Become a Writer Today

How to Make a Living Writing on Medium with Mike Thompson

April 21, 2021 Bryan Collins
Become a Writer Today
How to Make a Living Writing on Medium with Mike Thompson
Chapters
Become a Writer Today
How to Make a Living Writing on Medium with Mike Thompson
Apr 21, 2021
Bryan Collins

Platforms like Medium make it easier than ever to earn a living from writing.

My guest on this episode of the podcast is Michael Thompson,  a career coach and writer from the United States who emigrated to Barcelona, in Spain.

He's also the editor of a popular publication on Medium called Entrepreneur's Handbook and has written dozens of articles that have gone viral on Medium.

Mike and I chatted about how he found himself moving to Barcelona from the US and how that move set off a chain of events that uncovered a love for writing.

We also chat about how he got started with Medium and turned his writing into a full-time profession.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • How Mike losing $250,000 ultimately led to him becoming a writer
  • Why a good title is as important as a good article
  • Having options so that not all of your writing is just Medium
  • The number one mistake writers make when submitting an article to a Medium publication


Resources:

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/becomeawritertoday)

Show Notes Transcript

Platforms like Medium make it easier than ever to earn a living from writing.

My guest on this episode of the podcast is Michael Thompson,  a career coach and writer from the United States who emigrated to Barcelona, in Spain.

He's also the editor of a popular publication on Medium called Entrepreneur's Handbook and has written dozens of articles that have gone viral on Medium.

Mike and I chatted about how he found himself moving to Barcelona from the US and how that move set off a chain of events that uncovered a love for writing.

We also chat about how he got started with Medium and turned his writing into a full-time profession.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • How Mike losing $250,000 ultimately led to him becoming a writer
  • Why a good title is as important as a good article
  • Having options so that not all of your writing is just Medium
  • The number one mistake writers make when submitting an article to a Medium publication


Resources:

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/becomeawritertoday)

Mike:
... when it comes to style, swim with the fishes. And with Medium, stand out in other ways, get the formatting right. So if you submit anything over to us and it doesn't have an engaging title, it... Probably five times a day, I receive a submission with no subtitle, crap image. It's just the basics, get those basics right.

Introduction:
Welcome to the Become a Writer Today podcast, with Bryan Collins. Here, you'll find practical advice, and interviews for all kinds of writers.

Bryan:
How can you get started writing on Medium, and how much can you possibly earn? Hi there, my name is Bryan Collins, and welcome to the Become a Writer Today podcast, and earning an income on Medium is the topic of this week's episode. I recently interviewed Michael Thompson, who is a career coach and writer from the United States, who emigrated to Barcelona, in Spain. And he's also the editor of a popular publication on Medium called Entrepreneur's Handbook. And he's written dozens of articles that have gone viral on Medium. The exciting thing about platforms like Medium, is they make it easier than ever for writers to earn an income today. I remember back in the late 2000s, when I was looking for work, it was very difficult to find a place to pitch my publications and get paid for doing it. In fact, many media organizations in Ireland wanted me to write for free, because they said I'd get some sort of name recognition, or they were a pretty big media outlet, or just there were a lot of journalism graduates looking for a small amount of jobs.

Bryan:
And sure, while name recognition was nice, you can't pay the bills or feed the kids when you write for free. However, I think over the past 5 or 10 years, a lot more ways have emerged online for writers to earn an income. Some of the ways that I diversify my income include self-publishing books on Amazon, creating courses based on the lessons inside of my writing books, advertising on the Become a Writer Today website. I'll also promote some products that I use regularly and which I'm an affiliate for. And I also, in the past, have spent a lot of time on freelance writing, by writing for publications like Forbes and Medium. So if you're a writer and you're starting out, and you're wondering how you can get paid, don't focus on just one opportunity. Consider how you can diversify your income, because at some point the rules will change, and you want to protect yourself when that happens.

Bryan:
And that's, of course, what happened to me when there was a recession back in the late 2000s. And I found myself out of work for a few years, and I nearly quit on writing. My other takeaway for you is, if you're going to start publishing on Medium, is also to consider how you can get Medium readers off Medium, and onto your own website, or onto your email list, at some point. If you don't have any of that setup, that's okay. Just get started on Medium now, and you can set up your website later on. But ultimately, at the end of the day, Medium needs to do what's right for Medium. So your goal should always be to build up a relationship with readers that you own, and that you can control, because if Medium changed the rules, or changed the algorithm, then it could affect your views, or the relationship you have with readers.

