Medium just doesn’t work

Davide Mastromatteo
3 min readSep 27, 2018


I have to admit, I have been a huge fan of the Medium platform and when a couple of years ago I joined the group of the Medium authors, I thought it was really great. I wanted to write some post about Python (I’m a professional developer ) and the platform would have helped me to reach an audience. Fair enough.

Yes, there were some problems I could barely bear and the platform was unprofitable for authors, but Medium was studying a solution for that, like the possibility to have ads on the articles and I thought they would have sorted this problem out somehow.

I couldn’t be more wrong.

The medium platform just doesn’t pay the authors. Probably they expect the authors to keep writing great posts for free, like if writing for Medium would be a rewarding experience on its own.You may say that you just need to subscribe to the «partner program» if you want to be paid, right?


Each month, if you are a member of the medium partner program (like I am) you receive a mail with the monthly recap of the program.

Last July, the mail stated:

  • 47% of authors or publications who wrote at least one story for members earned money. 9.8% of active authors earned over $100.
  • $16,007.02 was the most earned by an author, and $2,260.42 was the most earned by a publication.
  • $2,059.72 was the most earned for a single story.

Now, the message they try to pass with this kind of email is :

“Hey buddy, keep up the good work, we pay half the authors who write something on the platform and if you are good enough you could earn $16k for a single article!”

Impressive, uh?

Maybe not. What I get when I read the monthly newsletter is:

“Ok, more than half (53%) of the stuff wrote on Medium are worthless crap, and another 43,2% is “almost worthless crap” since it doesn’t worth neither $100 a month”.

Now, to make these numbers more clear, consider that 100$ a month is less than $3.5 per day. That means, that the 90,2% of the medium authors, with all the articles they have written, couldn’t earn enough to pay the tall pike and the cinnamon roll they had from Starbucks while they were writing the articles they posted.

Fair enough?

The problem

The main problem is how the Medium partner program works. The idea is that they get $5/month from all the users that subscribe to Medium and then they share part of the earned money with all the authors that have got claps from subscribed users. Unfortunately, this can’t work.

First of all: $5 a month is overpriced. More than it’s asked from many other online newspapers. It can be ok for some users but the majority of users will never subscribe if this is the price they have to pay.

Besides, the claps system is difficult. You can clap more or less, depending on how much you like the post. Unfortunately, there’s no way to tell how many claps are ok for an article that you like. Many people make just one clap (the maximum is 50). Did they enjoy the post so little? Or maybe they have clapped just once because they are used clapping on social networks like Facebook and Twitter where you can “like” something just once?

In the end, you can get 100,000 claps from people not subscribed to Medium and got nothing just because no subscribed users have clapped you. That’s it, deal with that. If you write stuff that can be found elsewhere on the web like I do (you can find Python articles on a ton of different source), your audience will probably not be subscribed and you will get claps just from unsubscribed users.

The solution

No, I’m not so high to think to have the solution because I’m more clever than others, I just think that the solution has been found by Google at least 10 years ago: ads.

The Medium staff keeps telling that they don’t want to put ads on the platform because it would make the reading experience worse. That’s simply false. First of all, they could think to have just not intrusive ads on their platform (like Apple did with iAd) and moreover, they could just remove banners for all the subscribed users. So, subscribed users would pay with 5$ a month and the unsubscribed ones would pay by looking at the ads.

Wouldn’t it be a win-win situation?




Davide Mastromatteo

Developer and editor of "the Python corner". Apple user, Python and Swift addicted. NFL, Rugby and Chess lover. Constantly hungry and foolish.