I began publishing on Medium in 2018, after ten years writing for this platform. The following is one of my guides for Medium writers.
Medium is a platform owned by "A Medium Corporation" where writers can publish articles to share with a community of readers who pay for access. The idea behind this is that it avoids the distraction of advertisements. Revenue is received from paid subscribers rather than from paid ads.
Evan Williams, its CEO, created Medium in August 2012. Ev, as he calls himself, was born in 1972. He previously co-founded Twitter as chairman and CEO. He also founded Blogger, which he later sold to Google in 2003.
How Do Writers Get Paid?
Medium pays writers through their Partner Program, which is optional if you want to get paid for your content. Medium does not sell advertising. They rely solely on paid subscriptions to run the business and to pay authors. Without ads, articles are free of any distractions.
The Partner Program Dashboard shows the detail of how much is earned from each article every day. Medium pays earnings by the 8th day of the month for the prior month.
There is no 30-day waiting period. That’s because they don’t need to wait for ad agencies to pay them. They already have the money from the prepaid member subscriptions.
Writers in the Partner Program can choose to publish any article unlocked to give free access to anyone, or they can publish behind a metered paywall to collect revenue.
The term "metered" refers to the limit for non-members, who can read up tp three articles per month without a paid subscription.
Revenue is distributed from the pool of subscriber’s fees. The amount each author gets is calculated based on the reading time. The longer a reader spends actually reading, the more the author is paid. Therefore, quality is crucial.
If a reader's attention is not held throughout an article, authors don't get paid. The algorithm that determines reading time also detects valid scrolling, so no one can game the system by scrolling to the end without reading.
When readers like an article, they can applaud by clicking a clapping hands icon. Readers can click it as many times as they desire, up to 50 claps, depending on how much they like what they read.
Applause used to determine how much authors are paid, but as of October 29th, 2019, Medium changed the payment method to only go by reading time. I believe this is a better determination of quality.
Applause is still used for the purpose of distribution. The more claps an article receives, the more often it is distributed to a reading audience via email notifications and on the home page.
Medium Members Are Hyper-Engaged Readers
When I started reading articles on Medium to check it out, I found that many articles were locked. So I could only read three of them per month. I felt that I was missing out because there were so many quality articles that I found useful. I was wondering if I should become a subscriber so I could read whatever I wanted.
While I was thinking about it, I began writing on the platform. You don’t need to be a subscriber to get paid for writing. You just need to sign up for the Medium Partner Program to receive revenue.
I found out that over time, writers develop a following of hyper-engaged readers. These are people who are willing to pay $5 a month to have unlimited access.
I made my first five dollars in the first month after publishing a couple of articles. So I decided that I might as well become a paid subscriber as a Medium Member since I was at least breaking even.
It was a great decision. Without the three-article limitation, I discovered there are a lot of great writers on Medium who put effort into writing educational and informative content. I became a hyper-engaged reader myself—reading, commenting, and applauding.
|Medium Membership||Partner Program|
Get paid for content.
How Does Reader Engagement Impact Authors?
As I mentioned, anyone who is not a subscriber can only read up to three articles per month. However, I see a lot of people get hooked and willingly pay $5 a month for unlimited access with Medium Membership. A discounted annual plan is only $50.
That money is used to pay the writers based on reading time, as I mentioned earlier. It does not cost anything when member readers applaud by clapping on articles to show their appreciation.
Claps simply give articles a push to distribution. If an article doesn't receive any claps, it eventually gets lost among better quality and newer articles.
If a writer has a lot of member readers, this can add up just as well as revenue from advertising such as Google AdSense.
Other Perks for Paid Subscribers
Paid membership has other perks besides unlimited access:
- The smartphone app saves content you save in your reading list so it can be read off-line in case you don’t have an Internet connection.
- Some articles have audio narrations that readers can listen to. They’re not robotic. Real people record the audio versions.
How many articles can be read?
Up to 3 per month
Does author get paid when a reader claps?
Can reader reward authors who provide value without extra cost?
Yes. Author revenue comes from all the member fees.
Can one listen to audio narrations?
