You Can Now Earn Money From External Views on Medium
Here's why I don't like it
Medium is a double-edged sword. On one side, there's the internal traffic that makes this platform great. Instead of starting from scratch like with a WordPress blog, you already have a huge audience in front of you.
On the other side, Medium is great at collecting external traffic with its high domain authority and page authority. Medium links often show up near the top of search results.
No money for external traffic
Here's the issue, in case you didn't know. Medium only rewards internal traffic from members who pay the $5 fee. Officially.
Internal traffic from non-members or external traffic from Google won't make you a dime in most cases.
Contrary to that, Vocal Media, for example, pays for external views. Every view counts there. Vocal, however, severely lacks internal traffic and general traffic generation methods other than heavy self-promotion. Medium is the clear winner here.
No money for external traffic… until now
Now there is a way to be paid for external traffic on Medium too.
Actually, there has always been a way to earn for external views. When someone reads your post and then decided to become a paying member you will retrospectively be paid for their reads. This likely won't lead to many dollars though.
This new method is more promising.
With the recent Medium Partner Program updates, it's easier to earn money for external views. That's especially interesting for writers who get a lot of external traffic through great SEO techniques or large social media followings.
Convert external traffic to monthly income
The way to take advantage of external views is simple. At least in theory. It's the new referral program that gives you half of the membership fee per month! It's a little less than half in reality due to the processing fees, but nevertheless, that's not too bad.
You get an external reader onboard with your referral link, you've earned $2.27 a month. You get 10, it's $22.7 a month, you get 100.. and boom $227.
Therefore, this referral program is the best option to monetize external views on Medium. Not only from search engines and SEO, but also from various other platforms like social media, your newsletter, or your website.
I have my issues with that though.
Why I don't like it
Let's reduce the long list of issues to a couple of biggies:
- How will this new referral program NOT lead to a humongous amount of spammy promotion? The referral links will pop up everywhere. I'm guilty here too. I've already used it multiple times.
- Who is most likely going to benefit from the referral? The big names on Medium. Now, this is not inherently a bad thing. It's in Medium's interest. It leaves the small writer behind though.
- Picture this: A great referrer that gets thousands of people on board (however unlikely) doesn't even have to write anymore to make a heck of a living with Medium… is this intended?
- This is my biggest question mark: What if this referral program won't bring in more Medium members? If it does, all is well. Then, we have more paying members whose reads earn us money. But what if memberships don't go up or even decline, what happens then? Then, reads will actually be worth less because half of the money already went to the referrer. Only the other half will be distributed among the other writers. So, in the worst-case scenario, reads will account for fewer dollars for us writers. Unless you're the lucky referrer.
How to improve the referral program
Okay, the last point is less likely, I admit. This referral program will probably attract more members and pay will even out.
There are a few other things to improve upon, however. Let's take a look at a couple.
- The membership page that potential new members land on only shows your profile picture with the sign-up button and the "visit profile" link. I mean, how about showing some actual content here? Like… I don't know… the stories of the writer?! Don't put that another click away!
- Discount: This is a biggie and I see this happening soon because it is so obvious. What if Medium gave new members who join through a referral link a discount on the membership? Let's say 1 month for free. This would give an additional incentive to join via a referral link, wouldn't it?
One last thing about the Partner Program requirements
Stay with me here because this is important: I highly suspect the Medium Partner Program to receive another very important restriction. It will soon be available only to paying Medium members!
Read that again!
That means you won't be able to make money unless you pay the fee. Why do I think that? Because to me, this makes a lot of sense.
It will further advance the writing quality on this platform, it will deter more spammers and fake account holders, and it will drive demand for membership referrals because you need one to start earning. Full circle.
Back to the main topic of this post. External views are becoming more valuable. With the referral program in place, every external reader is a potential new member that would make you upwards of $2 per month. This has its upsides and downsides. I'm curious to see how it plays out over the next months.
I wouldn't be surprised, though, if Medium changed their minds on one or more aspects of these partner program updates in the near future.
What do you think?