How to Write on Medium in 2023 (and Make an Easy Side Income)

28 min read

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How to start writing on Medium by The Side Blogger
Did you know? I started writing on Medium even before I launched this blog. I was new to writing back then, couldn’t focus on growing two things. I only had the bandwidth for one. So, I chose to grow this blog, and I don’t regret that decision even for a second.

However, even when I was focused on The Side Blogger, I never really stopped writing on Medium completely. And that’s a testament to how much I enjoy that platform even to this day. I would publish one or two stories every couple of months, get a few reads, make a few bucks, and contemplate being more serious once I had this blog under control.

And that’s exactly what I did in June 2022. Once I hit the coveted six-figure earnings from this blog and a lot of my blogging and sales activities were automated, I decided it was time to take Medium more seriously, and I’m so glad I did. It’s been so much fun!

I can write whatever, experiment with topics and forms, and what’s more, I make a nice little side income while at it. Nothing huge, but enough to motivate me… (over $800 in the last ~six months.) As I said, not a lot, but the steady increase in $$ from month to month has been enough to make me believe in the potential of this platform.

Also, it’s only been six months!!!

I have tons to share about the platform, but more importantly, I hope to give you a starting point in case you’re thinking about writing on Medium too.

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In this post:

What is Medium?

Medium is a place to read articles and write them too. Anyone can create an account on Medium and start using it. Writers can earn money from the platform when they meet certain conditions.

Medium was founded by former Twitter co-founder and CEO—Evan Clark Williams, mostly known as just Ev Williams. Ev also founded Blogger—one of the earliest blogging platforms. So, as you’d expect, Medium shares many similarities with Twitter, but like Blogger, it was built for medium to long-form content. (Fun fact, that’s actually where the name “Medium” came from!)

So now, Medium is this social media platform for medium (or long) form articles with its built-in audience (well over 100 million readers, according to Medium’s homepage) and a proprietary algorithm that shows content based on what it thinks a certain user (reader) would like.

Screenshot of Medium's homepage for a logged-out visitor.
Screenshot of Medium’s homepage for a (logged-out) visitor.

How does Medium work?

The following set of key points pretty much sum up how Medium works:

  • Medium is delightfully an ad-free platform. It is supported by a user subscription model.
  • Anybody can read and write on Medium. All you have to do is create an account and start reading other people’s articles or write your own articles (known as “stories” within the Medium ecosystem.)
  • You can earn money with your writing if you join the Medium “Partner Program” and lock your stories behind a paywall. (More about the Partner Program and how it works shortly.)
  • Paid subscribers can read unlimited stories on Medium. Free Medium members can read up to three paywalled stories per month.
  • Writers in the Partner Program make money on Medium when paid members read those stories. Nobody knows exactly how the earnings are calculated, but it has to do with the reading time of paid Medium members and their engagement. This money comes directly from the members’ subscription fees.
  • A part of a member’s subscription fee directly helps the writers they read, and a part of it helps Medium stay ad-free. So, a paid subscription to Medium is highly encouraged. It’s only $5 per month—the cost of a Starbucks latte, give or take a little.
  • Writers do not make money from free members’ reading times. So, if you’re a reader and wish to help the writers you love, please subscribe to Medium ☺️

Writing on Medium vs. Blog (on WordPress)

There was a time, a few years ago, when I’d yell say “WORDPRESS” without a second thought, but this is 2023, and like all things, blogging has also evolved.

Now it’s more of a personal choice. There’s the good old-fashioned blogging with [preferably] WordPress, there’s Medium, there’s blogging via newsletters (Substack, anyone?), and who knows what else…

That said, I’m biased and would say WordPress is still the best way to blog if you want to create a business and brand that can withstand platform shenanigans and algorithmic rollercoasters. Pretty much all popular/successful writers on Medium also have their own websites (whether on WordPress or some other platform.) That should tell you not to trust any one platform too much, especially when you do not own it.

You don’t own Medium. You cannot control how Medium behaves today or how it’ll behave a few months from now. Those of us who’ve been on the platform long enough know the pain of weathering its many iterations of the infamous algorithm. But not just that, Medium can (and has in the past), at any time, change how it shows your stories and to whom, its UI, its earning model, etc.

It goes to show that to create a proper business, you still need your own home and audience. And for that, my personal recommendation will always be WordPress. And don’t forget to build that email list!

All things considered, is it even worth writing on Medium?

Is writing on Medium worth it?

 Medium can still be a viable side-income source for you.  When you understand how Medium works, making a few hundred bucks on this platform isn’t too hard.

A few exceptionally good (and dedicated) writers even make a few thousand just from Medium! Writer Zulie Rane, for example, shared that she made over $2k this past November from Medium. That’s not nothing!

