Are $500 Bonus Payments Sustainable In The Long Run, In The Battle For Online Supremacy?

Adebayo Adeniran
May 8 · 4 min read

Is Medium in danger of creating a generation of entitled and freebie addicted writers in the battle for the eyes, minds and wallets of readers online?

Sharon McCutcheon via Unsplash

Yesterday, like nine hundred and ninety-nine other writers, on this platform, I received a partner program mail, stating that I was due to get $500 from the medium, in a number of days.

I initially thought that this was junk mail and then, I got another mail from the partner program, stating what I was due, from my articles for the month of April.

Slightly concerned, I went to the partner program section on the home page, to find out what was going on, only then, did I confirm that it was no hoax; Medium was handing out sums of money to a number of us.

As with most of the recipients, this came as a huge surprise, not least because none of us saw this coming and in these precarious times, every little helps.

But I am under no illusions as to my writing skills; I am average at best and at worst? well I would leave that to your imagination. I readily recognize that my strong opinions of how society should be organized is my forte and my articles reflect my political leanings.

Mini Backlash

As expected, those who weren’t among those selected for the one-off bonus were slightly peeved by the decision of the management board; one writer suggested that selecting two thousand people and giving them $250 each, would have been better.

Some of the winners, who immediately went online, writing articles brandishing their money, could have acted much more circumspectly and gracefully; their actions were a bit reminiscent of the school playground, showing off, how much better they were than the other players, who weren’t so fortunate to win.

Had I not been among those, who were selected, It would have been hard not to succumb to the green-eyed monster. I can also assure you that It would have been much worse, had I read articles of those, who indulge in publishing self indulgent claptrap, about not making a lot of money — despite earning more than 95% of writers on this platform.

This surprise move from Ev Williams and the board, sets the stage for the next phase of the battle for the eyes and minds of readers, across the globe.

Medium Vs Newsbreak and Vocal

For those of us interested in money, even though we delude ourselves and act like we aren’t, the latest development from medium will not have gone unnoticed by their silicon valley rivals — Newsbreak and Vocal. These platforms will be panicking in a very big way, trying to work out, how best to neutralize medium’s new philosophical approach, to numbers.

Vocal, already implements a milder version of bonuses, handing out $5, dollars, here, $10 there, with every milestone achieved and $20 for every article picked by the editors for the front page feature.

But Vocal’s flawed editorial policy of scrutinizing articles, before publishing and its payment structure ($6 per 1,000 reads for vocal+ members and $4 per 1,000 reads for vocal members) means that it will never soar to the heights of medium, not in this lifetime or the very next, regardless of how many writing competitions that it runs, in a week, month or year.

As regards Newsbreak, their rigid policy of going through your articles to determine if you are good enough for a thousand dollars on a monthly basis, sees a good number of rejections from decent writers, who, undoubtedly have so much to contribute.

Medium, as a business model, is by far the most open and forward looking; it has no barriers to entry, you can start your publication, write as many articles as you like, on any subject, that captures your imagination and still get paid for it, however small or large.

The battle for the souls, eyes, minds and wallets of the readers, is being won, but Is it sustainable, in the long term?

Ev Williams, the founder of medium, has demonstrated a high degree of perspicacity, in wresting power away, from the editors of the numerous publications and devolved it to the every day writer, making medium much more writer focused.

This strategy, which was criticized by a number of veteran writers on this platform, for obvious reasons now seems somewhat incongruous, in view of the events of Thursday.

This singular move, alongside medium’s open business model, which I previously addressed, could see hundreds of thousands of new readers and writers flood to a platform, which they deem vastly incomparably superior to the other players and this will inevitably mean more money into the coffers of the medium board and it may hasten the demise of Quora and Vocal.

But this could create brand new problems that the Ev and the board may not have anticipated; vacuous articles by the bucket load, writers, with a sense of entitlement and a complete dumbing down of medium, altogether.

How this will pan in the months and years ahead, remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure, the tectonic plates are shifting and a revolution is underway, right before our very eyes.

Thanks very much for reading.


We curate outstanding articles from diverse domains and…

Adebayo Adeniran

Written by

A lifelong bibliophile, who seeks to unleash his energy on as many subjects as possible


We curate and disseminate outstanding articles from diverse domains and disciplines to create fusion and synergy.

Adebayo Adeniran

Written by

A lifelong bibliophile, who seeks to unleash his energy on as many subjects as possible


We curate and disseminate outstanding articles from diverse domains and disciplines to create fusion and synergy.

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store