Can a reading list be saved to read offline?
Yes, offline reading is available with the app.
$5/month or $50/year
Optional Free-Access Friend Links
Writers can offer non-members free access to read any of their articles that are behind the metered paywall. These locked articles include a URL known as the friend link. Friend links can be used for posting on social media, or just when you want to give it to friends or family.
You can see how many views you received through Friend Links on the details page of the stats report.
|Feature||Non-Partner Writer||Medium Partner Program|
Get paid for reader engagement.
Can lock articles so non-members are limited to three/month.
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Can provide free friend link to locked articles.
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Is Medium a Blogging Site or a Content Site?
Rather than posting magazine-style articles that people find via search, Medium is more of a storyteller’s venue. I see everyone calling it a blogging site, although I consider a lot of the content to be individual articles.
Blogs usually follow a structure or a series. Articles that stand on their own merits provide information in a self-contained element. They don’t need to apply to one another. I see that with most of the posts on Medium, so I tend to not think of it as a blogging site. Nevertheless, I think I’m the only one feeling that way.
How Search Traffic and Subscriber Traffic Differ
It doesn’t help much to consider SEO when writing on Medium. That is because organic traffic from search engines does not bring any revenue. Writers only make money when paid subscribers read their articles.
An interesting feature that Medium introduced in October, 2019, is that authors will be paid retroactively for reading time if a reader subscribes within 30 days of reading one's article.
Things are different when you’re not writing with SEO in mind for organic traffic. This table should make this clear. The left column shows you what’s needed to succeed in getting search traffic. The right column shows the equivalent item when considering subscriber traffic.
|Search Traffic||Subscriber Traffic|
Write about any topic. People will find it based on their search query. New visitors will always come along if the article provides useful content that answers questions.
Write for specific niche and be consistent with your topics. Otherwise your followers will be confused. Writing for a relevant publication will help readers discover you.
Titles need relate to search results and clearly show what to expect.
Titles need to capture attention with a meaningful but catchy statement.
Publish on a unique web domain dedicated to the niche to help Google figure out the topic.
Location doesn’t really matter, but specific publications can help readers discover you.
Publish evergreen articles anytime. Quality is more important than quantity.
Publish frequently so followers don’t forget you. But always provide quality.
How Readers Find What They Want to Read
Organic traffic from search engines will still occur, and the stats report shows the amount of traffic from each site or search engine. However, instead of attracting readers based on their queries in search engines, algorithms are used to determine a reader’s interests. It does that by analyzing the level of engagement with specific topics they have been reading.
Curators select great articles that meet Medium's editorial standards, that they recommend to readers based on interest. The stats report shows when a curator has chosen any of our articles.
In addition, Medium has an editorial team that curates writing by professional journalists and authors. They also license content from major publishers. That gives their subscribers outstanding stories to read in an ad-free environment.
Medium Has Partnerships with Top Media Magazines
Medium develops partnerships with media outlets to bring ad-free stories to their readers based on curated selections.
That attracts readers who want access to unlimited articles from other media, although I see a particular bias towards liberal selections. I find it interesting that Medium hasn’t curated more articles from conservative media, but that’s another matter.
Nevertheless, once readers are subscribers, they can discover quality articles written by independent authors as well, such as you and me.
Here is a sampling of media publications that Medium offers to paid subscribers:
- CNN Opinion
- Fast Company
- Financial Times
- The Atlantic
- The Economist
- The Financial Times
- The New York Times
- The New Yorker
- The Washington Post
- MIT Technology Review
- New York Magazine
- Popular Science
- Rolling Stone
Medium Niche Publications
Medium has many niche publications where writers can have their content hosted instead of being on Medium's home site. You have to apply to each one you want to write for and be accepted by the editors.
Why write for Medium publications?
- The benefit to writers: Your articles will be found by readers who are already interested in the subject.
- Benefit for readers: Those who follow any particular publication get to read articles of their interest.
The best way to attract readers is to publish in publications that relate to your niche. Beside some articles in Medium’s home domain, I also have published in The Writing Cooperative, The Ascent, and The Junction.
