll Quickly Re-Cap

Most of my long-term readers know this framework, but here’s a quick refresher for the uninitiated.

This is my exact writing process. It hasn’t changed in nearly a decade, I’m able to come up with an endless amount of ideas, and I never run out of steam.

  • Every day I journal and write down 10 ideas for headlines I want to write. 20,000+ headlines over the years. Only a handful have to be good to support my career
  • I store the ones I like in a Google doc
  • Each day, I look through the doc and look at the idea I want to write for the day
  • When I have an idea I want to run with, I mind-map the idea
  • I turn the mind-map into a formal outline as I showed above
  • I write the first draft and use the shitty first draft rule. Also, here are some tips to help you write drafts faster
  • When it comes to editing, I edit no more than three times maximum
  • Hit publish

These days, it takes me 2-3 hours to finish a blog post depending on the subject and how long it is.

  • Mind-map/outline takes fifteen minutes max
  • The first draft usually takes about an hour.
  • Editing takes about an hour

I write and edit on the same day. Some people prefer to let their articles sit for a day. Either strategy works so long as every single day you’re either writing, editing, or publishing.

The More You Struggle With Writer’s Block, The More You Need to do This

A lot of writers struggle with writer’s block because they’re just all over the place. They haven’t landed on a topic to write about, don’t know who their audience is, and have no sense of the type of voice they want to create.

This is where taking the time to do pre-work comes in.

Pre-work includes things like:

  • Audience research
  • Problems/solutions framework
  • Competitor analysis

Many writers struggle with writer’s block because they’re not observant.

We’ll dive deeply here in a little bit, but in general, just keep your eyes open to see what works.

Look at one of the first articles I ever wrote here.

It wasn’t great, but you can see I immediately understood that articles are supposed to have a premise. I intuitively understood that the blog posts used catchy headlines. And I just looked at other articles on that website and got a feel for what they’re looking for.

When I first started writing on Medium, there were no Medium courses available. I just had to figure it out and I did so by reverse engineering.

I didn’t need someone to tell me to put my posts in publications, I noticed that all the ones getting traffic were in them, so I submitted to them, too.

This speaks to what I said earlier about attitude. Be eager and willing to learn. Be proactive about figuring out what it takes to become a writer.

Now for the tips.

Audience Research

I’ve covered this extensively in other posts.

You can check them out here:

Pro-tip: Go through and actually read and implement the advice in these posts.

Taking time to research who you’re talking to beforehand makes it much easier to write, which is why I put a heavy focus on audience research in my writing course.

Many readers say it feels like I’m speaking directly to them. I achieve that effect because I’ve gone well out of my way to try to understand who they are, what they want, what they’re afraid of, what they wish to become, and what they hope to avoid.

Use Problems/Solutions Framework

Here’s an easy exercise you can do to write more if your writing is more advice and how-to driven.

Write out every single problem your target audience faces. Do it until your mind is fried. Then, convert those problems into solutions. Solutions become the premises for your article that you can turn into headlines.

Let’s try a random subject instead of writing as an example.

Say you write about mindfulness and meditation.

Some problems your audience might face are:

  • They can’t sit still for 10 minutes
  • They can’t meditate because they’re not ‘good at it’
  • Their minds are cluttered due to stress and life events

These become solutions you can turn into headlines:

  • How to Meditate for 10 Minutes (Even If You Can’t Sit Still to Save Your Life)
  • 5 Easy Meditation Tips for People Who Absolutely Suck at Meditating
  • How to De-Clutter Your Mind and Reduce Stress

You then use the writing process I laid out earlier to get the articles done. Easy peasy.

Use the Right Resources to Defeat Writer’s Block

For one thing…

Even when it comes to free resources, nothing will work unless you actually use the information.

Most writers will read posts like this that contain step-by-step instructions and links to helpful resources. Then, instead of following the steps exactly as they are laid out, they’ll skip the hard steps or avoid doing any steps at all.

I’d guess that less than five percent of people who read these posts will actually click through and read the links I shared in this post. Most writers can’t even read a handful of 2,000-word posts. How do they expect to write them?

Will you be different?

Every once in a while, I find a new writer I get excited about because I know they’re hungry. Since they are hungry, they will listen to me. Since they listen to me, I bend over backward to help them.

So many newbies want me to be their mentor but they don’t read and implement the advice I’ve spent years and countless hours making. Why would I want to help them?

Going to my website filled with detailed articles and contacting me to pick my brain instead of reading those articles is lazy. I can work with a lack of skill or lack of clarity, but I can’t tolerate laziness.

There are so many resources available to you that can help you advance your writing career, but none of them will work if you don’t use them. 

I’m very generous with my time and effort. I have dozens of free videos on YouTube. I’ve written dozens of detailed guides with exact steps. Don’t hit my inbox until you’ve used those resources, period.

The Ultimate Resource

Take my online course that teaches you how to write well and make money on Medium.