I’d say Medium is a great way to make some side income every month.

But what if you’re trying to make more than a little side cash? Perhaps that’s when you’re better off having your own blog on WordPress or a similar platform where you have a higher level of ownership than you do on Medium.

In any case, let’s look at who should write on Medium and who should set up their WordPress blog.

Who should write on Medium, and who should write on WordPress?

Consider the following:

  1. If you can publish only one well-written blog post per week, go with WordPress.
  2. If you can write and publish multiple stories (2-4 at least), go with Medium (quantity matters on this platform big time! Especially for new writers.)
  3. If you want to make a few hundred bucks writing, and only by writing, then you’ll love Medium.
  4. If you’re not trying to create a brand from day-one, you’ll like Medium.
  5. If you’re building a business and do not necessarily care to be known as a writer, then go with WordPress.
  6. If you write on a topic that has historically done well on Medium (making money, writing, self-help, personal development, technology, data science, for example), then consider writing on Medium.
  7. Neither platform can make you a millionaire by itself; you have to sell something. Personally, I’ve found that selling is easier when you own your audience (your website, your email list, etc.)
  8. But, some folks on Medium were able to sell their own products too. The caveat is that most of those folks are selling products that are related to Medium. (Because they made it big on Medium, mostly they just talk about and teach Medium… not an option for newbie Medium writers, obviously.)
  9. If you’re a hobby writer and couldn’t care less about making money, why bother spending money on WordPress, themes, plugins, eh? Just write on Medium!
  10. If you have no idea what kind of writer or business owner you wish to be, or if you even enjoy writing, then perhaps starting with Medium is a more economical and practical option.

So, there you go. Consider these options and then make your decision.

As a WordPress blogger, you may consider this approach:

Well, you can do what I did.

You can focus on growing your WordPress blog, and write on Medium when you can, however much you can.

You can even republish your WordPress stories on Medium (using canonical links; more on that down below.)

Just don’t expect too much from it.

This will allow you to coexist on Medium alongside your WordPress blog, but without the pressure. You don’t have to worry about growing your following or income. Just be on the platform for fun.☺️

And then, later on, when your WordPress blog grows to a point where most things are automated, and you have a steady flow of new subscribers and revenue, you can start writing more on your Medium account. Just like I’m doing right now!

How to Start Writing on Medium

Follow these steps:

Step 1: Sign up for Medium

Go to medium.com and create an account. It’s free. However, as you’ll see shortly, Medium writers make money from paid Medium members’ subscription fees. So, if you sign up to be a paid Medium member and then read and engage with writers, it’ll mean that you’d be directly helping these writers.

So please, if you can afford it, do sign up for a paid membership. Better yet, sign up using my referral link—it’ll help me make money on Medium, and you’ll be directly supporting my writing. (More on referrals down below.)

Step 2: Set up the basics

You should set up a few basics when you join Medium.

Write a short but sweet bio (you can edit this info from your “Settings” page.)

Set your profile photo. Your profile image can be your photo or a cartoon version of your photo or whatever, really. (In my photo, my face is partially hidden by a gigantic camera…) But the trend seems to be either your real photo, partially obscured photo, or cartoon face.

Set (or edit) your username and subdomain, etc. You can write under your own name or under a pseudonym. It’s your choice.

Step 3: Follow these writers and pubs (they’re kind of important)

Now that you’re on Medium, follow these guys (and by “guys” I mean writers and publications alike…) They’re affiliated with Medium and share important info periodically that you’ll find useful as a writer on the platform.

  1. Tony Stubblebine: Medium’s current CEO
  2. Harris Sockel: I don’t know what his job title is, but he works at Medium and writes either important or cool (or both) stuff. But I really just love his writing! This story, in particular, is just… amazing. And I’m so grateful for this one!
  3. Shirley Lee: OK, so, she’s not affiliated with Medium, but I’m kind of in love with her [stories] so why not, eh?
  4. Medium Policy: As a writer on Medium, you should always stay in the know if and when they change their policy!
  5. 3 Min Read: This is the official Medium blog, and you’ll mostly find advice, tips, and feature updates here.
  6. Medium Staff: Also shares stuff about Medium.
  7. Creators Hub: A blog to help creators on Medium.
  8. Ev Williams: He is the ex-CEO of Medium. I still follow him just because… I mean, even though he’s not the CEO anymore, he’s still on the board, so who knows when he might pop by and share something important…
  9. Maliha (Oi! That’s me!): I mean… why not?

Step 4: Start writing and publishing on Medium

On your Medium homepage, towards the top-right side, there’s a tab that says “Write.” Click that, and you’ll land on the beautiful and minimalist yet powerful Medium editor. Start writing! (Side note: I LOVE the Medium editor!!!)

