All That’s Curated is Not Gold

It’s actually only about $1.75

There’s a lot going on here. Let me explain.

Medium and its conglomerates inspire me every single day. Seriously. They’ve properly positioned themselves as a smooth, smart, creative product for smooth, smart, creative people. Look, it’s actually a platform that appreciates your abilities and ideas as a writer and provides clear, tangible incentive to capitalize on them; Medium is simply magical.

With premium tools at our fingertips and a healthy ecosystem to thrive within, the sky is the limit on Medium.

Use Your Power For Good

I mentioned ‘tangible incentive’ and I couldn’t have said it better, if I do say so myself. Medium’s business model is rather captivating because they found an angelic way to empower their community without advertising or other ulterior motives.

The entire system runs off 1 goal: write something worth reading.

This a remarkable (and refreshing) mediator of monetization for readers, writers, and stakeholders alike. As long as people are rewarded for quality writing, Medium will have purpose and power in the digital landscape.

When interests, passions, and objectives align, people become intrinsically motivated by their environment; a culture forms as a result.

This is the dynamic I’ve witnessed in my time being a player of this platform. I find that each cohort of Medium acts as a driver, prompting others to fulfill the mission of “write something worth reading.” The more awesomeness I discover, the more propelled I am to produce, and support, something of value.

Great writing = happy readers and happy Medium

Happy Medium = incentivized writers and intrigued readers

Intrigued readers = happy writers and happy Medium

And the feedback loop continues; it’s beautiful.

The Bearer of Bad News

I’ve been consistently writing on Medium for 15 months. By ‘consistent’ I mean publishing every two or three days. By ‘on Medium’ I mean making new, original content specifically for this platform.

By my estimation, I’ve grown linearly in my writing prowess, reach, and overall views—which is how it should be. Consistent improvement is damn near essential to my perpetual behavior of creating stories for this website. So yes, my motivation to write on Medium is still alive and well.

But it’s thinning.

One thing that has not grown, or showed any signs of consistency or direction, is the level to which I am compensated by the Medium Partner Program. You’d think this would correlate with the other improvements I mentioned above, but, for whatever reason, it doesn’t. You can imagine the potential disaster this may have on the feedback loop. This is a wretch in the system — something threatening the tranquility Medium worked so hard to establish in the first place.

Turns Out, Money Does Complicate Things

Unfortunately, when money’s involved, it becomes the ultimate motivatior of action and behavior; other intangibles fall by the wayside because “money talks and bullshit walks.” For some reason, that saying is readily available in my brain. It’s true though, we’d be foolish to deny the obvious reality that people associate worth and value with currency.

That said, discrepancies surrounding compensation is one of, if not the most, talked about issue plaguing Medium writers. Often times, we feel the amount shown in our bank account is not in-sync with the amount of work put forth throughout the month. Without a doubt, it’s causing friction and dissatisfaction. But “pay me more money” is certainly not the message I’m sending here. It’s more like “pay me what I deserve.” I want to be transparent and hold Medium accountable for this deeply disappointing reality regarding compensation:

I wrote a 5-minute story for the MPP. Medium distributes story under “Social Media” within minutes of publishing. The story does well. 50% read ratio with 220 claps from 15 fans. Only decent numbers at large, but an A+ story, in every aspect, by my personal standards. A month later, I’ve earned $1.75 from the piece.

My only question: How?!

(Is it a clapping issue?)

How does a story with more views, more read time, and more claps earn less than [pretty much] anything else I’ve ever written? These are the measurements repeatedly stated as determining factors for how much I am paid for my writing. Not to mention, Medium handpicked the story to get distributed, which reinforces its perceived worth. Bottom line, I put in the work, I checked all the boxes, and I thought I passed the test with flying colors — realizing I earned a D- is completely disheartening.

I promise, this complaint is coming from a place of genuine concern; these results are counter-intuitive to everything I thought I knew about payment. So, my reason for writing this ultimately boils down to 2 things:

  1. I’m bitter and biased, sure.
  2. Writers are potentially working disproportionately to the payoff of getting curated / distributed.

I’ve been fortunate enough to earn a helping hand from Medium with several of my stories. This is not the case, though, for many other writers. Surely, there’s a ‘starving artist’ mentality out there thinking: “Damn, if I could just get one of my stories picked up by Medium…”

There are writers working their asses off to make this happen and I’m shining light on what those results actually look like.

The grass isn’t always greener on the other side — sometimes, it’s just a dollar, seventy-five.

Bored, uneducated, homeless — em dashes are my specialty. I write what I see, think, and feel. That’s it.

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