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Making Money on Medium Is Not a Zero-Sum Game – Game Of Words

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There’s room for everyone at the table. Join us.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Are you wondering how to make money on Medium? Do you feel like you’re “too late” and all the successful people are already established? New writers are joining every day, after all. And only a small percentage of them make significant money.

It’s enough to drive away the uninformed and undedicated, but I’ll let you in on a secret.

There’s more opportunity on Medium than most people realize. There are people making a solid living writing for this site, and with the right amount of work and positioning, you can too.

There’s one thing you need to watch out for, though.

The green-eyed monsters.

Once a writer hits a certain level of success, some strange behaviors start to erupt in their peers. Not all of them, mind you, but enough that it warrants talking about. The monsters start to come out, and once they get a whiff of someone else’s achievements, they’re out for blood.

These people believe, for some reason, that if someone becomes successful and starts making a lot of money on a platform, that there is “less” for them.

It’s what’s called a “zero-sum” game. The simple definition: more for me means less for you. There’s only a finite amount to go around, and everyone is fighting over the same resources.

While there are always going to be people at the top echelons making thousands and people on the bottom rungs making pennies, someone else’s success does not threaten yours.

In fact, it’s actually a good thing.

Photo by Braden Collum on Unsplash

For the better part of the 20th century, athletes dreamed of running a mile in under four minutes. The best in the world trained and tried and tried again.

No one could do it, and some experts thought it might not be possible.

Then on May 6, 1954, Roger Bannister ran a mile in three minutes, fifty-nine and four-tenths of a second.

He had done the impossible.

In the years that followed, many more runners would go on to complete this once unthinkable task. Following Bannister’s example, they allowed his success to bolster their belief in the possible.

If he could do it, after all, why couldn’t they?

We can use this story as an analogy for what’s possible on Medium. When the Medium Partner Program began, the highest earners made only a few thousand dollars, at best.

But in September 2019, one writer took home over $30,000.

That’s crazy.

And before you go all green-eyed with envy, think about how amazing that is. You and I are writing on the same platform they are. We have access to the same readers they do.

It’s out there. It’s possible.

It’s up to us to make it happen.

In addition to those huge numbers, the percentage of people earning over $100 a month leaped from around 7% to 8.9%.

While that might seem like a bleak figure to some, it’s an incredible step forward in my opinion.

More writers are coming to the platform. More writers are understanding that there’s money to be made here. More writers are putting in the work and reaping the rewards.

Will you be one of them?

If that’s true and writers are making more and not less, why are people worrying about their little piece of the pie?

It’s because someone moved their cheese.

Humans like predictability. We like being able to do a certain set of tasks — X — to get a result — Y.

And in many systems, once we have figured out the “pattern” or start to know what we’re doing, we feel pretty good. We feel like we’ve finally got the hang of this writing thing.

Then out of nowhere, Medium changes something. They start prioritizing their in house publications. New readers start demanding different types of content. Trends come and go. Curation ebbs and flows.

What worked last month, much less last year, might not work today. And that makes some people upset.

The cheese — that reward or result we’ve come to expect — has changed.

And now the challenge is on us. We must change with it, or be left behind. Businesses that don’t adapt to the needs of the marketplace find themselves dying out.

Does anyone still have a Blackberry with the little chiclet buttons?

Yeah. Thought so.

For many writers on the platform, they may feel like their “cheese” has moved. Understandably, they feel threatened. Especially for part-time or full-time writers who depend on Medium for their livelihood, any change or dip in earnings can cause full-on panic.

There are only two things in this world that make people do absolutely crazy things: fear and love.

The fear of losing one’s livelihood is understandably panic-inducing. Especially when you’ve been working day and night to scrape by, and someone comes onto the scene and starts doing way better than you.

So clearly, the answer is to get rid of the threat, right?

This is where so many people go wrong.

We might think we know about another person’s business, but the truth is you’ll never know what goes on behind the scenes. You don’t know what that person has been through, or how many times they’ve tried and failed before.

You don’t see the sleepless nights. The self-doubt. The impostor syndrome.

You just see the end result, and like anything on social media, it’s designed to show you only the most appealing, glossy parts of the journey.

It’s not glamorous to talk about putting in the hours. It’s not glamorous to talk about making pennies when you’re first starting out. If you look at the road that got them there, almost every “overnight success” has been years in the making.

I get it. I do. We want it all, and we want it now. And if someone seemingly gets that “overnight”, our little green monster goes berserk.

How about we reframe those thoughts so they can work for us, instead of against us?

The more of us make our voices heard, the more visibility our stories have. All of our stories.

Imagine that someone comes to the platform tomorrow and starts crushing it. Their stories are so popular that they actually encourage new people to sign up for Medium’s subscription.

New paying readers means more opportunities for you to get paid, too.

There’s no fixed pot, no limited amount of money that one writer can earn. So help out your fellow writers, recruit new ones, and let’s grow this platform together.

A rising tide lifts all boats. Are you going to catch the wave with us?

Photo by Guy Kawasaki on Unsplash

Like what you read? There’s more where that came from:

To your success,

— Al

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