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I started to write online in 2018, have reached millions of readers, and make six-figure profits per year through my words.

I’m not a native English speaker and I have no formal education in writing.

I never had a “real” writing job and didn’t even think of starting a blog, writing a book, or writing in general until I came across Medium in 2018.

But I was curious enough to give it a try.

When I look back, starting to write online was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

It enabled me to build a business I love, grow a wonderful community with more than 10k writers, share my message with the world, and create a life I genuinely enjoy.

And in the past two years, I’ve helped hundreds of new writers to start and scale their online writing businesses as well.

I help beginners create an online writing process that fits their unique needs, come up with endless ideasbecome better writerswrite successful blog postsgrow their audience, and make money by writing online.

Yet, I realized that new writers have many more questions before they start to writeQuestions like:

Where do I start?!

What’s the first thing to do?

How exactly do I write my first article?

WHAT should I even write about?

How the hell do you even make money by writing on Medium?

How do I figure out whether writing on Medium is the right thing for me to do?

And I know that finding answers to all these questions isn’t always easy. The goal of this guide is to help you get aaaalllll these questions out of your way, so you’re ready to write and publish your very first blog post and feel a sense of relief and confidence.

As mentioned, this is a beginner’s guide. If you’ve already been writing on Medium for a while but are failing to achieve your goals, sign up for my free 5-Day Course, where I teach more advanced strategies to grow your audience and income.

Or download my free ebook with the 15+ lessons I learned while writing on Medium for 5 years. 📘

What exactly *is* Medium and why should I care?

Medium is an American online publishing platform developed by Evan Williams [co-founder of Twitter] and launched in August 2012.

According to Medium’s own description, it’s an open platform where readers find dynamic thinking, and where expert and undiscovered voices can share their writing on any topic.

It’s a platform where you can expect to discover stories, thinking, and expertise from writers on any topic.

If I talk to someone who has never heard about Medium before, I describe it as “Instagram for long-form, written content instead of images” or “YouTube but for blog posts instead of videos.”

At its core, Medium is a reading platform.

Most users join Medium because they’re avid readers and curious learners. They use the platform to discover news, fresh ideas, actionable advice, inspirational stories, and engaging content.

As of September 2023, Medium is one of the 400 most visited websites with over 130 million monthly visitors.

The biggest confusion for new writers is that they believe Medium is a writing platformThey think Medium is full of writers who want to learn how to write and make money by writing, which is not true (more on that later).

So let’s get back to the facts:

  • Medium is an online publishing platform where anyone can share writing of any length.
  • Medium has a significant built-in audience of readers who’re actively looking for new content to read.

Now you might ask yourself the following:

“Well, okay, I get *what* Medium is but why is it different or relevant?”

Here’s why: Medium is one of the few platforms with a paywall that enables creators to directly monetize their content.

In 2017, Medium introduced a subscription model. Since then, users need to pay $5 per month to be able to unlock and read every story on Medium.

As a writer, you can choose whether you want to put your story behind the paywall or not.

If you use the paywall, you’ll make money each time a subscriber reads your article — more on that later.

If you don’t put your content behind the paywall, everyone can read your article, so it’s not really different from a public blog/website.

So far, so good, now let’s get back to our question: Why should you care about Medium? 🤔

The answer to this question will vary depending on your background, needs, goals, and expectations, but as someone who’s been writing here for half a decade, here’s why I believe you should really care about Medium if you’re interested in growing an audience online and enjoy writing:

  • Starting to write on Medium is child’s play. You can create a profile within 15 minutes, and boom — you’re ready to write and publish your first story. Launching your own website takes a lot longer, so Medium is by far the simplest way to start writing online — regardless of all other benefits.
  • Medium is a great place to generate leads/email subscribers for your business. I love writing and supporting new writers, but my heart beats for entrepreneurship and I’m obsessed with helping writers build independent online businesses. And I’ve found Medium to be an incredibly rewarding place to build an engaged audience. Now, of course, this will depend on the nature of your business and the type of audience you want to attract, but with over 100 million visitors per month, the odds are high that there are a few people who’re interested in your message. Medium has enabled me to build an email list of over 40,000 subscribers in less than two years because I’m able to add a call to action at the end of each story:

Screenshot by Author

Screenshot by Author

By the way, you can download a free step-by-step checklist that’ll help you put everything you learn in this guide into action (see what I did there? 🤫).

