Who’s Making Money on Medium Right Now?
With the possible exception of Tim Denning, the Medium heavyweights of yore are watching their earning crater under the new system. Shaunta Grimes is making 90% less than she used to. Shannon Ashley notes that her stats are worst they‘ve been in years.
I was doing fine, too—after just a few months on the platform, I had a $2,000 story and another $800 one, and most of the rest earned in the $30 range—but none of my more recent articles are gaining any meaningful traction. Even the ones in big publications are getting less than 200 views.
So if the people who used to earn the big bucks on Medium aren’t earning them anymore, who is that money going to?
I have two theories.
1. Commiseration writing
My feed lately has been filled to the brim with mediocre to bad writing on some theme of “poor me.” I read and write a lot about parenting, so most of the ones I see are along the lines of “my husband isn’t helping enough.” (I have thoughts about that.) Or, on the better-written end, ones like Tara Blair Ball’s very popular piece about her dissatisfaction with her post-partum body (I have thoughts about that, too). I’ll admit, it’s a tough time, I’ve written some pity pieces myself, but I do think they can be lazy, and I don’t generally enjoy reading them.
I think these pieces are rising to the top because the draw a lot of comments from people who feel the same way, or who have advice. It’s a misery-loves-company sort of thing. I get it, but Medium’s focus on the engagement/relational piece of the algorithm here is making me want to cancel my membership because I’m no longer learning anything meaningful from my feed.
2. Medium keeping a bigger cut
Medium has never told their writers what percentage of the membership fees they keep for the company, and what percentage they divvy up amongst the writers. If I were running Medium, I would consider a new algorithm and rebrand the perfect time to increase the company’s cut of the revenue; everyone will blame the algorithm and themselves, and no one will think to blame Medium for just keeping more of the money. They have a big…