Far too often, I think creators fall into a rut. We see the work of a famous writer or one of our favorite artists, and we compare ourselves to their highlight reel. We should strive for those heights, and we should expose ourselves to the works of the greats. That’s part of learning the craft. But we often don’t hear from people who are just starting out or who are in the middle of it.
I’m still in the early stages of being a writer. I’m not an expert yet. But I am starting to see some success, and I want to encourage you with my story. If there’s any lesson to be learned from my experience, I think it’s that there is value in simply putting your work out there.
Recently, I got an email that made me stop my scroll. I had been accepted to join Medium’s Partner Program. If you aren’t familiar with it, the Partner Program is Medium’s initiative to use member subscription fees to pay writers for their content.
I won’t lie — it was pretty exciting when I saw that email in my inbox. But the next thing that popped into my head is one that most writers will probably recognize…
The blank page. The endless possibilities. This time, those feelings were exacerbated by the opportunity to get paid for words. But that’s the thing — money isn’t the starting point.
Money isn’t the starting point.
First of all, I’m not making a huge income from my Medium posts right now. So far I’ve written one locked post and it has made a whopping $11.63. But to me that’s a huge deal, because it’s the first time I’ve gotten paid for a side project. I’m celebrating that! It’s something I’ve been working towards for a while. But I recognize that it’s just the beginning. And even if I was making big-time money off my Medium posts, money still wouldn’t be the starting point.
You start by putting your work out there. Honing. Tweaking. Putting in the effort until cool opportunities come along for you to seize.
I’ve been on Medium for a little over 21 months now. In that time, I’ve come to love it as a writing platform. Just like any platform, seeing success takes hard work. There’s no magic algorithm to make your content work. You have to put in the effort to make it work. But Medium has simplified the process so you can focus on putting in the effort as a writer. I like that.
I think what Medium is trying to do — create a writing platform that isn’t based on ad revenue — is an admirable goal. But even if Medium is able to achieve that (and I hope they are), they didn’t start there either. They started by putting the platform out there — giving people a place to find a voice — and making necessary changes along the way. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t completely sure at first about Series, the changes to the homepage, or even claps. But again, Medium put the changes out there, and tweaked along the way.
Put in the work. Put the work out there for others to see. Then you’ll be ready when opportunities come along.
I was looking for a place to blog. That’s all. I love writing, and I wanted to finally dive into blogging. I had heard about Medium, so I figured I’d give it a try.
I’ve told the story before, so I won’t rehash all the details here. But suffice it to say, I hadn’t imagined that when I started on Medium in December 2015 that I’d end up writing a piece for a Sports Illustrated blog, have my writing featured in a publication with over 100,000 followers and be contacted by an editor at The Huffington Post about becoming a contributor. How did it happen?
I put in the work, and I took opportunities as they came.
For a while, I was posting six stories a week and pitching them to various Medium publications. Then came a new opportunity — Cooking With Sarah. There, my wife and I share recipes and stories about how cooking has impacted our marriage. That became my new focus on Medium. Instead of pitching my stories elsewhere, I put more focus on building a new thing with my wife. It’s been so amazing to see how it has grown!
I don’t tell you this story to try to impress you with my track record. Again, I’m still in the beginning stages. I haven’t “arrived” by any means. I have so much more growth as a writer ahead of me.
No, I tell this story to encourage you. I’m not some big-time writing celebrity. I’m a 25 year-old from Indiana. I’m a regular guy who has simply learned that there is value in putting your work out there. There is value in putting effort into your passions. Start somewhere. Do something. Lean into what you love.
I’m excited about being a member of the Medium Partner Program. Sure, part of that excitement is about the opportunities it affords me in my personal growth as a writer. But I also think this could have a powerful impact on writing in general on the internet.
When you think about it, doesn’t a place where people pay for the content itself as opposed to ads seem like the ideal setup? Doesn’t a place where writers are incentivized to put forth their best work seem like the way to do things? To me, it looks like Medium is on the right track.
I hope it works out, not just because I’m in this new program, but also because I think it could greatly impact other young writers. I’ve seen the impact Medium has been able to make on my growth as a writer, and I hope that more writers are able to experience that.
Most importantly, I want to encourage you — you have a lot more inside you than you may realize. Start somewhere. Even if it’s small, start by putting your work out there for others to see. You’ll grow and you’ll learn. Then, when an opportunity comes along that really interests you…
…you’ll be ready.