Is It Worth a Subscription?: A Review of Medium: Is It Worth a Subscription?
Have you had the opportunity to read an article on Medium?
If you’ve never heard of Medium, think of it as a freelance content repository. Writers can publish individually similar to a blog. Most writers, however, will opt to write for publications, which are collections cultivated around specific themes: young adults, financial independence, politics, etc. Writers want to write for publications, because publications means subscribers and subscribers means a greater likelihood of people reading your content, which is how writers get paid.
If you subscribe to my blog or follow me on social media, you’ve likely clicked on one of my Medium article recommendations. Anyone can read up to three articles for free per month, unless the author gives you a special link to read their content free of charge.
At the time of this writing, you can take out a Medium subscription for $5 per month or $50 per year.
So is the subscription worth it?
The short answer is yes, with a couple caveats. I’m now on my second year as a subscriber. The links throughout this post are referral links, but I’m going to break my response into three categories to better help you figure out if a subscription is right for you.
If you decide you will take out a subscription, I would appreciate you using my referral link to help me earn a little extra cash. Or, to help me stay an active partner in the program, I would appreciate you following me! That alone will help me remain in the partner program.
If you want access to a diverse pool of articles ranging from arts to writing, Medium is a solid investment. It’s like paying one subscription fee to gain access to a large collection of publications as opposed to one magazine.
The website and app, in my opinion, both feature a clean layout and make the content front and center. That is to say, you don’t have to worry about pesky ads or obnoxious subscription popups interrupting a smooth reading experience.
If you like what you’ve read, you can easily click on the author’s name and peruse other titles written by them. If the article was published as part of a publication, you can scan other articles produced under that collection.
Unlike a magazine, you may not always get the editorial polish you’re accustomed. It’s in a publication editor’s best interest to refine the piece before they run it as part of their publication, but if the writer wrote a piece as part of their own feed, the end product will only be as good as their best effort.
For less than a cup of coffee, you can unlock a wealth of reading material, and the vast majority of the material will be quality content. Yes, some of the writing leaves something to be desired, but remember it’s in the author’s best interest to write well in order to encourage readers to keep coming back for more.
If you’re blind, as a reader, you will find both the site and the app accessible. Keep reading though for an important note.
Recommendation: Get a subscription. If you don’t like it after a month, you can always cancel it.
By “success seekers” I’m talking about readers who are looking for content with a purpose. Maybe you want to learn how to build a business, be a better marketer, build investments, make yourself more appealing to perspective partners, strengthen your marriage … you get the idea.
A lot of the people you encounter will likely be names you’ve never heard of. Yet you will also see a fair representation from Business Insider, Thought Catalog, the Good Men Project, and other well-known publications you may be more familiar.
Here’s my word of caution: Unless you take the time to adjust your preferences, Medium kind of reminds me of Clubhouse, at least the Clubhouse I was introduced to in early 2021. There are a lot of gurus out there promising you how to 10X your business venture and make millions, if not billions.
Is it possible? Sure, anything’s possible, but great salespeople know how to leverage platforms like Medium to sell their products and services. After a while you’ll learn to tune out, or outright block, the slick entrepreneurs whose main focus is their own bottom line.
It’s not uncommon to find headlines with competing recipes on how to become rich, how to retire earlier, how to have better sex, conquer your fears, and unlock your full potential, all in ten easy steps… Yes, I’m exaggerating, but my point is, don’t get so swept up in reading the recipes that you forget to practice cooking.
Medium can serve up a great intellectual feast. If you’re looking at deep dives though, nothing will replace the luxury of reading a book devoted to a target subject. If you get said book from a library, you won’t even have to worry about a subscription fee.
Recommendation: Get a subscription, but make sure your subscription is a supplement to other resources such as books, online courses, seminars and such.
If you’re writing for the money, Medium is not going to single-handedly pave the way out of your traditional 9 to 5. There are writers on the platform who claim to have earned thousands from Medium alone. I’m too skeptical to believe it.
That said, I have not developed a Medium strategy. My approach thus far has been to republish old blog entries on Medium and hope my original pieces drive traffic to those old archives. Importing your work from other sites is an easy process.
I’m skeptical of people claiming to earn thousands on Medium. That is not to say I don’t believe people can’t earn a little change. Personally, I’d be happy if my earnings could pay for my subscription, so as long as you keep your expectations well-grounded, Medium could be a nice little income enhancer. Of course, the more you write, the more eyeballs you draw, the more revenue you generate.
If you want to get paid for writing, you’ll have to become a Medium Partner. Taking out a subscription does not in itself set you up to get paid, but the process to become a partner is fast and straightforward. It’ll be even easier if you already have a Stripe account.
Recently Medium changed its Partner Program. If you want to be an active Partner, you will need to have at least a hundred followers and publish at least one story per month. I hear these changes drew a lot of criticism, but if your goal is to make money, building a following and writing often were already going to be a part of your strategy anyway.
Recommendation: Yes, get the subscription, but don’t let Medium own your writing. At more than 700,000 subscribers, Medium will likely be around for a while, but unless it’s written to your own site, it’s not really your content.
The Biggest Caveat for Blind and Visually Impaired Authors
Medium, as it currently stands, is not the most accessible platform for blind and visually impaired writers. I’m going to work with the company on changing this, but there are features on both the mobile app and Windows environment using several browsers that are not fully accessible and keep authors from fully utilizing the platform.
My review still stands. From the reader’s perspective, the experience is a good one; however, anyone interested in writing for the platform should be aware of its shortcomings before signing up for the partner program. I just took a look at my own profile and can no longer see my article titles the way they were meant to be published.
It’s possible to find good writing around the web without subscribing to Medium. The challenge will be knowing what you’re looking for, and Medium does a good job of learning your reading habits and serving up articles you would not have found on your own.
I want you to know what you’re getting into with a subscription. Casual readers will love the service for the wealth of material it makes available to you from a vast range of writers. Success seekers and entrepreneurs will also benefit, but keep your expectations grounded. I’ve easily lost an hour here and there reading Medium articles, which speaks to the platform’s efficacy, but at some point you have to do, not just read. Also, there’s something to be said for not putting all your eggs in one basket.
If all else fails, remember, you can always cancel. I think you might be surprised though. Give it a shot! And remember, please use this referral link to help me out a little if I’ve ever written anything you found useful! Also remember, you following me will be just as, if not more, valuable than taking out a subscription.
Are you already on Medium? What would you add? Or would you disagree and encourage people not to get a subscription? I’d love to hear from you in the comments. ;