The write button on Medium's homepage.
The write button on Medium’s homepage.

Here’s my advice on writing:

Give value. Lots of value. Share lived experiences as much as possible, as opposed to doling out casual, curated advice that resonates with nobody. And do your best to write well-organized, useful stories. Ask yourself, does your story provide value to the readers? Is it worth your reader’s time and money?

Now, a few words about picking a “niche.”

To niche or not to niche is the question… Ahem.

So, it’s a contentious topic. Some writers will say that you should pick a niche. Others will say that it doesn’t matter.

Now, if this were a WordPress blog, I’d say yes, please, pick a damn niche!

But this is Medium. And personally, I’m on Medium partly to enjoy writing whatever I want. That said, because I already write so much about writing and content marketing on this blog, it’s easy for me to go and write the same stuff on Medium too. And because I’m trying to publish 2-4 stories (per week) on Medium these days, I naturally gravitate towards these easier (for me!) topics.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t deviate. I’ve written about books, shows, movies, and some very personal things on Medium in the past and will very likely do the same in the future.

Is it bad in any way to write about many different topics on Medium? I don’t think so! Some of my favorite (and popular, going by their ginormous follower count) writers on Medium write about a lot of different things, and their followers don’t punish them in any way.

My advice? Keep an open mind and experiment. If you really want to write about something outside of your “usual,” Medium is the perfect place to share those ideas and stories. Go at it! Have fun, and above all, write because you enjoy it!

Step 5: Write really good titles and subtitles

At the top, you have the title and subtitle. These are super important; these are the texts that most people see on their Medium feed. If you write good titles and good subtitles, people will be more likely to click your stories and read them.

The title and subtitle in the Medium editor.
The title and subtitle in the Medium editor.

Step 6: Get familiar with the basic editing tools

The Medium editor is simple but powerful. At the beginning of a new line (hit enter to start a new line) you’ll see a plus sign show up to the left of your cursor. When you click it, you’ll see options to add an image, a video, embedded content, a code block, or a new part.

Medium editing tools available when you enter a new line.
Medium content tools; available when you enter a new line.

You have more formatting options when you highlight text in the editor, options like making text bold and italic, hyperlinking, making the text a header or subheader, adding quotations, etc. I highly recommend that you play around with the editor until you feel comfortable.

Medium editing tools available when you highlight text.
Medium editing tools available when you highlight text.

Step 7: Publish your story

Before you hit the publish button, an important note: Please follow Medium’s rules. I don’t have room for all the rules here, but do read this from Medium about its rules and then use common sense. If you do that, I’m sure you’ll be fine. But just to give you an idea, please do not write hateful stuff, harmful stuff, exploitative stuff, and stuff that may be deemed as harassment, to name a few things to absolutely avoid in your writing.

If you violate these rules, you may find yourself kicked out of the platform.

Assuming you’ve followed these rules and have written a good story, edited it, and now you’re happy with it, it’s time to hit the publish button! You can either publish it on your profile or on a publication. Did I just confuse you? Well, hold that thought because I’ll be talking about profiles and publications shortly.

But, for now, let’s assume we want to publish to our profile. That’s simple. Just hit the bright green “publish” button at the top of the screen. This will take you to a page where you can add some info before publishing. Namely, you can add up to five tags (super important that you do), if you’re on the partner program (which I’ll talk more about below), you can choose to meter your story, i.e. lock it behind a paywall, etc.

When you’re ready, hit the “Publish now” button. And voila! (Optionally, you can click “Schedule for later” to schedule it… for later, duh!)

Publish your Medium story.
Publish your Medium story.

[Related: How long should a Medium story be?]

A little about tags:

Tags are super important; that’s [one of the ways] Medium knows what you’ve written about, which helps it show your content to the right people. For example, let’s assume I write about climate change. (I don’t, usually, but that’s not the point…) If I do not tag my story properly, the algorithm may not know who to show the story to, which will mean reduced views and reads.

On the other hand, if I tag my stories correctly, Medium will know exactly who to show my story to (folks who’re interested in climate stories!)

You can have up to five tags on Medium, and I recommend you use all five. Start by typing what you think is the most appropriate topic (where it says “Add a topic…”), and Medium will automatically show you some matching tags with a number next to them. This number represents how many stories are there with that exact tag. The higher the number, the more popular the tag or topic. You want to use these popular tags!

How do Writers Make Money on Medium

After some ninja-level snooping around, I’ve concluded that writers on Medium make money using the following methods:

  1. With the Partner Program (stories and referrals)
  2. Tips
  3. Finding clients via Medium
  4. Promoting products on Medium

Let’s start with how Medium pays writers with its Partner Program. It is, by far, the most satisfying thing about Medium (at least for me!) You just write stories that people like reading, and voila! You make money!

