Medium Partner Program changes: Could this affect your income?

Last month, Medium announced some Medium Partner Program changes regarding its earning policy for writers. As a contributor on Medium, their email caught my eye.

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It’s not the first time that Medium has made significant changes, but it’s still gotten a lot of attention because it directly affects the way writers are paid. I’ve seen mixed reactions, but most seem to be at least cautiously positive.

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Because of this, I’ve naturally reduced the possible monetization methods for this site that many other sites use.

Medium provides another way for me to promote my work, connect with other writers, and make some extra money without using ads.

Freelancers have a lot of extra expenses, but they also have a lot of ways to make money. This gets trickier for journalists who do any kind of investigative work.

That’s why Medium works well for me to boost my income without using a lot of ads, affiliate programs, etc. Best of all, I can reuse posts from my site, saving me time and potentially making me more money while also reaching a wider audience.

A hand taps at a calculator on a white surface
Medium Partner Program changes announced in October 2019 left many writers wondering how this would affect their income from the site.

Medium Partner Program’s changes

Previously, Medium paid writers based on an algorithm that used reader claps.

Readers have the option to clap for a story– kind of like ‘liking’ it on Facebook.

You didn’t receive a set amount of money per clap. The reader’s member fee was distributed, so a writer who received a clap could receive as little as $0.01 or maybe a dollar or two per clap.

Now, it’s based on members’ reading time (and on non-members’ reading time if they become members within 30 days.)

This is what Medium wrote in the email sent to Medium Partner Program members:

1. We will calculate earnings based on the reading time of Medium members.

2. We will include reading time from non-members too, once they become members.

3. Your earnings will be updated daily, not weekly.

4. Your story stats will show new metrics to explain your earnings.

– An excerpt from the email sent by Medium regarding the Medium Partner Program changes on Oct. 22, 2019

You can learn more about the changes in Medium’s post about them.

Readers can still clap for stories, and it’s a great way to show support and broaden the story’s reach, but it no longer determines the pay writers receive.

How this affects writers

Writers now can focus on getting more readers and attracting new Medium members since you want their reading time to count toward your income. This is great, since it’s no fun keeping track of every single clap you get and hoping for a bit more income.

It can be difficult to engage readers for very long, particularly for more dense topics, so it will still be a challenge for some writers to keep up or boost their income. In November 2018, Sumo found that only 20 percent of their readers finished reading their articles. If you have a low reader finish rate, know you’re not alone!

I really do like that the earnings are now calculated daily rather than weekly. It’s one more planning tool writers, whose income is often not fixed, can use.

It’s still really early to tell how the changes will affect writers long-term. But I’ve seen some positive posts by other Medium writers who seem to be doing well with the changes.

My earnings seem to be slightly down, but it’s still early and this could just be part of the natural ups and downs of freelance income. I have also been devoting more time to other areas recently, so it may not be a great gauge. Time will tell!

Regardless, I highly recommend joining Medium. It’s not expensive at only $5 per month or $50 per year.

You can read a limited number of articles for free as a non-member, but if you join, you can read all you want AND help support the work of writers. And let me tell you, Medium has some fantastic writers on nearly every topic you can think of. It’s a fantastic way to support your favorite writers.

Writers, have you noticed income differences since the Medium Partner Program changes were announced? Readers, who are your favorite writers on Medium?