Bryan:
And what's more, if you have people on your email list, if you have readers on your email list, you can send them articles of your work, and they'll probably read it if they like and enjoy your content. And if you have a book, you can tell them about your book, or if you're just getting ready to launch a book, you can ask them if they'd like to pre-read it and give you feedback. If you decided to go down the course creation routes, which I did, you can offer your courses, or you can offer coaching, or if you have other projects that you want to promote, like for example, a podcast, an email list is a great way to do that too. Now the tool that I use, and recommend to writers for creating an email list, is called ConvertKit. It's specifically built for content creators, and it basically gives you everything you need to get started, because you can create your landing page, and you can create a series of welcome emails that will go out to new readers.

Bryan:
So the strategy that I would recommend is, start writing nonfiction articles on Medium, publish them on popular publications on Medium, and see which ones get the most traction, and then double down on those niches. But at the bottom of your articles, assuming you follow the submission guidelines, have a call to action that sends people to your ConvertKit landing page, or your author website. And give people a freebie so they'll opt into your email list. It could be a free book, or it could be a report that you have, or a checklist, or a video, or it could be a quick call with you, or it could just be some additional writings that you've shared elsewhere. And then, write a couple of welcome emails so that new subscribers get them, and they get a feeling for who you are.

Bryan:
And then you can go ahead and write on Medium, and within a couple of months you could find yourself earning four figures a month from freelancing on Medium, but you could also send readers your latest work on Medium through your email list. And that way, you're not only building up a relationship with readers, but you're also increasing views of your Medium articles, which will help you earn a little bit more. Those, of course, are some of the topics, or themes, that I addressed in this week's interview, but I wanted to get somebody else's perspective on it, and his name is Michael Thompson.

Bryan:
He's a career coach and writer, and I'd encourage you to check out his work on mikethompsonblog.com. That's M-I-K-E-T-H-O-M-P-S-O-N-B-L-O-G.com. He's also on Medium, under that handle as well, and he's written about a number of different topics over the years. And he's got a fantastic back story that starts with when he lost $250,000. That's right, $250,000. So I started by asking Mike to explain how he lost a quarter of a million, and how he picked himself up after such a devastating loss. But before we get over to this week's episode, I do have an ask. If you enjoy the show, please, can you leave a short review on the iTunes store or wherever you're listening? Because more reviews, and more ratings, will help more people find Become a Writer Today podcast. Now with that, let's go over to the interview with Mike.

Mike:
Yeah, sure. So when I was 21, I took a sales job. I grew up stuttering, so sales was like my Mount Olympus, so to speak. So I took a sales job, and I excelled at it, to my surprise. And my ego and confidence took me to Central America around age 24, 25. And I began to buy up property, fix it up, and flip them. And right when I was getting out, when I was 29... So I was leaving the company, the sales job, at that point. And I had a contract from my business partner's dad to buy the house. And long story short, he changed the deed of my house to his name, with a pencil, and sold it out from under me. So I was expecting, on October 18th, I think is the date, I was expecting a wire for a quarter of a million dollars for the sale of the property. And instead I got a phone call saying, "Yeah, it's not going to happen." And worst case, he had actually sold the house out already.

Mike:
A couple of weeks afterwards, I learned he sold the house out from under me. So I've been in court with them, so I'm 42 now, so 13 years. And we're recently finally about to reach a settlement. So that kicked off a string of events that sent me in from doing well in life, to drugs, alcohol. For about two years, I sat in a bar. And then finally, as kind of like a last jump I suppose, I got on a plane with the cash I had left, and came to Barcelona, Spain, and just immediately felt the stress just kind of washed off of me. And six months later, I met my wife, got in shape, I'd lost 60 pounds in a couple months, found work I enjoyed. Met my wife, started a family. And when my first son was born, I quit smoking, and I couldn't leave the house to go golfing every day for four hours. So I started writing just for fun, and probably a year after that, it became my full-time gig. And fortunately, I stumbled upon Medium right around the same time.

Bryan:
So to give people an idea of what year this was, when did you turn to Medium, and start writing on Medium?

Mike:
So this was December 18th, 2019. I wrote a blog post on my blog that nobody read, and it ended up getting syndicated in Fast Company, and Inc. I think this was the third thing I ever wrote. And I thought to myself, I was like, "Shit, I've been fighting my confidence thing with the stuttering. I've been in sales jobs, and maybe I should write." And that switch, that boost, the initial validation of what I was doing, sent me on a line. So I found Medium, probably the beginning of 2019, I believe, or 2018. Yeah. So I wrote the article for Fast Company, December 2017, and I started on Medium a couple of months afterwards.