Compared to short-form content platforms, the relationship you build with readers on Medium can be much deeper and richer because a typical Medium story has more depth than an Instagram post, a Tweet, or a TikTok video.

  • Medium can be your shortcut to building authority and credibilityWhen I joined Medium, I was a 21-year-old student struggling to build a profitable business. Now, I have an audience of over 70k followers, I’m making multiple six-figure profits per year, I got featured in major publications like Business Insider, and I’m a trusted authority in my niche because of my writing on Medium. I didn’t start with these goals in mind, but given that I started with no audience and experience, these results are mind-blowing to me — especially because Medium is the only place where I publish original content.
  • And last but not least, Medium is also exciting because you can get paid for your writing. On most other content platforms, creators pay to be seen by an audience. On Medium, you get paid for reaching an audience. I would keep writing on Medium regardless of the money, but the payment is a huge bonus because it enables beginners to monetize their efforts relatively quickly. Over the last three years, I made close to $200,000 through the Partner Program.

 

Okay, that sounds good, but…how exactly do I start?! What are the first steps?

Hint: You can skip this part if you’ve already published one or more articles on Medium — this is for complete beginners.

As promised above, getting started on Medium is very simple, so let’s do it together:

1. Go to Medium.com and click on “Get started”:

Screenshot by Author

This was easy, right? So let’s move on:

2. After signing up, you’ll receive an email that’ll have you confirm your account and take you to a page for the next steps:

Screenshot by Author

Once you’ve done that, you’ll end up on a page with recommended stories to read, which will mostly be a random selection as Medium doesn’t know what you like or dislike yet.

3. One of the first things you can do is customize your interests, so you easily discover relevant content.

4. Next, sign up to become a Medium member.

This is a requirement to join the Partner Program and get paid for your own writing, but it’s also necessary to better understand the platform and the top-performing content.

You can also learn a lot by reading stories of Top Writers, analyzing their work, and asking yourself why they do what they do.

If you’re writing with the intention of making money, spending $5 per month on your writing career shouldn’t be a big deal.

Everything we’ve discussed so far is about becoming a Medium reader, so you can read stories on the platform.

Next, we’ll talk about how to become a Medium writer:

To apply for the Medium Partner Program, you need to meet the following eligibility criteria:

So let’s look at each of these points separately:

  • You’re a member: We discussed this step above — you need to be a Medium subscriber to be able to join the Partner Program. That’s only fair.
  • You’ve published a story in the last 6 months: If you just joined Medium, the first thing you can do is publish your first story — this is what we’ll talk about in the rest of this guide.
  • You’re located in an eligible country: Check the list of supported countries here. (Note: A large number of new countries will be added to the list by the end of 2023. So if your country isn’t listed right now, make sure to check the list regularly to stay up to date on changes.)

 

How exactly do I write my first article?

So let’s get back to what you can do now to move forward in your journey as a Medium writer: Publish a story.

So here’s exactly how you can use the Medium editor to write and format your first story:

Now you might think that this looks too easy, but the truth is, writing on Medium is no rocket science. The simplicity of writing and publishing a story on Medium is one of the core benefits of the platform.

On Medium, you only have very few formatting options anyway, and you don’t even need to use all of them.

Keep things simple and focus on the core idea and message of your story. Avoid overformatting and make sure the visual appearance of your story is aligned with the user experience on Medium.

Alright, now you know exactly how to write your first story on Medium, but what if you don’t know what to write about?! Let’s talk about that too…

Help! I have NO idea what to write about!

