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The Secret To My First $500 Bonus Month

  • 13 min read

If I can do it, you can do it too!

April was the month I got my first $500 bonus and I published 24 articles in one month. I have taken a closer look at the statistics, metrics, and stories in April and analyzed them.

April was the month I was surprised by Medium with my first bonus payment. Awesome, I thought. But what did I do differently this month? I wondered.

For instance, I tried to write and publish an article every day. For you, I have taken a closer look at the statistics and metrics of my 24 published stories in April.

I somehow failed my 30-Day Challenge

April 2021 had 30 days. Actually, I wanted to make a 30-Day challenge out of it, but as a new mother with a small baby, work, and family life, that’s not easy. Moreover, we were in the middle of moving into a bigger flat, we had some birthdays and it was Easter.

Still, I managed to get 24 articles done mainly because of some ‘hypergraphic’ evenings where I wrote a lot of heartfelt stories from my soul. You can read more about it in this article about ‘Mother’s block’.

The first tip for you: If I can do that with a small baby, you (especially if you’re young or at least young at heart) can do it too!

While I only managed to write eight articles in March, I wanted to finally step on the gas in April and see what would happen. My creative output was 24 articles.

I’ve categorized my 24 articles in short and long form texts

  • Nine articles in short form — a short form post is 150 words or fewer. Whenever you write such an article, Medium will classify it as a short form post. It only generates statistics if someone taps or clicks on the preview. It is not eligible for additional curated distribution.
  • 16 articles in long form — all articles of 150 words plus are typical stories and eligible to be curated to a wider audience. For Medium, 3 minutes is the standard length. On average, mine were between 3 and 5 minutes’ reading time.

The 7 Medium pubs where I hung out the most

The Shortform

I have been submitting short form articles to Tom Fenske’s publication since the beginning of my Medium journey in late December 2020. I have become a regular writer there. For me, a short form article is like a love poem or a photograph. It can lead to a romance or not.

What I like about ‘The Shortform’ is…

  1. I have to be brief, concise, thought-provoking and relevant in my content
  2. I can tease a long article of mine
  3. If I can’t manage to write a longer article, writing a short story ‘quick and dirty’ in the evening, gives me a nice kick and is an easily-accessible goal
  4. Tom Fenske, top writer in the field of short form, doesn’t keep you waiting long, but publishes within three days.
  5. The community is very engaged and most of my fellow network contacts on Medium I have through this inspiring pub

👉 9 articles published as short form

👉 All 9 articles were teaser articles, which should arouse curiosity for longer articles.

👉 None of them were chosen for further distribution (CFFD) because they’re not eligible for further publication as explained above.

Here’s an example of my best-performing short form article in April:

It teases a listicle of brags from more experienced parents, e.g. ‘Fortunately, he slept through the night very early.’

My long story:

16 articles in 6 pubs

I submitted the remaining 16 articles with a reading time of between three and five minutes to a total of six pubs: Illumination, Hello Love, Modern Parent, WotWu, A Parent is Born, and Family Matters.

I will discuss these pubs in detail below:

(1) Modern Parent

Modern Parent is one of Medium’s top parenting and family publications. In February I was asked to be a Brand Ambassador for this pub and write articles there as a top writer in parenting.

What I like about this pub:

  1. I can write about my everyday life as a new mom with a twinkle in my eye and get some frustrations off my chest or share my joy with other parents.
  2. The community is very engaged
  3. The owner publishes the article within about ten days, so here a longer lead time must be considered
  4. A mention of your article in the weekly newsletter is possible
  5. A mention of your story on Twitter or Facebook is possible
  6. Modern Parent has writing prompts where you can participate and win

👉 I have published eight articles, all of them were selected for featured distribution by Medium.

Here you can find my most successful article so far, published at the end of April.

(2) A Parent is born

This publication is part of The Good Men Project. They say as soon as a baby is born, a parent is born. Therefore it’s all parenting stuff.

What I like about this publication:

  1. Different target audience than Modern Parent, e.g. men also write comments and articles.
  2. Articles are partially taken from their website and published on Medium
  3. If you write a Medium article, it will be published on their website with your name and promoted via Twitter
  4. The community is engaged, but less so than at Modern Parent

👉 This is where I published for the first time on my Medium journey in April. In total both articles were chosen for promotion and featured across Medium.

Here you can find my most successful article so far, published at the beginning of April.

(3) Family Matters

This publication is all about family, invisible illness, parenting and is managed by Laura Fox. Together with her husband, she moderates the pub.

What I like about the publication:

  1. Different target audience than Modern Parent and A Parent is Born; also many men writing articles.
  2. Less engaged community (but I’ve only published two articles there so far, this article was my second; it varies from topic to topic).
  3. There was the possibility to participate in Writing Prompts, but the owner wasn’t able to edit it anymore and discontinued it at short notice

👉 here I published an article, which was chosen for further distribution too as an answer to the ‘let’s get relational challenge’ by Michael Burg, MD (AKA Medium Michael Burg)

(4) Hello Love

Like A Parent is Born, it belongs to the The Good Men Project.

A smaller pub on relationships, as a future alternative to ‘PS I Love You’, when it gets shut down.

What I like about the publication:

  1. Articles are partly taken from the website and published on Medium
  2. If you write an article for Medium, it will be published on their website with your name and promoted via Twitter.
  3. The community is engaged
  4. Publication can take up to ten days

⇒ I have published 2 articles here, both were chosen for promotion and featured across Medium.

👉 Here’s my most successful article so far, published in April.


Via a tag from Carlos Garbiras, I first came across this pub from ScienceDuuude. It’s about ‘50 shades of wood’. LOL.