Bryan:
So I'm just going to read out a couple of headlines from some of your popular articles. Another one is, 11 Things Socially Aware People Don't Say, How to Wake Up Smiling: The 9 Decisions That Leads to a Life I Love, and The Shy Person's Guide to Winning Friends and Influencing People. So when I was reading these, two things struck me. One is, you know how to write a great headline, and two was more of a question. Did you always want to write personal development-type content, or articles?

Mike:
For the second question first, I think it's my natural thing, growing up stuttering and in the sales world. My job the last couple of years is as a career coach, and I help executives with confidence, public speaking, communication stuff. So it's kind of like my writing is an extension of what I'm doing in my real life, so to speak. And yeah, it's just kind of the easiest thing for me to write about. So if you're going to start writing, pick the easiest thing, and for me, it's my life. I'm 42, so I have stories. And my first year it took me a while to learn how to tell a story. But yeah, if it's hard to start, it's hell to finish. So with writing, that's my natural state I think, is kind of like the listicle format. I have ADD also, so listicle, it's not for the reader, it's for me. And it just so happens that we live in a time where this stuff is really valued.

Bryan:
Yeah.

Mike:
And with titles... Yeah. I spend more time on titles than I do the article, probably.

Bryan:
What does your title, or headline, writing process look like these days?

Mike:
I kick one off in the beginning, just to get the... Because I... My North Star for an article. I have a title that's very generic, as like something along the lines of the main theme of the article, or question. When the readers finish this, they will do X. And I have a thing up top, and then while I'm writing it, I'll collect titles, and generally, I'll probably have 15 or 20 at the end of the day. And I'll test the top two or three with friends, family, social media, and I'll run the biggest winner. So I usually test stuff, especially titles. Yeah, for me, it's a no-brainer. If I'm going to spend seven, eight hours on an article, I want people to read it.

Bryan:
Yeah.

Mike:
And I think the title thing is just with this... In terms of the attention, you have to have strong titles if you're going to write online. And I think it's fun, it's like a math... For me, it's an equation, is to find that title. And sometimes it will take me all day. I'll spend all day on one, but generally, if I have an investment of six or seven hours, I know it's going to do well, and generally it does. So I have some posts where I just want the article out in the world, and I'm not going to struggle too much on the title. But the ones I really think can move, yeah, for me, it's a huge investment. And I think it's worth every penny to do that.

Bryan:
So, you mentioned though, you want people to read your work. How can a new writer get somebody to read their work on Medium today? I mean, you have quite a lot of followers, but if I went along with no followers, and set up a Medium account... I know I labored on the headline. Is that enough? Or are there other things I need to do?

Mike:
No. You need to get... Yeah. If you write a great headline, and the article is terrible, that for me is even worse than just a bad headline. So I think the key is the writing. For Medium now, I work with people to get them moving, and I'm working through a contract with Medium right now to get people up to speed. And as long as you have the writing chops, if you're just starting today, you're starting to write. And then you get on Medium, it's going to take you some time just to learn how to write.

Bryan:
Yeah.

Mike:
But if you're somebody who has experience with it, you need to learn the nuances of the platform. What works on Medium doesn't always work in Forbes, or Fast Company, or something. Formatting how to write a hook, for me, the intro and the title is everything. And with the first sentence, if I... Generally, my title and first sentence, I spend a lot of time on. It's like somebody who's giving a talk, they're going to spend the most time on the first sentence out of their mouth to engage the audience. And with Medium, it's the same thing. So you need to write engaging intros and titles. And generally, if you scan through my articles, you don't have to read all of them, just read the first couple of sentences. And generally, I think my strength is that.

Bryan:
Yeah.

Mike:
It's getting in that hook as fast as possible.

Bryan:
So, it-

Mike:
But in terms of growth-

Bryan:
Go ahead.

Mike:
It's funny with growth though, on Medium. This past year, it's not like... Before it's like, write, write, write, write, write, you need to do an article a day. This past year with Medium, the people who grew a lot were doing one to two good articles a week.

Bryan:
Okay.

Mike:
And it just caught on. So I think the quality is really... It's like, if you want to learn how to write, write a lot. If you want to learn to write well, you need to focus just as much on the editing, feedback from your peers, etc. But there's some people who broke through. Guy I was working with in Lithuania, he's 24, and he was earning 20K-plus for four or five months in a row.

