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Is it Hot in Here or is it Medium?

What Vocal Writers Should Know About Medium

By Judey Kalchik Published 3 years ago Updated 2 years ago 8 min read
Screenshot of Author's Medium Dashboard

I write for a living, among the other things I do as a career. I write emails, press releases, social media posts, training materials, project plans, website updates, and newsletters. I run several Facebook groups, several Facebook pages, and two blogs, too.


I also write for Vocal since joining Vocal+ in April 2021. I haven't won a challenge but I have achieved three Top Stories, each one quite different from the other:

After only a short time on Vocal I started a Facebook group for Vocal writers, with the key differentiators that writers can post what they like when they like, and readers can join just to read. The Vocal Creators Support Group has grown and become a supportive place for established and new writers to share their posts, ask for and receive support, and celebrate their successes.

I am also a happy member of a LOT of Facebook groups for Vocal writers and encourage others to join and participate. Participation is the key to getting the most you can from any experience and even more so with Vocal Facebook and other writing support groups.


I also write on the Medium platform. I joined Medium tentatively and found it very different from Vocal; it took me a while to get my bearings and this article will explain why I enjoy writing there and why you may want to diversify and add Medium to your writing portfolio.

Pros of writing on Medium

1) Medium has instant feedback. People reading your stories/posts can highlight the lines that are significant to them. When you as the writer view your post you can see the highlighted lines AND the names of the people that did so. Readers can also leave you a comment, which you can respond to. (More about that later.)

2) Medium uses claps, not hearts. Readers can clap for your stories, and each reader can clap up to 50 times on each story. Do you get more money for more claps? No, no you do not. Are a lot of claps fun for the reader to do and make the writer happy to see? Yes, yes they do.

Writers that come from Vocal may clap once and not know that they can clap up to 50 times, so this is a significant difference. If I liked what I read I always clap the full 50 times.

3) Medium allows up to five 'tags' on each post. One of those tags may be mandated if you publish in a publication (see below) but the others should be thoughtfully chosen by you to make them easier to find by a person searching by topic. This is basic SEO, but by no means the limit to searchability and promoting your writing on Medium.

4) Medium has Publications, and publications have editors. This is a significant change for Vocal writers. Yes, you can choose to post your stories on your own and not in publications, and I have done that with a few things. But publications and their editors are something I count as a plus. An editor's involvement varies widely: some give you feedback and suggestions, some check to make sure your photos are attributed and then publish, and some are truly helpful in clarifying your writing.

All Publications are additional avenues to promote your work: some have their own emails to their subscribers, others have monthly compilations of new stories, some pubs even have their own Facebook groups for their writers. I've learned a lot by reading the articles in publications, giving me understanding about how they put together the information and present their topics.

5) You can Import your stories written elsewhere (like on Vocal!) and as long as it is formatted according to Medium standards (Title, subtitle, attributed photo, and the minimum standards) you can post them on Medium. I've found that I edit my stories a bit when I do that, tighten them up, and sometime re-name them.

Just know that when you publish your edited story it will appear on your Medium homepage, and on the story's date, that it was written on the date it was first published, not the date it appeared on Medium. Not really an issue, but unless you know that you may not think it was published at all if you have more than a few Medium posts!

6) You can get subscribers that are emailed whenever you post. You can add a link for people to subscribe and can customize what it says. I have 11 subscribers, and my link looks like this (you can use it to subscribe if you like!):

7) Affiliate links create a recurring monthly payout for you. If someone joins Medium from your affiliate link you get half of their monthly fee every month that they are a member. You can add that link to your posts any way you want, but you do need to tell folks you profit from it. I have 3 referrals so far and just started making that option available on posts in November 2020. These will bring me $6.55 each month. I do NOT make $6.55 a month on Vocal.

The good news is that it doesn't cost them any more to use your link than to join off the street. And, oh yeah, medium is FIVE DOLLARS a month, and if you pay the whole year at once it is $50. That is basically buy 10 months and get two free.

Here is my affiliate link: and if you are thinking that Medium is for you I'd appreciate if you used it to join. When you add your like to a post it looks like this:

* * * * * * *

Scary Stuff for Vocal-to-Medium Writers

OK, so maybe not frightening-scary, but different-scary.

1) Medium only pays for reads by Medium members. As a reminder: Vocal pays you for all reads, so that could scare you off. It DID make me think twice before taking the plunge.

The actual pay is on an algorithm, which I will attempt to explain using my own words: the writer is paid according to the reading time of the member, both based on the time they spent of your piece and the time the spent reading on Medium that day.

What that means: a Medium member that pops in and reads just your 3-minute long piece and then reads nothing else will pay you more than a member that reads your piece and then hops around to 20 other pieces on the same day. It tends to even out, and I don't have a way to see who does what. It just is.

2) UPDATED! Medium now has a Tips prompt that the writer can activate. And, many people ask folks to 'Buy me a coffee' at the end of their stories, including a link to the app of the same name.

