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Why Medium Does Not Pay You What You’re Worth

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It’s not an easy place to make money online, says Medium’s new CEO Tony Stubblebine.

Oftentimes online writers complain that Medium isn’t paying them what they’re worth.

Medium’s new CEO Tony Stubblebine has a clear opinion on that.

In his latest interview on YouTube he stated:

I don’t want to be the one to tell you what you’re worth. (…)

We’re distributing money from the subscription for the benefit of the reader. (…)

We have an audience for you that sustains you or not.

Medium’s overall goal is “to make the subscribers happy”.

Medium’s subscribers are its customers.

Tony says that Medium, as a company, manages the subscriber’s money — your and my monthly or annual subscription fee.

Medium is not an employer for (new) writers. It’s a publishing platform.

Therefore, Medium does not pay us. Its customers pay us with their reading time.

How we’re getting paid through Reading Time

Reading time is the actual amount of time people spend actively reading your story.

On the Story Stats page, you can see…

the ‘lifetime member reading time’ = the total amount of time Medium members spent reading your story in the selected time period

Here’s an example:

Moreover, scrolling activity, gaps in time, and coffee breaks are taken into account too when calculating the reading time.

Medium will also pay you for reading time from non-members if they become paying members within one month after reading your story.

Side note: Of course, your payout depends on whether it’s a long-form post with 3 minutes plus or a short form post with 1 min.

It’s not an easy place to make money

In his view, Medium is an “open platform” and “a place to find great ideas and great information”.

It’s a place where they “ try to give great publishing tools” and they “have systems in place to promote the best stuff”.

Plus, Medium has “something for everyone”

If you come here and you don’t have an audience and you write great stuff then we want to be able to make sure your story gets read.

Sounds great, doesn’t it?

But Tony adds…

It’s not an easy place to make money. Even those that do earn money are thinking they (aren’t) making that much money. Because they are thinking too small.

Tony Stubblebine’s recommendation for the future

As the founder of the habit coaching company Coach.me, he knows how much work it takes to reach one’s potential.

# 1 Test in public

Medium is an open platform.

So novice writers can test the water.

Testing, testing, testing…

#2 Add value

It’s all about added value when writing on Medium.

Try to serve the readers.

(…) You can write about whatever you want as long as you’re adding value to people.

#3 Take your time

The fast and easy buck is a lie.

2 months of work is not a long time of work in the grand scheme of things…

People learn and grow by doing…

Why providing value is so important

As award-winning podcaster, bestselling author and entrepreneur John Lee Dumas recommends:

Become a person of value.

Instead of being committed to success (for instance, earning lots of money) commit to sharing valuable content.

Providing value will help you improve your writing.

Ask yourself:

What wisdom or knowledge do I have that is of tremendous value for others?

When you add value to the lives of others they’ll thank you with their reading time.

Plus, being committed to value ignites your fire, passion, and excitement which will level up your writing too.

If you’re frustrated go get a job

No, Medium doesn’t pay you what you’re worth. Their customers do.

The harsh truth: You have an audience to sustain you or not.

However, adding value could help you to become a better writer and get more readers and see in the long run.

If you’re frustrated about what Medium pays you now,

you could go and get a job, … be a staff writer

In my view, you have to keep on keeping on.

On Medium you can test your writing in public, try different topics, build an audience and finally earn a decent amount of money.

If your goal is to gain freelance clients, get a job as a writer or win coaching clients, Medium is also a great place to be.

Within 20 months on Medium, I went from…

  • zero followers to 6K
  • zero earnings to 1K+ on average
  • zero hits to several hits

Plus, I got offered freelance jobs, started a Medium Kickstarter Boot Camp, sell online courses, create my own videos online, won hundreds of coaching clients, and got job offers.

My secret:

I’m committed to becoming a person of value on this platform.

Your value isn’t defined based on the paying customers on Medium but it can grow your own self-worth in regard to writing online.

It can boost your confidence and open new doors with every new story you publish.

I’m curious. Is writing on Medium worthwhile for you and why?

© Kristina God

Kristina God is 25x Top Writer and one of Medium’s Top 1,000 Writers. 
She loves to share her Medium 101’s, hacks as well as tips and tricks with new writers.
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