How I can relate, Joao Nascimento! $50 is huge to me too, and that’s the reason why all my stories are locked because I refuse to work for free. As you might already know, Medium is how I’m flexing my editorial skills again and getting back on my feet after losing the last 5 years of my life to depression, and my livelihood (as a journalist) with it.
However, I apply the same principle to Medium as I’ve always applied to my work elsewhere. It is first and foremost driven by an ethos of service, which to me means leaving no reader behind regardless of means. In practice, although my stories are all locked so I can earn a little something for them (emphasis on little, believe me) I share open access links that bypass the paywall on Twitter and with anyone who requests them.
If this model sounds familiar, it’s because it was pioneered by The Guardian in the UK. The idea is that people who can afford to pay will do so in order for those who can’t to still have access to content. Think of it as socialism applied to journalism, which is the one and only way to go as far as I am concerned. Because journalism is service.
I’m very glad Medium seems to have understood this by allowing us to share friends’ links although I’m not sure how long that’s been going on for. I only joined the MPP in July, at the same time as my best friend gifted me a yearly membership. Prior to that, I had one piece professionally published on Medium in Feb 2017, during a rare moment of clarity that sadly didn’t last.
As for how much each story makes, it’s important to stress Medium is built on the audience engagement model therefore it’s quite unreasonable, IMO, to expect to earn the equivalent of a professional fee immediately even when one is a pro. The upside is that Medium allows you to get to work right away without having to waste time on pitches or indeed on chasing payment after publication, which used to be the bane of my existence as a freelancer. What’s more, you’re free to write about whatever the heck you fancy and see if it sticks.
Although generic clickbait rehashing popular opinions seems to do well, that’s not my market nor what I’d ever want to put in front of an editor when I get back into a more structured professional life. Anyone with semi-decent analytical skills can write clickbait, it’s formulaic but I personally find no joy in it, not even when my financial situation is dire and I have the skills to do it. In that sense, I too am probably poor because of honor, or rather what I’d call editorial self-respect. Writing is my vocation and raison d’être and I’m fiercely protective of it as I’ve already sacrificed a lot for it. Of course this doesn’t mean everything I write is good, but at the very least I make a conscious effort to constantly improve, dig deeper, and experiment. Otherwise, what would be the point?
All in all, Medium is helping me rebuild a life that works, word by word, even though my earnings remain modest so I’d encourage you to keep going and not let numbers drag you down as they do improve with consistent effort. Most importantly, you do indeed seem to have a lot to say and I for one would love to hear it.
Please do feel free to reach out if you need a hand, deets in bio.