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Views High but Earnings (Still) Low? — Here’s Why You See This Phenomenon On Medium

  • 6 min read

This really surprised me!

The other day a new writer shared a screenshot with me via email that showed more than 1,000 views without getting Boosted.

In addition, he was jumping out of his skin excited because his views were up (but he also didn’t see a huge increase in his earnings, except for this one well-performing story).

He was super excited but sad about his earnings.

Because of my toddler and baby, I couldn’t reply within 24 hours, which I usually do.

When I opened my inbox the other day I got another email from him.

This time he put his Sherlock Holmes head on and analyzed why his earnings were “so low” (about $25) and what he found out really surprised me!

Let me give you some backstory:

In the past, Medium Medium offered non-members to read three complimentary articles to them to subscribe and become a paying member.

According to Medium, this approach wasn’t as effective as hoped which is why Medium decided to experiment with a new approach (to reach their 1,000,000 paying subscriber milestone in 2024).

So in September 2023, they stopped offering those three free reads and started offering “longer” previews for articles. Back then, when I read about this change I thought:

“Okay, another pivot. Let’s see what happens.”

That’s what me and Sherlock Holmes found out:

1— Non-members can now see more of an article than before, but for full access, they’re prompted to sign up.

This is especially relevant to those who write shorter pieces, like poetry, brief reflections, or short stories with a reading time of 1 minute (150 words or less, that’s what I love to write because of my family situation) but also up to 3 (!) minutes.

If you go in incognito mode, you can access any article…

photo credit: short form content by Kristina God, preview in incognito mode, full article

and see that the length of the free preview now is “longer and varies between 250–400 words, influenced by factors like images and paragraph size.

Attention! This new system has a loophole for short reads.

Non-members can access them completely for free!

For someone who publishes one quick short read per day, this is important to know.

Non-members can enjoy my stories without any restrictions, turning it into a sort of free buffet for them.

That’s why you might see your non-member views increasing — without expecting it!

Here’s an example from one of my stories from November. In your stats, non-member readership is represented by the grey graph:

photo credit: Kristina God example views members vs. non-members

2 — GPTbots can crawl your short reads of 1–3 minutes.

GPTbots are crawling the web.

Medium opted out of AI and has a hard paywall BUT these types of stories are accessible for GPTbots.

They can (illegally) train on your writing.

3 — You still get paid for reads over 30 seconds by paying members.

Keep in mind that no matter how high your views are, based on Medium’s latest changes it’s more important to check your read ratio and your reads from paying members that spent at least 30 seconds reading your stories than check your views.

I miss seeing the views in my stats. I don’t like the new Stats Page that shows the claps (because this can be a vanity metric). But based on Medium’s new earnings calculation engagement is more important as it used to be.

Still reading time is celebrating a comeback and you can also earn based on reading time from members.

So no matter how many external views you have, Medium pays you when members read your short articles. Let’s say you gain 100 views but only 12 are from paying members… well then you can only earn based on this.

Here’s an example. From the views by traffic source for the above-shown article only 40% are from paying members. The users who came from Google, Google News, Yahoo, or X, don’t count.

photo credit: Kristina God example views by traffic source for the article

4 — No friend links if you share something via social media

In the past, if you shared something via X, Facebook, or another social channel, people could click the link and access the story for free.

This used to be a hack most programmers knew about and so they send stories via X to read them for free.

These times are gone.

I got several angry DMs from fellow writers on X who informed me that they couldn't access my Medium stories anymore.

Same on YouTube.

That’s why I decided to make a selection of my stories available via friend links on YouTube to make my subs and followers who are not paying members happy:

photo credit: happy subs on YouTube in the Community tab

Final Takeaways

In the past I could check my stats and views and immediately see how much I’d earn and if I’m on track, meaning gaining the average amount of views per day.

Fast forward to today, you can reach up to 80,000 views with no increase in your earnings.

The good news is people outside of Medium are interested in reading my work.

The bad news is I don’t get paid for it. Luckily that’s not my main goal when writing on this platform but it’s important to know about the trends.

That’s what I’m here for. Whenever I find something interesting and new about Medium, I share it.

So you can expect a significant number of non-member readers. Medium won’t show you member and non-member views in your graph on your stats page so you have to check every single story to see where your views are coming from.

In your story stats, non-member readership is represented by a grey graph.

Have you also seen a high number of views and your earnings stayed the same? Or have you seen a high number of non-member reads if you weren’t expecting it?

I keep my finger on the pulse for all things related to Medium. Stay tuned on YouTube:

and on Substack and connect with 3,200 other smart writers!

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