You know that Medium is an interesting platform, and you want to give it a try, but what if you have no idea what to write and whether people would be interested in your stories at all?

I’m going to give you a few ideas and strategies, but I know this is a huge problem for most beginners, so before we dive in, here’s a basic rule I’d follow: Writing anything is better than writing nothing.

The more you write, the easier it’ll get to figure out what you really want to write about.

I know this sounds ineffective, but the truth is, it’s unlikely that your first few articles will get lots of attention (because you’re in the beginning stages and don’t know exactly how to attract views yet), so even though I want you to have a solid strategy right from the beginning, I also want you to stop overthinking and move fast.

And if you really can’t decide what to write about, I can only beg you to write something because anything is better than nothing!

Let’s split this question up and answer it depending on your exact situation:

➡️ You’re an entrepreneur and want to use Medium to promote your business/generate leads

This is the easiest example because in this case, you’ll write about topics related to your core business to attract, engage, and educate the right audience. Your content strategy will be similar to that on other platforms.

➡️ You want to build that business, but…

Let’s say you want to build an online business around a specific topic but don’t really know where to start yet. Let’s imagine that topic is running because you’re a passionate runner and want to help others run faster, run their first marathon, run an ultra-marathon, or whatever.

Running is a huge topic, and you could write thousands of articles to educate your audience. The more specific you get, the more targeted your readers are going to be, but if you can’t decide where to start and what exactly to focus on yet, you better just start somewhere and write stories that help you step into the arena and gain your first experiences as a writer.

You could, for instance, write stories like:

  • 5 Running mistakes most beginners make
  • 5 Secrets most runners don’t know about
  • How to avoid pain when training for your first marathon
  • How to start running if you really don’t want to (but know you should)
  • What my first marathon taught me about resilience/discipline/…

These are just a few basic examples, but you get the point: If you know that you’d like to build a business, community, and product around a specific topic, start providing value around that topic as soon as possible, even if you haven’t figured out all the details yet.

➡️ You really have no idea

Last but not least, the most common situation is the following: You don’t have a business or business idea. You just want to write because you love it, and you’d be happy to make a few extra bucks each month.

If that’s you, here are a few questions that might spark ideas:

  • What do you talk about on a Friday night? If you’re passionately talking about a topic, you could probably also write about it.
  • What are you excited, angry, upset about, or inspired by? Maybe you’re still new to a topic, but you’re really interested in it — you’re not an expert but a curious learner. In that case, you can share your own journey and the lessons you learn.
  • Which books do you read? This is most likely not going to make you rich or popular, but it’s an easy place to start: Write about the ideas and content you recently consumed. Summarize your favorite concepts from books. Add your own twist. Tell us how you’re applying the knowledge in your own life.
  • What’s something you find easy that others find difficult? This is the best question to ask yourself because it helps you find a sweet spot between your strengths and the actual needs of your (potential) target audience.
  • What’s something you fundamentally disagree with?
  • What’s something you wish you had learned about earlier?
  • What’s a success you’ve had in your life that you’d like to share with others so they can replicate it?
  • What’s a failure you went through that you want to share, so others don’t make the same mistakes?

My #1 advice for those who want to grow an audience and income on Medium is to stick to a niche and become the go-to voice for a specific audience of readers.

You can read more on that here:

This Is How I’d Pick My Creator Niche If I Had to Start All Over

How to Build an “Ideal Reader Persona” so You Can Grow Your Audience With Confidence

However, I know that most new writers either don’t know which niche to serve, or don’t want to stick to a niche because they want to write about multiple topics and explore various interests.

I can guarantee that writing about one topic is a lot easier than writing about ten different topics, but if that’s what you want to do, by all means, go for it.

There are dozens of examples of widely successful Medium writers who write about anything under the sun, so it’s not a “mistake” to write about different topics, I just don’t consider it the easiest path.

And if you ever feel stuck and experience writer’s blocktake a look at my cheatsheet to fuel your creativity.