3) Non-member reads earn you NO money. Zip. Nada. That is very different from Vocal! I have a post with over 283 views and it has earned me 65 cents. That's because most of the views are from non-members. And I am fine with that! That's because I made sure I had my affiliate/referral link on it, and who knows, they may join. They may also choose to share my article and Medium members can find it. So: it's all good. I even wrote an article about it as compared to the one article I wrote that went crazy-viral and has earned $585 dollars in the past 30 days with almost 12,000 views and 88% of those views are medium members. Here is post I wrote about those two stories and how I worked through it (86 views and 44 cents earned):

And here is that viral post.

4) Writers need 100 followers and at least one published post before they can apply to join the Medium Partner Program. Existing members, those who had joined the MPP before this rule in the last half of 2021 came into effect, have until the end of December to reach 100 followers or they will not be able to remain in the MPP and will need to re-apply once they reach the follower threshold. There is no time limit by which a new writer needs to accumulate their first 100 followers before they can apply to join the MPP.

This rule has led to the expected 'follow me and I will follow you' posts. But I tell you right now, don't sweat it. If you engage with the platform and other writers, if you create quality writing, you can do it in under two months. This is the chart, from Medium, that shows my followers and the monthly changes.

from author's Medium stat's page, a screenshot

I wrote an article about what I did to engage with the platform, find publications, and follow writers with which I connected. Don't be scared off by this requirement! Here is the article (127 views, $2.75 so far)

Odds and Ends About Your Medium Backstage Analytics and Options

1) You have access to a 'friend link' to any of your stories. Since non-members are capped at 3 reads a day you can use that link to share your writing with Mom or Dad (but explain that if they join- or if you get them a gift membership, which is also an option on your dashboard, it will earn you some money, too).

2) You can see where your readers originated and the topics that those readers indicate are their top interests. Here is a clip of the stats for that viral article to show you what I mean; and you can see that I have shared in on LinkedIn and Facebook, driving traffic to the post.

screenshot of author's Medium dashboard

3) You can become a Top Writer. I received two emails from medium each letting me know that I had achieved Top Writer status on a topic as well as a listing on that Topic's page. Also, people searching for posts on those topics are more likely to see one of my stories. I am a Top Writer in Mental Health and Life.

4) You can engage directly with your readers by thanking them for their comments and answering questions. I've found that readers frequently check out those conversations since I get notice that they have 'clapped' for some of my responses. Keep that in mind: everything you write and every interaction that you have (or don't have if you don't interact) tells the writer something about you.

In conclusion

I do encourage Vocal writers to maximize their content by writing for Medium. The cost is half the amount per month that we are spending on Vocal and there is a LOT of room there for exposure and financial rewards.

No need to scroll up for my referral link! Here you go- and Pro Tip: It also makes a great gift for folks on your holiday list!

I suggest you take a disciplined approach to it, and of course that you use my link to join! Read and include the steps in the article above (8 Steps...) to reach your 100 followers. Import your stories from blogs, Vocal, and other platforms.

I also encourage you to stay with Vocal and get that support and feedback from one of the many Facebook groups out there to do just that. PLEASE read the rules of each group before joining and/or before posting! My group doesn't have many rules (no link-bombing and be nice), but some have specific days to post different topics, some don't have any posts allowed but encouraged discussion and q & a, other will amplify your social media posts that you make yourself for your Vocal posts. Explore and have fun.

I hope you let me know when you are writing so I can clap for you!


If this story spoke to you please click on the heart below and leave me a comment so I know it clicked with you.

You can read more on Vocal here.

You can find me here on Medium.

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About the Creator

Judey Kalchik

It's my time to find and use my voice.

Poetry, short stories, memories, and a lot of things I think and wish I'd known a long time ago.

You can also find me on Medium

And please follow me on Threads, too!

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Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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Comments (8)

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  • Leslie Writesabout a year ago

    First of all, I am a sucker for a good pun title! LOL This article is very helpful! Thank you so much for sharing your experience. It is very encouraging. <3

  • ARCabout a year ago

    This was helpful in ways I was not anticipating. Thank you for sharing your wisdom!

  • Rajkumarie Deviabout a year ago

    Thank you for the info :) in the process of considering whether or not to join Medium.

  • KJ Aartila2 years ago

    Thank you! This article is so informative. :)

  • Atomic Historian2 years ago

    Another great article! Thank you, Judey

  • Heather Hubler2 years ago

    I appreciate the thoughtfulness and layout of this article! I do publish a little on Medium, but I haven't found it to be as good of a platform for fiction short stories (or maybe I'm doing it wrong...that could absolutely be the case). I've mostly put articles and poems on there so far, but maybe I will try to branch out. I am a paid member on Medium as well as Vocal. Thanks for all this info!

  • Emby Lat2 years ago

    I was checking the email that Vocal.Media sends out, seeing how it now only recommends Vocal+ users, there is a section called: "Creators We're Loving" and there was your profile. I read this article. I think it is one of the best comparative articles between Vocal and Medium. It seems to me that other writers kind of don't express everything they know for fear that Vocal will reject their article, or maybe I haven't seen them because they have been rejected before.

  • Shelbi Thomas2 years ago

    I was scared to join medium too, but I think you convinced me!

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