Hitting the Information Paywall: Is a Medium Membership Worth It?

We live in a world full of content creation. It’s everywhere you look. There are newspapers, books, magazines, movies, shows, social media posts, and tons of articles.

While we happily pay for streaming content like movies, TV shows, and music, we often get frustrated when hit with an article paywall online.

There are many media outlets out there that let you read for free, so why would you want to spend $5 a month to read the information you might be able to find for free elsewhere online? It all depends on how you look at Medium as a whole and what you expect to get out of the experience. 

What is Medium? 

Medium was started with the vision that ideas can be insightful, informative, and persuasive. They wanted to create a new digital publishing system that rewarded viral storytelling and built a relationship between authors and readers. It’s set up like a collective blog full of articles on every topic imaginable.  

Everyone has a story to tell or information to share, but not everyone can get an article published in The New Yorker. Medium allows anyone to become a self-published writer without knowing how to set up and run your own blog. 

Medium has a mix of novice writers and brands with authority after their name. You can follow and support your favorite writers by reading their content. Anyone can write for Medium under the free membership, and anyone can read up to three articles for free each month. When you go to read the fourth article, you will hit a paywall. A paywall is a landing page that blocks you from reading the content until you pay for a membership. 

What Does a Medium Membership Get You For $5 a Month?

Medium paid membership is very simple. You pay $5 a month (or just $50 a year) to access unlimited articles. That’s it, the only benefit. Even though it’s cheap, people are often left wondering if it’s worth the price with only one benefit. 

It’s true; when you finish your three free articles per month on Medium, you could simply move to another free platform to continue reading similar content. In fact, there are even ways to bypass a simple paywall if you’re really desperate to read another article. 

So, why pay for articles in the first place? Medium charges a small fee to allow them to pay their writers for content and provide an ad-free experience.

Not all writers who publish on Medium choose to get paid, but those who do put time and effort into a craft for your education and enjoyment. Why wouldn’t you want to pay for that, especially since it’s only the cost of a cup of coffee each month? 

This small, simple membership allows you to take part in paying writers for their time and talent. Since the writers don’t work for Medium directly, they are free to write on the topics they choose and take the stances they choose, creating a free-flowing movement of ideas. 

Using Medium to Make Extra Money

Medium rewards writers for having a fresh authentic voice that pulls in readers. You will literally be paid based on how long people spend reading your content. Americans have been sliding into the freelance and solopreneur career paths for over a decade now, but the pandemic really set the gig economy on fire.

People who are tired of living in debt or just looking for a way to help ends meet are actively looking for more income streams beyond a 9-5 job. 

Being a writer on Medium is free; even entering their paid partnership is free, but making money and reading content on the platform go hand in hand. If you’re a writer on Medium who seriously wants to earn a small paycheck each month, you’ll want your own paid Medium membership so you can scope out the competition or just be inspired. 

The platform has a networking vibe to it with an unspoken “I’ll read your content if you read mine” vibe. Taking out a paid membership is a no-brainer if you’re using the site to make more than $5 a month. In fact, it could even be a tax write-off. 

Pros and Cons Of Medium’s Paid Membership

Let’s get the cons out of the way first. Obviously, a prerequisite for wanting a Medium membership is that you enjoy reading articles online. Assuming you love to read, why wouldn’t you want access to unlimited articles each month?

Cons of the Medium Membership

  • There is a monthly fee attached, be it ever so small. Not everyone has room in their budget for yet another subscription-based service. 
  • You can probably find similar content elsewhere for free. You might not find the exact same author, but the topics are probably available. 

On to the positives, although there are few, they are terribly important. Being a Medium membership means being part of something bigger than yourself. 

Pros of the Medium Membership

  • Your small monthly fee pays writers for their experience, time, and skill. It could quite possibly be making a huge difference in someone’s life by providing them extra income. Even if you only make $100 a month, that could pay for food, lessons, or just help pay down debt for someone. 
  • Promoting sites like Medium takes money from larger media conglomerates and gives back to more authentic individuals with diverse backgrounds and a host of new ideas. 
  • If you love reading the articles on Medium, you won’t be able to stop at three per month. Paying $5 for unlimited access is quite a good deal. 
  • If you’re also a writer looking to be paid for your stories on Medium, a subscription just makes sense and could be a business expense. 
  • You could be inspiring and supporting the next great writer of our time. Although they might be a novice today, they could be a thought leader tomorrow.

Frequently Asked Questions About Medium

How much money can I make as a writer on Medium?

While there are a few top-dogs earning bank on Medium, 96% of their writers make $100 or less per month. Still, that’s coffee money at your favorite local shop or money to make an extra payment on your credit card bill.

If I Share a Medium Post On Twitter, Can Non-Members Read It?

Yes! Medium loves it when you share article links on Twitter, so it rewards you and your Twitter followers by showing everyone that article for free, even if they would have usually hit the paywall. It also doesn’t affect the writer’s payment for that article. 

Can I Cancel My Medium Subscription?

You can cancel your subscription easily in your account settings. If you cancel mid-month, you’ll still be able to use your membership benefits until the next pay cycle could have started. If you paid for your Medium membership using the Medium app, then you might have to cancel through Itunes or Google Play. For more instructions on how to cancel your membership, click here.

Can I Give a Medium Membership as a Gift?

While you can’t do a monthly membership as a gift, you can certainly gift anyone you want with an annual subscription. All you need is their name and email address. The gifted plan is non-renewing so that you won’t be charged again a year later. The person that received the gift will be given the option to join on their own when the time comes.

Are There Other Options Similar to Medium?

For readers, there is a whole internet to dive into and search for information on your favorite topics. You can find tons of free content on news sites, YouTube, Facebook, Linked In, Buzzfeed, Huffington Post, and more. However, the quality of writing seems to be higher on Medium because of the way they reward writers for engaging and well-written content. 

For writers, you could possibly make more money per month if you start your own blog. You can easily start a blog on WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace. The not-so-easy part is getting traffic flowing to your brand new blog. In this respect, Medium brings a lot to the table. This massive blogging platform attracts a lot of readers and is favored by search engines. It’s also free to write on Medium, while premium features on popular blogging sites cost money. 

Bottom Line: Is Medium’s $5 Monthly Fee Worth It?

In a perfect world, everyone would value each other’s talents and wouldn’t begrudge paying them a living wage.

It would be nice if we valued writers and artists as much as we value sports and entertainment icons. If you want to be part of building a world like that, the Medium membership was made for you.

Deanna Balestra is a freelance writer and a koopy.com contributor from St. Louis, MO who enjoys writing about a variety of topics including small business, marketing, education, and health. When she’s not writing, she can be found reading both fiction and non-fiction books, watching movies, playing with her kids, and volunteering with animals.

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