Your story came to me in my “Your daily 3” e-mail section. I’m trying to figure out whether to continue with the partner program myself. I’m not a prolific writer (though at one time I posted over 20 times a month on my own blog) and never had the expectation of making a substantial amount of money from my writing on Medium, much less a living. But I like the idea of writers being funded directly by readers instead of advertising. I really hate web ads, particularly distracting animations and ads that drop down over what you’re trying to read, so I’m drawn to sites that avoid that funding model.
But I don’t like the lack of transparency. Even though I can see the number of fans and claps, it’s a guessing game how much I’ll be paid, particularly when I read comments like this one from Medium that indicates some people have gotten random bonuses unrelated to the popularity of their stories. Nothing wrong with giving bonuses, but I feel that sort of thing should be disclosed at the time of payment (and awareness of it made public).
I also don’t like as a reader feeling that I’m obligated to give a certain number of claps to stories that I like to try to ensure that the writer gets paid. I’m sure some writers have devoted followers or friends who clap 50 times for all of their stories even if they don’t read actually them, but I don’t have or seek that kind of audience. I understand that Medium’s algorithm is supposed to account for that sort of thing, but how it actually works is a mystery. (I suppose trying to thwart those who are “cheating” the system is a large part of why the accounting is a mystery.)
At least now that the paywall has been changed my followers on other social media don’t have to sign up for a Medium account just to get the free three stories a month. But I don’t want my readers to feel obligated to clap a certain number of times, especially if I don’t know how exactly those claps are going to translate into cash.
I’ve had Patreon, PayPal and Venmo accounts for awhile now; maybe I’ll just follow the lead of other writers and include tip links in the footer of every story instead of locking stories. I’ve been giving my Patreon sponsors free previews of my locked stories since I joined the partner program a couple of months ago, but I’d rather more people be able to read them, if I can get funding in other ways.
I really want a model like this to work, because I hate intrusive advertising, and feel that writers should be paid for their work. But it still feels like an experiment at this stage, and I’m not sure I want to be part of it.