Tom Kuegler
Mar 30, 2018 · 6 min read

A few months back I got a beautiful email from Medium. It looked liked this:

Gosh, it’s like looking at an oasis in the middle of the desert.

This article isn’t about how I made $500+ in one month, though. This is about just one article, and how Medium’s changing beneath our fingertips.

Before I get into it, let’s talk about what’s happening over here on Medium with the Partner Program.

Medium Is Favoring Locked Stories Now

A couple months back I wrote an article called F*ck These Medium Statistics.

It got 96 fans, and in said article I talk about how my performance on Medium — specifically the views and “fans” — seemed to get sliced in half overnight.

I wondered why.

Without anything to go off of, I chalked it up to Medium was making more room for the “little guy,” which I was completely okay with. Heck, some people have 10 times the amount of followers I have — I’M the little guy here too.

The problem? This wasn’t what was actually happening.

Medium is actually, my friends, advertising more locked stories on the homepage:

Three of the four stories under the Technology section of my homepage were locked. In basically every other section recently, I’ve seen at least 1–2 locked stories mixed in with free content.

This is a dead giveaway (I mean, it’s right in front of our FACES) that Medium is pushing more locked stories, which is no doubt driving down views, reads, and claps for the “free” articles.

Let’s do a bit of a case study, shall we?

As I mentioned in that article up there, back in the old days I used to get one recommend (or fan) for every 10 views I got. That was just the ratio that kept coming up.

Let’s take a look at the stats below:

For my locked post, I have 79 fans, which means I should have about 790 views. But I don’t, I have 572.

For my free post at the bottom I have 44 fans, which means I should have 440 views. But I don’t, I have a measely 246.

A few months ago, before the changes, I would’ve had 440 views for that one easy.

In the above example, it’s clear the locked post is THRIVING while the other free posts are fizzling out despite them having a disporportionate amount of fans-to-views.

What am I getting at?

Medium’s favoring locked posts over free ones.

This is just what’s happening.

And why wouldn’t they? They’re the internet’s first open paywall. They want the word to get out that the Partner Program can seriously reward writers who publish locked content here.

Heck, if I can keep this show going, I’ll be making an extra $6,000 per year. Not bad.

The crazy part? I didn’t even publish my first locked post until later in October. I can probably make $800 next month if I really try.

The moral of the story?

Your locked posts will actually get you MORE exposure, not less.

I know, it’s crazy, but the numbers don’t lie.


How Much Is A Fan Worth?

Ahh, this is the million dollar question. Here’s what my calculations told me:

On average, 1 Fan = $1.26

I estimated this by doing weighted averages (thanks college Statistics) of all my posts. I basically just divided the amount of fans each post got by the amount of revenue it generated.

I’m pretty damn confident that’s a reliable number, too. I analyzed 404 fans.

How Much Is A Clap Worth?

In my experience, one clap equals $.20.

How I Made $327.69 With One Article

Okay, finally! This is what you’re here for, right?

I had to set the stage for what’s happening on Medium because without their new support of paid posts I wouldn’t be making this much money.

My article, 10 Things You Need To Know About Introverts, is based off a viral article I wrote for the Huffington Post a year ago. It’s definitely not a copy, it’s just INSPIRED from it.

Here’s the statistics on that article:

How did I do this? Let’s get into it..

Take What Works And Run With It

What are some of the best articles you ever wrote? How well did they do? Have any idea why they did so well?

In my case, writing about introverts was logical. I am one, my article about them went viral on HuffPo a year ago, and it speaks to a very specific group of people.

We love hearing about ourselves. We love reading articles that make us nod our head and say “YEP, that’s me!”

That’s why that article did so well, but it was really born out of me just using a previous article as the basis for my locked one.

Promote It To Your Email List

“The money’s in the list” has NEVER been more true. Every week I send a letter to my publication and an email to my list shouting out my latest locked article. I normally get at least another 50–100 eyes on it, which most times amounts to an extra 8–15 fans.

Don’t be afraid to shout out your locked posts. It’s $5 to be a member on Medium. Like, that’s less than a large Frappuccino at Starbucks.

If people are really pissed they can’t read your article, all they have to do is pay $5 and get unlimited access. To be honest with you, if you’re posting regularly on Medium, you should be a member and supporting this place the best you can anyway.

It’s $5.

Mention It In Free Posts

I feel like I’m teaching Medium 101. Don’t throw apples at me.

Another cool way to get eyes on your locked posts is to mention it in your free ones. Keep a list of all your locked posts in some sort of a Google doc somewhere so you can keep shouting them out in all your future articles.

Treat them like products. They’re kind of like products if you think about it.

Heck, I just made $300+ for an article that took me two hours to write.

That’s insane.

Feature It At The Top Of Your Profile

One more thing to do is feature your locked article at the top of your profile. You’ll get a couple more clicks this way and, more importantly, fans!

Just Get Posting

The most important thing is to get posting. Medium has shown it’s favoring locked posts FOR NOW, which means you have a better shot than ever to make money at this point in time.

You never know when the algorithms will change, so get going.

Want to get started writing online? I actually have a free 5-day email course called “Your First 1,000 Medium Followers” that will teach you how to build an audience here on Medium! Sign up for it right here. I’d love to teach you a couple things.

A network of business & tech podcasts designed to accelerate learning. Selected as “Best of 2018” by Apple.

Tom Kuegler

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Vlogger. Travel blogger. 26 years old. Currently in Southeast Asia. Get my free 5-day Medium course via email →

A network of business & tech podcasts designed to accelerate learning. Selected as “Best of 2018” by Apple.

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