What I like so much about this pub:

  1. I find the editor very pleasant. He replied directly when I wrote him an email
  2. Articles are also shared via Twitter
  3. Extremely engaged community
  4. You can publish anything that has to do with wood in some way, e.g. articles about playing the ukulele or climbing trees
  5. Scienceduude doesn’t keep you waiting long and publishes within a day

👉 1 article published and chosen for further distribution.

(6) Illumination

Illumination by Dr Mehmet Yildiz is a lighthouse on Medium for me. What I like about the pub:

  1. You can write about anything that interests you. Also, there are certain sections, like ‘marketing’, where you can publish your topic-specific articles.
  2. If you are lucky, Dr. Yildiz will share your article via Twitter.
  3. If you are lucky, your article will be mentioned in the weekly newsletter.
  4. Very engaged community
  5. Publication via various editors possible. Depending on that, you still get suggestions for changes and can talk briefly with the editor via private message. In addition, it may be that the editor likes your article directly, shares it via Twitter and / or leaves a comment.
  6. The article is published quickly, usually within one day.

👉 1 article published about my family’s infection with Coronavirus, how we’ve survived it was an answer to Anna Maltby who asked the Medium community about their pandemic reflections.

This article was also chosen for further distribution.

16 articles were chosen for further distribution (CFFD)

I’ve been fortunate that most of my articles were also chosen for further distribution by Medium (— unless I was writing directly about Medium. In that case, I refer to J.J. Pryor. He states in his Submission Guidelines that Medium articles are 99% not curated. I guess this will also happen with this article.)

As described in detail above, of the…

  • 9 short form articles, none were CFFD because they were not eligible for it
  • 16 long form articles were CFFD.

My Performance Metrics: I tripled my earnings

Of course, it’s particularly interesting for you to see the changes in the performance metrics from March, with 8 articles, to April, with 24 articles.

If you look at the statistics, the first metrics that are relevant are

  1. ‘views’
  2. ‘reads’
  3. ‘read ratio’
  4. ‘fans’.

Here is my metrics development in percent:

  1. Views: My views have increased by 180% from March to April due to continuous publishing of articles.
  2. Reads: My reads have increased by a quarter compared to the previous month.
  3. Read Ratio: In April I reached a 90% read ratio three times and 50% plus on average.
  4. Fans: In April I gained 200 new fans, which is an increase of 150%. I attribute this development mainly to the fact that I was allowed to publish for the first time at the publications Hello Love, WotWu and a Parent is Born. This gives me the opportunity to address a new target audience and publication followers and thus gain completely new, interested followers.

‘High Member Engagement’ crucial for the bonus

For the bonus payout, as Ev Williams and his team have explained, a ‘high member engagement’ is very important. This is characterized by ‘member reads, claps and follows’. Read more about it in this article.

Since I earned the $500 bonus for April, I would like to go into more detail on these metrics as well.

  1. Member reads: as described above, they have increased by a quarter compared to March.

2. Member claps: on average I received about 300 claps for my short and long articles.

3. Member followers: In April I organically received 200 new fans. As described, I attribute this to the fact that I have broadened my base and write for different pubs.

Last but not least, my earnings have more than tripled. On top of that, I got the $500 bonus.

As Doran Lamb writes in her article about her bonus:

‘Maybe the bonus will happen again next month, maybe alternate months, and when that doesn’t happen speculation will begin that maybe the payout will be quarterly, or perhaps every 6 months. The ambiguity surrounding the bonus will keep people guessing and hoping for the whole year.

I couldn't manage to look through all notifications anymore

In April, I also made a point of continuing to reply to every comment. But sometimes I had to delay the answering a bit, because in the evening, I just couldn’t manage to look through all 50 to 100 notifications and answer everyone.

I suppose that, as a full-time mom, over time it might become difficult for me to do justice to my claim to reply to everyone. I think Sara Melissa Frost does it with great bravado. How she does it, I don’t know, but she always replies and not with a standard message; she responds to everyone directly.

I find it nice to read the reactions of others in the comments and get involved in a dialogue and learn more about the person.

Don’t be a lone wolf on Medium

In reviewing the month, I have also made another change. I jumped on the ‘let’s get relational train’ and, when appropriate, referenced others’ articles in my article or tagged them if I thought the article would be interesting to them. There is a detailed explanation with practical examples here.

In general, I think it is very important not to be a lone wolf on Medium.

For example, I clap in principle 50 times when I like an article and if I can, I leave another comment. Unfortunately, it is often the case that although the claps are so important, I only receive one clap from these said individuals, although they may even leave a comment telling me how much they liked the article.

My request to all: keep your finger pressed on the button and clap 50 times if you like something. The clapping is like music to the ears of the writers and relevant for the bonus payments.

Lessons Learned

My April challenge has shown me that it is worthwhile to stay on the ball and to regularly hit the keys or to pre-produce articles and to publish them regularly.

  • While I published only 8 articles in March, I managed to produce 24 in April and thus further my development on this platform.
  • Especially in terms of metrics relevant to the bonus, I was able to develop a lot in terms of reads, claps, and follows.
  • Unfortunately, it was difficult for me to answer the comments on the same day because I simply lacked the time for it. Otherwise, I would not have managed to write the next article. Therefore, if, like marketing guru Seth Godin does it, you’re in the flow and have time, just pre-produce.
  • It’s important to set yourself up diversely and write for different publications. When you are accepted as a writer and an article is published, you are appealing to a new audience and followers of the publication.
  • Networking and linking to each other from inspiring content makes sense to me and puts a smile on every writer’s face.

© Kristina God

Thanks for making my words part of your day. I’m Kristina God, 2x Top Writer in parenting and feminism & one of the Top 2,000 writers on Medium.

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