How much money can you actually make writing articles on Medium?

The Startup
May 16 · 7 min read

The four numbers you see in the images above:

$5,619.43

$7,006.40

$718.06

$5,016.55

That’s how much some of our writers earned per month from publishing their articles on Medium.

In a world where people exploit freelancers to ghostwrite a 1000-word article for as little as $5, making a living from writing isn’t easy.

And Medium might be onto building the first ever platform where writers can finally blog and get paid by doing what they love.

Let’s take a realistic look at how much Medium’s Partner Program pays writers

We publish dozens of writers on our The Startup publication every month. While the screenshots above present a promising overview, we also know that not every writer on the Medium Partner Program earns that much money.

Indeed, we’ve seen quite a few bloggers make less than $100 per month.

Based on our insights from helping authors on both ends, what follows is our analysis of a realistic approach to earn money by blogging on Medium, along with our recommendations to maximize your Medium paycheck.

And we’ll try to do it by answering the most frequently asked questions we receive.

Let’s begin with probably the most important question.

1. Timing: Am I too late to start earning money from blogging on Medium?

No, not at all. The game hasn’t even started and we believe we are in the very early stages of Medium’s actual growth.

As recent news on media keeps covering Medium Partner Program’s early success, Medium’s website growth also shows no sign of slowing.

We also believe there aren’t enough writers on Medium Partner Program yet. Take us, for instance. Every day, we receive drafts through our submission form from writers willing to get published on The Startup. And even though we underline the fact that we want to help them make a living (hence prioritize partner program stories), still only a small fraction of our submissions are behind the paywall.

So no. You aren’t late to start making money from writing on Medium.

2. How much can my Medium blog earn maximum?

Let’s take a look at the most a Medium writer earned over the past 6 months:

As seen, the most earned by a writer on Medium so far ranges between $8,000-$12,000.

But these amounts might easily fluctuate depending on the virality of a single story — let’s look at the next point to understand it better:

3. How much can a single story earn on Medium?

Let’s take a look at the most a single Medium story earned over the last 6 months:

As the graph shows, the most earned amount seems to go beyond $4,000 — which, again, brings us to the next point:

4. Should you focus on writing one-off viral hits or publishing consistently?

According to Medium’s official updates from April alone, 55% of writers or publications who wrote at least one story for members earned money.

However, only 7.1% of the active writers earned over $100. This percentage seems small, but given Medium’s growing size, the absolute number of writers making more than $100/month could be pretty high.

A quick look at the sample pool of earnings of our active writers on The Startup:

  • Among our The Startup writers, we’ve found that most of the writers who earned more than $100 have been those who publish consistently.
  • One of our most successful writers has been consistently publishing two posts per week for over 6 months now — and below are his monthly earnings since he joined the program back in December:

The compound return of blogging seems to be relevant when it comes to Medium earnings as well. Just like traffic, earnings also add up and compound over time.

5. How many views do I need to get to earn $XXX?

Medium earns $5/month when a free reader upgrades to become a premium member so she/he can read an unlimited number of stories behind the paywall. Medium then distributes portions of that $5 across the articles each premium member reads/engages with.

In other words, Medium shares its revenue with its writers based on the engagement of the articles they publish. The higher the engagement (e.g, number of claps), the bigger the percentage of that $5 goes to a particular writer.

That’s why payments aren’t based on pageviews alone. A story can go viral but can fail to earn significant money if people don’t engage with it.

That’s also why gamifying the Medium algorithm will never work even though you manage to bring traffic somehow. You need real people, i.e., premium members who will actually read and engage with your articles.

To better understand this, below are stats from 4 random stories we published in The Startup last month, which have similar pageviews:

Engagement metrics such as read ratio, the number of fans, the number of claps obviously have an impact on Medium’s payout formula.

6. What are your tips for earning more from writing on Medium?

A few tips based on our insights so far:

— 6.1. Publish quality > Publish often

We see many Medium writers trying to publish as many articles as they can, often at the cost of quality. Some authors even rush to publish multiple stories per day. It’s OK if you are able to bring together a top-notch story within a few minutes — for the rest of us, this isn’t a number game. Medium’s algorithm is designed to float only the best stories to the surface and their team is working hard to improve the system. Medium editors also review every single story that goes behind the paywall. A quality story 1) grabs the attention of Medium staff editors or publication editors like us 2) it then gets curated across the site such as on topic pages 3) and begins being distributed to a wider audience for maximum exposure.

— 6.2. Understand how Medium stories can receive traffic

There are two ways to get traffic to your Medium stories: on-Medium and off-Medium.

ON-MEDIUM traffic, as the term suggests, happens when people find your story on the Medium website or mobile app. They might be already browsing their homepage when you hit the publish button or be brought to your story through mobile (push) notifications. Not everybody ends up finding your story on their newsfeed, though. For such discovery to happen…

  • … you need to be followed. Medium readers can follow authors so you might want to focus on growing your own following over time.
  • or your story needs to published in a publication. Medium readers can follow publications so consider publishing in an existing publication to reach their followers or creating your own one.
  • … or your story needs to be handpicked for a particular topic (example topic page here). Medium readers can follow topics, so you might be better off publishing quality content that grabs editors’ attention.
  • … or your story needs to be clapped by your readers so your story can end up on the newsfeeds of the followers/network of those readers.

OFF-MEDIUM traffic happens outside Medium, i.e. when people receive your story via Medium’s weekly/daily digest emails or find it on Google search results, social media and other external sites (e.g., Hacker News).

  • Digest emails are huge: most of the traffic to the articles we publish in The Startup comes from those newsletters. Again, the followers of authors, publications, and topics receive the top stories in their digest emails the next day/week.

— 6.3. Submit to publications

Publications can help 1) float your stories to the top of Medium 2) grab the attention of Medium editors 3) reach an audience you wouldn’t reach otherwise. You can create your own publication or submit to The Startup here or to Medium’s other most-followed and active publications.

— 6.4. Start small, start on the side

One of the things we observe with our writers is that they put too much pressure on maximizing their earnings. This leads to doing dangerous things to their writing, including rushing to publish as many articles as possible while compromising quality. Why not start small, ideally on the side? Take the time to find your style and test how the Medium Partner Program will work for you and scale at your own pace.

Big thanks to our writers who have shared their stats with us.

We hope these insights will be helpful to many other writers out there.

Thanks for reading.

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +469K people. Follow to join our community.

The Startup

Written by

Editors of The Startup https://medium.com/swlh

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +469K people. Follow to join our community.