After a full year of writing on Medium, I’ve done some digging on what works and what doesn’t. There are plenty of top earners on the platform who have successfully spun straw into gold by producing a couple of solid, viral articles. They’ve got a handful of theories on how it happened, but the reality is that it all boils down to one common denominator…consistency.
Volume is what turns a casual reader into a subscriber, no matter the niche. The people who enjoy your work and hit the “follow” button are doing so because they’re hoping to see more.
A lot more.
Tom Kuegler published 83 blogs this year and made over $10,000. That averages out to about 7 stories per month, give or take. Are they all top earning pieces?
But they didn’t have to be.
By continuously putting out story after story, he and many other writers are able to snowball a small audience into a huge following.
I’m not here to lecture you on showing up or working hard, you’re already aware of that. The problem isn’t laziness, it’s just that new writers don’t know how to build momentum.
They don’t know how to be consistent.
Buy a Planner…and Go All Out
Each year, I spend close to $30 bucks (give or take) on one of those huge, notebook-style day planners.
You know, like the agendas you’d get in high school that had separated sections for the days, weeks, and months. Mine is a lot cooler though, it comes with stickers.
…money well spent.
If you actually use it, a yearly planner is absolutely LIFE CHANGING.
A lot of times I’ll see freelancer complain about having burnout or writer’s block, but those difficulties can often be chalked up to poor time management.
It’s not an insult, it’s just the truth.
On average, each person experiences over 6,000 thoughts per day. So, stop playing Angry Birds while taking your evening dump and use it as a timeslot for blog planning. Out of the 6,000+ plus thoughts that are running through your mind on a regular basis, at least 30 to 60 of them could easily become topics for your writing.
“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”
You don’t necessarily have to stick to those subject ideas every single day. I find inspiration outside of what I’ve scheduled all the time.
However, the ideas that have been tucked away for safekeeping often come in handy at the end of a long, exhausting week.
If you don’t have one yet, get yourself that planner. Don’t be cheap about it, go all out. Get the one that has sections for lists, journaling, scheduling…stickers.
My personal favorite is the Tools4Wisdom planner. It’s got reflective questions, personal enrichment sections, and lots of space for goal prioritization.
Time Your Creative Process
You should be timing all of your projects, whether it’s for a client or an article you’re writing for your own page. Not just to keep you on track, but because you need to be able to make an honest assessment of how long it actually takes to complete your task.
On average, I need about three hours to complete and publish a blog from start to finish.
That includes free-writing, topic organization, the actual writing, and editing.
If you were to start a project right now, would you be able to make an accurate estimate for completion?
When broken down into phases, how long would it take to finish the planning and get into the final product?
If you’re dealing with a client, you may need to spend additional time on an
The creative process matters just as much as the creation, and it differs for each writer.
I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve read on Medium about people who are able to churn out three blogs a day at an hour per blog.
How do they do it without sacrificing quality?
The shorter answer…they don’t.
I’ve read many, many terrible blogs from AMAZING writers. Blogs that were obviously rushed and published unedited.
In the long-run, that could cost you a follower. Or thousands of followers, of which you’ll need with the new algorithm in place.
Develop a Circadian Rhythm for Writing
Having a routine is how I keep my life together in general.
It feels natural, it isn’t forced, and it’s how I do my best writing.
The day goes something like this:
- Wake up, check Medium, emails, and the stock market if it’s a week day.
- Get coffee, take the dogs to the park for at least 30–45 minutes.
- Give myself one hour to clean up the house, anything beyond that must come after writing.
- Three to four hours of writing. If I work at my day job, I usually split this time up between the morning and evening.
- Go for my evening run.
- Walk the dogs again
- Have dinner, watch Netflix or play an hour of Warcraft
- Read a little before bedtime
If I didn’t have to go to work, and I could pick any time of day, I’d give myself about four hours just after the park for typing. My mind is still fresh, I can think clearly, and I’m not worn out from other tasks. Writing in the morning just seems to align with my Circadian Rhythm.
Yours may be the complete opposite; I know people who light up like a firecracker when the sun goes down. They can survive on four hours of sleep and pure grit.
But for those of us who aren’t Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, rest and routines are much needed…if you want to make it in the writing world at least.