So, you want to learn how to make money on Medium? Awesome!
Medium is a free platform for writers from all backgrounds to publish their stories and get paid. That’s the simple version, but the reality is that it’s not that simple.
I joined Medium back in 2014 before I started my blog. Medium has changed a lot since then, and I ultimately decided to ditch Medium to focus solely on my blog. The main reason is far more lucrative IMHO than Medium can ever be.
Medium can still be a good platform for new writers, though. So if you’re really interested, this guide will explain everything you need to know about making money on Medium, from how you’re paid, tips for success, and more.
What is Medium?
Before we talk too much about how to make money on Medium, I want to make sure you’re clear on what the platform is. So let me break it down for you…
Medium is an online publishing platform where anyone — and I mean anyone — can publish articles. It’s kind of like YouTube for writers.
I actually published stories (that’s what Medium calls articles) before officially starting my blog. I had no clue how to start a blog back then, but I had things to say. And that’s where Medium came in.
It’s free to write and read stories on Medium, but you need to be a Medium number to view an unlimited number of stories. Memberships are $5/month or $50/year — it’s these membership fees that pay writers, and this is how Medium makes money.
Back in 2012, when Medium was first launched by one of Twitter’s co-founders, it was an invite-only site. The purpose was to give writers more than Twitter’s standard 140 characters (that was the word count back in 2012) to share their ideas and stories.
Today, anyone can create an account on Medium and start writing.
Learning how to make money on Medium is more involved than creating an account and publishing some stories, but that’s what this guide is for. Let’s dive in!
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How do you get paid to write on Medium?
You need to be part of the Medium Partner Program to make money writing for Medium. Bonus, the program is completely free to sign up for.
Writers enrolled in the Medium Partner Program earn a portion of the money paid by Medium members. Members pay $5/month or $50/year and get to view and post unlimited stories on the platform.
While the Partner Program is free, there are two requirements:
- Have at least 100 followers
- Have published at least one story on Medium in the past
Once your account meets those requirements, you can join the Partner Program, but you still need to make your account eligible for payments. Basically, you allow Medium to put your articles behind a paywall.
Medium walks you through the process of putting your stories behind the paywall, but the majority of people will still be able to read your articles for free. In addition, non-members get to read a certain number of articles for free each month.
The idea is that the more time someone spends on Medium and reading your story, the more likely they are to pay for a membership. That’s why Medium essentially gives a few stories away to non-paying readers.
Back to how you make money on Medium…
For Medium writers enrolled in the Medium Partner Program, there are two ways your stories can get a portion of member payments:
- Total read time on your articles from Medium members
- Bonus earned when a non-member reader signs up within 30 days after reading your article
Writers used to get paid based on the number of “claps” their story receives, but Medium got rid of the pay-by-claps model in 2019. Claps are still important — an article with a lot of claps might get noticed by Medium curators — but they’re no longer essential.
It’s recommended that writers also become members because you can post an unlimited number of stories per day, read as much as you want, and get a sense of what’s popular.
I know that’s a lot of pieces, but here’s the TL;DR version of how people make money on Medium:
- Join Medium’s Partner Program for free
- Publish at least one story and get to 100 followers
- Make your stories eligible to earn money
- Earn a portion of member payments
Bonus payments, curated, and featured articles
Medium has a couple of ways it rewards writers with outstanding content. A really stellar article can earn you a bonus payment, which is typically a $100 payment. There aren’t clear guidelines for what warrants a bonus payment, but it’s decided by Medium’s human editors.
There are also a couple of ways Medium sets apart exceptional content:
- Curated: A curated article is one editors have decided is high-quality enough to be recommended in one or more topics.
- Featured: Featured articles are a big deal — Medium gives your story the front-page treatment, and it’s a huge honor.
Like bonus payments, Medium isn’t clear on what stories become curated or featured, but these are a big deal for writers. It almost guarantees there will be more eyes on your writing, and that means more money.
How much money can you make writing on Medium?
The vast majority of Medium writers earn under $100 a month. So making a full-time living writing on Medium isn’t in the cards for most people. The reality is that most people won’t even make enough to cover their student loan payments.
Here’s what Medium has to say about writer pay:
- The very top writers, less than 1% of Medium writers, make $5,000 to $30,000 a month
- It took most of the top writers 1 to 2 years of writing for Medium before they were making that much
- Around 94% of writers earn under $100/month
- Around 6% of writers made some money — that only means more than $0
Writing for Medium isn’t a way to get rich quickly. It’s entirely possible to earn money from Medium, but it’s a long game.
How does Medium pay writers?
Remember, Medium pays writers based on how long a reader spends reading an article, and writers also earn money when a new reader signs up for membership within 30 days of reading their article.
But here are more details on how earnings are calculated:
1. How long members spend reading your story
Medium doesn’t give an exact formula, but the more time spent reading your stories = more money.
Medium shows you stats about your story’s daily total member reading time and daily earnings. In addition, they calculate reading time from both members and non-members, especially because if non-members become a member within 30 days, Medium includes this in your reading time.