You can even start your own publication on Medium to develop further ideas you see as needed but under-represented. I found some people who have done that and they are the managing editors of their publication.
Some publications have their own URL domains, but there is no consistency since many of them are in sub-domains under medium.com. Generally, this is not good for Google ranking since mixing unrelated content might be seen as a content farm based on their earlier Panda algorithm. However, since Medium’s readers are mostly subscribers and other followers, this shouldn’t be an issue.
The following is a table of publications that I’ve compiled for you. This is not a complete list, but I’ve included the most obvious ones.
Listing of Medium Publications
The Writing Cooperative
People helping each other write better.
Short Stories, Poetry, Humor, Memoir, Culture, Fiction, and Essays.
People’s journeys creating a better life for happiness and success.
Writers sharing their thoughts on life, living, and of course, on writing.
Life Lessons, Love, Parenting, Personal Growth, and Writing.
Life, Mental Health, and Social Media.
Comics, art, and illustrations.
The Dad Hammer Publication
Fatherhood and parenting. Building the lives of their children.
The Post Grad Survival Guide
Traveling, Freelancing, Entrepreneurship, Blogging, Life lessons, and Relationships.
Little Tales, short stories, flash fiction, poetry, and nonfiction.
The Story Hall
Fiction, poetry, life, art, photography.
Art + Marketing
Stories about how it's made and how it's distributed.
Ecommerce Analytics and Online Marketing.
PS I Love You
Fictional and nonfiction stories about life, loss, and love.
Direct Selling Times
Stories about network marketing.
Stories for entrepreneurs.
The Sensible Soapbox
Content focused on political and social discussions.
Stories by and about hackers.
Stories and ideas about mindfulness, career, creativity, business, and communication.
Lifestyle and technology of blockchain for trade, business, and commerce.
News, insights, and education from leaders in the blockchain industry.
Artificial intelligence, crypto, Blockchain, futurism, big tech, space, and China.
For people who want to learn and learn better.
Expanding the influence of literature.
Human potential and self-improvement.
Live Your Life On Purpose
Health, Life Lessons, Finance, Productivity, Self Improvement
Artificial Intelligence and robots for humanity.
Stories and lessons for entrepreneurs.
Dialogue & Discourse
Opinion articles regarding political or controversial topics.
A Few Words
Articles under 500 words about Motivation, Self-improvement, Relationships, Mental Health, and Productivity.
The Brave Writer
Self Improvement, Motivation and other tips for writers.
Mental health awareness.
Medium’s In-House Publications
In addition to publications serviced by volunteer authors and editors, Medium began creating their own in-house publications for curated articles.
Stories about Love, Life, Poetry, and Writing
Stories focused largely on self-improvement.
The Partnered Pen
Stories about Relationships, Psychology, Poetry, Writing, and Life Lessons.
Scientific, technological, social and medical advances that are changing how we live.
Exploring the human condition through experimental and personal writing.
Explores 30 perspectives about the state of trust.
All about kids and their future.
Who You Should Follow on Medium
You will discover many creative writers yourself, but here are four that I found in my first few days examining the site. I recommend these to get you started:
- I highly recommend following Medium’s founder and CEO, Evan Williams. Follow him (@ev), so you get a good understanding of the platform. I learned a lot from his articles about the mission of a Medium.
- I was also fortunate to discover the writings of Tom Kuegler (@tomkuegler) early in my research of the site. He provides an endless stream of informational articles about Medium. He also started The Post Grad Survival Guide in 2016, one of Medium’s publications.
- It’s also vital to follow the staff publications to stay informed of updates and changes. (@MediumStaff)
Does a Subscription Reading Service Really Work?
Online content publishers who write to earn money do not generally worry about having a following. That is because they get their traffic from search results when they offer high quality, useful information, and answers to the questions people are searching for online.
However, writers publishing on Medium have a different agenda. They need to focus more on attracting a following. Even though search engines do index Medium articles, the only revenue comes from subscribers who pay for unlimited access.
If a reader comes from a Google search, for example, and they are not a Medium member, then they will only be able to read three articles within a month. Then they get blocked from further reading. Also, their claps will not count towards author revenue.
