Peeping at the Numbers of the Medium Partner Program

Numbers and aftermath of one of the most attractive Medium features at September 2020.

Vico Biscotti
Jul 14, 2019 · 3 min read

Medium Partner Program is aimed at rewarding independent authors “based on engagement from Medium members” and it’s there since September 2017.

It changed the lives of several people and boosted writing dreams for countless others. However, it’s worth giving a closer look at the numbers.

Let’s face the raw data that we can know:

Money averagely earned by authors are not much. One-third of the authors earned nothing out of their locked stories, and the percentage of authors who earn less than $100 is stably well above 90%. You can’t expect to make a living out of Medium, of course, but even get something beyond $100 is not for everybody.

The new Medium earning calculation from November 2020, now mostly (exclusively?) based on reading time, didn’t seem to have much effect on the numbers, apart — maybe — from a slight improvement in the percentage of authors who earn money. Invisible effects on income stats also for the changes about republishing, a popular tactic in the previous years.

However, you have certainly noticed that the most earned by an author, in the last year, skyrocketed to impressive numbers. Marketing move?

The numbers of the last months — in the range 30–50k dollars for a single author and even 10k or more for a single story — sound really impressive. Worrying too? Medium pays out “over two million dollars per month to writers, editors, and publication owners”. The pie seems big, but you have to subtract all that’s reserved to authors and editors in good with Medium.

If you’re a regular on Medium, it’s easy to see that someone is making a first-rate living out of telling us that they’re making a first-rate living out of Medium, or by taking the Medium editorial taste seriously. Outside that, only a handful of authors can make it.

The huge difference between the large base below $100 and the top numbers tells that a few authors reached the peak zone, or somewhere nearby. Since 94% of the authors remain below $100, and a few authors took big slices of the pie, it’s easy to guess that most of the remaining 6% is not much above $100.

It’s also interesting that the low earnings of the top publications, provided only till July 2018, were much less than single authors. Medium never liked independent publications, and in 2018 they completely abandoned them, both in the promotion and the possibility to earn money.

But they say they pay editors and publication owners. I guess “independent” is not in their chords.

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