I’ve been writing for seven years. Everything I’ve learned is put into one place, listed out in chronological order, with templates, frameworks, writing tips, you name it.

Invest in yourself. You spend comparable amounts of money on useless stuff all the time and you know it.

Most of my students start making at least $100 a month very fast. It’s a no-brainer decision. I have students making their investment back from single articles, regularly, and some do so in as little as 30 days.

You get access to monthly coaching calls with me for life where you can pick my brain as much as you want. I give students feedback on articles. I describe all of my writing methods, why they work, and how to implement them.

Up to you.

I don’t need to sell that hard. I’ve been writing on Medium for…forever.

To date, I’ve made more than $429,000 articles on the website.

And working with me is a decision you have to think about?


Here’s the link to the program if you’re finally serious about beating writer’s block and making a living with your words.

Medium Writing 101: For Aspiring & New Writers (Updated)

Before you dive into this Medium writing guide, get exclusive access to your free five-day email course on monetizing Medium.

This Medium writing guide will help you stand out against the competition. You’re probably asking yourself, do Medium writers get paid, really? Or is it just a pipe dream?

It all depends…

I know where all the landmines are for new Medium writers. You’re a few centimeters away from stepping on them and blowing up your whole writing career before it even gets off the ground.

I just sit back and watch all the newbies. I see all the mistakes they’re about to make before they make them.

And I know that very shortly, they’ll flame out and quit, maybe even write a little butt hurt post about how they’re leaving Medium while the door hits them squarely in the middle of both cheeks on their way out.

Will you just let me help you?

I’m being harsh because I’m trying to help you.

It doesn’t have to be this way. You’re good enough at writing to make it on Medium. You’re good enough to join the top ten percent of Medium writers. My students hit this milestone regularly.

I can teach you how to start writing on Medium successfully.

Just listen and you’ll get there, I promise.

Let’s start with some Medium writing tips then dive into promotion and more.

Medium Writing Tip #1: Become a Better Writer

This one seems obvious, but many people (myself included) are blind to the fact that perhaps their writing isn’t that good.

The only way to become a better writer is to write more often. I’m not in the business of selling magic pills to success. There’s no replacement for hard work.

Use Medium to practice your writing. It will improve and more people will view your work.

Almost every successful Medium writer I know keeps some sort of quota to build a creative habit. Either it’s word count or time spent. Set a writing goal that’s easy to achieve.

500 words per day. 15 minutes per day. It’s up to you.

Don’t just publish everything you write on Medium instantaneously. You shouldn’t use it as your brain-dumping journal. Go through your posts and edit them, but write and publish often.

Nobody knows who you are now, but if you find a publication to write on and publish often people will start to notice your name.

You’ll continue to get better too, so people will start to enjoy and look forward to your writing.

Most aspiring Medium writers just don’t write or publish that often.

Most of the successful writers on Medium are prolific. They write constantly. If you go back to their archives, you’ll notice their audience growing in parallel to their amount of posts.

Each post builds on the last one. Prolific work leads to a snowball effect, which is why the successful seem to keep getting more successful.

I won’t dive deeply into the actual writing process, but here are some guides that will be very useful to you:

Formatting Tips for New Medium Writers

The way your posts look on Medium is important. Take advantage of their excellent typography, user interface, and photo library. You want to make them appealing to the eye so people will read them.

Use a large photo to draw attention to your post. It’s a proven fact that people have a higher tendency to click on posts with large images.

The format of your text matters.

People scan through posts quickly online. You need to format your work so it’s easy to read.

Long paragraphs strain people’s eyes when they read them and make it more likely for them to stop reading.

Paragraphs can go on for multiple sentences, but I choose to keep mine shorter. You don’t have to write this way, but personally, I enjoy writing in this format and I think the people who read my posts prefer it too.

Use headings, bold, and italics to make your writing more eye-catching and emphasize important points in your pieces.

Exactly How to Promote Your Medium Writing (Very Few Newbies Do This, Though)

Tom Kugler is a Medium legend. He’s since moved his focus to other platforms, but his origin story is telling.

When he first hit the scene, he hit the scene hard and fast. He did a 30-day challenge where he posted a new blog post every single day. I don’t remember the exact number, but he commented on at least ten articles per day.

Not just comments like “Nice post!” He posted comments that made it clear he read through the post and added his thoughtful two cents to the idea.

He didn’t discriminate. He commented on posts from the most popular Medium writers and completely new writers whose stories he happened to find interesting.

There’s a saying: if you want to be interesting, be interested.

His pure, unadulterated, and endless curiosity about the platform led to his success. Contrast this with most new writers who won’t even commit to posting regularly, let alone, you know, actually trying to be a part of the Medium community.

To this day, some of my top writer friends like Tim Denning are connoisseurs and stewards for Medium. It would behoove you do to the same.