The catch? People gotta love what you’re writing. As in, you actually have to be kinda good 😉.

Medium pays writers with the Partner Program

This is the most popular way to make a decent side income stream with Medium.

The Partner Program allows writers to make money directly from Medium, and the money is paid out by Medium every month.

Medium’s payment model is one of the most lucrative (if not the most) there is for similar platforms. There are Hubpages and Vocal and a few others that pay writers directly for their writing, but none of them (as far as I know) pay out as well as Medium does.

The Partner Program won’t make you rich, but if you’re committed to writing often and writing well, and you give a lot of value, you should be able to make a few hundred bucks every month.

Here’s what you need to know about Medium’s Partner Program:

  • You have to apply for the Partner Program: It doesn’t let you in automatically.
  • You must meet certain conditions before you’re allowed in: You must have at least 100 followers, you must have written at least one story before you can apply, and you must be from one of the following countries (Medium cannot process payment in all countries, unfortunately.) And, once you’ve been allowed in, you must continue to publish at least one story every six months.
  • You must be from one of these countries to apply: As of writing this, the eligible countries are the following. Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States.
Writers from these countries are eligible to apply for the Medium Partner Program.
Screenshot from Medium: Writers from these countries are eligible to apply for the Medium Partner Program.

If you’re on Medium and you meet all the criteria (at least 100 followers, at least one published post in the last six months, and be from one of the eligible countries), head over to http://medium.com/earn and click “Apply now.”

And if you’re not on Medium yet, now’s your time to get on it!

Screenshot of Medium Partner Program page.
Screenshot of Medium Partner Program page.

Now, once you’re on the Partner Program, you can make money in two different ways:

  • Directly with your stories
  • From referrals

Medium pays you for the stories you publish:

Once you’re on the Partner Program, you have to make your stories eligible to make money.

All you have to do is check the box that says “Meter your story” before you hit the publish button. Easy! (See the screenshot below.)

(Note: You won’t see this option unless you’re part of the Medium Partner Program, FYI.)

Screenshot of how to make Medium stories eligible to make money.
Screenshot of how to make Medium stories eligible to make money.

Basically, when you check that box, you’re locking your stories behind a paywall. Meaning, only paid members will be able to read your stories.

(Note: Free members can read up to three paywalled stories per month; however, this doesn’t help the writers because they only make money from paid members’ reading times. More on that below.)

Now, we don’t know exactly how Medium calculates how much a certain writer will earn, but there are two factors that we do know of:

  • The time paid members spend reading or listening to your stories
  • How much of their monthly reading time a member spends reading/listening to your stories

Note that your income depends on paid members reading your paywalled stories.

In other words, the more people (i.e. paid members) read your stuff, the more money you’ll make. And that should inform you about  the most crucial aspect of writing and making money on Medium: You’ve got to write stuff that catches, and then keeps, readers’ attention and interest .

[Related: How to support your favorite Medium writers.]

Medium pays you for referring people to become paid Medium members

Medium has a referral system, and I love it! It’s Medium’s own version of a semi-passive income model. Here’s how it works:

  • When you join the Partner Program, Medium gives you a unique referral link. The referral page looks like this ↓
Maliha's Medium referral page.
Maliha’s Medium referral page.
  • When you share this link (on social media, on your Medium stories, on your website like I’ve been doing throughout this blog post, in your email, etc.) and someone becomes a paid Medium member through it, Medium pays you half of their subscription fee for as long as they stay a paid Medium member.
  • If a non-paying Medium member subscribes to get your stories via email, Medium will give them the option to become a member. If they convert, it’ll be counted as a referral membership.

Isn’t that neat?!

I mean, think about it!

If someone becomes a Medium member using my referral link, half of their subscription fee is mine as long as they stay a Medium member. If I get 25 members through this referral, that’s over 50 bucks every single month on autopilot (unless they cancel their subscription…) If I get a hundred members, that’s over $200 per month. Over $400 if I get 200 members, and so on.

Here’s what the earnings look like (shared by Medium):

Parameters Annual Monthly
Membership price: $50 $5
Payment processing percentage free (2.9%) $1.45 $0.15
Payment processing flat fee ($0.30) $0.30 $0.30
Net of payment fees $48.25 $4.45
Split (50%) $24.12 $2.27
Earning per month for 1 referred member $2.01 $2.27
Earning per month for 100 referred member $201.00 $227.00

Writers can accept tips directly from readers

I’m mentioning this here because a lot of writers ask for tips. Medium even has a way to set up a third-party tipping platform within its system. Better yet, anybody can accept tips on Medium, and you don’t have to join the Partner Program for it.

