Let’s talk about how to start a blog on Medium. By reading this article and applying what you learn, you can start making over a hundred dollars a month, which will put you in the top, 6% or 7% of writers on Medium.
How to start a blog on Medium?
You set up and optimize your account, write high-quality articles on popular topics (relationships, self-improvement, etc), format your articles for distribution, and submit them to niche publications. Then you rinse and repeat that process over and over again.
I made it into the $100 club in my second full month on Medium. And the third month I broke a thousand dollars—almost $2,000.
In this article, I want to share with you the exact process that I went through so that you can write and make money on medium, too.
Of course, there are many details that go along with that summary. Details like how to set up and optimize your account. Details like how to write and format your articles to earn the most money. And much, much more.
That’s why I’m going to share my exclusive 10-step freelancer guide for how to start a blog on Medium.
Don’t want to read the entire article? No problem. Here’s a video explanation:
Step 1: Sign Up for a Medium Account
First of all, you sign up for a Medium account. Simply go to your favorite search engine (Google is mine) and search for www.Medium.com. You’ll end up on the homepage of Medium.
Move your cursor to the black “Get Started” box in the top right corner of the homepage.
From there, you follow the easy instructions to create a Medium account. I signed up using my Google account, but you can also use Facebook or your email address.
Signing up should only take you a few minutes (at most).
Once you have an account, I highly recommend you join the Medium Partner Program. What that means is you’re going to be paying $5 a month to be able to read as many articles as you want to on Medium. This is going to help you learn how to write on Medium and make more money. I made over $60 my first month, way more than the $5. I’ve always made more than $5.
I think if you follow the guidelines in this article, you will too. You don’t have to join the Medium Partner Program to make money on medium, but I think it’s going to be much easier for you. It’s the process that I went through. By the way, I don’t get anything for you joining the program.
It’s just what I’ve done. I’m a part of the program. You can tell because a green circle wraps around my profile picture.
The green lines around a profile picture are the telltale sign that someone is a paying member. This knowledge is important as you only get paid when paying members read your articles (unless you are doing affiliate marketing).
Step 2: Complete Your Profile
Go to your profile and fill it out completely.
Next, head to your Settings (find it on the screenshot above as one of the options in the dropdown list). Your settings is where you’ll be able to add a photo and complete a short bio.
I suggest you add a clear, professional picture of yourself. Some publications on Medium require a real photo of yourself. Plus, by using a headshot, you’ll be able to build a personal connection with your audience.
Then write your bio. Basically, just write something about yourself. If you have a website or social media account that you want to connect, then add your links to your bio. You have a total of 160 characters. You change your bio at any time.
You might feel ready to jump into full writing mode. But, I encourage you to wait just a bit longer. Since this article is about how to start a blog on Medium and make money, let’s look at how to avoid some of the biggest mistakes.
Step 3: Study Medium Guidelines
The next step is to study Medium itself. Please don’t skip this vital step. Please don’t jump into blindly writing articles. You can do that, but you can make a lot of mistakes that can hurt you down the road.
In fact, if you make too many of the wrong kinds of mistakes, you can get kicked off of the platform. If you’re trying to learn how to start a blog on Medium, then go to the Medium Guidelines and study those suckers as much as possible.
Before you publish each of your first few articles, certainly in the first few weeks and first few months of being on the platform, make sure you come back to these guidelines time and time again.
You might read it once and think you’ve got it. But I highly suggest that you read it at least 10 times.
It’s that important. These are the things that Medium wants you to do and wants you to avoid when writing articles. Essentially, Medium itself spells out exactly how to start a blog on Medium.
You want to meet a high editorial standard. You want to add value for the reader. You want your articles written for the reader, not for yourself. You want to write a complete story. If you make any claims, you want to cite credible sources. You want to be honest. You want to offer a good reading experience.
One secret to formatting on Medium is to consider how your article looks on a large screen (such as a desktop or laptop computer) and also on a smaller, mobile screen.
You also want a well-edited article free from spelling and grammatical errors.
You can use free online software such as Grammarly that will edit your work for you. It doesn’t replace your need to read your article out loud, and otherwise edit your work yourself. However, Grammarly is likely to catch some things that you missed.
