I published my first story on Medium in March of 2019. It was a short story, and though I had no expectations for it, there was that little part of my mind that thought, what if people really like this? It didn’t go anywhere. To this day, it has 22 views amounting to 11 seconds of member reading time. It’s not monetized — at the time, I had no idea how to monetize my stories.
I only learned how to monetize my stories when I wrote my first popular article — and only after it had already amassed over 1000 views. Even though I lost out on most of the money it gained, I was so happy to have an article published in The Ascent. It increased my confidence hugely. I’ve had every story submitted to them rejected since then.
If you submit to big publications like The Ascent, Mind Cafe, or the Startup — most of your articles will be rejected, and that’s okay. It happens to everyone.
I’ve found more success by publishing tonnes of content on my own. Your stories can still be distributed, and some publishers will reach out to you and offer to have your story published in their publication. I’ve had multiple articles published in The Startup and Curious with this method. But still, success is not guaranteed. The last article I had published in the Startup made $0.36. That being said, the more articles I publish, the more money I make, and the more people I reach.
When I was trying to snipe major publications, I would have to wait days before hearing the rejection. I would write in the meantime, but none of my articles were actually getting published. There are so many other publications you can write in and carve out a name for yourself. Not to mention, getting curated increases your exposure immensely. By publishing more articles, you increase your chances of being curated. You increase your likelihood to build an audience and you make more money.
In the months I spent publishing sporadically and trying to break into larger publications, I made less than a dollar. In October, when I changed my approach, I made $7.47. In November, I’ve made $17.73 so far. It’s not much money, but it shows a marked increase in results. Results I never came close to seeing by writing when I felt like it, and holding on to my stories, waiting for a big name to publish them.
The moral of the story
Going viral is the dream — but it’s not worth banking on. What are we trying to do with our articles? For a lot of us, it’s about reaching more people and providing them with value. And hopefully, getting paid for our efforts too. We don’t need all our articles to perform exceptionally to accomplish this. We improve faster from doing (publishing) rather than thinking.
No, writing articles that flop isn’t sexy. Making pennies from an article you spent hours writing sucks — but it’s okay. It’s better to get those articles out there and get direct feedback on your progress. And you never know, one of those articles could surprise you and go viral and isn’t that a treat.