However, the potential for making money with tips is really, really low!

The general consensus is that you don’t really make much money with tips at all. Maybe a couple of bucks here and there, but that’s about it. Some Medium members actually hate this feature because, hey! Writers are not servers; they don’t deserve tips! (Not my opinion! Writers serve all the time; that’s literally all we do. We’re just not serving food…)

You can set up a tip jar with PayPal or Ko-fi or Buy me a Coffee. You can even use something like Gumroad (as I’ve done). But uh… I’ve never actually received any tips from anyone ever… So there’s that.

To set up this third-party link on Medium, first, create your tip jar using one of the services I mentioned above, then go to Settings > Publishing and then click “Manage tipping on your stories.” Follow the prompts from there.

Setting up tip jar with Medium
Setting up tip jar with Medium.

Make money with freelance writing clients or by promoting your products

If you do wish to get rich off of Medium, then leveraging the platform to find freelance writing clients or sell your own products is the way to go. The Partner Program only pays so much… the highest earners make low four figures on this platform, and that’s not enough to live off of. Not in this part of the world.

I know Zulie Rane gets a lot of freelance writing clients via Medium, and so do many others. The only tip I have for you is this: Make sure you mention (perhaps on your About page and/or your mini bio) that you’re a freelance writer, and share your email address in case someone wants to reach out to you.

The same goes for promoting your products. You can write about your products in stories (also known as content marketing; I do it occasionally and have made some sales that way) and link them on your About page or bio.

Some Really Important Medium Features

Now, I’m going to talk about some seriously cool features of Medium.

Profiles vs. publications

Soon after you join Medium, you’ll notice that some people are publishing on their profiles, and some are publishing on “publications.” Some writers do both. (I do both!)

What does it mean, you ask?

The profile page: A profile page belongs to an individual account holder. For example, I have a profile page. Whenever I publish a story, it appears on my profile.

A publication: Publications are shared spaces. As a Medium user, you can create publications and invite other users to join these publications and write for them. Similarly, you can join somebody else’s publication as a writer and publish your stories there.

Even if you publish a story on a publication, it will still appear on your profile page as you’re the author of that story.

I personally have a few publications of my own, and I also write for other publications. I especially recommend new writers to join some big pubs (short for publications because it takes too long to type it and I’m lazy…) Because bigger pubs have a lot of followers, new writers, with little to no followers, can ride on their coattails and get their stories in front of many more readers compared to publishing on their profile only.

For example, even though I’ve been on Medium since 2017, I only started taking the platform seriously in June 2022. I don’t have that many followers (compared to more successful writers.) But, when I publish my stories in bigger pubs, I get a lot more views and make way more money. For example, here’s a story I published in Better Marketing—one of the biggest business and marketing pubs.

Story earnings for one of my stories published in Better Marketing.
Story earnings for one of my stories published in Better Marketing.

As you can see above, that story (published in Better Marketing) has over 3k views and more than $160 in earnings. It’s much more than what I make when I publish stories on my profile.

And because many more people see and read your stories on bigger pubs, you also get followers more easily (which is how you grow your views and reads over time, even if you publish on your profile.)

And here’s the final catch:  Writers need to join the Partner Program to start making money, and Medium requires writers to have at least 100 followers to even apply for the program. So yeah, big pubs can definitely help you get to that number faster .

To add your story to a publication:

  • First, you’ll need to decide which pubs you want to join. You can join multiple pubs. Do a bit of research. Become a paid Medium member so you can start reading paywalled stories. See which pubs fit the kind of stories you wish to write about.
  • Second, you’ll need to be added to a pub as a writer. Each publication has its own set of rules for how to join, so read those guidelines carefully. Usually, you’ll find a tab that says “submission” or “write for us” or something similar towards the top of the pub, in the pub’s menu. For example, here’s what it looks like on Better Marketing (it has a tab called “Write for us.”) ↓

Better Marketing has a tab called "Write for us" that has guidelines for becoming a writer for them.

  • Third, submit your story to a pub. Most pubs require that you add a story as a draft as opposed to a previously published story. Make sure the story is completely written and edited before adding it to a pub. When that’s done, click the three dots at the top of the editor window, then click “Add to publication.” This will show a list of all the pubs you’re a part of. Click the one you wish to submit your story to. And then click “Submit” and follow the prompts.
Adding a finished story draft to a Medium publication.
Adding a finished story draft to a Medium publication.
  • And finally, wait! Sucks, I know. When you publish a story on your profile (or on a pub you own), you can publish it right away. But the downside of submitting to a pub owned by somebody else is the wait. Because you see, when you submit a story, a human editor of that pub will need to approve it and then publish it. This can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days (in rarer cases, a few weeks!!!) But that’s the price you pay for more eyeballs, reads, followers, and eventually, more money.

