Do You Write on

quill and paper

A few bloggers I know write on, while others (like me), have tried and then stepped away from Medium. So let’s chat about why people may or may not want to write there.

For those who aren’t familiar with Medium, it’s a writing platform created by Ev Williams, who was one of the founders of Twitter and Blogger. It’s got a mix of people doing personal blog-style writing, big-name writers, and large Medium-run publications paying people to write high-quality content.

How it works

Part of the appeal is that you can make money off of your content based on how much interest it gets from readers.

Anyone can publish on Medium, but non-members can only read 3 articles that are behind the paywall per month (unless the author of a particular article has given them a friend link they can use for access). People who want to be more active on the platform can become members for $5/month or $50/year.

If you want to make money off your writing, you need to join the Medium Partner Program. They’ve recently added some eligibility criteria, like needing to have 100 followers and remain active on the platform. You can join the Partner Program without being a member, but it would be pretty hard to build engagement if you’re not able to interact with other people’s content.

So, where does the money come from? Money from people’s membership fees goes into a pot, and each month, Medium divvies that money up to writers based on a particular metric (the last I checked, they were basing it on read time). That means you get paid a bit when a Medium member spends time reading one of your articles. Because it’s based on divvying up a pot, it’s not a set amount per minute or anything like that.

How much can you make?

There’s a lot of high-quality content on Medium, and I found that people’s reading habits there are different than they are on WordPress. I found community engagement much more difficult on Medium, although I seem to recall someone else saying they had the opposite experience. I also found that my posts that tended to do well on WordPress were not what did well on Medium.

When I was putting a lot of time and effort into writing on Medium, I would sometimes crack the $50/month mark. There was one month I made just over $100 because one particular article had gotten a lot of views for some reason. I found it really time-intensive for the amount of money that I was making.

So, can you make money on Medium? Yes. Can you make a lot? In rare cases, yes; in most cases, not a chance. Given that payment is based on read time, short-form content is particularly unlikely to make much money.

Is Medium worth it?

Is it worth paying the $50/year to be a member? If you’re willing to put in a decent amount of effort, I think it’s probably not too hard to earn back the membership fee. I think the chances of making money without being a member are pretty slim, just because you can’t interact with other people’s content.

Some people are really happy with the community feel that they get on Medium. While there were a few people there that I interacted with regularly and had good relationships with, overall, I found it had much less of a community atmosphere than on WordPress. One thing that I noticed was that it seems like a lot of interaction among Medium writers actually happens on Facebook groups, which I wasn’t part of since I don’t use Facebook.

To make money, you need to have paying Medium members reading your articles. Driving WordPress traffic from your blog makes you diddly squat unless they also happen to be paying Medium members. Medium has recently added the possibility of making money when you refer people who become paying members.

Have you ever contemplated writing on Medium? If you have used the site, what has your experience been like?

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37 thoughts on “Do You Write on”

  1. I was invited to write a post for Medium once, on NSSI back when we still called it “hurting ourselves,” or “self-mutilation.” It’s out there somewhere. It’s too much work. I’m not particularly good at social media. I don’t interact all that well, and I don’t really self-promote. I’m mostly a “toss things out to the ether and see what happens (and then get sad when no work yields predictable results, movie-of-the-week fantasies notwithstanding). This is either exceptionally low-maintenance or exceptionally high, depending on one’s perspective.

    1. I like that on WordPress there’s at least a little bit of “build it and they will come” on WordPress, even if they is only a couple of people. I felt like I had to work hard on Medium to get any engagement, and that didn’t feel very nice.

      1. Exactly. You find people but without the hustle. I don’t like that feeling. It reminds me of high school 😉

  2. Medium has been suggested a couple of times to me one time and after the second time I checked it out, I decided it was a no, because one, if I am to get any benefit from it, I have to pay. I am not at a point where I am prepared to pay for something I don’t know more about.
    The suggestion for Medium was made when I was looking at writing elsewhere, before the change in WordPress editor ever came about.

  3. Magda Regula

    I was thinking about it for a few minutes once 😛 it doesn’t really make sense to me, I didn’t expect to earn much from there because where the money would come from and also I don’t think it’s a good place to build following/raising awareness if people have to pay to read.

    I mean ok, it’s not much but there’s so much free content already.

    1. I think they’ve managed to build a fairly substantial base of paying subscribers, so there are potential readers to be found, but getting your writing in front of them isn’t necessarily easy.

