Tuesday, March 23, 2021

My Medium Year

Last year I got serious about humor, and I finally started experimenting with publishing at Medium

By humor I mean short, funny pieces that function as...humor. I'm not talking humorous short stories or humorous essays or humorous children's books. Or screenplays or plays or any other kind of humor. I'd been thinking about dipping into humor for a while. I was undeterred by the pandemic, which many people do not find funny at all, because I am very goal-oriented. While writing humor wasn't an actual goal or objective for 2020, short-form writing was. In fact, one of my humor pieces from last year came out of a flash fiction workshop I took last summer.

One of the issues with humor writing is where to publish it. Not every publication wants that sort of thing. In looking for places to publish, Medium, which I'd heard of before, kept coming up. 

Unfortunately, in the past I'd had trouble understanding what Medium is. So I combined my humor/short-form writing interest with experimenting with Medium.

What Is Medium?

When I first started hearing about Medium, I thought it was a publication, an on-line magazine. I understand publications/magazines/journals. I kept trying to think of it that way and wondered how writers would submit work to it.

However, Medium isn't one publication. Medium is a publishing platform where anyone can publish in a number of different ways. A medium is a method of dispersing information, which might explain the name. I find it helpful to think of Medium as a publishing world, the way there is a traditional New York City publishing world and an academic publishing world. Like publications, I understand those things. Medium's publishing world is just on-line. I may be totally wrong in that thinking, but I find it helpful, nonetheless.

The Most Basic Way Of Publishing On Medium

The simplest way to publish on Medium is to just write something and publish it there. That's how I began my Medium experiment.

  • I had to create an account, which was free.
  • You publish by placing your piece of writing into Medium's format/template. This took a little effort on my part, but many things in life are difficult until you know how to do them. 
  • I needed an illustration. Medium provides suggestions for places to go for free photos, but in this case, I took my own. I found fitting the photo in correctly difficult, but, as you all know, I have an in-house computer guy. He worked it out for me.
  • On May 25, 2020, I published Well, How Many Masks Have You Made? directly on the Medium platform. 

I would describe this level of publishing on Medium as the equivalent of self-publishing, and it has the same drawback that self-publishing is famous for--it's difficult to get attention for your work. There are supposed to be over a million new articles posted on Medium every month. That's a lot of competition. Publishing on Medium like this may mean that the only people who will know about this article are those I reached with Twitter and Facebook notifications or through this blog. 

Another Level of Publishing On Medium

Remember how I originally thought Medium was, itself, a publication? Instead it is a publishing world (platform) that contains many publications that individuals have started and maintained. In 2019 there were supposed to be over 8,000 of them. Some traditional publications have created an on-line presence on Medium. But so have individuals. I could have created a publication on Medium for my humor writing. Instead, I decided to submit to humor publications already existing on Medium. There are quite a few of them. 

  • My impression of the publications on Medium is that some are quite selective in what they accept and some may be less so. Some are very focused on one theme. Some seem to be interested in specific styles. As with any other kind of submission, you need to spend time reading publications before you spend time submitting. And there are a great many on Medium.
  • With most Medium publications I've dealt with, you submit by placing your writing in the Medium format/template (see above) and saving it as a draft. You send a link to the draft with your e-mail submission to the publication editors.
  • If your work is accepted, the editors will notify you and add you as a writer for their publication. You'll find that notification in a drop box on your draft page, and you can then publish directly to that publication. 
  • At the end of last year, a Medium humor publication accepted one of my pieces, and on Dec. 2, 2020, I published Dear Pastor Bill at The Haven. (Photo by Brett Jordan on Pexels)

The benefit of publishing on a Medium publication is getting attention for your work. The publications already have a following, so your writing will be seen by more than just your own friends and followers. Additionally the publication will do some promotion at places like Twitter. And you now have another publication credit. For the immediate future, I don't plan to publish directly to Medium myself again but to submit to Medium publications.

The Payment Level

Yes, you can earn some money publishing on Medium. I shouldn't describe this as another level of publication there. I could have joined its payment system right away. However, as I said earlier, I found the Medium publishing world a bit complex, so I began by doing just one thing at a time. There's no reason anyone has to do that. You can sign up for the Medium Partner program immediately.

How you make money on Medium:

  • Anyone can read a limited number of Medium articles each month.
  • For $5 a month, you can become a member and have unlimited access to articles. By the way, if you're interested in publishing on Medium in some way, I'd suggest becoming a member so you can spend plenty of time checking out publications and see what other writers are dong there.
  • When  fee-paying members read your story, a tiny portion of their monthly fee goes to you, the writer. Payment is based on readership. You don't get a flat fee.
  • You need to join the Medium Partner program to generate these payments. If you just publish there, as I did with my first two humor pieces, you get no payment. You still gain the opportunity to put your writing out in front of people and try to generate an audience, but no money. 
  • It took me an hour or two to sign up for the Medium partner program, because I am slow. As part of joining, I also had to join Stripe, a company for processing payment on the Internet. It appears to be a middle man between Medium and its writer/partners. 
  • You will also need to give Stripe access to a bank account that it can deposit your payments into. This could be a source of anxiety for some people. It certainly would have been for me, except I happen to already have a dedicated account for receiving writing-related payments. Hurray! 
  • I was a member of Medium's partner program by the time I submitted my third humor piece to a publication. On Feb. 2, 2021, I published  My Child Doesn't Watch You Tube And Yours Shouldn't, Either at Frazzled. (Another one of my photos. Yeah, that's my living room.)
  • I also placed my two earlier pieces in the partner program.

Okay, admit it. You want to know how much money I've made, don't you? I believe it was $2.61! I don't know if that was all earned by the most recent published piece or from all of them. 

Is The Experiment Over?


No. Though I have read that there are writers making money on Medium, certainly more than $2.61, my interest in publishing there is to find and build an audience for my humor--and perhaps other kinds of adult--writing. I attended a virtual book launch recently for Fast Funny Women, edited by Gina Barreca. Barreca said, "Finding your audience means being promiscuous with your work." (I'm going to be repeating that quote regularly this year.) I'm going to try to do that on Medium.
So the next phase of my Medium experiment will involve finding and broadening my audience and then trying to move out beyond Medium with my work.
Initially, I will be:
  • Writing more humor that I can then submit
  • Researching humor sites and humor writers on Medium and following them in order to keep up on what's happening at the sites and with what the humor writers are doing with their work.
  • Researching other Medium publications where I might submit other kinds of short-form writing.

Stay tuned.

1 comment:

Patricia D'Ascoli said...

This is great! Thanks.