To Make Money On Medium’s Partner Program, Know Thy Audience

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If you have started writing on Medium, then by now you have likely heard of Medium’s Partner Program — it’s a pretty cool concept that allows writers to make money.

Before publishing a story, a writer can choose to make that story eligible for the partner program and therefore eligible to make money, as seen below.

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All stories part of the program are then put behind Medium’s paywall. Non-subscribers only get a few free stories behind the paywall per month before they have to pay a $50 yearly subscription fee for Medium.

Partner stories earn money based on how much they are read or applauded by Medium subscribers.

The plus side of the program is that you can make money, but the down side is that your story will likely not be able to reach as many people because it’s behind a paywall.

Regardless, if you are going to go the partner program route, KNOW THY AUDIENCE.

Since joining Medium, I have had a ton of luck making money.

I have been writing on the platform since December and have only made $15 through 13 stories, although some of those stories are reprints from a website I freelance for.

However, just by posting stories on a variety of topics and looking at stats, subjects I have written about and money made, I can definitely tell that Medium subscribers tend to skew toward certain topics.

The articles I have written on Medium mostly fall under the categories technology, business or movies.

Let me tell you something right now: Unless you can get a really big following , Medium should not be your go-to outlet for movie takes and reviews.

I have done four posts on movie reviews and three of them have made no money and gotten less than 100 reads.

I did do one about Game of Thrones that made $3, but there are so many social media groups with such large followings that you can really capture a wide audience just because of how huge the show is.

Medium subscribers are really in the tech, business and politics communities. Take two of the stories I wrote that actually made some money, albeit not a lot.

One was a deep dive about the U.S. national debt:

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The post only got 30 views and made $2, which tells me that while it wasn’t read a whole lot, most of the readers must have been subscribers.

The same can be said of this article on startups and Uberization:

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Again, only 70 total views, but it made $3, meaning the post likely was viewed by many subscribers.

It is imperative to capture Medium subscribers because, as I mentioned above, only their views get you paid.

Here is an example of a random post I did on a new type of fly-fishing rod. There was a huge fly-fishing group on Facebook. I posted the story on the group’s wall and it blew up on the page and got tons of views:

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Look at that, 1,600 views with nearly half of them reading the article but no money made.

Needless to say, members of the fly-fishing community are not Medium subscribers.

Another thing to know about Medium is that this is not really a news site — people look elsewhere for breaking news.

What they will come to Medium for is extremely unique perspectives, guides and most importantly, insight from real life.

One of the best things I think you can do on Medium is to inject your life experiences into your writing because despite who you are, if you go through an experience, you have valuable insight that you typically can’t get from an article or research.

Tell someone about the time you went sky diving, or learned to play the trumpet, or just a weird experience that might be interesting.

In fact, my best performing story thus far is from one of those weird experiences.

If you’ve ever been to CVS, then you know how ridiculous those long paper receipts are — for purchasing something as simple as a tooth brush.

Having heard my friends find the receipts amusing and experienced them myself, I wrote a story about how ridiculous the paper receipts were and did some research on why the CVS rewards program operates like it does.

My results:

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Pretty good for someone with only 53 followers.

I found something unique that other people noticed, injected my actual life experience into it and produced something the Medium audience wanted to read.

Also, notice above the main stats in tiny writing is a line that says, “Distributed by curators in Business.”

That means that curators that Medium hires to go through probably hundreds of stories per day found the story unique enough to put on their main business page. That is huge for reach because anyone who goes to the main business page on Medium would now see my story about CVS.


I still have much to learn about the way Medium’s algorithm works, but I think for now, I will definitely try to make Medium partner stories more tailored to the business and tech community as well as personal experiences.

Full-time journalist and Content Strategy Lead at GoingVC writing about business, the economy, startup culture movies, sports and much more.

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