If you don’t study and follow the Medium Guidelines, easily avoidable mistakes can disqualify you from being promoted across Medium. Medium promotion (or distribution/curation) is not the only or the most important element of making money on the platform. However, the more Medium promotes you to paying members, the more money you can potentially make.
Step 4: Choose Topics
What are you going to write about on medium? Well, you can write about pretty much anything, but here’s what I suggest. I suggest that you start by writing on a variety of popular topics.
Topics like self-improvement, relationships, sex, marketing, history, and true crime. Those types of content typically do well. At first, experiment by writing on a variety of topics. See what is picked up by Medium. See what finds an audience for you, and then keep writing those kinds of articles.
I highly recommend that you experiment at first before niching down. Right now, I have 121 articles published on Medium. If you look through the titles and the publications, you’ll see that I write on a variety of topics.
In my experience, one or two of your articles might go “viral” in the first few months. Perhaps less, perhaps more. I didn’t have a “viral” article until month two—that article made me $600 that month, and over $800 so far.
Step 5: Write an Article on Medium
How do you even write an article on Medium? When you start figuring out how to start a blog on Medium, this is where the rubber meets the road. An article is called a “story” on the platform.
To write a story, you click on your profile image (the circle with your picture) at the top right corner of the Medium screen.
Then you click on, “Write a story.” That will take you to another screen where you can add a title, a subtitle, a story image, and write your story.
You want your title to be clear, short, and to get attention, but not be clickbait. It’s definitely a fine line and a gray area, but titles really do matter. Your subtitle should also be clear, as concise as possible, and give a little bit more information about the article.
So for example:
My title: How To Actually Make $1,000 Every Month on Medium
My Subtitle: My complete article writing system to make over a thousand dollars per month
I actually kind of like that.
Using the Medium Editor
When you create your title, you also need to know how to use the built-in Medium Editor. Your title should be formatted with the big “T” in the Editor (see screenshot below). Your title should also be the first text on the page at the top of the screen. Medium automatically formats the first text into the title of the article.
Often, Medium will format the second text on the page as the subtitle using the little “t” in the Editor.
Pretty much all of the publications (think magazines on Medium) prefer this same pattern: title at the very top, followed by the subtitle, and then an image.
In the Editor, you can format text, add images, add video, embed text, and add section dividers. You’ll get the hang of it as you write your first few articles. Before long, you’ll have the editing tool mastered.
It’s an integral step in how to start a blog on Medium.
The Perfect Word Count and Read Time
I suggest that you write an article that’s between five and seven minutes of reading time. As you write your article, you can actually hit “Control +A” to get a word count.
By the way, if you go back to your stories (by clicking on your profile image and then “Stories” in the drop-down list), Medium’s going to tell you what your read time is on the screen. I’m always checking my read time and I’m looking to write articles between a 5 to 7-minute read time, as much as possible. Articles with this reading time statistically make more money.
As far as writing the actual article, typically I start with some kind of hook, something to grab the reader’s attention. Then I add a personal anecdote or story.
Next, I transition from the introduction into the rest of the story. My article, “The Man Who Killed 1,000 Dogs” is a perfect example.
Your title, your picture, and your introduction are what’s most important in your story. You also want to follow those Medium guidelines that you studied before, and you obviously want a great story. But those three—the title, the image, and your introduction—are what’s going to grab a reader’s intention and engage them into your story.
Suggested read: Can You Make Money On Medium? Insane 6-Figure Case Study
Step 6: Add Images
On the same “Write a story” screen, you can add an image.
For images, you want a relevant, high-definition, royalty-free picture that hasn’t been used on a million other Medium stories.
You can find great, free images on:
When you use Unsplash or Pexels, I recommend that you choose a picture formatted horizontally (wide instead of tall). I also recommend that you don’t choose any images on the first or second page of search results on either image website.
You don’t want an overused picture. You want a unique image that makes your story stand out on Medium.
I use Canva.com. I actually have a paid version of Canva, but you don’t need to spend any money. You can simply use the free version for stunning, copyright-free images that stand out against your competition. On Canva, you can manipulate text, elements like shapes and emojis, and even create animated gifs.
Always Cite Your Images
The first link in the source usually goes to my profile page on Medium. The second link goes to Canva.com.