Bryan:
Yeah. That's a lot of money for a new freelance writer, or for somebody who's just set up on Medium.

Mike:
Yeah. And he was just doing one or two articles a week, just leaning in really hard on those. So I think if you write good work on the internet, people are going to find it. And if people aren't sharing it on social, on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook, you need to look at the second ring of sharing. So if it's strong on Medium, it's one thing, but generally, if people aren't sharing it outside of there, it's not going to move very much. So if you're seeing those shares, it's a good sign that you're doing something right and you need to keep with it.

Bryan:
Which are quite easy to see on the Medium dashboard as well, because you can look at referrals for your articles, without having to take a course in Google analytics.

Mike:
Yeah. I used to think I was writing strong articles the first year or so. And it's like there was a switch my 13th month, where I didn't have to share anything. Everyone else was starting to share it. And I didn't really see the difference in my writing, but looking back now I can see it. But generally, if it's like... Yeah. For me, I'm not a big marketing guy. I hate going around and saying, "Hey, read this article." And generally, if you write something good enough, people are going to share it. That's my goal. That's always the goal for me, is to write something that other people are going to share, so I don't have to do it.

Bryan:
And do you need to submit your articles to the popular publications on Medium, or is it enough to write under your own profile?

Mike:
The public... The platform's changing right now, actually. And I think the publications, there's so many. With COVID and everything, there's a lot of new writers, there's a lot of new articles every day. And I think Medium's focus will go more towards personal profiles, just because they're not going to have... With the publications, there's what? Five or six big ones, that if you get into, maybe you'll get traction. And it's just a small percentage of the virality on the platform. So I think that they are going to think of... Last weekend I was on a call, and I gleaned from that that the deal was, half of their focus is who's on the platform now and who's growing. The other half is discoverability.

Bryan:
Yeah.

Mike:
So I think that they'll be working with... To try and adjust... Say everybody who tries now, can't break through. That's not a good business plan for them. So I think that they're going to be working more with that side of things, to try and get new voices heard.

Bryan:
Hmm. And actually, on their way of getting articles read by readers, they've recently rolled out a tool for you to create a newsletter directly on Medium that sits underneath your profile. Is that something you've used, or tested? Or have you heard from other writers who've used it?

Mike:
No. It's not my... Yeah. For me, I'm not a huge fan of that one. And generally, if you have a call to action at the bottom of your articles anyway, I think that's enough. But I don't think... Yeah. I think people are more inclined to actually go to somebody's landing page, or website, and actually see their experience and stuff, rather than just signing up in the bottom of an article.

Bryan:
Okay.

Mike:
So, I'm not sure. I think they're trying to compete with Substack and these places, and my... Yeah. I don't think that they're going to win that game.

Bryan:
Yeah.

Mike:
So with Medium, the whole goal was to get your own followers on the platform, and also off. So you can advertise your articles, your courses, whatever it is. But yeah, I think it's more effective just having a line at the bottom saying, "Hey, if you enjoyed this, visit my site here, and sign up for my newsletter." I think it's just as effective. For me, I don't think it's a smart move.

Bryan:
So Michael, you've kind of touched on one of the issues that I have with Medium, or... So [inaudible 00:17:10] like devil's advocate here, that if somebody spends a lot of time creating articles on Medium, they're building up Medium's business, rather than their own freelancing business, or their own profile, or their own website. And Medium might do something down the road that's good for Medium, but it's not necessarily good for writers. So, what would you say to somebody who had those concerns?

Mike:
Yeah. I think the smartest thing to do... I'm lazy with the marketing side of it. And with two young kids at home, it's difficult to do everything. And for me, the last two years, my focus has just been the platform, and I'm growing out my email at the same time, but I think you always need to have that protection. So I've been on the platform for three years, three and a half years, close to four, I guess, and I've seen the changes. In the end of 2019 they changed the algorithm, and I went from doing really well, from like 400,000 views a month, down to like 150, overnight. And I grew it up again, then they just changed recently again, and the same thing. So I think it is important, just for your own sanity, just to have... Even if it's not like 10,000 subscribers, just start from day one. Say you can get 100 a month, the end of your second, third year, you have a couple thousand subscribers, and it's just peace of mind.

Bryan:
On your own email list, that you control.

Mike:
Yeah. I think with Medium, for me, it's like I don't want to be in the online marketing world with the writing. So I'm just taking advantage of Medium for right now, and then I'll find something else, because I'm not a huge fan of selling courses or anything. It isn't me. So I'm just... But for somebody who is, the piece of... So now, I'm going to start to focus on my personal site. So if I'm sharing articles in the future, it's going to be from WordPress, and not Medium.

