How I Used Experimentation to Become One of Medium’s Highest-Earning Writers

My content journey has proved experimenting is the only way to thrive on Medium

How I Used Experimentation to Become One of Medium’s Highest-Earning Writers
Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

As a science student in school, I learned early on how experiments are a great way to discover what works (and separate what doesn’t).

In my young adult days as a civil engineer, I experimented to figure out the best strategies to build sturdy buildings and bridges.

The art of experimentation still encourages me to try new things, even when I’m uncertain of the results. I guess this is one of the perks of being a science student.

Now, as a writer, experimentation is my secret weapon to keep growing on Medium when 95% of writers complain their earnings keep plummeting.

I’ve managed to make more than $1000 per month for 12 months straight. Here’s a screenshot of how the past few months have treated me on Medium.

Screenshot by the author.

Today, I’m sharing the exact blueprint of how I used experimentation to become one of the highest-earning writers on this platform.

Everyone can replicate it to make it big on Medium. If you’re looking for a tried and tested plan to succeed as a writer on this platform, this article will help you.

Step One: Know What You Want to Achieve

Understand your goal from writing on Medium, and optimize your articles based on that. This will help you create a unique and focused writing strategy.

For example, 

  • If your goal is to grow an audience, aim to deliver value and make your articles relatable.
  • If your goal is to sell courses, aim to inspire and educate, so people are tempted to pay and learn more from you.
  • If your goal is to enjoy the writing process, forget about audience engagement and write whatever your heart tells you to (I write at least one such article every week to keep the writer in me happy).
  • If your goal is to build a repository of your work (an online resume), focus on putting your best work out there.

Whatever your goal, make it clear from the outset, and optimize your articles accordingly. This will help your audience to know what to expect from you.

Figuring out what you want from Medium might take some time and research. But once you do that, it’ll all be worth the effort. You’ll soon have a community of readers who’ll be happy to invest their time and money to buy or learn from you.

Step Two: Make Assumptions and Test Them

Knowing what you want from the platform will kickstart your journey. The next step is to track what your audience says about your content.

At the start, you won’t know what articles click with your audience. You’ve to assume something works and start from there.

Don’t aim for perfection at the start. Don’t try to make your first article your best one.

Instead, aim to publish more. The more you publish, the bigger a sample space you’ll get to test your assumptions.

Analyze your stats frequently to understand the trends and insights the data shows. You’ll know which assumptions were correct and need to be doubled down upon, and which were terrible and should be abandoned immediately.

When I sort my articles by lifetime views, it becomes clear the most popular niches for me are:

  • Book recommendations
  • Health, fitness, lifestyle
  • Articles that teach writers how to make money.
Screenshot by the author.

Step Three: Tweak to Measure Changes

Once you have a few articles published, you’ll learn to interpret the story your stats tell you. The next step is to optimize your articles further so you can earn more on Medium.

Here are some examples of tests I’ve run in the past on Medium:

  • Change the wording of a headline — measure how it affects my views and income
  • Self-publishing vs. submitting to a publication — measure how it changes the number of claps and comments
  • Adding more personal anecdotes and lived experiences — measure the odds of getting boosted and hence increasing my Medium earnings.

To get a reliable result, run similar tests with multiple articles (test one variable multiple times), across multiple weeks.

The bigger your sample space, the more accurate your data will be. Running a single test with one article is a good way to get an indication of what works on Medium.

Step Four: Review and Iterate

The test you conducted a year ago might not be relevant today. Algorithms change all the time, and many variables aren’t in our control. To stay on top of algorithm changes and keep making good money on the platform, review your observations regularly and iterate based on what you see.

The goal is to test fast, implement faster, and if something doesn’t work, move on to the next hypothesis. Most writers attach themselves to the results, and even if they try to experiment a few times, they look for instant gratification.

This is the shortcut to delaying your success, and you must avoid it as a beginner.

Think of writing on Medium like conducting a science experiment, and you’ll see how difficult it is to get attached to results.

If your goal is clear from day one, and you have the heart to keep experimenting and learning, no one can stop you from becoming the highest-paid writer on this platform.

Final words

I made it to the top writers on Medium only because of my ability to detach myself from results.

Did I know what’ll work? No.

Did I plan how to figure it out? Yes.

I started creating content on topics that interested me and followed up on the feedback and data I got from my audience. I ran multiple trial and error tests to understand the platform and use it for the best as a writer.

Here’s how you can replicate my process to succeed on Medium and make more money by writing.

  1. Specify your objective of writing on Medium, be it delivering value and educating people, selling courses, forming a connection with the audience, or building a writing portfolio.
  2. Get started by publishing to see what works. Don’t chase perfection from the beginning. Build your sample space. Analyze the stats to refine your work.
  3. Optimize your content based on analytics
  4. Be consistent with testing, implementing, and analyzing your stats to stay on top of the algorithm.

My content journey has proved experimenting is the only way to thrive on Medium. So, don’t give up on it yet because you can become one of the highest-paid writers. I hope this guide encourages you to keep trying.

If you’d like to have a career as a successful freelance writer, but don’t know where to start, grab my 90-day guide on how to start from scratch and land your first freelance client.

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