As anyone who was been a writer on Medium for more than a few years can tell you, Medium is always making changes to the platform. Specifically, Medium has altered the method through which it compensates writers, several times. However, I was surprised when I received an email yesterday notifying me of that I had received a $500 bonus payment from Medium, as part of a newly announced “Medium Partner Program bonus tiers“:
While I was thrilled to get the $500 Medium bonus, I was even more excited because I had previously been skeptical that Medium would continue making such large bonus payments, as it had in the previous month.
Interestingly, although Medium was clearly trying to be more transparent in how recipients were selected, the exact wording was somewhat vague:
This past month, you were in the top 1,000 writers in the Partner Program. Congratulations! To celebrate your achievement, we’re rewarding you with a $500 bonus.
When we awarded bonuses in April, we heard from writers that the criteria for qualifying wasn’t clear. We listened, and for May, we simplified how we picked. Now, bonuses are based solely on the top writers in the Partner Program in a specific month.
Medium members are drawn to thought-provoking writing from a diverse array of voices. So to remain a top Partner Program writer, we recommend regularly publishing unique stories for members to explore, read, and love. In other words, keep doing what you’re doing!
– Your friends at Medium“
“Now, bonuses are based solely on the top writers in the Partner Program in a specific month.”
I’ve reached out to Medium to clarify what metric is being used to determine who is a top writer” and I’ll update this article once I hear back. Regardless, the email and the collective reaction of Medium writers on various Medium writing Facebook groups, illuminated a few key details.
UPDATE: I spoke to Medium and they said it is not clear whether this bonus will become a regular thing. As to what metric they are using for “top writers” they said it was “based on the partner program earnings.”
1. Payment Tiers
The email includes a small and almost hidden image at the bottom, which lays out the payment tiers, at least for this month:
Top 1,000: $500
So there are three bonus tiers, with varying payment amounts. And a total of 2,000 writers receiving this bonus.
2. Medium Wants to Keep its Writers
To be clear, this is no small amount for Medium to pay out to writers. This is definitely the biggest move toward helping the platform’s writers since the creation of the Medium Partner Program itself. Medium is still paying the normal monthly payments in addition to the new Medium Partner Program bonus payments.
Medium already pays out millions of dollars through its standard Partner Program payments to writers. This new bonus would suggest that Medium is now spending an additional $575,000 per month to keep writers invested in the platform.
3. Bonus is Recurring
One of the first things I wondered about the bonus payments, when they arrived this month was- is this payment only going toward writers who have not already received it?
After all, I didn’t get the April bonus, so maybe that was part of the bonus payment concept?
However, after reaching out to many writers who received the payment last month and received the same bonus this month, that this bonus can be paid to the same writer and can be viewed as recurring.
This is noteworthy because Medium has offered $100 bonuses as a one-off payment in the past:
4. Multiple Medium Accounts are Eligible
When I logged into one of my multiple Medium accounts, I noticed that this second Medium account had actually received the $100 bonus!
This also occurred for at least seven other writers, so it is clear that Medium is paying its “top writers” by using the top 2,000 profiles.
This is not only interesting but a major validation of a strategy that I have long suggested to my newsletter subscribers (if you’re not a subscriber, join today!).
5. Medium May Have Changed Payment Methodology From April to May
In my previous analysis of the first Medium article bonus (in April), I analyzed the stats of all the Medium writers who received the bonus (or at least those that announced it publicly).
The number of posts varied widely and this did not seem to be the indicator of whether or not someone received the Medium bonus. Similarly, the follower count of each recipient varied in size. The mean and median of the number of posts per month and follower count, respectively, are shown below:
Based on this data, it would appear that the bonuses in April were awarded to writers using some broader (and different) criteria than just earnings, as was the case in May (for example, I personally earned more than some of the April recipients, and did not receive the bonus that month).
The email containing the criteria did change in its wording, suggesting that after the barrage of questions on how Medium selected their bonus winners, that Medium may have shifted to the more straightforward metric of the Partner Program:
Medium may continue to undergo a number of changes, but this latest pivot proves that Medium is committed to remaining competitive in the digital publishing landscape. Medium choosing to pay its top earning 2000 writers any bonus demonstrates that they are trying to retain platform talent (as opposed to offering this to a larger pool of new platform users as an incentive to write more than just 1-2 posts). This, combined with the recently announced Medium Referred Memberships (Medium’s Affiliate Program), are some of the reasons that Medium remains a go to platform for new writers.