Medium Goes Pay to Play

Plus, a new emphasis on “human” content

Andy Spears
3 min readJul 21


Photo by Jingming Pan on Unsplash

The Golden Age of Medium might have been during the COVID pandemic.

People were stuck inside, not at an office, and had lots of available time.

Writers seemed to enjoy the outlet Medium provided and there were plenty of eager readers willing to sign up for the Netflix of the written word.

People found they could earn money here — and more writers flocked to the platform.

As the pandemic eased, though, Medium went through a transformation.

The platform got a new CEO, reads went down, and some writers who had been earning solid income here started complaining about losing a reliable revenue stream.

There have been lots of suggestions about how to address this challenge.

One that has been the subject of much debate:

Anyone who is a Medium Partner Program member must also be a paying Medium member.

So, right now, it is possible to be in the MPP and NOT be a paying Medium member — you earn from the readers who read you but don’t pay for or receive the benefits of Medium membership.

A Medium membership is $5 a month and gives you access to all the stories on the platform. A portion of your monthly fee goes to support the writers you read.

The thinking on one side seems to suggest that anyone benefiting from paying Medium readers by way of the MPP ought to at least be a paying member themselves.

This would have a few benefits.

First, it could serve as a barrier to entry — people who are not serious about writing might be deterred by the fee. Or, people who can’t earn at least their membership fee ($5/month) would not find writing on the platform worth it.

Ostensibly, then, the quality of writing would improve.

Second, it may encourage more Medium memberships, meaning more potential revenue for all writers.

Medium has apparently decided — whether for the above reasons or others — that if you want to earn through the MPP, you’ll have to pay to play by being a Medium member.



Andy Spears

Writer and policy advocate living in Nashville, TN —Public Policy Ph.D. — writes on education policy, consumer affairs, and more . . .