Tech writing for Medium
I started writing here on Medium on January 2017, I write mostly about software development and technology and wanted to share what I’ve found and how much you can expect to make as well as other insights and some tips.
Data from January 2017 to June 2020 ( 3 and a half years ! )
I wrote 77 articles during that time which average to about 2 articles a month, 371,406 views and 1,338 followers.
These days I aim to write at least 4 articles a month and at least 500 words per day ( code samples and collateral can take days if not weeks though ).
Total gross revenue for this period was $3,645.26.
Earnings after taxes ( about 10% ) and coffee were unfortunately negative but…
I joined the medium partner program in May 2019, that is I started getting paid for past and current articles a couple of years after I started writing, so the above earnings are mainly for 14 months which is about $260 a month or about $140 in monthly profit after taxes and coffee ( my main expense besides time in writing ).
Here’s a monthly breakdown to give you a better idea:
| MONTH | Gross |
| Jun-20 | $182 |
| May-20 | $313 |
| Apr-20 | $316 |
| Mar-20 | $1,467 |
| Feb-20 | $690 |
| Jan-20 | $509 |
| Dec-19 | $109 |
| Nov-19 | $13 |
| Oct-19 | $3 |
| Sep-19 | $18 |
| Aug-19 | $12 |
| Jul-19 | $13 |
| Jun-19 | $18 |
| May-19 | $3 |In March-April there was a negative shift in trends probably due to covid-19 or the writing gods got angry at me, hard to tell.You can better see it in chart form :
I don’t make a living writing but some days I live to write and write to live.
The good the bad the ugly
Being a writer here at Medium (or anywhere else ) can be tough, I think I can summarize it in the obligatory meme format:
The average article I wrote had 4,823 views and made about $50 to date, this is interesting but misleading, there is a huge range between a couple of very popular and hard working articles and the rest which are presumably sleeping at the job, bad articles ?
5 articles accounted for more than half of all revenue and views; without these heavy hitters the true “average article” I write makes about $10 and has about 1,000 views.
A small distinction to make here is that views and earnings are 2 different things, you can have articles with high view count and little earnings as well as the opposite, the Medium Partner program only pays you for internal (ie paying member) views and reading time.
High highs low lows
It would be ideal to just focus on writing certain types of articles, unfortunately I have no idea what articles will become popular because the data is inconclusive and they all start as good ideas to me.
My highest grossing article ($1,158) was about doing a Google Python Code Challenge, I wrote a follow up thinking it was going to be popular, it earned only $2...I still love you.
It is really frustrating to pour your soul and time into an article and then have no one read it, this is compensated by the thrill and surprise of having them suddenly go popular, and well the joy of writing itself.
Why I write ?
A few reasons actually:
- I am from the idea that you don’t really know something until you can teach it to someone else.
- You get better at writing the more you write, finding your voice can take years.
- It is a way ( for me at least ) to document my learning and tools, there are a few articles I consult frequently.
- If you look at it sideways and squint a little you are getting paid to learn.
- It’s fun.
While money and views are important, I believe you should write about the things you like and do it primarily for yourself.
Top 3 articles:
Making a Simple Neural Network (101,000 views, $41 earnings) I tried to explain Neural networks in an easy, fun, interesting and practical way, even now when I deal with complex Neural Network API’s or research I go back to consult it.
Google Python Challenge #1 (40,000 views, $1,158 in earnings) Getting an invite to a coding challenge that might get you a job at Google and going through the first question proved to be the most valuable (in $) thing I’ve written, go figure.
Organizing your Python Code (29,000 views, $693 in earnings) This one strikes a good balance, useful (not only for Python programmers), fun to write and well received.
The Tragedy of the Commons. ( 259 views, $0.43 in earnings) I love systems theory and think it can solve many of our problems, here I tried explaining a common systems trap with cartoons, loved how it turned out.
Hire me Not (2,100 views, $51 in earnings) A saucy look into the the tech hiring process from the developer side and all the ways it is broken.
Getting to Her (771 views $0.79 in earnings) A look at perhaps the best AI depiction on movies and what it would take to get there.
Missed the mark yet I think they shouldn’t have:
Neural Synchronization in the brain ( 389 views, $0.35 in earnings) The collateral for this article on the inner workings of your brain took about a year to make.
Quick guide to Git + Github (236 views, $5 in earnings) I struggled getting my projects on github so I wrote what I thought was a useful beginners guide, so far it’s only been useful to me and a few other people..sigh.
Stop mass shootings, keep your guns ? ( 30 views, $0.34 in earnings) I sometimes write editorial pieces not related to tech and coding with varying degrees of success, while this subject is important, I think these are discussions no one wants to have.
Note: It seems to really help if your story gets picked up by Medium curators, publishers and external search engines, this can sometimes explain why a perfectly good article has very few views and other types have more, it's just luck sometimes.
Jump in, the water’s fine!
All in all it has been a lot of fun and I have learned a lot by writing here on Medium. If you‘ve been thinking about writing I recommend you do so, not only is it fun but we ( developers, folks in general ) need more high quality tutorials and articles and Medium flawed as it might be is probably the best platform right now for written content and you might just find a new way of life or at the very least a fun new hobby.
Thanks for reading !
And If you need more information or have a specific question please ask in the comments, I'll gladly share what I can.