Here are a few more examples:
- Kobe Bryant via Wikipedia by Celeste Lecaroz — Creative Commons License
- Photo by Fabrizio Lanardi on Unsplash
Always, always cite your images.
Add Alt Text for SEO
The other thing I do with my pictures is I always add alt text.
Alt text is what shows up for readers when their devices don’t load the actual image. Alt-text is spoken to non-sighted readers using text-to-speech software. Google and Medium see alt text as an added bonus for readers. It increases the quality of your article and helps with SEO, or search engine optimization (which allows people to find you easier when searching on Google).
Don’t worry too much about promoting outside of Medium (at least for now). Remember, you only earn money on Medium right now if paid members read and engage with your story.
When I add alt text, what I do is concisely describe the picture. I also include the title of my article (or any keywords for SEO). Mostly, I just use my title because my keyword is already in my title. If you don’t know anything about SEO, don’t let that stop you from learning how to start a blog on Medium.
Don’t worry about SEO for now. Describe the image and add your title to the alt text. Then, move on to writing your story.
Suggested read: Check out my list of Recommended Tools for writers and bloggers.
Step 7: How To Format Articles for Medium Curation
If you’re like most people (including me), you want to know how to start a blog on Medium that makes money. One of the secrets to getting your articles promoted on Medium (called “Curation”) is how you format your articles. I highly suggest that you format your articles in the exact way I’m going to share with you—unless a publication that you’re targeting says differently.
Remember, publications are like magazines on Medium. They have a built-in audience.
I recommend you format your articles this way:
- Final Thoughts
Check out this article on formatting for an example.
Capitalize your content like this:
- Your title should be in title case.
- Your subtitle should be in sentence case.
- Your subheadings should be in title case.
If you don’t know every word in the English language that’s supposed to be capitalized, don’t fear. You can use a handy, free tool called the title case converter.
You might save that website on your computer. You can simply paste your title into the provided text box on the website and hit the button that says “convert”. The software then automatically converts your title into title case.
Then you can copy the converted title and bring it back over to Medium.
A few things you want to avoid with your title:
- Capitalizing every word
- Clickbait (overpromising, misleading, or exploiting emotions)
Your subtitle will be in sentence case. That means the first word and any proper nouns (like names) are capitalized. You can also use the free Case Converter tool to convert your subtitle into sentence case.
Once you have your title and your subtitle appropriately capitalized, then you want to add your image. Make sure you cite the source, even if you made the picture yourself.
Next, you want to have some kind of introduction.
As a recap, I start with a short hook to capture attention, followed by a personal anecdote or story, a summary of the article, and finally a transition into the rest of the article. If you look at the articles I’ve published, they will almost all follow this introduction style. You can also add a quote, cite a source, give statistics, etc.
Keep your paragraphs very short. Yes, vary them between 1-3 sentences. You want your articles to look and read well on mobile. Every time that I write an article, I read it in draft form on my phone. That way, I can see if any of the paragraphs look way too long and too clunky on mobile.
The exception with short paragraphs (just as with any other part of formatting) is if a publication clearly states that they want longer, meatier paragraphs.
After my introduction, I use the built-in divider from the Medium Editor. It looks like three “dots” centered on the page. Like this:
I use the space dividers between all of the major sections in my article. Therefore, start with an introduction, add a divider, and move to your first subheader. Repeat dividers at the end of each major section. I do not add dividers between subsections.
I also like bulleted lists and numbered lists. They add variety and readers like them because they are skimmable. After my last section, I almost always put some kind of summary or takeaway. Then I end with final thoughts or parting thoughts.
What you just read is the exact formula for how I get the vast majority of my articles curated. At the time of this writing, nearly 90-100% of my articles get distributed. Distribution helps promote your writing inside Medium but it is no guarantee of earnings.
Suggested Read: Why Do Writers Hate Adverbs?
Step 8: Choose Article Tags
The next thing that I do is add tags to my articles.
Here is the process:
- Click on the three dots in the top right corner of the Medium “Write a story” screen.
- You’ll get a drop-down list of options (like in the screenshot above).
- Next, click on “Change tags”.
- Then choose five tags.