Bryan:
Okay.

Mike:
So it's just a simple way to start. Maybe it's 100 views an article, 1,000 views an article. It just starts to... You get your rankings, your SEO up.

Bryan:
So, will you publish different articles on Medium, versus your website, or will you syndicate?

Mike:
No, I'm doing the same... Yeah. Generally, I'm doing the same ones, but when I'm blasting out the articles, now I'm starting to send them to my WordPress site instead of Medium, just because the... It's like, you don't see a huge ROI anyway. There's some guys I know who have thousands, and thousands, and thousands of subscribers, and then when they send out a Medium article, maybe they'll get 100 views on it.

Bryan:
Yeah.

Mike:
So you're not going to make... Maybe you'll make a dollar from Medium on that, while otherwise, if you have some coaching services on your site, if you have some courses, it's just more eyes on the things you control.

Bryan:
Yeah.

Mike:
So, I just think it's a small sacrifice to make, I think. That just gives you a little bit more diversity in the views on your other website, instead of just Medium.

Bryan:
Yeah, yeah. No, that makes sense. So, I guess somebody who sets up on Medium today, or even sets up their own website, they're looking to earn money. So could you give people, or writers, an idea of how much it's possible to earn on Medium, and how they can diversify their income streams?

Mike:
So I mean, for me personally, I think my dad would kill me if I spoke about how much I'm earning. But generally, the people who have been the group... I have a mastermind group of writers, and it ranges from 500 a month, to 20,000 a month.

Bryan:
Yeah.

Mike:
And there's new writers in that group who earn 4,000 in their first 60 days.

Bryan:
Yeah. Which is enough to live on, depending on where you are.

Mike:
Yeah. And the majority of them are new, so they have another job or something, it's just some extra cash. But there's a lot of people though, who don't earn 50 bucks their first year.

Bryan:
Yeah.

Mike:
So it is just a matter of the quality of the work. And generally, if there's a viral article on Medium, even if they're new, or old, or somewhere in between, generally it's a good article. So it's easy to... It's like, "Oh, he's lucky." But generally when you read those things, the good ones are good.

Bryan:
Yeah.

Mike:
So if you come on there and you have high quality articles, I think it's an... For me, it's like it's just another place... Say you're writing elsewhere, why not just bring them over to Medium also, and see if it works?

Bryan:
Yeah.

Mike:
You're allowed-

Bryan:
That's something I've done with varying degrees of success. I used to write for Forbes, and some of the articles for Forbes worked in Medium, not all of them did. And then, as a recommendation that I got from you guys in the group we're in, I've been using News Break to syndicate some Medium articles with a few edits, and that seems to work as well.

Mike:
Oh, yeah? I've tried it a couple of times. I'm not too into the plat... The platform seems a little shaky to me. I think it's going to be a little bit of time for them, but yeah, it's a good time to start there, also. And I think that this is just the beginning of Substack, Newsletter... It's like, all these things are relatively new.

Bryan:
Yeah.

Mike:
So I think it's just going to keep growing, the opportunities for writers, creators online. For me, I just think it's like, we're just starting this trend, I think.

Bryan:
Yeah. Oh, Substack is fantastic, I really like Substack. I suppose the only issue is, you still have to get subscribers to your newsletter. So, that's quite hard to do, unless you're doing some sort of marketing outside of Substack.

Mike:
That's the thing though, if you're writing anywhere on the internet, for me, it's just like sharing a... If you write an article for your personal website and you share a tweet, why not just cut and paste it, and try the same thing on Medium? You potentially have a... The upside is 100X, some random tweet. And it is just if you can get followers there, it's just all... You can feed your followers. Like right now, I have a... I'm trying to get some coaching clients. So I'll have a CTA at the bottom of my article that's like, "Just say hi on LinkedIn." That simple sentence, someone... There's not a big ask in that. It's not like, "What's your email, dah, dah, dah." It's just like, "Just say hi." And generally, I'll get maybe 100 people, every third day, to come over and say hi on LinkedIn. And it just grows up my audience there, also. So I'm writing on Medium, but at the same time, the last year, I think I've grown 4,000 followers from LinkedIn, and I never post anything there.

Bryan:
And do any of those followers turn into your coaching clients?

