Paul, we all have our moments of comparison and envy. It’s human nature. But comparing yourself to Shannon Ashley is ridiculous. She writes personal essays, and has a lot of ammunition. Leaving her religion, willingness to write about her sexual experiences, weight issues, single Mom issues, etc. Curators love these kind of topics. Plus anything controversial, or current events.
Creative writing (fiction, humor, poetry, etc.) is simply not valued (much) by Medium. To make any real money, you need to write non-fiction essays. And considering only about 7% of Medium writers make over $100 per month, I estimate (it’s just a guess) that those making thousands per month are about 1 or 2% (maybe less.)
But you can build an audience with creative writing, over the long haul. I’ve been on here 21 month. My follower numbers grew slowly (I never used hacks or imported Twitter or Facebook followers) until I reached 1k in April. Then they picked up steam. I am close to 1.5k now, but still, my largest month so far is $210 (last month.) Which is fine to me. I consider it bonus money for something I enjoy doing.
I will never write essays like Shannon Ashley. I have not lived her life. And I probably wouldn’t share it so openly even if I had. Not everyone is cut out for airing their private life in public.
I enjoy your stories. You are not a failure if having appreciative readers is your goal. Stop envying. Just be Paul. That’s who I want to read.