I always choose all five tags (the maximum allowed). My approach is to choose popular tags relevant to my story but which also cross topical areas. For example, I might choose tags like “books”, “true crime” and “history” for the same story. Tags are all about getting your article in front of the most people.
You can gauge the popularity of a tag by looking at the number that appears next to it.
Some of the most popular tags that I frequently use:
- Life (532k)
- Life Lessons (447k)
- Love (350k)
- Business (298k)
- Relationships (210k)
- Self (101k)
Tags are another simple but effective way to start a blog on Medium.
Step 9: Complete SEO in Settings
This is your search engine optimization or SEO settings.
Once again, you go to the three dots in the top right corner. On the drop-down list of options, choose “More settings”.
Once you’re on the More Settings page, check to make sure that it says I’m enrolled in the Partner Program. If you want to follow my steps for how to start a blog on Medium, join the Partner Program.
Make sure that your tags are showing up correctly. And then scroll down to the “SEO title” section. For this section, I copy my title and paste only the title into the available space.
According to the description of this section, SEO title titles between 40 and 50 characters often do best.
So, either I add spaces to make 40 characters, or I might play around with the words in the title. This SEO title doesn’t have to necessarily match the exact title on your article that shows up in Medium. Why? Because the SEO title is for Google or other search engines. So, you can adjust this title a little bit. I aim to mess with the title until I get it between 40 and 50 characters.
Next, I change my SEO description. I usually put my article title and subtitle into the SEO description first. SEO descriptions work best between 140 156 characters. Therefore, I add relevant words related to the article until I get to 140-156 characters.
I end with a call to action like “Read more here” or “Get started”.
As an editor of a publication, I can tell you that by simply filling out your SEO settings, you will leap ahead of the competition. Most writers don’t do it. Since you are learning how to start a blog on Medium from this article, now you know an easy way to get an edge.
Step 10: Submit Your Article to Publications
At this point, you are ready to submit your article to a publication.
As a new writer on Medium, there are certain publications that are easier for you to get into:
Each publication will have a section called something like submission guidelines, write for us, or how to contribute.
Click on that section, read their guidelines, and follow their guidelines. Once you have completed your story and you’ve edited your story, it’s time to pick a publication. To submit to a publication, typically you have to request to be a writer and that’s different for different publications.
Again, if you read their submission guidelines or publication guidelines, it’s going to tell you what you need to do to become a writer for that publication.
Once you are added as a writer, the publication will show up in your publications list. You’ll see your publication list by clicking on your profile picture, then choosing “Publications” in the drop-down list of options.
Here is the process for submitting to a publication:
- Once the publication shows up in your list of publications, then you go back to the draft of your story.
- Go to the three dots again (in the upper right-hand corner of the screen).
- Choose “Add to publication.”
- Locate and click on a publication.
- Click on “Select and continue.”
- Wait for a moment until the green “Publish” button changes to “Submit”.
- Click the “Submit” button.
- Review your title, tags, and image.
- Finally, click submit again.
The publication will then review your article. If they like it, they’ll publish it. If they don’t like it, then they will probably let you know. Each publication’s guidelines will often tell you how long to wait. Sometimes it’s a few hours, a few days, or a few weeks.
Some bigger publications get so busy that they will not respond to you if they’re not interested. In that case, personally, I wait up to a week, check with them via email, and then submit to another publication.
Parting Thoughts: How to Start a Blog on Medium
Your next step is simply to repeat this 10-step process as often as you can. In the first 90 days, try to write an article every single day. I know writing every day can be very difficult, especially if you have a full-time job, school, and/or kids.
Try to do it anyway.
Why? Because the more articles that you publish, the more money that you can earn from those articles.
You don’t have to write an article every day forever. But starting with a strong foundation of articles is going to teach you how to write quickly, and you will continually earn money on some of these articles, even after 90 days. You’ll also get more data to analyze so that you can write more articles on topics that work for you.
This is not a get-rich-quick website, but it is a platform where you can make a good amount of money fairly quickly.
That is how to start a blog on Medium. There are other ways to enhance your earnings, but I don’t want to overcomplicate the process here at the beginning. Check out my other articles about Medium for more insights on how to 10X your earnings.
Thank you so much for reading this article. I’ll see you at the top!