  4. I have a good friend who uses Medium and she heartily endorsed them and encouraged me to sign up. When I found out the cost (which might not seem like a whole lot – until you’re on a fixed income) and then the marketing b.s. (sorry, that’s how I view such stuff) behind it, I was all…no. She sent me a friend link last year to read her stuff so she would qualify for the money. I don’t hear much about it from her now though. So that might say something. And I tried Blogger and did not like their format style. Too worky. Maybe I’m just lazy or used to WP, and I grouse enough, right? 😝 WordPress still works for me well enough. If I ever am motivated enough to truly ‘go professional’, I may have to give that a re-think. Also, the word “Twitter” makes me want to run the other way from any site associated with it. Bleah.

    1. I’m a big fan of WordPress. Despite the annoying bugginess of it, I like it better than Medium or Blogger. And in terms of ease of connecting with a community, I think WordPress is the winner hands down.

  5. Medium is a completely different beast from other platforms. I have relative success with follower gain (sometimes one a week, sometimes 10 a month) but as you say, the community feel is not equal to WP. I am trying less now than I did in the first 6 months (I gave myself a year).

    If I had stuck it out with erotica, I probably would have done well with Medium. But… The group/publication I joined (I was recruited) evolved into something I no longer feel a good fit for, so my time with Medium is limited and numbered.

  6. To be honest,this is the first time ever that I’ve heard or read about medium… I expected a story about a spiritual healing platform, or something along those lines. Turns out I was wrong, and must have lived under a rock. Haha.

    No. Based on your description I don’t think medium has anything to offer me that I can’t find on WordPress. Having said that, I would be happy if there were a better search/filter function here. Or an ‘exclude function’. I sometimes find my suggestions to be overrun by poetry and science fiction, and I don’t write and only minimally consume either of the two. Finding new blogs producing consistent high quality output is difficult…

    Although I don’t mind people making money off their blogging work, I never thought much about it. I think it should not be driving the writing, as it tends to shape it in a negative way.

  7. I have tried Medium back last summer; but only the free side of things and only to read articles not to post anything. I have not visited the site for some time.

  8. I know someone who made a new career via Medium as a base…She also (she says) earned quite a bit of money and what I find funny is that one of the jobs she fell into because of Medium was as a freelance editor (so she says) and her Medium postings are filled with typos, or maybe she really can’t spell, grammar slip-ups, misuse of words etc but then I can be really picky! I’m certainly not going to pay to read someone elses pretentious opinings – I can read my own…

  9. “Given that payment is based on read time, short-form content is particularly unlikely to make much money.”

    I thought the (unscientific) consensus on the internet was that people don’t like to read long articles either. Must make Medium a real grind for freelancers…

    1. Medium seems to be a home for people who read and/or write long-form content. I think perhaps one of the reasons they’re doing quite well is that they’re an alternative to the crowd of short fluff pieces floating around the internet.

  10. I’ve actually earned a couple hundred dollars reposting all the articles I would’ve written on my blog anyway, so Medium wasn’t too bad for me. And as I understand it, you don’t need to be a member to earn too. But then I got tired of maintaining two platforms so I just stuck to WordPress. With new places like Substack coming up, it muddles things up further too. Would love to check it out but don’t really want to spend the energy, lol. Anyway, thanks for this post!

    1. Keeping up two platforms is hard. I’m aware of Substack but haven’t really looked into it. I know I wouldn’t be keen on spending money subscribing to a newsletter, so I find it hard to imagine I’d have readers wanting to do that either.

  11. I have tried Medium. I paid, and I put a lot of effort into creating original content, reading loads of other writing, clapping, and commenting. I did get a bunch of followers… and that translated into maybe 7 bucks in my best month. NOT worth the time! The problem is that I was writing poetry and the occasional essay about some silly thing, and those are not popular. The type of articles that “go viral” are mainly the ones that have titles like: I MADE FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS LAST MONTH ON MEDIUM! Those always get a zillion views. And of course the usual political rants and personal sexual experiences. Bleh. I’m done now, tho my work is still up and I get random new followers, occasionally Medium sends me 3 cents…

    1. The popularity of articles on how to make mega-bucks on Medium was a turnoff to me too. I decided to remove myself from the Partner Program, so I’m no longer getting the passive few cents here and there.

  12. I contemplated writing for Medium but saw a number of articles detailing that less than 1% make anything over $100 a month. The effort needed to put in to even get to that point would be more than I could bear with a full-time job. Plus, the general feeling of the effort being completely useless does not bode one for one’s productivity or mental health. That’s a lot to put in for no return.

    At least with WordPress I don’t feel quite the same pressure to keep up in order to earn. I can be more leisurely and plan my effort a little more. It’s better on my mind, and I hope, the quality of my articles.

    1. I found it was easy to get self-critical about not making into the $100+ a month club. WordPress is better for my mind too, and I think that probably does translate into better quality writing.

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