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One Single Medium Story With 40 Million Views & 247K Claps

How much did it earn & will this ever happen again?

Medium is a strange place, isn’t it?

In recent history, we’ve seen popular writers with tens of thousands of followers complain about dwindling views.

We’ve witnessed huge publications close their doors after Medium discontinued funding for them.

We’ve noticed big-name writers leaving the platform.

On the other hand, we’ve learned about success stories like making over $19K from a single story, or winning the Writers’ Challenge for a grand prize of $60K.

The article

Then, there’s the following story. The most-viewed article on Medium in 2020. I wasn’t aware of this one. I wasn’t here in 2020.

But it’s a fascinating story for three reasons.

  1. It’s a 26-minute read. Yeah, you read that correctly. 26 minutes!
  2. With his story, the author Tomas Pueyo has gained the attention of medical professionals and healthcare organization worldwide. He’s been featured everywhere, and the story has been shared all over the internet.
  3. As amazing as the stats sound — 40 million views & 247K claps — as far as I’m aware, Tomas’s Medium story is free! Meaning, he hasn’t put it behind Medium’s paywall. We’ll come back to this.

Let’s dive deeper first. This is the article:

Coronavirus: Why You Must Act Now
Politicians and Business Leaders: What Should You Do and When?

The topic

What else could it be about than the most talked about subject in 2020? COVID-19. Tomas’ article is a comprehensive, detailed, and educational research piece about COVID-19.

Since then, Tomas has published more articles about Covid. The crazy part? Another of his Medium stories which is even longer at 29 minutes became the 4th most-read piece on Medium in 2020 with over 20 million views.

That’s 60 million views in one month, March 2020 to be exact. And he wrote more posts with views in the high hundred thousands.

The aftermath

It doesn’t stop there. With the success of his Corona articles, Tomas has built one of the largest Substack newsletters, currently ranked #5 in Technology with thousands of paying subscribers at $10/month each.

Moreover, Tomas has written a book and a series of articles on storytelling structure, followed by a TEDx Talk on the topic.

It’s safe to say, Tomas has built a successful writing business. With the help of Medium and Substack.

Final thoughts

Apart from his obvious success and enormous talent as a writer, I have some observations and burning questions on my mind.

#1 Money

60 million views, or even more if we count the other stories with hundreds of thousands views. What could he have made through the Medium Partner Program, had he opted to put these stories behind paywall?

A quick calculation with my average earnings on this platform per 1000 views tell me that he could have made a whopping 2.04 million dollars!!!

Yeah… 60,000,000 / 1000 * $34 = $2,040,000

Hold your horses, though. If he had published his posts behind paywall, they wouldn’t have gotten that many views. After all, most of the readers weren’t Medium members. Nevertheless, he would have made a fortune via Medium alone.

A lesson: Free content is valuable! I’ve learned that as well.

#2 Luck or planning

Was Tomas’ success a matter of luck or calculation? I’d love to ask him that.

I suspect a bit of both.

Generally speaking, this success story is a testament to trends. I often preach, if you want to succeed on Medium or on other platforms, it helps to create trendy content.

It’s what Tomas did. Not to take away anything from his outstanding article and the research that went into it, but it was about the most trending topic of the year. Had he written a similar post about another disease, it wouldn’t have resulted in this kind of aftermath, wouldn’t you agree?

Following trends is nothing bad. Topics are trending for a reason. People are interested in them.

So, again, if you want to succeed on Medium, sprinkle in some trending topics. It helps. It has helped me.

#3 Substack

I mentioned it earlier. Tomas has created a highly successful Substack newsletter called Uncharted Territories with thousands of paying subscribers, following his tremendous success on Medium.

This shows two things:

  1. Substack is freaking valuable. In fact, this is true for newsletter platforms in general. So, start one if you haven’t already! Go to Substack, Revue, ConvertKit, or whatever floats your boat.
  2. Medium is a steppingstone. It’s not the destination, it should be your starting point.

With the help of Medium, Tomas reach grew on Twitter. To over 85K followers. And with that, his subscriber numbers exploded further. It’s all connected.

The bottom line

I love success stories. They show us what works, how luck and careful planning are intertwined, and how a breakthrough on one platform can kickstart everything else. Tomas is an inspiration.

That leaves us with the final question: Will this ever happen on Medium again?

I’m torn.

It could.

The Ukraine war has led to numerous outstanding and impactful stories on this platform, for example.

Then again, a number like 40 million views seems unreal. We surely won’t see this more than once in a blue moon.

The takeaway: Important is not the number of views of this single story or his related ones, it’s how Tomas got there and where it has led him since.

Now, he isn’t dependent on Medium’s algorithm anymore. He writes for his paying subscribers on Substack. Win-win.

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