A year ago, publishing platform Medium debuted a new business model where readers could pay a monthly fee to access exclusive, curated content, and would reward participating partners by offering a revenue share based on a metrics like time spent reading and the more explicit “claps” – Medium’s form of the “Like.” Now, Medium will reward select partners with direct cash bonuses as well, doled out at the company’s discretion.
The update was first noticed by Hunter Walk, who tweeted about the change after receiving a cash bonus of $100 for his Medium story, “Giving Visionary Women Their Due.”
In an email sent to him by Medium, the company said it wanted to offer an update on how his earnings were calculated.
“In addition to earning money when Medium members engage with your work, our system added bonuses to stories that our editors designate as high quality in important topic areas,” the email read.
Until now, Medium rewarded partners based on engagement with the story from each individual subscriber. The $5 per month subscription fee is distributed to each partner who had a story or stories the individual subscriber read during the month.
It’s worth noting the stark contrast between this model and traditional social media, where publishers are rewarded on clicks and shares – something which encourages clickbait and sensational posts. Not only was Medium already rewarding time spent reading – typically, one of the ways to measure content quality – it’s now directly seeding its network by paying for the kind of work it wants to see.
Quality is something Medium has been thinking a lot about, which is why it introduced the subscription model. Without advertising, there’s less of a commercial incentive to publish and spread misinformation, Medium CEO Ev Williams (pictured above) had previously said.
While originally open only to publishers, Medium last fall expanded the partner program to any author on its platform. That means, anyone would be eligible to receive these cash rewards. Payments are deposited into partners’ bank account monthly, and can be tracked on the Partner Dashboard.
Reached for comment (as there had been no formal announcement), Medium confirmed this is the first week the cash bonuses have been added to its partner payouts.
The subject matter Medium is looking for will vary, we’re told, but will include “deep, insightful, expert stories” that the company believes its members will enjoy. (A sample selection is here.)
To determine which stories receive a bonus, Medium curators will read all content published for members, then mark those they believe to be high-quality in an important topic area in order to reward the author.
The bonus level is currently set at $100, but that could change in the future.
“Medium Editor’s bonuses are part of our continuing effort to build a system that pays writers based on value to readers, not click value to advertisers,” a Medium spokesperson told TechCrunch. “We’re focused on quality, and on building the best subscription-based platform for reading and writing, where people can discover unique ideas and perspectives all in one place. We want to help create a path for writers that hasn’t existed before.”