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This Writer Made $1,300 Writing on Medium (From Zero to Hero)

  • 7 min read

Since hopping on the Medium train in 2022, she’s seen her earnings ebb and flow. But get this — she’s now pulled in an impressive $1,300!

Repeatedly, Tony Stubblebine and his team said that Medium isn’t a place anymore to earn a full-time income.

Only a small percentage of 4–6% of writers earn $100.

So $1,000 is huge!

Fellow Medium writer Michelle Teheux from Illinois is an absolute powerhouse of personal memoirs, anecdotes, and opinion pieces.

Her social blog on Medium is all over the place.

For my “Medium Week” on Substack, I had the pleasure to interview her on her journey from zero to $1,300 in a single month writing on Medium.

She wrote a couple of stories in early 2000, but didn’t join the platform, because she balked at paying $50.

In retrospect, “it was a poor decision”.

“I wish I’d gone all-in right away. But I finally did in late February 2022. I decided I’d work at it and see what I could do in three months. I wrote stories about my experiences after each of the first three months.”

Guess what?

In the first month, she made $25.08.

In the second, $56.97.

From there, it’s been up and down.

Now she celebrated a month with an astonishing $1,300!

Here’s the proof:

If you want to learn more and get inspired, keep reading 😉

Interview with Michelle Teheux — From Zero to Hero

1 — Michelle, could you please tell us a bit about you and your writing on Medium? When did you start and what are you writing about?

I wrote a couple of stories in early 2000, but didn’t join the platform, because I balked at paying $50. It was a poor decision. I wish I’d gone all-in right away. But I finally did in late February 2022. I decided I’d work at it and see what I could do in three months. I wrote stories about my experiences after each of the first three months. Here’s the first one.

I made $25.08 the first month after membership, $56.97 the second month, $77.49 the third, $166.24 the fourth, and $1.166.28 the fifth — which was July of 2022. From there it’s been up and down. My goal is $1,000 per month, but it has not always happened.

2 — You mentioned earning $1,200 in September. How do you decide the topics for your stories? Are they driven by passion or analytics?

I write down story ideas whenever they occur to me. I use the Notes app on my phone. I come up with nutty ideas and jot them down. I have hundreds of these story ideas on my phone! Sometimes it’s something I say and my husband says, “Write that down!” He’s my biggest fan.

Every night, he wants to listen to the story of the day when he gets home. I feel bad if I don’t have anything new from that day! This goes back to my column-writing days — I have been in the habit of looking for ideas and writing them down for decades. If you don’t write them down, they will go away and will never come back.

I never decide what to write on the basis of SEO, but I do consider SEO once I have the story. When I pick the five reader topics and the SEO description, I sometimes realize, “I didn’t even use the word X once, and that’s a pretty obvious keyword!” so I get back into the story and add that keyword somewhere near the top.

I put a lot of effort into writing my headlines. I think Medium has a lot of very good headline writers. It’s an extremely different process from writing good headlines for a printed newspaper. Entirely different!

3 — You said some stories take much longer than three hours to write. Can you share an example of a story that was particularly challenging but rewarding?

This one was more like reporting, almost, although I did not do any original reporting. Some friends of mine who are still journalists did cover this one.

That story was near and dear to my heart. I worked in newsrooms much like that one.

I did do original reporting for this story.

I showed up to a protest, shot a video, took pics, etc. Felt like the good old days!

4 — You received five Boosts in September. What differences have you noticed between Boosted and Unboosted stories in terms of engagement and earnings?

  • “How the 30-Second Rule Is Changing Culture” deserved a Boost but did not get one. It had 450 views, 349 reads, and a 78 percent ratio as of Oct. 5. It has earned $24 so far. (all as of right now, Oct. 5)
  • This “One’s for All the Weird Kids Who Faked Being Normal” did get a Boost. It has 872 views, 593 reads, and a 68 percent read ratio (at the same time of viewing). It has earned $81.
  • “Look Out, Guys. There’s a Man-Hating Feminist Right There!” was not Boosted. It got 361 views, 356 reads, 71 percent ratio, $16.
  • “An Icky Explanation for Why We Don’t Compartmentalize Men the Way We Do Women” was Boosted. It got 4.5K views, 3.2K reads, 71 percent ratio, $325 earnings.

It’s impossible to know how much more a really good unBoosted story might have done if Boosted, and how much a Boosted story would have gotten with just organic reach.

And I’d REALLY like to know that!

5 — How do you feel about the inconsistency of getting views, reads, and good money? Does it affect your motivation to write?

I’m not independently wealthy — not by a long shot! I have spent a fair amount of my life in poverty. Sometimes I’ve crept into the middle class and I think I’ve crossed the border into that area again now. I have to earn money with my writing. I’m always going to write something, whether I’m paid for it or not, but the goal is to get paid for it.

That said, I won’t just write crap for money. I want everything with my name on it to be as good as I’m capable of making it.

6 — Can you talk more about your personal perspective on “doing well or failing hard” on Medium?

I want the people who like my work to find me, and I want to earn a least a little money by doing that. That’s always a challenge.

I know I have an audience that does like my writing, but it’s not always easy to find those people. Making money is secondary. I could earn more money by getting a job at Target or even McDonald’s than I make writing, and maybe I’ll have to do that someday. For now, I am making just enough to manage — my husband has a full-time job with benefits, so that helps, but he is not a high earner, either.

We live a pretty simple lifestyle. We drive old cars. We have an old house. We don’t have a dishwasher or a dryer. I hang up all my laundry. I cook our food from scratch. My husband misses European bread, so I make homemade sourdough for him. I am extremely thrifty with one big exception: We spent what was for us a lot of money on an espresso maker, and it makes us happy every single day!

I paid for it with my best-performing story ever, the coffee story pinned to the top of my page. I think of that story every single time Harrie makes me a cappuccino!

Thoughts? Let’s discuss them in the comments. Michelle and I are happy to interact with you.

Want to continue reading (& watching) and see all Boosted stories?

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