Stats

Every day (more like every few minutes) Medium updates its “Stats” page to show how many people are seeing your stories, how many are reading them, and a bunch of other analytics. Get yourself acquainted with this page, check often to see how you’re performing, which stories are doing better than others, etc.

Understanding your stats is crucial for all bloggers on all platforms, and Medium is no different.

You can access your stats page by clicking your profile photo and then clicking “Stats” from the dropdown.

From this stats page, you’ll have access to another page called “Audience stats.” It shows up as a button towards the top of the main stats page. That page gives you info on monthly follower gains, subscriber gains, and referred member gains.

Medium audience stats page.
Screenshot of Medium’s “Audience stats” page.

Partner Program (Earnings)

Every night, around midnight-ish, give or take some, Medium updates your Partner Program earnings (assuming you’ve joined the program already.)

It shows earnings from individual stories, earnings from referred members, and total earnings. Just like your stats, you should check this info on a regular basis as well.

To see your earnings, once again, click your profile photo, then choose “Partner Program” from the dropdown.

Top writer

If a writer shares a lot of stories in a particular niche, depending on the topic, Medium may grant them a “Top writer” status on that particular topic. You’ll know if you’re a top writer by going to your “About” page and scrolling down to where it shows how many followers you have and how many you’re following. The top writer status will show right above that info. FYI, you can be a top writer in multiple topics.

Clive Thompson's top writer status.
Clive Thompson’s top writer status.

In the image above, you can see one of my favorite writer’s (Clive Thompson) “about” page. He’s a top writer for multiple topics, including History, Writing, Technology, Art, and more. (He is proof that you don’t “have-to” pick a single niche on Medium.)

Top writer status depends on which tags you use in your stories, FYI. So, for example, if I use the tag “Writing” a lot of my stories, and these stories are popular with readers, then I may become a top writer in “Writing.”

Republishing with canonical links

One thing I do is republish some of my blog posts (from this blog) to Medium. But because they’re originally written for this blog, I want search engines to prioritize my content here on thesideblogger.com and not repurposed stories on Medium.

Enter: canonical links.

Canonical link: This link is added as a rel-tag [rel=”canonical” href=”#”]. It tells search engines that in the event that very similar or duplicate content exists on the internet, search engines should rank the canonical link and not the others.

Most platforms these days automatically add a canonical link to itself after publishing. WordPress does it. Medium does it too. So, when you republish your WordPress content on Medium, you don’t want search engines to start ranking your Medium story over your WordPress post (at least, I’d assume that is the case for most people.)

So, Medium allows you to easily edit this canonical link, and change it to your WordPress blog post link.

Let me show you how I republish my WordPress posts:

  • Copy and paste your post from its original location (on WordPress, in my case) to Medium’s editor. Basically, treat it like a brand-new story.
  • Publish it like you would a brand-new story.
  • After it is published, click the three dots next to your story title and click “Story settings” from the drop-down list.
Go to story settings from a published Medium story.
Go to the story settings from a published Medium story.
  • Then, when you’re in more story settings, click “Advanced Settings” from the list shown on the left. This will take you to, you’ve guessed it, advanced settings!
  • Click “Advanced Settings” again (yeah, lots of redundancy…) to expand this section.
  • You should now see “Customize Canonical Link.” Check the box that says, “This story was originally published elsewhere.”
  • An empty field will show up where you can paste the original link of the story.
  • Paste the link, and then click the green button that says “Save canonical link.”
  • And… done!
Add a new canonical link to a published Medium story.
Add a new canonical link to a published Medium story.

Please note:

There’s another way to automatically add the canonical link without having to go through all these steps. It’s when you use the “Import a story” function on Medium.

I recommend against it!

When you import a story using the Import function, Medium automatically dates back the publish date to the original post’s publication day. Let’s say that you published a post on your WordPress blog in November. And you’re republishing it on Medium in January. When you do it using the Import function, Medium will date back the publication day to its original November date.

This is not good! Medium algorithm prefers fresh content. So, when you have a story that’s dated back a couple of months, the algorithm won’t prioritize it, and people won’t even see that you published a new story on Medium!

But when you republish using the first method I explained above, the canonical link changes, yet the publication date remains current (as in, when you published it on Medium.) And Medium’s algorithm treats it like a fresh story.

So yeah, even though the first method is a bit more tedious, it is still the preferred way of republishing your old content from WordPress (or wherever you blog) to Medium.

Engaging with writers you like

On Medium, a reader can engage with a writer in a few different ways (using built-in features): Readers can “clap.” They can “highlight.” They can leave comments. They can add stories to lists. They can share stories on their social media, etc.

