Vocal vs. Medium: Which Is Better For Writers
More than one option to earn from your stories
I stumbled across Vocal by accident, my willingness to give it a try was greatly motivated by my annoyance at the slow rate Medium was curating stories.
Among the topics I write about is Politics and while Medium takes a week or more (their policy allows them up to two weeks), my story may already be old news and meaningless to readers. I published an opinion piece on the morning of March 3rd suggesting Kamala Harris is weighing her options on who to endorse in the race for President. Since then, Super Tuesday results have come in, many national and local political figures have weighed in, Biden has taken the lead in delegates. Senator Harris could easily have endorsed one of the candidates rending my story moot, while Medium decides whether or not this piece will be curated. At the time of this writing, I keep seeing the constant refrain:
“We are processing this story. Hang tight!”
#The story eventually was declined for curation, likely because it was no longer relevant. Harris had already endorsed Biden by the time Medium made a decision.
Vocal offers a free service to readers so 100% of the stories are viewable as opposed to Medium where readers can see a certain number of free stories without paying a monthly subscription. That means all of the stories written are able to be read by anyone and eligible for payment. There are two types of payment plans for writers; Vocal Free pays writers $3.80 per 1,000 reads or Vocal + which requires a $9.99 monthly subscription (or a $99 annual fee) which pays $6 per 1,000 reads. Being fairly familiar with my Medium stats and how many views/reads my stories typically generate. I felt fairly confident I could fairly easily generate thousands of views on multiple stories and do well.
Over the years, I’ve joined several large Facebook groups related to politics and knew that certain stories marketed to several groups would get a good response. I wrote two stories, pushed them heavily, and got thousands of reactions and hundreds of comments within hours. Vocal stats are generated once a day and it was the next day before I started getting feedback other than my Facebook notifications. I should preface this by saying that it’s not unusual for people on Facebook to react and comment on stories based on the title alone. Judging by Medium stats, my top stories get near an 80% read ratio while the absolute worst did no less than 22%. According to Vocal; one of the stories generated 112 views, the other 28, less than 5% of the cases where readers proactively responded to the story.
I wrote to the Vocal support staff to inquire, “what constitutes a view?” They replied within a day as follows:
“I would be happy to clarify! Reads are calculated differently than impressions — instead of just a page view or impression, which occurs when someone simply sees or clicks on a link, reads are calculated using an algorithm that takes into account the time spent on page as well as the percent scrolled through the story. In other words, a “Read” only counts as someone that actually read a portion of your story, not just those who were exposed to it on social.
With that, It does take a little time for the system to reflect your reads, and in some cases, may appear in your Stats page between 24 and 48 hours to reflect a day’s reads accurately.
I hope this helps! If you have any other questions, please let me know.
The Vocal Team”
My experience tells me that the Vocal standard for what qualifies as a read eligible for payment differs greatly than that for Medium which measures time spent reading. In my case, I have a backlog of over 700 stories, most of which I could update and publish at vocal and earn money. One of my past stories from two years ago on Medium goes inexplicably viral from time to time and this month generated over 20,000 reads in a day and more than 85,000 this month, almost all of them not eligible for Medium payment. In theory that could have been $510 from Vocal but I suspect they would find far fewer reads than Medium did. So far on Medium, that story has generated $1,969.10 and continues to pay almost $200 monthly.
Vocal has another revenue stream which is tips. At the bottom of each story, there are buttons allowing readers to “Like” your story and/or send tips ranging from $1 to $20. I have yet to receive any tips and am not sure what incentive readers would have to contribute if a charitable cause were not involved. Vocal deducts a small percentage of tips for administrative costs up to 7%.
Writing a story on Vocal is more or less the same as on Medium. Pictures and links to other articles come out larger and arguably nicer than on Medium. The Vocal staff will verify if your story is published elsewhere on the Internet and if so; verify that you have the right to publish the story.
I will continue trying out Vocal on my stories that are time-sensitive, until such time as Medium curates at a faster rate. On both platforms, I’ll continue to work on titles that require reading the story as opposed to providing enough information to form an opinion without reading. According to Vocal; their top earners are getting between $2–3K monthly whereas Medium top earners are doing much better. I personally am in that top 10% that earns over $100 monthly but have yet to crack $1,000. I have almost 3,000 followers, a number that is steadily growing. Vocal does not provide for followers. There is also no mechanism to create your own group as of now. They use Stripe for payouts as does Medium, a minim of $35 has to be earned to make a withdrawal. Good luck!