That may entice some people to subscribe, especially when they see the quality of what they read. It got me hooked!
In addition, a good number of people may appreciate the fact that they don’t see ads all over the page and might be willing to pay for the privilege.
The method does work. Medium reported paying nearly $5 million to its writers in 2018, and this money came from paying subscribers. On average, 9.2% of active authors earn over $100 per month.1
The only problem is that writers creating content on Medium need to understand that they don’t make money from organic traffic (such as Google).
To prove it, I have been analyzing the details of revenue in my stats. I have one article that gets 82% of its views from Google. That article makes no money. Another article, that gets 90% of its views from Medium referrals and curated recommendations, is earning money for me monthly.
That makes it clear that a subscription service can work, but it involves the extra effort of acquiring a following.
Comparing HubPages With Medium (In My Opinion)
Medium and HubPages have entirely different business structures:
- You would write on HubPages when you create evergreen magazine-style content to provide search-friendly information. HubPages is not a blogging site.
- You would write on Medium if you have a specific audience you want to attract and you stay focused on writing for that niche. Most people write about their ideas and personal stories. It’s more like a blog.
In addition, a different focus is required to be successful with either platform:
- With HubPages, you have to write in a way that answers people's search queries. That requires an understanding of SEO to be successful. Titles need to relate closely to search arguments, and the article needs to provide what the title has promised.
- With Medium, you have to write what people want to read. You need to write in a way that people are willing to pay for it. Titles are done differently with Medium. Rather than making titles relate to what people are searching, titles need to be catchy to attract attention.
Remember that it’s a different audience on Medium. Readers are generally people who want good things to read, and they pay for it. They are usually not people who were searching for something specific through a search engine.
As another comparison, Maven, that purchased HubPages in 2018, also has a subscription service for access to specific articles.
Besides, magazine’s and newspapers all make an income by selling subscriptions to readers. So we all know it works. It’s just a different animal.
Placing ads on content, such as HubPages is doing, works exceptionally well to produce revenue for content publishers. I can attest to that with over 100 articles.
It works with HubPages for one reason—they place quality articles on individual niche sites, combining content that relates to a single specific topic category. Google likes that. Google doesn’t like websites that combine unrelated content under one roof. These types of sites are considered content farms and most of them have gone out of business.2
Medium does a similar thing with their publications, allowing writers to publish where related content exists. However, writers on Medium get to choose where they publish as long as it's accepted. HubPages lets us suggest niche sites, but it’s up to the editors where it ends up and only if it's good enough. Google notices that and ranks accordingly.
As I mentioned, Medium writers are free to decide where to publish. Many just publish on Medium's home domain. In my opinion, getting into the right publication is the key to success with Medium.
It's clear that HubPages and Medium don’t compete with one another since they each focus their revenue stream on a different method. It all boils down to what writers wish to concentrate on, receiving revenue from ads or making money from subscriptions.
- Medium’s November recap from the Partner Program
- The Demise of Writing Sites: Bubblews, Persona Paper and Niume | toughnickel.com
© 2018 Glenn Stok
Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on July 23, 2020:
Liliane - When writing on a platform that works best with followers, as is the case with Medium, followers might get confused when they find unrelated topics that they were not initially interested in when they decided to follow you.
Like you, I also write about many different subjects. A solution is to separate them by publishing in specific niche publications on Medium.
You might also consider creating your own pub, but that will take time to build a following. However, it could be a worthwhile thing to consider. I have two of my own pubs for their specific niches. I'll admit that's slow going.
By the way, I also publish articles on HubPages where niche categories are curated into specific niche websites. That solves the problem too, and is paid via ads, so organic traffic works well.
Liliane on July 23, 2020:
Very useful and information article. Why do we need to stick to one niche? My primary niche is yoga but I have also went on vacation to an exotic place, had a surgery and other life experiences that I can talk about.
Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on January 18, 2020:
Cholee - I've completed the article with the answers to your questions. Look for "A Writer's 20 Questions About the Medium Publishing Platform" in my profile. You gave me a lot to work with that should be useful to anyone else considering Medium. Thanks for your questions and for your patience.
