In order to help illustrate exactly how earnings are calculated let’s walk through, step-by-step, how earnings accrue in a number of different scenarios.
Step 1: stories earn engagement points
Instead of simply using the member read time as the single input to earnings, we’re moving to a system where reads and engagements earn different amounts of points based on member activity on your stories.
Scenario 1: Logged out user
Someone clicks on a link to your story from search, or from a share on social media. They aren’t logged in to Medium. This will be counted as a non-member view on your story stats page. If they read for over 30 seconds they’ll be counted as a non-member read as well. Since they’re logged out, no other engagements are possible. No earnings will accrue.
Scenario 2: Logged in, non-member user
Same as above, except this time when they visit your story page they’re logged in as a non-member account. This will also be counted as a view in your story stats. If they stay for 30 seconds it will count as a non-member read as well. If they clap, highlight, or respond to the story, these actions will show up in your story stats but will not count towards earnings.
Scenario 3: Member views but doesn’t read
Same as above, but this time they’re logged in to a member account. They will be counted as a member view in your story stats, but if they hit the back button or close the tab or swipe away from the story before 30 seconds, it will not count towards earnings.
Scenario 4: Member view and read, no engagements
Same as above, but this time they do stay on the page for at least 30 seconds. This means that they will also be counted as a member read and their time reading will count towards your earnings.
Scenario 5: Member view, read, and some engagements
Same as above, but in addition to being read, they also give the story 10 claps, highlight 2 sentences, and leave a response. For a given reader, it doesn’t matter how many claps, highlights, or response they give, but each will increase earnings for the story the first time they happen.
Scenario 6: Member view, read, engagements, and follows the author
Same as scenarios 4 and 5 but in addition to reading the story they also decide to follow the author within a couple hours of reading it. Note that the follow doesn’t have to happen directly from the story page, but can also come from the profile page. This leads to increased earnings for that story if it’s the first time this person has followed the author.
Step 2: Adjustments are applied to the points
Adjustment 1: Follower Bonus
When collecting up all the points for each member who engaged with your stories on a given day, if a member follows the author of the story or publication that the story belongs to, we give those points a follower bonus. The reason we are doing this is to incentivize authors to establish longer-term readerships and communities around shared areas of interest. You can think of this as the successor to the referral bonus, in the sense that we believe that readers, authors, and Medium all benefit when we write in ways that appeal to repeat readers. As a reader, we encourage you to follow the authors and pubs that you love, not only because you end up seeing more of their stories, but also because you end up supporting them more when you do read and engage with their stories.
Adjustment 2: Boost Bonus
Boost is open to all authors across all topic categories. The criteria that community members and our internal curation team use to nominate stories for boosting is an expression of our mission to elevate the best personal essays, hidden life wisdom, and deep knowledge that is locked up in each and every one of us. Because we believe in it so strongly, we are not only increasing its distribution across Medium, but will also be giving reads and engagements from members an additional earnings bonus. This will be proportional to the engagement points earned, and the number of members who engaged with your stories.
Adjustment 3: Adjustments based on read-through-rate
After all of the above engagement points and bonuses have been applied for a given story on a given day, we do one last adjustment to help correct for clickbait and other forms of attention grabbing that the story ultimately wasn’t able to deliver on. Stories with a lower than average read-through rate will be adjusted down in earnings, and stories with a higher than average read-through rate will be adjusted up in earnings. Read-through rate is calculated as:
Total number of members who read your story for 30+ seconds / Total number of members who loaded your story
Note that this isn’t about scrolling to the bottom of the page, and also doesn’t punish longer stories that have longer estimated reading times. It’s really about that first 30 seconds on the page which we believe is enough time for a reader to assess whether or not a story will deliver on the promise of the title and preview.