Mike:
Yeah, because of the option with LinkedIn. With Medium, it's hard to have a private conversation with somebody. So with LinkedIn, if I'm just like, "Say hi here," and it's my person... It's a private conversation there, it's just an easy... It's like, "Hey, is there anything I can help you with? Dah, dah, dah, dah." But generally, that's all of the marketing I'll ever have to do.

Bryan:
Yeah.

Mike:
It's generally, if somebody says, "Oh, I enjoyed your article about career X, dah, dah, dah." And I reply... I just wrote one about interview skills, and I have a couple requests about like, "Oh, I suck at interviews." And I just replied back, "Do you want some help?" So it's just a really simple lead source, and it's just all through Medium. So I think I've done really well with writing on Medium, and also getting the conversation started outside of Medium, without having to do the course route, freelancing route for writing, because it's not my thing.

Bryan:
Yeah. So we've talked there about a couple of different ways you can diversify your income stream, coaching, courses. Are there any other opportunities for writers on Medium? That they... Or ways that they can diversify?

Mike:
So what I'm doing now is, I have a couple of small mastermind groups of new writers, some with experienced writers, like for a tenner a month or something. And my friend who runs a publication on Medium, Entrepreneur's Handbook, he's working with a startup called Hopin, that's one of these virtual event platforms. So they got funding, I think their valuation, in 18 months, they've gone from zero to 3 billion in valuation. So he's busy, and I'm running... Yeah. And he's the head of marketing there now, so I'm running the publication. So I receive half of the income from there, and then the two of us are going to team up. He has a platform for online events, we have this large, like 200,000 followers with our publication. So we're going to start to sell events through the publication for the Hopin platform.

Bryan:
Okay. Oh, yeah?

Mike:
Which I think is the future, it's like the community. If we can get the community of writers, readers, over to an event where we get good speakers for them, I think it's kind of if we would... Our plan is to do that each month. And I think it's... My hunch is, it's probably going to be a good thing to do.

Bryan:
Hmm. I like the sound of that. Are there any other ways to diversify, or would those be the main ones?

Mike:
So I have the publication route, there's the editing route with Medium. If you have writing experience, there's a lot of good writers who need... Who know how to tell a story, but maybe aren't great writers.

Bryan:
Yeah.

Mike:
So if you have writing experience, I've earned money through editing, through coaching clients who have reached out to me from articles where I'll do career stuff. And also, I'll help... A CEO of a startup in Los Angeles, [inaudible 00:26:10] a client for now. And we're working together to get her articles into Fast Company, Business Insider. Selling the events, the mastermind groups, I mean, it's kind of like an endless stream. It used to be, a couple of years ago, you got your emails together, and you sold a course or a book. Now you can sell events, you can sell your services, you can sell coaching, you can sell just about anything through the platform. And the tech, like Substack, this wasn't a thing a year... What, Substack's been around for how long? I have no idea. But just seems like this past year, it's just grown exponentially.

Bryan:
Yeah.

Mike:
And I'm convinced that all of these supportive, like the tech startups, are looking at ways to monetize creatives, so they can make some more cash also.

Bryan:
Yeah. No, I know when I started as a freelance writer back in the late 2000s, it was very hard to find opportunities.

Mike:
Yeah.

Bryan:
Or maybe I just didn't have any skills, but now I think there are a lot more ways to earn money as a writer.

Mike:
No. I think that... Yeah, and I have a friend on Medium, who her name's Zulie Rane.

Bryan:
Oh, yeah. I talked to Zulie. Yeah, yeah. [crosstalk 00:27:14]

Mike:
So she had a couple of thousand followers about a year ago, and just last month, or the beginning of the year, she went freelance, and she can't keep up. So it's just like so much demand's coming in for her. There's a lot of good people, you don't have to have a massive following there. If you're a good writer, and you're a good editor, or say you have experience getting in to Inc., or Forbes, whatever it is, there's a lot of coaching opportunities there. And you don't have to have a massive... You get some, a couple of happy clients, and you don't have to worry about... It's just referrals after that. So just getting started is the hard part, I think.

Bryan:
Yeah. But I particularly encourage writers to consider a B2B, they will pay a lot more than business to consumer, so. And there's definitely demand for people who can express ideas, which are already in the business to business space. So if you can write about anything to do with finances, or how businesses can run more efficiently, or increase profits, it might be a little bit of a dry topic, but there's a lot of opportunities out there.

