Vocal Vs Medium - Battle Of The Platforms
Comparisons After A Year Of Writing On Both Platforms
I have been publishing on the two platforms for just over a year. I am often asked what the difference is and if one is better than the other.
To decide, one needs to look at the different aspects of the platforms.
1. Writing and Formatting
The setup is very similar on both platforms and easy to use. They both allow you to add your own pictures or choose from free pictures on Unsplash. You can also add links to videos and websites.
One key difference is that Medium makes it very easy to import stories from elsewhere, for example your blog. I often publish shorter adaptations of my blog stories on Medium, which helps to direct readers to my blog.
Overall however, the differences are minimal.
Verdict: It's a draw.
2. Publishing Your Work
When you submit your work on Vocal, it gets checked and approved by a member of the Vocal team.
Vocal says they will review or send your story back for edits within 24 hours. I like knowing the maximum time I have to wait. Often the response is even quicker than 24 hours.
Most of the time I submit my work in the morning and by the evening it is approved. That's impressive!
On Medium writers have two options. You can either submit to a publication - more on these a little later - or you can ‘self-publish’.
If you self-publish your work appears on the platform immediately.
However, if you prefer to submit to publications like I do, approval (or rejection) times vary a great deal depending on the size of the publication.
Verdict: This round goes to Vocal because of their quick turnaround on stories.
3. Vocal’s Communities Versus Medium’s Publications
On Vocal, stories are published under different communities such as Wander (travel), Longevity (health and wellness) and Geeks (film, TV, comic books).
As the writer, you choose which category is the best fit for your story at the submission stage. Sometimes I find choosing the category and tricky, but the Vocal team will change it if they think a different one is a better fit.
At this stage you can also choose up to five tags for your story to help get it in front of the right audience.
On Medium, you can choose to submit to a publication. There are thousands of different publications. It is up to you as the writer to research the publications and find the ones that match what you are writing about.
It is also worth checking when a publication last posted a new story since not all publications are still active. Also, not all publications take submissions so do your research.
You must also read the submission guidelines for each publication. For example, some only accept unpublished drafts, whereas others also accept already published pieces. However, the vast majority only take drafts.
It can also take a long while with some publications until they accept - or indeed reject- your story. This is especially true with larger publications, so be prepared to wait. Smaller publications tend to get fewer submissions and are often a lot quicker getting back to you.
Some also give you feedback and editing advice, which can really help when you are new on the platform.
Verdict: Vocal wins another round as the communitites system is more straighforward.
4. Finding Your Audience
I think Medium makes it easier to find your audience, but only if you use the publications. I have experimented with going it alone, and those stories have gone pretty much unnoticed.
Publications have followers, who will see your work. It is an easier way to get your work noticed than going solo.
Medium also allows you to follow individual writers and get notified when they publish a new piece.
Vocal doesn’t have a follow capacity, which makes it harder to know when writers whose work you enjoy, publish a new piece.
Both platforms choose pieces to ‘showcase’ on the front page. Medium calls it curation. They have very strict guidelines on what can and cannot get curated.
Vocal doesn’t have the same strict rules and so far I have had my work picked for the top stories more on Vocal than on Medium.
Vocal also allows you to ask for likes and tips, which is a big no-no on Medium.
Verdict: This was a tough round to judge because Vocal has featured my work more often on top stories and that helps to bring in the readers. However, I have to give it to Medium because my stories have had more overall views thanks to publications' ready-made audiences.
5. Supporting Other Writers
When you read a story on Vocal, you can show your appreciation by giving it a like. You can also leave a tip which goes directly to the writer.
I love the tipping option. It’s a way to show a writer directly you enjoyed their work and financially support them.
For a new writer, receiving a tip is also a huge confidence booster. Someone liked your work enough to pay for it.
Medium doesn’t allow you to tip writers, but you can show you liked a story by clapping for it.
Medium also lets you comment on other writers’ work. This is a great feature, because you can let the writer know not only that you liked the piece, but what it was that resonated with you.
And of course Medium also allows you to follow writers whose work you enjoy.
Verdict: I love the tipping option, but I also love being able to comment on other writers' work. And since Medium has the follow option, they win this round.
This is a great feature that only Vocal offers. There are some publications on Medium that run writing prompts but nothing that is platform wide.
And there is nothing on Medium that offers the winners cash prizes.
Most of the time there are several challenges running. Some are open to all writers, others only for Vocal+ members.
The challenges cover a range of topics and run for different lengths of time. What they all have in common is the prize money. Top three writers win a cash prize. The amounts vary from one challenge to the next.
Vocal is currently running their biggest challenge yet to celebrate a year of challenges. It comes with a grand prize of $20,000.
Verdict: Obviously this round goes to Vocal.
7. Last But Definitely Not The Least: The Money
Vocal’s payment system is so much easier to understand than Medium’s. If you are a Vocal+ member, you earn $6.00 / 1000 reads and those on a free membership earn $3.80 / 1000 reads.
Nice and easy to understand unlike Medium.
I don’t even pretend to understand how your earnings are calculated on Medium. All I know is that it is calculated based on member reading time. The longer members spend reading your work, the more you earn.
Something worth mentioning: you only earn money when paid members read your work. You could get thousands of readers from outside Medium, but it won’t earn you a penny. This irks me.
Vocal is far better in this respect. On Vocal it doesn’t matter who the readers are, a read is a read.
Despite Medium’s complicated system of calculating your earnings, I have made more money from reads on Medium than Vocal.
However, I have earned more money on Vocal and that is thanks to the tipping option.
So thank you Vocal for allowing readers to top writers.
Verdict: Simply because I have made more money on Vocal, they win the final round.
With one draw and four wins, Vocal is the winner.
I find it to be a more transparent platform and prefer their way of working out earnings. I also prefer the fact that every read counts unlike on Medium.
Final note, Medium also limits the number of stories non-paying members can read per month. On Vocal, you can read as many stories as you like without ever paying a penny.
And since Vocal doesn't frown on this...
If you enjoyed the story, give it a like or help a writer out with a tip, however small.
And remember, you can also share it on your social media.