Cholee Clay from Wisconsin on January 08, 2020:
Do you still find writing for Medium beneficial? I saw your comment from 5 months ago about some of your articles going viral which I totally understand and get the disappointment from that, since like you've said there is no way to get compensation unless some of those readers happen to have a subscription. Do you think you still create a good following to earn enough to make writing/subscribing worth while to you? Do you have outlets you can share on that Medium members can find or do you have to rely on Medium to share and other members finding your work and wanting to follow you?
I'm also curious if you have found that some niche's do better than others? I saw you mentioned poetry would do better there than it does here, and I know you've talked about using their publications, do you find that it's easier to get your articles accepted by their editors, compared to HP's niche sites? Is it better to keep your articles on their home page even though they will eventually disappear? I'm assuming you publish on both of Medium's "platforms" (is that even the right term?).
Could you explain a bit more about the paywall. I don't know if I missed it or am just not understanding it properly. Do you use the paywall? Is there a benefit to having it be on or off, does it depend on the type of content? From my understanding the only reason to have it on is to keep non-members from reading your content is that correct, or am I missing something else?
Last question I promise! Do you find that article length is important? I've only spent a few minutes on Medium, as I remembered some members here are or have tried to write there so I came back here to find some user experience I knew I could trust :) All the articles I currently saw on the home page were under a 10min read with the exception of one. I'm honestly not sure how that equates to how many words an article has, but since you've been on the site awhile I thought you might have some insight into this aspect as well. I will say, I do love knowing how long approximately I can expect to spend on an article before reading it.
I have a very specific niche that I'd like to start writing for again, but I know HP is not the site for it. It sounds like Medium might be worth a try, but I was curious about how you like the site now compared to when you first wrote this article.
I appreciate any more insight you can offer! As always this was a great read and I will definitely be coming back to reference this article as I set up an account.
Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on July 31, 2019:
Liz Westwood - Thanks for your comment Liz. Here’s more food for thought.
Medium has a completely different business model that focuses on revenue from traders who are members, as I mentioned in this article. The problem I’m noticing since writing this review is that we miss out on revenue from organic traffic.
Although that was understood, it became clearly a detriment for me when I had a couple of articles go viral with Google traffic. And, of course, I received no compensation for it.
Liz Westwood from UK on July 31, 2019:
There is much food for thought in this thorough and extremely informative article. You have clearly explained how Medium works.
Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on July 31, 2019:
lgnmendes - Medium has hundreds of publications covering many unique niches. You'll discover them as you read other people’s articles. Then you can apply as a contributing author to the ones that are right for your content.
lgnmendes on July 30, 2019:
This article is very informative. Thank you. I'm actually looking for other publications beside The Writing Cooperative to submit what I've written. I am unable to join the Medium Partner Program because of my geographical location. I'm still writing on it anyway to hone my skills.
Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on May 05, 2019:
Barbara - Thanks for the shout out. I have to correct one thing you said about Medium. The Partner Program is mutually exclusive from the Membership. You can pay to be a member so that you can read unlimited stories. Or you can join the partner program to earn money from other members. Or you can do both.
Joining the partner program alone does not give you membership privileges. The reason why you are able to read more than three stories a month is because you probably are selecting stories that are not behind the paywall or you are following friend-links that bypass the paywall.
Some authors don’t lock their stories behind the paywall, either because they never joined the partner program, or because they write a subject that does not qualify for payment. An example is if one asks for claps, or if one includes a self-promotional link.
You are right that people have found payment to dwindle over time. That's why I mentioned the difference between HubPages and Medium.
HubPages gets organic traffic that continues to grow as search ranking increases. But Medium requires building a following of paying members. If the latter is done successfully, then Medium residuals should grow. I see mine growing. And you contradicted yourself in your last paragraph where you admitted you see your residuals growing too.
As long as you write stellar articles that offer something of value to your readers, get curated, and are evergreen, you should continue to grow a following on Medium and see increased payments month to month.
I agree to not put all your eggs on one basket, which is why I publish on both venues. HubPages is dependent on advertising, and if ad blocking continues to become prevalent on the Internet, that needs to be considered.
