Can You Break Most of the Rules and Still Have a $2k Story?
To save everyone some time: if you’re looking for a how-to or listicle, I’m not your girl and this isn’t that story. Go here instead. But, yes, I have written a story on Medium that recently surpassed the $2,000 mark. Today, I share a bit about myself, the rules I break on a daily basis, and the guidelines that helped propel this story to success. Still interested? Hooray! Please read on! Not what you were looking for? No worries, I just saved you a few minutes of boredom and/or being unfulfilled.
I’ve always known I was, ahem, unusual on Medium. OK, in life, too.
There was the time my mom declared: “Oh, I finally get you, Bonnie.” I was, like, 31 at the time.
For the first three decades of my life, my own mother didn’t understand me. C’mon, that’s funny.
INFJs like to proclaim they’re the rarest personality on earth. Not to take away their thunder (I’m totally taking away their thunder), that’s not exactly true. As a group, INFJs are the rarest; however, as a female INTJ, I represent just .8% of the population. I’m actually the rarest personality type in existence.
It’s taken me a while to appreciate what that reality means. I won’t go into all of it here, but I will share that as a group, we aren’t fond of rules unless we see their merit.
So, perhaps it’s because I’m an INTJ who can’t really follow rules that seem arbitrary to me.
Maybe it’s because I don’t really consider myself a writer. This endeavor is still very recent for me. I certainly don’t have a calling to write. If I couldn’t write anymore, I’d miss it, but I’d fill my time with other things. (I’d miss the people here far more than my writing!)
Most likely it’s because this is a lovely hobby for me. It will never pay my rent. At best, it’s some spending money for my Cherry Coke addiction.
Whatever the reason, I feel zero pressure to adhere to the rule that I need to publish daily or on some schedule here in Mediumland. I write about several different topics instead of focusing on one niche. I celebrate all of my followers but don’t work particularly hard to gain new ones. I have almost no social media presence.
Now I’m the first to admit that my success on Medium, such as it is, is a fraction of other writers’ accomplishments. Some of them started writing here at the same time or even more recently than I did and have larger followings and/or bigger earnings.
I don’t begrudge them that!
But for me, I follow this one principle: I only write when I have something to say.
I don’t feel any pressure to write when I don’t feel like it. I don’t force myself. I don’t have a set writing schedule. In fact, I’ve taken long breaks from writing over the past 2 1/2 years on Medium.
I subscribe to the Matthew McConaughey life philosophy: I’m all about L-I-V-I-N. Sometimes I’ve got life to live, my friends! I’m not writing ’cause I’m livin’!
And I don’t feel guilty or worry about the fact that I’m disrupting my trajectory on Medium. I’m aware that I’ve stunted my success on Medium because I’ve taken those breaks. Because I don’t write consistently. Because I don’t stay in the same niche.
I may be a pretty traditional person, but I rebel in my own small ways! I just don’t have it in me to follow most of the loose rules to succeed on Medium.
In fact, because I approach my writing this way, I never have writer’s block; rather, I’m just waiting until I feel called to write again.
To be clear: I’m not saying that writer’s block doesn’t exist.
My point is re-framing the way I view writing on Medium is freeing and stress relieving. I’m never a failure for not writing. I’m just not ready yet. Once I have something to say again, I type, edit, and publish.
This approach isn’t for everyone. It’s probably a terrible idea if you want to make a lot of money here.
I’m not going to pretend that I have a bunch of stories that have made over $2,000 dollars. I don’t. I have exactly one (plus a few that have made in the $300–400 range and a lot that never cleared $10). I assume this level of financial reward will never happen to me ever again!
Nonetheless, despite taking breaks, writing about several topics rather than staying in one niche, having a fairly small following (comparatively), and being completely inept at promoting myself on social media, I still managed to have a rather lucrative story.
I will add that this story was published through my very successful partnership with P.S. I Love You. We’ve been a beautiful pairing for over two years and I owe much of my growth on Medium to Dan Moore and Kay Bolden.
Furthermore, this story was curated in one of the most popular tags on Medium. My relationship stories are invariably my most financially successful.
Finally, I am blessed with a wonderful support system of fellow writers (especially Jonathan Greene) and fabulous followers. I refer to them as #teambonnie and I couldn’t keep doing this without their guidance and support!
In the end, I can’t tell you why this happened to me or how you can recreate this success. Writing about topics that lots of people want to read, that are likely to be curated by Medium, and through a publication are solid steps to increasing readership. But I think a certain amount of luck plays into some stories finding success over others. When the Medium stars do align, though, it’s pretty great!
I don’t have any plans to change my approach to Medium. All I can promise is that I will continue to write from a place of authenticity. Whether I’m writing about something that’s silly or sentimental or serious. I’m grateful to my readers and respect your time. I’m not the best writer here and I never will be. But you’ll always get an authentic slice of me. I’ll never phone it in. And I’m so grateful for every single one of you who reads me.
Note: for those of my writing pals who write daily or on a schedule, this is not in any way a slight to your approach. I tip my writer’s fedora to you! Your Medium journey is yours not mine. You keep doing your fabulous thing!
Until her 40’s, Bonnie’s worst nightmare included writing and sharing personal stories publicly. At her friends’ suggestion, she bemusedly started Bonnie’s Mixed Tape on Medium in 2017. She remains shocked that anyone reads her stories and that P.S. I Love You, the Writing Cooperative, Assemblage, Song Done Wrong, and the Ascent have published her work.
Bonnie loves all types of music, but really, really, really loves the 80s!