Mike:
There's a ton. And I also think, also, that companies are going to begin to look at writers as not... So, if you look at Instagram, YouTube, it's the influencer thing, right? With writers, we don't get that as much, but I wouldn't be surprised in the future if companies start to kind of support... I have a friend who's an artist, he's South African guy who's in Mexico, and he's sponsored by a surf company. So he's an artist, but the surf company gives him a salary to live, and he wears their clothes. And I think that that's going to start happening with writers also, more and more. It's like, I write about leadership, confidence, empathy. And last week, I received an email from a company called Empathy, that's kind of interested in sponsoring me.

Bryan:
Okay. Wow, that's fantastic. I could definitely see how, if you're creative enough to write, you could apply the same creativity to how you promote yourself as a writer, as well. You also mentioned that you're editing articles for Entrepreneur's Handbook. So I'm curious, as somebody who gets a lot of submissions, I can only imagine how many, what's the number one mistake you see writers make when they submit an article to you?

Mike:
The titles, they don't look at the formatting for the platform. I think it's just an easy way, if you want to, just look at the articles that do well. Medium has in-house publications called Forge Human Parts.

Bryan:
Yeah.

Mike:
Just look at the formatting, what are they doing? And there's an expression, I think it's from Thomas Jefferson, about like, when it comes to style, swim with the fishes. And with Medium, stand out in other ways, get the formatting right.

Bryan:
Yeah.

Mike:
So if you submit anything over to us and it doesn't have an engaging title, it... Probably five times a day, I receive a submission with no subtitle, crap image. It's just the basics, get those basics right. Because if you don't, the odds are high you won't even receive a reply for it.

Bryan:
Yeah.

Mike:
That's the biggest thing. It's just the simple stuff. There's no real... There's a lot of different styles of writers on Medium, and you don't have to be perfect in your grammar, but in terms of the look, the visual aspect of the article, that needs to be tight.

Bryan:
Okay. And do you, as somebody who enjoys short form writing, do you have any plans to write anything long form, or would you like to, at some point?

Mike:
I don't know. Yeah. So I have a book agent that I've had for two years now, and I've sent a couple of proposals to her, and we're in talks on something, but I'm kind of enjoying just what I'm doing now online. And I know it's probably smart to kind of write a book on Medium, with each... It's like, if you're into a topic for a book, you can test those chapters-

Bryan:
You could.

Mike:
... so to speak, on the platform, and get paid for it. And that's the smart thing to do. I just have a real hard time with something... For me, if something isn't new, it isn't exciting.

Bryan:
Yeah.

Mike:
So if I write five articles on a topic, I'm kind of bored of it. So I have a hard time going through the actual thing of a 150 page book. But probably, I have a couple of books online already, that I would just need to get structured. That's kind of the goal, once Medium slows down for me. It's kind of, I think, with anything online, you kind of have your time and your moments, and I'm not expecting this to last forever. So I'm just hoping to have a secure foundation, so when it does start to slow, I can write a book and I have support. But right now, it's just kind of fun. I have young kids, it's like, if I can finish 1,000 words and survive off of that, for me, it's enough right now.

Bryan:
Yeah. Yeah. Well, YouTubers still earn quite a lot, and that platform is going a lot longer than Medium, so it's definitely good to diversify, though.

Mike:
Yeah. You see, with writing now, I love Ryan Holiday. I'm just not reading his articles as much, right now.

Bryan:
Yeah.

Mike:
And I just think it is... Just the thing is, how much more do we really have to say in long form articles on the internet? With YouTube, it's the energy, it's visual, it's the energy. With articles, shit, it's hard, man. It's like every week you're turning out a couple of articles, that is just like, you're going to lose something somewhere. And...

Bryan:
Yeah.

Mike:
Yeah. I just think it's a little... In looking at Medium, like Benjamin Hardy, what, five years ago? Was a machine, three years ago. And it's just kind of like, you need to take advantage of the attention you get then. But yeah, it's fun to... I'm trying to extend that time in the sun right now, but I can feel it kind of starting to close.

Bryan:
Yeah. I actually did try your tip about writing articles on Medium for a book. So I'm writing a book about parenting-

Mike:
Oh, cool.

Bryan:
... but I found the book was going in a different direction to the parenting articles that I was publishing on Medium. So I stopped the approach halfway through, because it was slowing down process on the book. Because I wanted to write a story-driven parenting book, but what I found is articles on Medium, and correct me if I'm wrong here, but they tend to need to have takeaways and tips. So, how to talk to your kids about money, for example, and then you have that broken down step-by-step, so which is a bit of a different slant to what I wanted to do in the book.