Barbara Radisavljevic from Paso Robles, CA on May 04, 2019:
Thank you for this comprehensive article. It saves me a lot of trouble. I'm writing a review of the Partner Program on another site and didn't really want to get into a lot of detail about the site itself. I wanted to stick to my own results. I can now link to this and cut down what I need to say to explain the site for those unfamiliar with it. You will be getting a shout-out.
One thing I don't see spelled out here is that Medium Partners also have the benefits of Medium members. I joined the partner program and still have unlimited reading. Even if I couldn't earn money I've found a lot of really good content to read.
I've been researching, looking for more opinions today around the web from disillusioned Partners who indicate they made money the first month or two, got curated a lot, and picked up some top writer awards and then got no action that third month. One person said he had brought thousands of his own followers to Medium. I think he's the one who deleted all his Medium posts and went back to his own site. He had cross-posted all his posts from his site to Medium so he still had all his original posts.
These people insinuated that Medium lets people make money at first so they will tell their friends who will then join and get good results at the beginning before their earnings taper off. And so on down the line. I'm hoping it's not true, and will keep working until I see a good reason not to. So far I'm happy and meeting new people. Although Medium has changed its policies a lot, it's been around long enough to make me believe it still has a future and won't disappear without notice tomorrow.
I have been active two and a half months now and I've gotten my third payment. Each payment was about double the last one, and if this keeps up I should start showing a profit next month. I've only posted about twice a week. I also put some of my original posts from 2016 behind the paywall and some are making a few cents. I keep copies of everything I post, just in case. I still don't want all my eggs in one basket, especially when the terms of the Medium Partner Program could change any time.
Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on January 22, 2019:
Thanks Aisling. I'll be soon writing a review of HubPages on Medium. Might as well give each equal time.
Aisling Ireland from Savannah, Georgia on January 22, 2019:
Thanks for this article, Glenn. Following the comments (and you) from here on out.
Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on January 19, 2019:
Hi Ronald, That’s a very good question and you indicated the correct answer. I am a discovering that my articles published in publications are doing better than those published on the home site. It definitely is a solution that helps keep your content within the right niche. As long as you use the correct pub with a good following.
As an experiment, I have recently started my own publication on Medium to create a special niche for a subject I am covering with a series of articles.
In a future tutorial, I’ll be writing about the success or failure of having your own publication once I see how it’s doing. I’ve been writing several Medium tutorials over there, same as I do with tutorials here on HubPages.
Ronald E Franklin from Mechanicsburg, PA on January 18, 2019:
This is great info, Glenn. I joined Medium some time ago, but haven't published anything yet. I've been trying to figure out how I would divide my writing between there and HP, so this has been very helpful.
Here's a question for you: you mention that on Medium it's best to stick to a particular topic so followers don't get confused. Do you think a writer can overcome that limitation and address several topics by placing content on some of Medium's niche publications rather than on the main site?
Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on January 13, 2019:
Leah, You’re right. Since articles on Medium are written for a following rather than organic traffic, you do need to keep your readers engaged by written often.
As you know, articles on HubPages that are written as evergreen will continue to bring future revenue. I have yet to discover if my articles on Medium will die after a while. This is still an experiment on my part.
Leah Lefler from Western New York on January 13, 2019:
Thank you for writing this extremely thorough and helpful article about Medium, Glenn. I have considered expanding my writing profile to include this site, and the information you provide is extremely helpful. My current dilemma is carving out enough time to write on a daily basis. I am working toward creating a schedule that will allow me time to write more often, as it sounds like writing for Medium requires frequent articles.
I have bookmarked this article, as I know it will be useful when I do set up a Medium account. Thank you very much for putting all of this together!
Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on January 06, 2019:
Brian Leekley - I’ll try to find you there. I’m discovering that poems do very well on Medium. That might be because it attracts readers who pay to read poetry. Too soon to tell if it’s consistent.
Brian Leekley from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on January 06, 2019:
A few months ago I joined Medium, subscribed, and moved a couple of articles from HubPages to Medium. This article is very helpful—giving me an inkling of how to make best use of Medium as a writer and a reader. Thanks, Glenn.
Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on January 02, 2019:
Heidi Thorne - You have important points that I had been concerned about too. I’m pretty sure claps don’t count if someone didn’t take the time to read the entire article first.
Being a systems analyst, and from a programming standpoint, it looks like they would have included that in the algorithm. Their stats actually show two values: The number of views and the number of reads. It even shows the percentage of people who actually read it compared to just hitting the page and leaving quickly.
For example, if only two-thirds of the viewers stay to read the article, then it reports a 67% “read ratio.” So this calculation can also be used to count claps or not count them. People gaming the system would just be clapping in vain.
As for building a following, I agree with you. It has to be a choice the writer makes. See my last paragraph in my reply to Natalie below, where I refer to that issue.
Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on January 02, 2019:
Natalie - In case you didn’t know, I’ve been following you on Medium the last couple of months and I commented and applauded in a couple of your articles.
I even recommended your Wizard of Oz article in Medium’s Facebook forum, and I saw your views and claps increased on that one just afterwards. I guess that contributed to the $50 you got for December. You can see how much you’re earning, broken down for each individual article, by clicking the details link under any article name in your stats.
I saw those posts about making $1000 on a single article too. Medium reported that it was just one person. I made five bucks on my first article in the first month. That's more realistic!
It was even paid out in the second month. No waiting to reach a minimum, and no waiting 30 or 60 days, as is the case with ad revenue that needs to be collected first. That’s what got me hooked.
As you know, revenue on Medium comes from prepaid member readers, so they already have the money to pay out.
As far as falling off the front page, yes, this is true. But time will tell how important that is. It’s new for me too. But I’m noticing my followers increasing, and they tend to look back on prior articles of mine after finding one that caught their attention. Therefore, it pays to keep active and adding new content. This includes a series, which I’m just starting to experiment with this month. Already published two series. Check them out.
Your other questions are extremely important for people to understand the answers to, so here we go. . .
When you're in the Partner Program, as you are, you paid for comments too, based on claps received on those comments.
You can see how your comments are doing in the stats report also. Just switch your stats report to the “Responses” tab.
Publications do have their own rules, but earnings work through Medium’s financial algorithm. So nothing is different with that. You just need to be sure to post into publications that are fully integrated into the workings of Medium. They make that clear in the details on the signup page on each publication.
Editors of each publication do have differing rules about what is accepted, what they can edit and change with your content, and so on.
Posting in publications helps because you get their following for the ride. However, some publications have a small following, so be careful. Read up on it before deciding on any particular publication.
Medium itself has 90 million viewers per month, so you can just stick to that. However, keep in mind that it doesn’t do well with Google, just like HubPages’ network niche sites do better than the home site. It’s the same thing.
Views count towards earnings too, but only if they read the whole thing. The stats show that. I think engagement pays better than views. That’s when people applaud by clapping. The stats show that as well.
I don’t see any revenue from highlighting. But I do see that when you highlight something meaningful in someone else’s article, some people follow that to your profile. Highlighting displays who highlighted it when you browse over the highlight.
HubPages is definitely a great site for long-term earnings. No doubt about that! They are two different kinds of platforms and what works for one does not work for the other. So I see both being useful.
Medium is useful for those of us who are not afraid to earn only from readers who pay for the privilege and become followers, similar to how Maven works (as we learned last year at the Coalition Conference).
HubPages, on the other hand, is great for those of us who can put attention to SEO requirements and like to write for search traffic.
Thanks for your questions Natalie. I enjoyed answering you (Could have made another hub out of this, LOL).
Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on January 02, 2019:
This is an excellent review of Medium! It sounds like you've got some positive results from your experience there.
My concern with sites like Medium and Patreon is that they are coming in late to the Internet party. What I mean by that is their structures are great models that compensate content creators. But by the time they made the scene, the ad-sponsored model had already been the norm for many years. Changing reader behavior is challenging.
My other concern with Medium is that there's a temptation to game the system, as people game social media. One writer I know suggested that we all get on Medium and mutually clap up each other's articles. Please.
