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Massive Changes To How Medium Pays Its Writers — Are You Ready?

Now claps earn you more money!

By Susie KearleyPublished 7 months ago 5 min read
(c) Susie Kearley

Massive changes to how we are being paid on Medium will be implemented from 1st August. The changes will focus on rewarding high-quality content, giving greater distribution to stories with strong engagement and a high read ratio.

How payment is calculated

From 1st August, payment will no longer be based *just* on member reading time. It will *also* be based on readers’ engagement, including claps, highlights, replies and new followers — people who follow you after reading your story.

Only the first clap, highlight, comment, etc will be taken into account while calculating earnings. The Medium management team are looking at your story’s ability to hold people’s attention, not the scale of your appreciation for the content.

Notably, you will not be paid more if someone claps 50 times rather than once. It is the first clap, highlight, or comment that counts — just the first.

New eligibility for Partner Program

New joiners to the Partner Program will be required to join Medium as a paying member before they are eligible for Partner Program membership (to start earning). The requirement to have 100 followers to join the program will be scrapped.

Existing members of the Partner Program will be given ample notice if joining Medium as a paid member becomes a requirement for them to continue earning on the platform.

Read ratios will change

If a reader leaves a story within 30 seconds of opening it, the writer will not earn from that read time. Read ratio will take on a new meaning — a read will now be counted if a reader spent more than 30 seconds reading your story.

Boosted stories & follower reads earn more

Stories that get boosted will earn at a higher rate, compared to other stories. When people who follow you read your stories the stories will earn more too.

Medium is also tweaking the algorithm to ensure you are more likely to see stories written by people you follow. Those people who follow you will see more of your stories too.

Scrapping the referral program

The referral program is being scrapped. This might not be a bad thing, as it means there is more money to be distributed between writers whose stories are read.

Referral payments from new referrals up to 1 September 2023 will continue indefinitely, but writers will not receive payments for new referrals after that date. The links will stay live, but it’s recommended that you delete the referral links from your stories and profile.

What this means for you

The new calculation for calculating story earnings is:

(Engagement points + follower bonus + boost bonus) x Read rate (adjusted)

Most people don’t gain a lot of followers after publishing. Most of us rarely get boosted. So for most of us this simply means that engagement levels will affect your earnings now.

Buster Benson writing on the Medium Blog says:

“We are committed to incentivizing meaningful, original, constructive stories based on personal experience… the distribution of earnings across authors will not be changing significantly, even though the kinds of stories that earn the most will change significantly.”

What other writers are earning

Interestingly, Buster gives a breakdown of how many people earn more than $10 a month from Medium:

“If we look at all authors earning $10 or more, about 65% earned between $10 and $100, 29% earned between $100-$1000, and 6% earned over $1000. When the new Partner Program logic goes into effect, these breakdowns will remain pretty stable, moving only a percent or so in any given bucket.”

Hot tips!

He does offer some tips to help us succeed, now that the focus is on quality stories:

  • Post high quality stories, reducing frequency if necessary, so you can spend more time on each story. This increases your chances of being boosted and earning more.
  • Readers can actively engage with stories by clapping, commenting or highlighting, to boost a writer’s earnings for that story.

My thoughts

I do wonder whether the fact that reads by followers will earn more, will result in a surge of people following everyone they can, hoping for a follow back. This will result in recommendations that might not appeal to our tastes, adversely affecting the reader experience.

Essentially, it could encourage spam follows and people who aren’t really interested in your stories.

However, the focus on quality content is good. It’s just annoying that some of my best stories are some of my lowest earners, so ‘quality’ and appeal to the readers of Medium are two different things.

In reality, we need to appeal to what Medium members enjoy reading. That is not necessarily the same thing as quality, and sometimes I’ve seen some very badly written clickbait go viral and be well received — despite being badly written clickbait.

So it will be interesting to see Medium’s definition of ‘quality’, how that affects my experience as a reader, and what happens to my earnings.

I have to admit to being a little nervous that my earnings might fall, but there is no justifiable reason for that. It’s just that I’ve only been boosted once, and I haven’t done very well on Medium in recent months, so my confidence in having mastered the platform is lacking.

Maybe the changes will be a good thing in the long term. It remains to be seen. More good quality content won’t be a bad thing.

Partner Program available in more countries

One more thing. I was so excited to hear about changes to earnings, I almost forgot to include information on the extension of the Partner Program to include more countries!

On August 1st, we will expand the Partner Program to accept applications for these additional 12 countries: Brazil, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Gibraltar, Hungary, India, Liechtenstein, Malaysia, Malta, Thailand, and the United Arab Emirates. By the end of the year, we plan to open up to another 50 or so.

That’s very good news for frustrated writers from around the world, who’ve been prevented from joining the Partner Program until now.

Medium’s official blog

If you want to read Medium’s official notification of these changes, see the story below.

© Susie Kearley 2023. All Rights Reserved.


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