Medium is like YouTube but instead of having videos, you have blog articles.
If your articles are good enough, they can earn you some money.
Here are the five articles that made me the most money.
1. Dan Bilzerian Just Killed His Brand: $1,181.41
This is awkward.
This story is my highest-grossing article and it’s not even true.
Like most media publications, I fell into the PR trap and figured out a few weeks too late that Bilzerian hadn’t gotten married at all.
So, why didn’t I retract the story?
First, it was working well. My viral article ratio is roughly 1/20, so I wasn’t going to delete it given the fact it wasn’t hurting anyone.
Second, the story isn’t so much about Bilzerian killing his brand as it is about him building his companies and online presence.
He’s one of the best marketers in the world and employed unique tactics to be so.
If you ask me why the article worked well, I HAVE NO IDEA.
It’s not particularly interesting, groundbreaking, or revolutionary.
I suppose it’s a just a topic everyone is interested in because:
- Everyone knows who he is.
- Everyone wants to see him fail because no one believes it’s fair to spend your life having sex with hot girls and spending money on jets and parties (money most people believe is inherited which was a false rumor Bilzerian himself started at the beginning of his poker “career”, but no one knows that because bothered to investigate).
Ironically, you can make lots of money off Internet haters.
In total, my stories about Bilzerian made me roughly $1500, so it’s a topic I’d recommend writing about.
2. 5 Books the World Economic Forum Doesn’t Want You to Read: $1,087.52
Most of the time, the pieces I thought would crash did well, and the other way around.
This isn’t the case here. I knew this article would do well, but not to that extent.
I got the idea to write about this when I saw the immense response I got from writing the summary of “The Great Reset”.
It had sent my blog to the top of Google and tens of thousands of people read the article on Medium.
I also knew from Twitter that lots of people were freaking out about this topic.
So I wrote a semi-serious article mixing the WEF with my niche (books) and Klaus Schwab as a supervillain (role he plays extremely well).
Lots of people took the article too seriously but I assume most understood its comical tone.
I also wrote this article extremely quickly as it was more about having fun than anything else (the books I offered weren’t so great and did not have much to do with the WEF).
I have tried to reiterate the experiment since then but all of my WEF articles crashed. Half of me believes it’s due to the algorithm.
The other half believes virality is a one-time thing.
I can live with that.
3. Why I Quit My $1.2 Million Engineering Job to Start My Own Business at 24 Years-Old: $1,031.16
The most powerful marketing principle you can use to write online is positioning.
Positioning consists of figuring out what people think about a topic and saying exactly that (and if the topic is new and emotionally charged, you help people achieve catharsis and become super viral).
I got the inspiration to write this piece after I read how an entitled Netflix engineer quit his $450k Netflix job to begin writing on Medium.
So many people were angry at him in the comment that I saw lots of catharsis potential there.
So I wrote a parody.
Took me roughly two hours, from 00h00 to 2h00 in the morning.
I was happy with it and decided to hit the submit button without double-checking the next day (which is why there are so many grammar mistakes).
The editors of F*ck Niches published it extremely quickly and the story went viral.
I later figured out it was due to positioning.
Everyone was tired of these privileged jerks quitting jobs most would kill to get.
All I had to do was to express this feeling.
NB: Another reason why it did well is that I had so much fun writing this piece, and I think people could feel that when reading it.
4. Ray Dalio’s “The Changing World Order” Is One of the Most Important Books Ever Written: $867.80
There are a few people that are click-magnets (Bilzerian, Peterson, etc) and Ray Dalio is one of them.
The reason why this article did well is that:
- Everybody knows who Ray Dalio is and most people are interested in what he says.
- Everybody knew he had a book coming out but it was so huge that nobody had the courage to read it (barrier to entry).
- The book talks about decadence, one of the highest-grossing niches monopolized by a clownish vampire (IYKYK).
I did not expect more than $50 on that story but it did well.
Writing about information located behind a barrier is simply one of the best strategies you can use.
That’s why self-development articles suck. Everyone can write them.
But not everyone can write about Ray Dalio’s book because…you need to read it first.
5. Don’t Move to Estonia: $680.08
Early September 2022, a sad and frustrated Aure sat at his favorite café to write an angry and vengeful article called “Don’t Move to Estonia”.
He subsequently ended up in the national news and had to issue an apology.
This article is one of my biggest f*ck up and among the ones that taught me the most.
I didn’t write the article because I thought someone would read it.
I wrote it to vent.
In fact, I told my friend the day I wrote it: “I wrote an article called Don’t move to Estonia today, I feel better now”.
Out of the 450 articles I have written online, this one was the only one where I expected to receive zero views.
It did not deliver any value, it did not interest anyone (supposedly), it wasn’t entertaining, and all I did was complain.
So obviously, it ended up being my most-read article ever.
I explain this due to three reasons:
- Estonia has an excellent reputation abroad. If someone tells you not to move there, there must be something valuable there.
- I wrote a very “emotional” article with simple words that anyone can identify with.
- The article went viral throughout the entire country, feeding the Medium machine.
I did delete the article after it got 20k views (and 14k reads) because it was too much and issued an apology.
Then I reinstated an edited version of it a few days later, with several notes in the comments.
While it’s nice going viral for good stuff, you really don’t want to go viral for bad stuff.
I got recognized a few times in Estonia which is why I ended up changing my pictures everywhere on the Internet.
Nothing like the comfort of anonymity.
- Use positioning when writing content aka say out loud what people think (or cannot articulate).
- Look for catharsis potential in new, emotionally-charged topics.
- Write about stuff located behind a barrier.
- Have fun writing it.
It took me six months of writing before I made something like $12. Now, I have earned an unreasonable amount of money writing idiocies on Medium.
I do realize how insane it is and how privileged I am.
I also know this won’t go on forever — and I don’t want it to either.
I’d hate myself if I had to write 150 times the same article about the best money tips, so I’ll write here until I am sick of it — or until they ban me.
Might as well enjoy it while it lasts!
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