Medium’s big anti-ad revenue play will pay writers based on user engagement

Medium’s latest pivot promised to create a better system for online media. The company laid off a third of its staff earlier this year in the name of finding a sustainable media business model. It’s been unclear how exactly that would work, but today we’re getting a little better sense.

A few months back, Medium launched a paid subscription model that would give paying members access to exclusive content. Now the company is adding more writers to the mix and clueing us into its payment model. Medium content creators who are part of its “Partner Program” will be given the option to publish stories to members only. And today Medium is increasing the number of writers and publication partners.

The new payment model works like this: Writers can opt to make their work available only to members and, based on the engagement of those stories, the writers will be paid directly for the work. Engagement, says Medium, will be based primarily on how many “claps” a post gets, which I think is akin to a Facebook “like.” So, the more “claps” a post gets, the larger bulk of the incoming subscription revenue they will receive.

Medium’s big idea is to create a way for writers to publish work that doesn’t rely on ad revenue. This is the first step to create a network of both writers and readers that would be willing to directly fund original online media. To be successful would require Medium gaining real traction as a member service–which will be no small feat to achieve. We live in a world where news is easy to read because nearly every article is free as long as you’re okay with being bombarded by ugly ads.

But, hey, if Medium is able to figure it out, then kudos. Let’s just hope no more businesses get caught in the crosshairs with its next business model pivot. You can read about the new partner program here.CGW