Here’s How Medium Can Help Writers Get Paid for Their Work
You’ve probably heard of Medium, the website where you can share your writing with the click of a button.
But did you know that Medium has ways to make it easier for you to make money from your writing?
Medium’s Partner Program gives you a way to get paid for your writing based on how many people engage with it. Now, earning a lot of money is a different story. Since pay is determined by reader engagement, so to make money, you have to get people to pay attention.
That’s not the only option, though. Medium-owned publications like Gen, OneZero, and Zora pay as much as $1 per word. But to get that money, you need to convince an editor to take your work.
We talked to a few writers who have made money through Medium to share their best tips for using the website to make some money.
Option 1: Become a Medium Partner
To understand how the Partner Program works, we asked two writers — a beginner and an old-timer — to share how they make money on the site.
Danielle Sullivan is an autistic mom who runs Neurodiverging, a blog and podcast about neurodivergent family life — and she just started publishing with the Medium Partner Program. In the past month, she made $20 for an article with 2,000 views.
Tom Blake, on the other hand, has been a Medium Partner since 2018. The marketing blogger behind This Online World crossed the $1,000-mark on the site earlier this year.
Both have some tips for new Medium Partners.
1. Write (or Rewrite) Your Post
Writers face few limits when it comes to what they can publish on Medium — just time and imagination. Sullivan opted to write “smaller, personal opinion pieces” that only took “a couple of hours to put together.”
To publish on the Medium Partner Program, you don’t necessarily have to write something new. Republished posts are perfectly fine.
“If you’re a blogger, republishing your content on Medium is a low-effort way to boost your revenue and reach,” Blake said.
2. Publish Your Post
It’s easy to make an attractive, professional post in Medium. The in-browser word processor allows you to add headers, images, and tags.
3. Promote Your Work
Medium doesn’t publicize how exactly their payment system works, but we do know that more clicks, longer reading time and “claps” (likes or kudos) from paid Medium subscribers can lead to higher payouts.
Basically, it’s not enough to just get people to click on your article — you need them to actually pay attention to what you wrote.
One way to get attention is catching the eye of Medium editors. One of Sullivan’s articles got 2,000 views after Human Parts, a Medium publication, chose to feature it on their page.
4. Profit — Maybe
Sullivan made $20 last month. That’s pretty typical, according to Medium’s statistics.
In May 2019, the site offered a peek behind the curtain:
- 55% of Medium Partners earned money
- Less than 10% earned over $100
- The highest earner that month made $9,743.90
Medium also selects several writers each month to receive an Author Bonus, or some extra cash for writers doing good work on the site.
Blake said this can be a much-appreciated boost for new writers.
“At that time in my blogging career, even earning $50 per month from my blog was a massive deal,” he said. “When I woke up and saw that my first Medium story earned $100 out of the gate, I couldn’t believe it.”
Pros and Cons of the Medium Partner Program
- You can write something and earn money from it very quickly.
- An active audience helps promote your work.
- You’re on your own. No editing team!
- Payouts can be small.
Option 2: Write for a Medium Publication
You don’t have to be a lone wolf on Medium. Medium-branded publications are made up of editors who work with writers to publish quality articles, like any conventional media outlet. These publications are known to pay fairly and well.
Writer Kelly Dawson earned $2,050 for her piece in Gay Mag, a Medium-owned publication that ended operations early this year. And she did it writing about a topic that mattered to her: the economic challenges faced by women with disabilities.
1. Choose Your Publication
Gay Mag may be defunct, but several other Medium publications are still around and thriving.
The Medium Editorial Group includes:
- Zora — “for, by, and about women of color”
- Elemental — “science-backed health and wellness coverage”
- Human Parts — “Medium’s home for personal stories and perspectives”
- and many more!
2. Pitch the Editor
A pitch is an email in which you outline the story you want to sell. Some editors get hundreds of pitches every week, and it can be tough to stand out.
Here are some general tips to help get your pitch accepted:
- Pitch what you’re passionate about.
- Have an original angle.
- Consider the publication’s audience.
- Explain why you’re the best person for the job.
Even then, it’s a gamble. Dawson had pitched her story to several publications without hearing back.
“With Gay Mag, I emphasized that this was a story about marginalized voices that needed to be told,” she said. The editor saw her vision and she got her “yes.”
3. Write the Piece
Once you’ve secured an assignment, the real work begins.
For Dawson’s piece, she interviewed sources, wrote the piece, and went through multiple rounds of edits. Not every assignment will require that level of work, but many high-paying ones do.
“When I got the go-ahead, I delivered,” Dawson said. “As a freelance writer, that’s the best you can do.”
4. Profit — Maybe
While rates can vary, writers can expect to earn a fair wage writing for Medium-owned publications.
At the same time, it’s not exactly a get-rich-quick scheme. Dawson earned $2050 from her piece, but she also worked on it on and off for a year!
Keep track of your hours when working on a per-word assignment. You don’t want to spend so long on a piece that you make less than minimum wage.
Pros and Cons of Writing for Medium Publications
- Really decent payment — like, $1-per-word decent!
- You can work with an editorial team to create a stellar piece.
- You have to convince an editor to take your work.
Ciara Ainsley McLaren is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.