Is the Medium Partner Program for writers worth it? Here are my results…

I made ~ $640 with 30 posts.

So a couple of months ago Medium introduced its partner program for writers.

At first it was for select writers only.

Needless to say they didn’t give me an invite ;-).

But a few weeks ago they opened it up for everyone.

Needless to say I gave it a try.

To see what it’s like.

To see what works and what doesn’t.

I don’t know why but I just love these kinds of experiments.

It’s like playing monopoly with all of this paper cash.

With the only difference that you end up making real cash…

The results are ok.

Nothing exceptional.

But still not too bad.

Overall I ended up making $640 with 30 stories if I’m reading the dashboard correctly.

Not much if you live in New York. But if you live in let’s say Thailand that’s already a few months of rent…

$640 bucks for 30 stories

That means that on average I made about $20 per member story.

I don’t know how much you get when you do freelance writing.

But $20 for a well researched and relatively long post it probably not that much.

Luckily I just recycled my already existing posts. More on this in a bit…

So if you do it just for fun it’s definitely an interesting side income.

That you could then re-invest in other side income generating projects.

Which I did for example.

Needless to say that I lost it again.

Long story short, let’s take a look at some more stats….

My best performing story did around $100.

But the only reason it was so successful was because I sent a link to this story to my publication’s followers.

My best performing post so far made close to $100

All the other stories were somewhere between 1–20 bucks each. The good news is that some posts generate revenues over and over again. The bad news is that after 10 days a post is usually dead and doesn’t generate anything anymore.

SO WHAT’S A CLAP REALLY WORTH?

Looking at the value of a clap in my case it ranges anywhere between 50 cents and 1 dollar. When I calculated this, I only took the number of claps from members into account. Because only claps from members lead to a payout.

That’s the way Medium works. You get a share of the $5 each Medium member pays whenever they clap. The more claps to all sorts of different writers a member gives, the smaller the value of a clap for you.

So if I’d also add the number of non member claps I got, then the value of a clap would probably be somewhere around 10–20 cents per clap…

# DO YOU NEED A HUGE AUDIENCE?

I’m not sure about this. But my reach on member stories is insanely low. Even though I have almost 50,000 followers with my profile and another 70,000 with my publication Thought Pills all of my member stories get only 100–200 organic views from Medium itself. At best. This isn’t a lot considering the number of followers I have.

And it makes a hell lot of sense. As Medium is currently experimenting and probably wants as many writers as possible to join their program, they need to make sure that new writers make enough to keep writing. Especially the good ones who don’t have a big audience yet.

So they have to somehow restrict people with an audience that’s just too big or else all the big writers would get the entire pie and no new writers would join. And when no new writers join then the value of a membership doesn’t increase.

The more value (potential) members get for their $5 (e.g. a lot of different and good writers), the more people are going to upgrade to a paid membership. And the more revenues Medium will generate and the higher the probability that it’s going to survive a little longer.

So the way Medium seems to regulate this (and I’m probably wrong here) is that if around 30% of the first 30 or so views lead to claps, then your views will continue to go up. Meaning that your story will be shown to more people. And once the ratio of views/claps goes down it seems that the views overall will go down too and the story won’t be shown to anyone else anymore.

That way Medium seems to make sure that only high quality stuff is shown to its members (and non members). And it’s not based on already existing followers.

This seems to be a good way to get writers with a relatively small audience to benefit from the entire program. And in the end Medium will also benefit because the perceived value of a membership increases.

Bottom line: if a post is good it will reach more people. If a post is just click bait or just popular because the author has a huge audience bad a bad view/clap ratio then nothing is going to happen.

But again. I might be wrong. And Medium’s algorithm might not be there yet…

# CAN I POST MY MEMBER STORIES IN PUBLICATIONS?

As of right now publications can’t add partner stories to their publications. Which of course makes a lot of sense, too. Because once publications, especially the big ones can add partner stories then the overall value of a clap would go down dramatically.

Simply because reach of publications is so much higher than an author’s individual reach. So the amount of available member fees to distribute wouldn’t be enough anymore to offer interesting payouts to writers.

The whole thing is pretty simple. If you have 1,000,000 claps and membership fees of let’s say $1,000,000 then the value of a member clap would be $1. If on the other hand you have 1 billion claps but only $1,000,000 to distribute then the value of a member clap would be just a few cents.

And then the program would be a lot less attractive with average payouts per (good) story of maybe $2 instead of $20…

# HOW TO SAVE TIME

Alright. If you’re skimming this post and only want to read one thing, then make it this one right here….

You don’t have to post original content in the partner program. You can simply repost stuff you already published somewhere else.

That means you can post some of your old blog posts as member stories. Or just repost some of your old Medium stories.

That’s all I did. I just reposted stories I already published on my blog and or on Medium a few months ago. So I didn’t even have to write any new stuff. Just recycle your old stuff and post it as member story. That’s all I did.

All I did was that I went through my Medium stats and simply reposted my best performing posts. REPOST. NOT CHANGE.

So each member story took me less than 5 minutes. And I ended up making more than $600 with those recycled stories…

But what if some of your old readers will read the same story again?

I’m not familiar with the entire algorithm. But it looks like Medium is mostly displaying your stories to their members. And non members aren’t able to read your stories anyway.

And even if your stories will also be shown to some of your followers, most of them probably never even saw your post when you posted it the first time around. Reach on Medium is far away from 100%…

# THE NUMBERS

Alright. So here’s a quick recap of my member stories experiment…

  • $640 with 30 recycled posts
  • Member stories generated ~ $20 on average
  • Average value of a member clap $0.5 — $1
  • Average views of all member stories 100–200 views

# SO IS IT WORTH IT?

I think there’s no better time than now. Over time those numbers will go down. For sure. And competition will get bigger and bigger. And the average payout for a (good) post will probably also go down dramatically…

Did you know that?

I have a daily email subscription where I send out one “thought pill” a day. You can join it here.

In case you want to know how to build and grow your audience on Medium, feel free to check out Yann’s Audience Report.