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Goodbye Medium?

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I was already wondering whether I should renew my Medium membership when it expires (see Should I Cancel my Medium Membership? — June). Then out of the blue, Medium’s  Buster Benson announced Changes to the Medium Partner Program. These changes, which could be a game-changer, include:

Extending the Partner Program to 12 more countries

In my opinion, this is the best of the changes. I’m very pleased that this will give more people to earn from their writing. This has been the most requested change since the Partner Program launched.

Changing the payout calculation

Some Members have told Medium they want to read, and some authors want to write deep, nuanced, human stories. The new payout calculation will be more biased toward this kind of story. Unfortunately, I don’t write this type of story, so my earnings will be even less.

Some Medium members subscribe because they are interested in topics such as AI, Cryptocurrencies, Science, Learning and the environment. Biasing payments away from these stories could mean fewer will be written and more readers cancelling their subscriptions.

Changing the Partner Program joining requirements

Writers will no longer need to meet the arbitrary target of 100 followers to join the Partner Program. Instead, Medium membership will be a prerequisite for joining. This change takes effect from 1 August for writers who have not yet joined the Partner Program. Authors already in the Partner Program will not be required to become members, but I imagine this will soon be required.

Changes to earnings based on revised metrics

Medium will keep member read/listening time in the earnings calculation (the primary signal used in the Partner Program today). They will start including more engagement signals: claps, highlights, replies and follows. For the purposes of earnings, only the first clap/highlight/reply/follow will be counted, and subsequent engagements by the same person won’t increase earnings. The goal is to get closer to identifying story quality by looking beyond its ability to grab attention. Sparking a discussion or inspiring highlights and claps are signs that it resonated with the reader more deeply. In the other direction, bouncing from a story before reading it for 30 seconds will prevent earnings from accruing from that member. These changes are a better measure of engagement with a story.

Removing the Referral Bonus

Although Medium says that the Referral Bonus hasn’t been a great success, removing it removes yet another earning opportunity. This increases the chances of me making a loss.

If you think you will miss this earning opportunity, you may want to become a Learning Pages Member and get a referral link with similar rewards.


The changes to the earnings metrics are good for all writers. The other changes will make little difference to Medium’s top writers, but they make it more likely that I will not renew my Medium membership.

Although my reason for writing is not to make money, and I’m happy making a net zero income, I don’t want to have to pay to write and make a loss on Medium.

So, if I decide not to renew my Medium membership and Medium decides to throw me out of the Partner Program, I will be left with two choices:

  1. Stop writing on Medium or
  2. Stop publishing early-access and exclusive articles on Medium. All my articles will, of course, be accessible to supporters on the Learning Pages website. Become a Learning Pages Supporter.

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