Medium shows stories to readers based on several factors. There’s actual, human-curated distribution, and then there’s also an algorithm.

To make money on Medium, you need eyeballs on your stories. Now, you cannot control who the human editors of Medium will choose to feature on Medium’s homepage or newsletters (yes, they do that!) aside from writing good stories and then making a wish… But to work the algorithms, you, as a reader, can help the writers you like.

For example, when you spend time reading a story you like, that gives the writer a boost. When you engage with a story by clapping or highlighting, that boosts the stories too. At least, that’s what Medium’s current CEO, Tony Stubblebine, has said in a recent article on Medium (I highly recommend you follow this guy! He shares important stuff.)

I know this isn’t useful to you as a writer, but karma!

Help other writers, and thou shall be helped… I think… maybe…

But here’s an important distinction: Do not follow someone hoping they’ll follow back. Do not engage with a writer hoping they’ll read your stories and engage with you too. Writers on Medium love the platform because it’s different from other social media platforms. Here we don’t do follow-for-follow stuff. I follow writers and engage with writers who do not follow me or never engage with my stories. And that’s OK. There are also writers who engage with me and follow me, and I don’t do the same for them. And that’s OK. That’s how you keep this platform “clean” and good.

 On Medium, you do not exchange. You pay it forward.  Keep that in mind, future Medium writers; it’s really, really important that you understand this.

Some Hard Facts About Medium

HooooKkaaayyyy… we’re almost at the end, so let me wrap up with a few reminders and good practices:

Quality and quantity… but yeah… quality

Quantity is more important on Medium (and the internet in general) than quality—some folks will argue.

At times I’ve heard myself say the same thing and practice the same thing, and that is unfortunate.

The idea behind this ill-advice is that the more you publish, the more money you’ll make.

That is only true when you publish really good writing all the time! I know a few writers on Medium who publish really valuable content several times a week, and that’s great! Most of these writers are veterans of their respective fields: magazine writers, journalists, educators.

I’m not that writer. Many of you reading this are not that writer.

But if you’ve decided to write—whether as a way to express yourself or as a way to make a living, or perhaps both—please, take the time to learn the craft. I know it’s easier said than done with so much noise out there telling us we need to publish daily (especially on Medium) that we start to give into this self-detrimental behavior.

I do it too!

So here’s my two cents:

Write every day or as often as you can. It’s good practice, and practicing daily will definitely make you better at any craft. But know that when you’re a new creator, you’re more likely to create bad or mediocre things. For a writer, it’s the editing and revising that take our stories from meh to awesome. If you publish a lot of mediocre things, you’re only practicing mediocrity, and probably starting to get really good at being mediocre too!

Don’t do that! Take some time to edit and revise. Try not to hit the publish button on the day you write something. Come back the next day with fresh eyes, read what you wrote the previous day, and I’m sure you’ll find ways to make things better.

Yes, quantity still matters.  So, don’t get hung up on perfection. You don’t need to publish Pulitzer-level stories on Medium every single time. But learn to identify when something is mediocre and when it’s much better. Good, even! Good… is good enough to publish 🙂 There’s no need for greatness.  Try to strike a balance between quantity and quality, and be intentional about trying to polish your pieces before publishing.

Also, when you take the time to write good things, other opportunities may present themselves. I’ve talked about how some writers find freelance clients on Medium. That happens when you write good stories. I know writers who’ve gained tens of thousands of email list subscribers by writing really good and useful content, which led them to start their own businesses outside of Medium. Others have gone on to get book deals!

All of that doesn’t happen unless you take your writing quality seriously.

You should really be a paid member…

Here’s the thing: Writers on Medium do not take kindly to members who are freeloading on the platform. While I don’t take it personally myself, some (read “many“) writers do. And I get it! Writing is hard, man! It takes so much time and effort! And we—the writers on Medium—get paid directly with members’ subscription fees. So when people don’t become paid members on Medium, it’s pretty disheartening. Especially when the subscription fee is so low ($5 per month or $50 per year, roughly the cost of a Starbucks latte…)

If you’re a resident of a developed country, if you subscribe to Netflix or Amazon Prime or HBO Max or the gazillion other streaming services, then you really should be a paid member!

If you can afford to pay, but you choose not to, that’s fine. But the hardworking writers on Medium would kindly ask you to get off the platform. I know it’s kind of harsh, but the truth is, Medium isn’t The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal, writers don’t get a pre-determined free or salary here. On Medium, a paid member’s subscription fee is what pays the writers. So…

It’s just good manners, my friend. If you find Medium interesting, entertaining, or valuable, and wish to make money on the platform yourself, please subscribe 😊

That said, life can be shitty. Man, do I know how life can be shitty sometimes! So, if the subscription is too much for you now and you need a free platform to start writing and building a following and eventually join the Partner Program and make money, so be it. Do what you have to do. No judgment here, honest! However, when you do start making money, please don’t forget your fellow writers. Become a paid member as soon as you can.