Mike:
Yeah. I think with Medium, you've got to... I think it's Nicholas Cole, who wrote something about how you have to... Either you're an educator or an entertainer.

Bryan:
Yeah. Yeah.

Mike:
And then if you can blend those two... So I'm an educator, the majority of my articles could be a how-to X. I'll spruce up the titles, so it isn't dry, but generally I'm a teacher. And with writing, I use my style and voice to separate as an entertainer, and I'm trying to always blend that. So I'll start intros, for my introductions, it's always entertaining. And then in my points, I'm educating. And I think it's hard to just write story-driven articles on Medium. There's a ton of people writing, there's a lot of aspects of Medium that I don't know about. People writing in history, politics, who are doing well. But for me, in my lane of the self-help career stuff, yeah, generally you got to have the action points.

Bryan:
Yeah. Yeah.

Mike:
That's how you-

Bryan:
I don't tend to see those articles in my feed, but maybe that's to do with my interests.

Mike:
Yeah. I think it's just because we're in a bubble, but generally it is hard. I think too, it's like, to write an engaging story-driven post, that's hard to do regularly. And I just think it's more... It's like for the style I'm trying to do. And then another thing, if I'm going to have an engaging intro, I want the conclusion... Generally, you want claps, the claps would drive the distribution, the fans, views, everything. You want engagement on the articles. And what I see is a lot of people just kind of stop their article, and the conclusion is where you drive that engagement.

Bryan:
Yeah.

Mike:
So I always try to have some kind of inspirational tone at the end, humorous, inspirational, something that's very memorable, and that kind of forces them to clap without them even knowing it.

Bryan:
Yeah. Like having a call back to something that was referenced in the introduction.

Mike:
Yeah, if you can do it in the right way. I had said something about... I think I wrote an article, it was something about I screamed at my kids. And then I realized that when you go for a run, the odds are high you're not going to scream at your kids. And when you're eating a banana, you're probably not going to yell at your kid. So I had a reference at the end of it about [inaudible 00:35:37], some line, some stupid, throw-away thing that wouldn't work on any other platform but Medium, about... It referenced back to something like eat more fruit, and it worked really well there, but that wouldn't work in Forbes. So it's kind of like, you need to know the platform. But yeah, if you can link back something, that's kind of a clever way to tie in your intro and your conclusion, that usually works pretty well.

Mike:
But trying to... Yeah. It's like always... I think I was taught... When I moved to Barcelona. I taught English here for a year, a couple of years, and a tip was... So I'm from America, and I didn't have the documents for Europe, and so I had to teach kids for a bit. And walking out of a class, one of the teachers said, "Always leave the... The end of the class, do something fun. The kids will leave happy, they'll run in their parents' arms happy. You won't have to deal with the parents. Always leave them kind of inspired." So I don't know if it's a game, or something humorous, funny, dah, dah, dah, dah, but that's always something I think about an article, is leave them smiling.

Bryan:
Yeah. And that's a good way to finish an article all right. Maybe it's something I should bear in mind next time I'm writing on Medium. Michael, where can people find out more information about you, or where can they read some of your work?

Mike:
Yeah. So I'm on Medium. I think it's now they've changed the link. So I just think it's Michael dot, or dash, Thompson. So Medium, they just literally changed it, so my profile name changed.

Bryan:
Okay.

Mike:
So it's michael-thompson.medium.com. My website is mikethompsonblog.com, and a couple of my friends and I have teamed up for a newsletter on Substack, about how to succeed on Medium, called Write Your Future.

Bryan:
Yeah.

Mike:
And we send out a weekly free thing, but we also have a paid option, where each week we send detailed instructions to grow on Medium. We have round tables discussions and stuff, that... And some Q & A's each month on Facebook, or something. That's generally the best place to find me for writing advice. But yeah, and with LinkedIn, I'm on there, and Mike Thompson blog also.

Bryan:
Okay. Thanks, Michael. It's very nice to talk to you today.

Mike:
Same to you, Bryan, and thanks for having me on.

Bryan:
I hope you enjoyed this week's episode. If you did, please consider leaving a short review on the iTunes store, or sharing the show on Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you're listening. More reviews, more ratings, and more shares will help more people find the Become a Writer Today podcast. And did you know, for just a couple of dollars a month, you could become a patreon for the show? Visit patreon.com/becomeawritertoday, or look for the support button in the show notes. Your support will help me record, produce, and publish more episodes each month. And if you become a patreon, I'll give you my writing books, discounts on writing software, and on my writing courses.