2. How much monthly reading time members spend on your story
This is how Medium rewards writers with loyal readers. For example, if you have a reader who spends 10% of their monthly reading time on one of your stories, you earn 10% of their subscription fee.
This typically works out well for writers who find a niche topic and build their following based on that niche.
3. The number of Medium members you refer
This is straightforward: Medium pays you half of that new reader’s membership fee (after processing fees) for every new member you refer. You earn that portion of their membership fees if their plan remains active.
Tips for making money on Medium
Now that you understand how to make money on Medium, here are some tips for success.
1. Find a niche
Because Medium rewards writers with loyal readers, niching down is highly beneficial. You want to stay away from too broad topics and find your loyal readers through something more specific. It can be anything, like fly fishing, freelance writing, small business marketing, etc.
It’s just much easier to become an authority or familiar voice in a niche than a writer trying to connect with a broad audience.
2. Focus on the storytelling process
Medium articles are called stories for a reason. Stories are far more compelling than dry articles that read like research papers. You want to speak to readers as if they are in the room listening to you. That may mean writing in the first person or adding your personal experiences.
3. Always put these three things in your opening
Because reading time is so important, three things will help keep readers on the page:
- An eye-catching headline. Grab their attention the minute they see your article
- Solid opening paragraph. Here’s where you begin to show value.
- Interesting, authoritative lead-in. Let the readers know you have a way with words, and this is going to be a great read all the way to the end
You should definitely share your stories on social media, with your email list, your blog followers, and so on. And make it easy for those people to share your Medium stories from there.
People who already have some loyalty to you are more likely to stay on the page for the entire article, and that’s one of the major factors in how to make money on Medium.
5. Don’t focus too much on Medium memberships
Converting your readers into paying Medium members pays, but most writers aren’t earning a meaningful income this way. Honestly, it feels a little spammy to push readers too hard into buying a membership.
Pushing people hard into membership may be a turn-off. They will definitely have an opportunity to sign up when they read your articles without you pushing them.
More ways to make money on Medium
What I really like about Medium is that it presents opportunities for growth, and that means you’re not limited to how Medium pays you.
Here are even more ways to make money with Medium:
- Affiliate income: Medium allows content with affiliate links, meaning you can share links to Amazon or any other affiliates. Those links need to be meaningful, so share them appropriately.
- Freelance writing opportunities: If you want to become a freelance writer, Medium can help you get started. The platform can act as a portfolio and present future opportunities.
- Promote your blog: Medium allows for a wide readership, and they allow you to share outside links. This gives you a great opportunity to promote a blog.
- Promote your business: For entrepreneurs, Medium can present multiple ways to make money — it gives you a niche topic to write about and you can link to your business for free.
Blogging on Medium vs. WordPress
If you’re thinking about starting a blog, Medium sounds like the perfect place to get started. It’s free, easy-to-use, and anyone can start writing. Heck, I started my blog on Medium, and now it’s what I do for a living.
But, my experience blogging leads me to believe that blogging on WordPress is better than Medium.
Medium has a lot going for it — you can share affiliate links, it’s free, and Medium pays you several ways. But WordPress has far more benefits:
- There are more ways to make money. You can make money through sponsored posts, affiliate links, display ads, selling your own products, and more.
- Your blog is fully customizable. Medium has customization limits, but you can do virtually anything you want with a WordPress blog. There are free themes to start, but you can pay for more options when you’re ready.
- It’s easier to build an email list. Your email list is gold. And a WordPress blog makes it easy to create a sign-up form and grab readers’ emails. Medium now has tools for list building (Medium introduced them in 2021), but it’s limited.
Pros and cons of writing for Medium
The final word on how to make money on Medium
Medium makes it incredibly simple to start writing for their site, but the making money part will take a little more time.
The first thing you need to do is sign up for the Medium Partner Program. It’s completely free, and anyone can sign up and start writing.
I was pretty quick to pivot from writing on Medium to blogging because blogging is far more lucrative, and you have total control of your content. Those were huge deal breakers for me, and it’s worked out well. I’ve grown a 7-figure business from this site, and I don’t know if that wouldn’t have been possible on Medium.
Want to learn how to start your own blog, check out How to Start a Blog in 2022: The Easy Step-by-Step Guide.
Medium writers average $15 to $30 for every 1,000 views, but Medium doesn’t per view — they pay by read time. So while those views help, you want to focus on keeping readers on the page because that’s where the real money comes from.
Medium can be worth it for new writers, but it honestly depends on your goals. If you want to build your writing stamina and develop your niche, then Medium could be a good starting point. But to make money writing, blogging or freelance writing can be far more lucrative.
While it’s possible to make $100/month or more, less than 10% of Medium writers make less than that each month.
Yes, you can make money on Medium, but it’s a long game. You need to sign up for Medium’s Partner Program to start making money, which is how you earn money when Medium members read your articles.
Medium pays by reading time, not per read. So the more people read your stuff, the more money you earn. That’s the simple explanation.