(Note: To be a better writer on Medium, you kind of need to read other, more successful writers to understand what works on the platform. So, yeah, it’s really to your advantage to join Medium as a paid member as soon as you’re able to.)

Why I Write on Medium

Here’s a short and sweet pre-conclusion conclusion to this rather lengthy guide to Medium.

As I’ve said before, it’s only been a few months that I’ve started taking Medium seriously. But I’ve been on the platform since 2017 and have witnessed this platform’s crazy roller-coaster rides. Yet, I’ve never once contemplated leaving the platform, and I’ve never once hated the platform like some folks do.

The reason is simple: I believe that the folks who run Medium, seriously try their best to help the writers on this platform.

I mean, think about it!

Amateur writers can start writing on Medium and start making a solid [side] income within a few months! If you provide value, you can make several hundred to a few thousand bucks per month! Is there any other platform out there that does it? Some have tried, sure, but none of them focused so much on the writers and their experiences.

Medium isn’t perfect. It’s run by real people, and as real people do, they make mistakes. But they try different things, learn from their mistakes, and do their best to make Medium a fun place for both readers and writers.

Can’t say the same about most businesses out there, so…

Yes. That’s why I write on Medium. And even though I haven’t made it to one of the highest earners on the platform yet, I still love it here, and above all, I enjoy reading and writing on Medium.

I hope you will too. 😊

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I write on Medium for free?

Yes. It does not cost you anything to write on Medium. But if you want to read stories that are locked behind a paywall, which is most stories, then you will need to become a paid member.

Can anyone write on Medium?

Yes. Anyone can create an account and start writing. But if you wish to start making money with your writing, then there are a few restrictions: you must reside in one of the eligible countries (check above), you must have published at least one article on Medium, and you must have at least 100 followers.

Do I own my content on Medium?

Absolutely! Whatever you publish belongs to you; you are the owner of your creative property. You can write or delete your own content at any time.

Can I be an anonymous writer on Medium?

Yes. Many writers are! You do have to submit your tax information with your real name and identity when you join the Partner Program to make money from Medium, but that information is not accessible to general public. People only see the name you have set on the front end, and that name can be anything you choose.

How much does Medium pay for 1,000 views?

Medium does not pay per view. Earnings are calculated based on many factors, and the prominent one of them is the total reading time by paid members. You will find a detailed explanation above in this blog post.


And that’s all, current and future Medium writers! Hope this guide will help you set up your Medium account and get going.

Of course, this isn’t all. As with most things, there’s more to this platform. But there’s only so much you can share in a single blog post.

Still, you should have enough now to understand how the platform works. But if you have any follow-up questions, leave them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer.


Oh, FYI, I have something a little extra (I’m calling it a FREE Medium Noobclass 😝) Just sign up below, and you’ll be on your merry way to a 5-day email sequence on all things Medium from someone who’s been working at it, very seriously, for about 6.5 months now! Sign up ↓↓↓☺

FREE 5-Day Medium Noobclass!

Medium best practices and...

Extra resources, Medium tag lists, title lists, and things I’ve learned since July 2022, in a 5-day email master noobclass 😝

(You’ll also be signing up for my regular newsletters, FYI.)

How to start writing on Medium - by The Side Blogger

5 thoughts on “How to Write on Medium in 2023 (and Make an Easy Side Income)”
  1. Maliha really you nailed it. Everything I needed to know on Medium or/and blogging!! Thank you!
    Everything you share is a treasure for me at this starting point of mine. Thanks again.

  2. Wow! This post was awesome! Thank you so much, Maliha, for sharing. I joined Medium a few years ago because I thought that freelance writing and copy editing was going to be my new side gig. The gal that I was following mentioned writing on Medium might help jumpstart your freelance business. But once I joined, I just couldn’t think of what to write. I felt like what I had to say wasn’t that great. Since then, I have started my own blog, but find myself wanting to branch out more from my blog niche. I’m thinking Medium might be a great place to do this, while also growing my blog, too! Thanks for putting in the work for such a long post… After starting a blog, I understand how long it can take to write, edit, and post great content.

    1. Thanks, Taylor; appreciate the kind words 🙂 I’m enjoying Medium. It does have some of the same annoying things as many social media sites, but once I focus on finding the writers I love and writing and getting better at writing my own stories, things start to feel a lot better, LOL. And well, it’s been paying for my coffee shop trips for the last few months, which is cool :p

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