I always wonder how annoyed people have to get with advertising to want to subscribe to a site like Medium.
As you've noted, a site like HP is more search focused. So if that's key for your topic of expertise (as it is for me), then it's a better choice. And, as you've also emphasized, Medium requires building a following. That's an entirely different function that many writers aren't adept at doing.
This was a terrific, in-depth review! Sharing.
Natalie Frank from Chicago, IL on January 02, 2019:
Glenn, I'm so glad you wrote this article. I started writing on Medium about four months ago. I saw a bunch of people who had written abut making a lot of money for a single article in the first month they started there. While realizing these were obviously the exception, I mean if everyone could earn $1,000-$3000 for a single article everyone would be writing for the site! I looked into it some more and saw more modest claims but still decided to give it a shot. The first three months I averaged about $5 a month. Then I noticed a clear increase in engagement - claps went up, as did comments and highlighted text. Still, as you mentioned, only those with a membership would contribute to earnings and if most of those who clapped weren't members I wouldn't see much of a difference. I was pleasantly surprised when I found that I'd earned around $50 this month. This was just putting some articles up, and leaving them, without any effort to promote them whatsoever.
Unless this month is a fluke, it seems that while it may take a bit of time to build up enough of a following, once people find your work and like it you will have a stead group of followers. This is important since, something you didn't mention, Medium only promotes your content for a limited period of time. Without this, your content falls off the front page to the back of the bus and someone would have to actively search for your topic on the site to see it. Also, Medium distributes articles they like based on topics and tags to people following certain areas.
There are still a bunch of things I don't know or understand. For example what does it mean when comments on your articles get claps or your comments on other peoples articles get claps.
I also don't understand how being in a publication benefits you other than being able to take advantage of the publications followers that have already been collected. It seems in some cases I've seen the person who "owns" the publication can dictate how much contributes make which may not reflect the claps you get individually and may be dependent on a percentage of the publications overall number of claps for the month (this may not be accurate - I can't tell as there isn't great transparency around earnings income).
I am also confused about the the algorithm but it is common knowledge they have kept that mostly hidden. It seems that claps are the main factor as there seems to me (from what I can tell) that this is consistently correlated with amount earned regardless of how many views, reads, comments or highlights I received. This is all just my impression as this is just the fourth month I've been writing for them.
I'm still experimenting with the platform to see if it's worth it to spend a lot of time writing for it and becoming more involved in the community. After the earnings for this month I am definitely going to give it a shot for a while. I have come to the conclusion that HP is a great site for long term earnings. It takes a while for an article to gain a following but after it does it generally remains at a certain number of viewers with upticks or continues to gain over time. Medium seems to be a place where articles are more likely to .see the majority or their traffic and earnings over the short run. So it seems there is the ability to earn far more per article in a single month compared to HP but this then falls off after a certain period of time with the potential for followers to increase views slightly each month. I have decided for myself that writing for both HP and Medium seems a sound strategy for now even if it means I publish less frequently on each since I'm writing for both. Thanks for the article! I'll be interested to hear what else you learn about the platform over time.
Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on January 01, 2019:
Thank you for sharing all of the information about Medium, Glenn. This is a very useful article.
Sadhbh Statia from Charleston, SC on January 01, 2019:
Thanks for this article. I keep seeing Medium in search engines but had no idea how it worked or what the process for writers was. This article gave me all that information and more. Great work!
FlourishAnyway from USA on January 01, 2019:
I appreciated this review and especially the comparison. Although I am very happy on HP and it fits for what I do, there are others who have recurring columns who would do well on Medium, I believe. Congratulations on having so many views on HP.
Eastward from Bangkok, Thailand on January 01, 2019:
Thanks for the detailed explanation of Medium, Glenn! I'll keep it in mind going forward.
Angelo from College Park, MD on January 01, 2019:
I appreciate you sharing this. I've bookmarked this article because the substance of your review has caused me to want to investigate Medium for myself at some point in the future.
Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on January 01, 2019:
I never heard of this writing site before and it sounds interesting. I will check it out. Thanks for such a good review,
Happy New Year!