The Medium Partner Program allows writers to earn money for the content they publish on Medium based on engagement from Medium members. In late October, we’ll be updating how we calculate your stories’ earnings, as well as improving your story stats page.
As always, our goals are to better reward the quality stories that resonate with readers, as well as to help you understand your stories’ performance and earnings.
Here’s what’s changing:
- We will calculate earnings based on the reading time of Medium members.
- We will include reading time from non-members too, once they become members.
- Your earnings will be updated daily, not weekly.
- Your story stats will show new metrics to explain your earnings.
Below we will describe these changes in greater detail and answer some common questions.
Timeline of the upcoming changes to the earnings system
- Through Sunday 10/27
- You’ll continue to earn under the current model.
- Monday 10/28
- We’ll kick off your payment for the standard 4 weeks of October (9/29-10/27) earlier than normal, on Monday (10/28) instead of on Wednesday (10/30).
- We’ll begin calculating your earnings using the new model on Monday 10/28 at 12:00am UTC.
- You’ll gain access to your updated story stats pages and earnings dashboard.
- Moving forward
- We’ll send payment for earnings from each calendar month by the 8th of the following month.
- Your first payment will be sent on Friday, 11/8, covering earnings from the four days of 10/28-10/31.
- Your second payment will be sent Sunday, 12/8, covering earnings from the full month of 11/01-11/30.
How we calculate story earnings
Partner Program writers are paid monthly based on how much time Medium members spend reading their stories. We’re always working to improve our model as we learn. Initially, we will calculate earnings based on two components:
How long members spend reading your story
As Medium members spend more time reading your story (“member reading time”), you will earn more.
We’ve improved our story stats page to show both your story’s daily total member reading time and its daily earnings, so that you can understand how much you are earning over time and where your earnings come from. Note that you will still be paid once per month.
When we calculate your story’s earnings, we’ll also include reading time from non-members if they become members within 30 days of reading your story. So we encourage you to share your stories widely!
How much of their monthly reading time members spend on your story
By calculating a share of member reading time, we support authors who write about unique topics and connect with loyal readers. For example, if last month a member spent 10% of their monthly reading time on your story, you will receive 10% of their share (a portion of their subscription fee).
Imagine an author writes about fly fishing. She finds an audience of fly fishing enthusiasts who subscribe to Medium primarily to read her stories, meaning she receives a strong share of reading time from each of her readers. In contrast, an author who writes about a wide variety of topics might receive smaller shares from a broader audience of readers, who also read a variety of other authors. While the generalist will often earn a lot through the first total reading time part, the fly fisher is well equipped to earn through this share part — even with a smaller audience.
How do you technically calculate reading time?
We calculate reading time based on the amount of time that a viewer spends actively reading on the page. We consider the viewer’s scrolling and activity, and then determine how long the viewer spent reading the story. We take care to differentiate between gaps in scroll activity versus long periods of time during which the viewer stepped away for a coffee break.
Can I use my daily stats to calculate that I earn $X per minute read or per word?
No, for a few reasons. First, Partner Program payouts are tied to the number of active Medium members, so we will pay more as our member base continues to grow. Second, your earnings are calculated based on a mix of factors, not a straight calculation based on word or time count. Third, your daily views and reading time are not the only input into your daily earnings. Other components of your earnings are lagging, meaning that it may take a while for you to earn for each view—it’s not as straightforward as translating daily reading into earnings.
When will I be paid each month?
We’ll typically initiate sending payments for each month (earnings for days in that calendar month) by the 8th of the following month. Payments may take 5-7 business days to appear in your bank account.
For example, we’ll initiate payments for earnings from December 1-31 by January 8th. The time it may take to receive those amounts in your bank account may vary.
When are my daily earnings updated? How do you define a “day”?
Earnings are updated every day. We use UTC days, meaning we include all earnings from activity during midnight UTC to 11:59 PM UTC. Earnings are then updated within a few hours.
For example, your earnings for “October 25” will include reading activity from 12:00:00am UTC on 9/25 (5:00:00pm PST on 9/24) to 11:59:59am UTC on 9/25 (4:59:59pm PST on 9/24).
We will aim to update your story stats page within 6-12 hours of the close of the “day,” meaning typically between 11:00pm PST and 5:00am PST.
Why do my earnings stats not line up with my user stats page or notifications?
There are a few things we recommend checking:
- First, your earnings include views and activity based on UTC days, meaning we include all earnings from activity during midnight UTC to 11:59 PM UTC. This might be different from your local timezone, which is what we use to display your user stats as well as your notifications. This would mean you might receive notifications that appear to be from the same day but are treated as separate days when we calculate earnings.
- Second, you may observe slight changes to your stats, especially recent hours, based on the way that we calculate and provide real-time metrics updates. For more information, please see the article “Why do I see a sudden change in my stats?”.
Why do I sometimes earn more on days when I receive less member reading time or views?
You may earn on days where you don’t receive as much member reading time, because some pieces of your earnings calculation are lagging. This means that it may take up to weeks after a view for you to earn on that view.
For example, if a free user reads your story and then, weeks later, subscribes to Medium membership, you will earn for their reading time long after their read occurred.
You may also earn for reading time by non-members when they later subscribe to membership. Their earlier reading time will not retroactively appear on your graph, even once they become members.
How will shorter pieces perform in this new model?
When short pieces are well-written and thought provoking, we’ve found that readers will end up spending more time with the piece. And vice versa: if a long piece is filled with fluff, readers simply won’t reach the end. In a world competing for attention, readers spend their limited time where it counts. Longer stories don’t guarantee more reading time. On average, readers actually spend the most time reading mid-length pieces.
In addition, half of the earnings model is based on a proportional share. If you write a short piece that is read by people who predominantly read other short pieces (e.g., an audience who reads mostly poetry), then your story will receive a meaningful portion of share earnings. The outcome will be similar to if you’d written a long piece read by people who predominantly read other long pieces.
To speak to visual media in particular, such as cartoons and comics, many successful comics have layers of depth and require involved thinking or reading — even zooming or scrolling. Accordingly, we’ve seen many comics, both long and short, that accrue a lot of reading time and therefore set up to receive meaningful earnings. You can find many examples of great and substantive comics here.
All in all, we hope our system supports all thoughtful work, long or short, and we plan to keep a careful eye on the outcomes as we learn and iterate into the future.
Yes, we treat views from a Friend Link the same as views not from a Friend Link. If the view qualifies for earnings, we will consider it regardless of whether or not it comes from a Friend Link.
If you are enrolled in the Partner Program with approved tax documents, then your stories are eligible to earn during periods of time when they are public and set to earn as part of Medium’s paywall.
- If a story earns money and then later is modified to be ineligible to earn for legitimate reasons (e.g., you choose to unlist the story), then you will still receive those prior earnings at the end of the month.* Your story will not accrue additional earnings for the time period during which it is ineligible to earn.
- If a story earns money and then later is modified to be ineligible to earn for illegitimate reasons (e.g., the story violates our Terms), then we reserve the right to withhold payment.
* Provided you are still in good standing with Medium, have approved tax documents, etc. Earnings estimates are non-binding.
Medium’s publication editors may occasionally reach out to you with an offer of an editorial bonus.
If you accept the offer, then we’ll include that bonus as part of your total earnings for the day on which you accepted. For example, if you organically earn $50 on the same day that you accept a $100 bonus, then you will see total earnings of $150 for that day.