Why You Made $0 on Medium from Someone Who Made More Than $0

But a question first — why aren’t you writing about sex?

Photo by LOGAN WEAVER on Unsplash

In 2018 I decided to see if writing for money was a thing I could do. I write at work, but most of that is technical, bureaucratic, and boring. I’ve been complimented on it, though, so I always wondered if I could. In university, I had also been complimented on my writing to the point where the English Department tried to steal me away from my first true love, the History Department. Maybe they would have turned my head if their form letter was better formatted. My guess is everyone who gets an A in an English course gets one.

The road to erotica

So I googled around looking for things to write, but none of it looked promising. And then I stumbled upon Erotica. Not knowing much about it, I did some reading and downloaded some “best of” erotica collections and started reading. After reading many stories, I thought, hey, I can do this!

Then I bought Publishing Erotica (the Complete Series): A smut writing guide for all skill levels, by Amy Cooper.

And boom!

I was nowhere near ready to be a smut author! Any writing you want to sell means you’re a businessperson, and a businessperson needs to learn the business before they can get their stories to market. Amy’s book set me up for 95% of everything I needed to know about publishing on Amazon. It was smut, sure, but an ebook’s an ebook, and if you don’t know how to make one, and no one else is interested in doing it for you, your story will sit in a folder on your computer, no matter what it’s about.

I picked a pen name, yes, you guessed it, Teresa J. Conway, but I was just TJ Conway back then. I opened a new Gmail, tjconwayauthor@gmail.com, to tell the world I was an author, a new Twitter account, and joined the smut writers there, put up a WordPress blog and bought my own domain name — tjconwayauthor.com, and built an ebook template.

All of that came from Amy’s book, and it took me two weeks to get through before I published my first story. It was a tough two weeks as I tried to learn everything. That was two weeks of intense focus, and I hadn’t even written a story yet! But I thought, what the hell, anyone can write a sex story. And guess what? ANYONE CAN. Let’s just assume you’ve had some of the sex (with another person) first, though. But even then, I’m sure you could!!

Once that was more or less in hand, I wrote my first smutty story, Two for One: Ella at Home. It’s about 5000 words, and I wrote the first draft in about four hours. I played around with it and got it out on November 12th, 2018. In six weeks, I had six more 5000-word stories published and started attracting some attention. And then I stopped.

Changing Gears

Instead, I turned my attention to my first book, How to Cheat: Field Notes from an Adulteress. At 54,000 words, that book sprung from my collection of notes I’d kept as I taught myself how to have an affair. It took me a year to get out, but in the middle of that I wrote a 26,000 word directed research project for my Master’s program and also moved across the country. The book itself was ready in May 2019, so it took five months, but was published on New Year’s Eve 2019!

And then…nothing. I tried advertising my book on Facebook and Twitter but got nowhere. Then in May, my dear friend MonalisaSmiled, went to Medium, and I followed a week or so later. I’d made about $100 on my writings in a year and a half up to that point.

Me-d-ium gimme some!

I didn’t start writing on Medium in earnest until September 2020 because I was finishing my Master’s up to that August, so only managed to put a few pieces out. And so September 2020 is when it happened. I made $101.09! Not only was I a 6%’er on Medium but I doubled 18 months writing income in a month.

It was exciting, and it didn’t even take me two weeks to figure Medium out before I could publish something!!

And it just went up from there. I hate it when people post how much they made from Medium on Medium because I know it makes those not in the 6% feel like they are wasting their time. But you know what? Many are.

The boring is strong with these ones

Tell me exactly how many bullshit writing articles there needs to be on Medium?

  • The Oxford Comma: Love It or Hate, It’s Here to Stay!
  • The Oxford Comma Will Be Your Best Friend If You Treat It Good

Or articles about the money someone made on Medium and how you can too?

  • I Made $932 on Medium Writing About the Oxford Comma: Here’s How I Did It!
  • How to Turn an Oxford Comma into Six Separate Pieces of Content and Make $5000

Or self-improvement articles?

  • An Oxford Comma Pulled Me Out of a Coma
  • Seven Ways the Oxford Comma Will Reduce Your Stress
  • An Oxford Comma Could Have Saved Rachael Ray’s Dog
  • A Zen Master’s Guide to Temporal Shifting the Oxford Comma
  • 23 Oxford Comma Hacks You Can’t Live Without!

When I see people in writing groups on Facebook talking about the pennies they’ve earn, I feel sorry for them. And that’s why I don’t share my earnings too often. For some, it incentivizes them, and they say so, but what about all the others? Especially when I know some of those people are genuinely trying to make a go of it on Medium. The average annual income in Bangladesh is $6500. I could live off my Medium income there if I worked slightly harder than I do now.