I’m done writing the post, what’s next?!

You’ve done it: You’ve written your very first (Medium) article and are proud of yourself — well done! 🎉

Now the question is… what’s next?!

Well, there are a few more things you can do:

First, I recommend that you set up a proper profile and about page so readers can get an insight into who you are and what you do.

Use a simple but friendly profile picture and briefly tell us who you are and what you do.

If we think back to our example of the writer who wants to write about running, her bio could say: “I help new runners train properly, run faster, and prepare for their first marathon.”

It could also be: “I’ll help you finish your first marathon with a smile on your face.” or: “I write to help you finish your first marathon with a smile on your face.”

If you’re not focusing on a specific audience or niche, your profile can also just describe who you are and what you do.

Here’s what my profile looked like for the majority of my time on Medium:

Just by adding the word “Dreamer” and the flags of Austria and Turkey, I was able to stand out from the crowd because my bio was different.

You don’t necessarily need to be different, but you can.

Here’s what my bio looks like now:

This one is less personal and unique than the first one, but it’s specific and tells you exactly what I do and how I can help you if you’re a new writer.

If you want more support on your message and profile, check out this video training I hosted on gaining clarity as a writer:

Now that you have your profile set up, I want to introduce you to publications.

Think of Medium publications as independent magazines where you can publish your stories.

Anyone can start a publication, which means there are thousands of available publications for you to join.

Let me quickly point out the pros and cons of publications:

Pros 👍

  • Collaborating with publications helps you tap into an existing audience, even if you have zero followers yet. E.g., if you’re writing about running, you could look for publications that cover fitness and health topics, which would help you ensure you get your work in front of a relevant audience.
  • Working with experienced (and kind) publication editors can give you a headstart. If they like your work, they might be willing to support you through valuable feedback so you can avoid basic mistakes and get the most out of your stories.

Cons 👎

  • Due to the vast number of publications, it can be hard to find out which publications to contribute to.
  • Each publication has a different application process and rules, which means you need to invest some time figuring out how to contribute.
  • When you submit your article to a publication, the editors decide if and when the post goes live. This means it’s harder for you to stick to a specific content publishing schedule because it might take several days to get a response from publications.

Even though finding your way through Medium’s publication jungle can be challenging, collaborating with publications still makes a lot of sense.

If you get rejected by popular publications, you’ll at least know that your piece still needs some polishing, which helps you avoid publishing articles that don’t meet Medium’s basic content rules.

I recommend using a mix of generic and specific tags.

For instance, if you’re writing a story on how to train for your first marathon, you could use “Running,” “Fitness,” and “Health” as generic tags, and get specific with tags like “Marathon,” “Marathon Training,” or “Running Tips.”

After adding the tags, your story is ready to be published or sent to a publication.

Start now

The best thing about Medium is that it’s massively underrated.

Most creators, entrepreneurs, businesses, and bloggers don’t use Medium as part of their marketing strategy because they don’t even know they could.

They either don’t know how to use Medium, or they suck at writing long-form content.

If you’re passionate about writing — or think you could fall in love with the process, Medium could literally change your life, just like it did for me.

So, what do you think? Will you give it a shot and start writing on Medium?

Let me know by leaving a comment — I’d love to hear from you!

Also, let me know if you have any other questions that I didn’t answer in this guide. I’ll be checking the comment section of this post regularly and keep updating it to ensure it stays the most helpful resource for Medium beginners.

Don’t forget to sign up for my free 5-Day Course to avoid the most common mistakes and learn how to write content your readers will love.

And if you’d like to be part of a thriving community with over 10,000 writers, join my free Mastermind Group.

Big love from my screen to yours,
Sinem ❤️

Sinem Günel

Sinem's writing is read by millions of people each year and she's built a multi-6-figure business at the age of 24 without spending a penny on ads.

Together with her partner Philip Hofmacher, she's the founder of the Medium Writing Academy, the Freedom Business Accelerator and the Write Build Scale Mastermind.

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