Quick tips for those of you who are truly about that life:

  • Read, share, comment and clap for 5-10 articles per day
  • Reply to every single comment you get on your articles
  • Get meta and reply with thoughtful comments to other comments (this is an easy way to get followers)

Hit This Medium Writing Sweet Spot As Soon As Possible

You don’t have to write and publish a new article every day to be successful on Medium, but you should look to hit a sweet spot of 2-4 articles per week. You should aim to hit this sweet spot from the jump.

I started writing more than seven years ago. After the first time I hit publish, I was hooked on writing like it was crack cocaine. I wrote every single day without fail from the very beginning because I just liked doing it.

When I found Medium, I was publishing 5+ posts per week immediately. If you want to hit that sweet spot of 2-4 articles per week, it’s as simple as writing because it’s fun.

So many new writers are caught up in making money, which is why they don’t make any money.

That’s the double-edged sword of the Medium Partner Program. It’s an amazing opportunity for writers to make money directly from their work, but it creates a perverse incentive structure.

I wrote for free for more than a year because I liked it and wanted to get better. My biggest competitive advantage has always been the fact that writing isn’t work for me. Never has been. It’s joy.

Don’t write for money. Write because writing is awesome. Then, you’ll hit the sweet spot. Then, you’ll make money.

This leads me to my next point.

This is Literally Going to F$%@ Up Your Brain

I rarely check to see if one of my articles has been ‘chosen for distribution.’

I have no clue what my curation rate is. I’ve never known. I know that a good chunk of my articles gets curated, but I’ve never been a huge data and numbers guy because I figured the only variable I can control is the work itself.

You should aim to get curated. Your starts are important. But it’s easy to become obsessed with numbers instead of being obsessed with the work.

Most new Medium writers shouldn’t check their stats more than once a month.

Stats work in an 80/20 distribution, which means a handful of articles will get the vast majority of views and earnings each month. It’s even spottier when you’re new.

I’ve seen so many writers publish an article that takes off. Their stats jump, which gives them a massive dopamine spike. Inevitably, though, the views on that article die off and their stats level off, which causes a dopamine withdrawal.

Now, this writer is desperately trying to replicate what caused the spike. Their original article went viral because they weren’t trying to make it viral. They were just putting their best work out there.

As soon as they start trying, virality eludes them, frustration grows, and now their brain is spiking up and down and up and down and up and down.

Either that happens, or you get discouraged quickly because you get next to no views and you’re constantly refreshing your stats just to repeatedly watch them flatline. It’s super de-motivating.

Just be consistent.

You Have to Stop Worrying About This ASAP

I get it.

Fear of rejection is a thing.

But, fear of rejection on Medium, on the internet, is not a big deal. Ok, so some person you don’t even know who wouldn’t have the balls to say that comment to your face posts it on your blog post.

Who gives a fuck?

You certainly shouldn’t. Also, you shouldn’t care about rejection when it comes to posting your work in publications.

If a publication turns you down, you’re not blacklisted from the publication. Publications that have published literally dozens, if not hundreds, of my stories, still reject some of my stories to this day.

As a beginner, I’d suggest posting no more than a handful of posts straight to your feed just to practice and get the habit going. After that, post to beginner-friendly publications. After that, look to start punching above your weight as soon as possible.

The worst thing that happens is that nothing happens.

Overcome This New Medium Writer’s Kryptonite

If you’re new, stick to a basic format for your blog posts. I shot a video about how to do that here. Don’t get cute, keep it simple, hit the sweet spot, and you’ll be good to go.

On top of that though, you want to work on the major sticking point 99 percent of new writers have.

You suck at writing headlines.

The headline is the most important part of your article:

“On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copyWhen you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.” – David Ogilvy

The biggest reasons beginners have trouble with headlines are:

  • They don’t practice them: My top students all have one thing in common. They take my advice of writing 10 headlines per day to heart.
  • They Focus on What the Article Is, Not What it Does: Bad headlines often just literally describe what the article is about, which takes away all the mystery and doesn’t speak to why someone would want to read it.
  • They’re afraid to write clickbait: Do you buy books with no covers? Do you magically find products that aren’t advertised to you? Every business requires enticing people to buy. Writing is no different.

Medium does have rules about clickbait. You don’t want to go overboard. But, you can write enticing headlines without breaking their rules. I shot a video on YouTube that talks about how to do just that.

Final Thoughts

If you want to truly get good at Medium writing, please heed this advice. Let me say this in the kindest and most gentle way possible. Instead of worrying about Medium’s algorithm, what other writers are writing about, or what people are saying on Facebook groups, turn your focus inward.

Ask yourself if you are giving it your best and be brutally honest about the answer.

Ask yourself if you are giving Medium as much as you expect to receive from it.

Are you being generous with your words, time, and effort, or are you being selfish with them?

Intentions matter. The universe has this strange way of bouncing the intentions you send out right back at you. Only you know whether or not you’re putting the right intentions out there. Until you do that, nothing will work.

I’ve been successful as a writer because I have good intentions.

Medium can tell, my peers can tell, my readers can tell, and you can tell. If you good the work and your intentions are pure, good things will happen, I promise.