I realize that in many cultures, writing about sex is dangerous, so I won’t advocate they do it, but if you live in the west, why wouldn’t you? Making a $1 on your Oxford Comma article might feel good. But when you never make more than that, I hope you realize you could have earned more collecting pop cans on the side of the road, and get this — you’d be just as good a writer as you are now!


The other reason why you don’ t make money is because you have no recognized credibility or expertise in the field you’re talking about.

This clown probably hasn’t been to Oxford, New Jersey, let alone Oxford University, so how the f*&% would he know anything about any comma, let alone an Oxford one?

— thinks the reader as he passes by

Combine that with a boring or lacklustre writing style and you’re dead. Even if you were a good writer, writing without credibility in your subject field will leave you unread.

But sex? If you’ve had it once you’re an expert. It’s that simple.

I’m not sure why she let him put that in there but it sounds intriguing…

— says the reader as he settles in to learn more with his box of Kleenex drawn nearer

I get it; you don’t write for the money! Blah, blah, blah. Guess what? Neither do I, but I still get a little thrill out of seeing a few extra hundred in my bank account! I make hundreds a month now, and it’s not enough to cover my tv/internet/cell bill, but neither would a $1 from an Oxford Comma article that no one read.

If you want to make triple-digit money on Medium and aren’t an expert in a field anyone is interested in, write about sex. Find a sexy niche you like and niche down further as you go for it. Sex and Satire is a great pub to get into because you don’t even have to be serious there!

My best performing article was published there, and it isn’t even sexy! It’s just me ripping apart a bunch of men’s dating profiles and messages for shits and giggles.

Note – this story has made over $2100 since the time of writing (Screencap: Author)

Even bad sex stories are good

The other thing about sex writing is your erotica doesn’t even have to be that good! The sexy crowd is very forgiving once you’ve managed to give them a boner! Some of them are just looking for a nice one-handed read to start the day or put them to sleep at night. If you’re showing improvement they’ll put their reticence about your inability to use an Oxford Comma aside, and come back for more!

But wait…there’s more!

This is the most important lesson of all.

Writing an erotic story or on a sexy topic is no different than writing any other story. Writing a non-fiction sex piece is no different than writing any other non-fiction piece. Stories follow a pattern, and if you follow that pattern, you’ll become a good storyteller. Steven Pressfield’s book, Nobody Wants to Read Your Shit, is very clear on this point.

Any poorly told story is a bad story!

Why is this important? If you want to become a better writer and are using Medium to do it, you likely aren’t getting the feedback you need on your Oxford Comma masterpieces. Readers will tell you what’s good and what isn’t, and if you are making pennies it’s pretty simple — your story is no good. Period. Why? Because nobody wants to read your shit!

You need reader feedback. Having no feedback is feedback. Just not the sort you’re willing to accept, but this is what it means:

It’s not interesting, compelling, or well told; or you don’t have the credibility in the field to pull it off.

— Teresa (yes, I just quoted myself. Did I mention I’m a top writer in humor?)

Compare and contrast my top three most read stories, with my bottom three:

(Screencap: Author)
(Screencap: Author)

Notice any differences between their popularity and their headlines? I’ve made about $2400 on Medium between 1 Sep 2020 and 30 March 2021, and I can tell you with evidence to back up my claim, it wasn’t writing about writing that did that.

Take Barack Obama; now there’s a sexy Harvard man who could pull an Oxford Comma piece off seven days a week! Phew! Roz Warren could do it too.

The Takeaway

Now go and check the tag inside your coat. If your mom didn’t write B. Obama or R. Warren in there, you probably can’t write about whatever you want and expect people to read it — unless it’s sexy.

Writing about sex will do two things for you:

  1. It will teach you how to tell stories people will read, because their feedback will help you get better.
  2. You’ll earn a bit of money while you do.

Those are two things you can actually takeaway from here — right now.

The bottom line is this — do something good for yourself and humanity by writing sexy stories. I’d rather have someone masturbating to my story than never seeing it, and if they haven’t started masturbating to your Oxford Commas yet, guess what?

It’s not them, it’s you.

Join my email list ☞ HERE ☜ and get a free pdf copy of my ebook How to Cheat: Field Notes from an Adulteress.

© Teresa J. Conway, 2021

By Teresa J Conway on .

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Exported from Medium on July 29, 2021.

Author of How to Cheat: Field Notes from an Adulteress, several short stories, I'm active on Medium @teresajconway where I sometimes share my blog posts.

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