Yes, you can make money writing fiction on Medium. However, this platform is generally more lucrative for nonfiction writers. Other platforms like Amazon’s KDP, Amazon Vella, and Radish, are better suited for fiction writers.
However, I have considered writing fiction on Medium previously after making money on it by writing articles. This is the deep dive into making money writing fiction on Medium: is it possible and how much could you be making? Let’s find out.
Advantages of Writing Fiction on Medium
There are plenty of advantages to writing fiction on Medium, even with Medium being a largely nonfiction platform. You can expect the following advantages when considering Medium as your platform of choice:
It’s Free (Unless You Buy a Membership)
You can publish on Medium without any upfront cost. You can also be included in their Medium Partner Program without paying any membership fees. If you do sign up for their membership it’s only $5 a month (at the time of writing) which is only a small price to pay to interact with more people’s work on the platform.
It’s Easy to Use
Formating an ebook or publishing it to your personal site both come with a learning curve. Medium, however, is a copy-and-paste sort of platform and you can easily adjust the formatting with a few clicks of your mouse.
Instead of learning HTML for proper formatting or trying to figure out why your manuscript has weird line breaks in it, just copy your story from your doc and paste it into the Medium editor. From there you can add images, headers, and other formatting.
People Aren’t Technically Paying for Your Work
With Medium, people aren’t technically paying to read your work. Which sounds bad but using the Medium setup it’s actually a good thing. It works a bit like Amazon’s KDP. People are paying a flat rate and you’re getting a royalty distribution.
When people don’t feel like they are actively paying to read your specific piece of content (because their subscription gives them unlimited access), they are more likely to give a chance to someone new. You aren’t asking them to spend $2.99 or more to read your piece of work. You’re just asking them to look at it.
Disadvantages of Writing Fiction on Medium
Just as there are a slew of potential benefits to making Medium your home for fiction work, there are also some downfalls. These are the disadvantages you should consider before posting your fiction to Medium.
You Don’t Own the Platform
When you write on Medium, you are placing faith that the platform won’t disintegrate or veer off in a direction that isn’t ideal for your plans.
Personally, I took a step back from Medium when I began working on my sites. It made more sense for me to invest in my own content on a site I have control over where the monetization options are long-term. If I write a blog on this site and it does well, I can make income on it for years (as long as traffic is still coming in). With Medium, your income hinges on your articles staying relevant and paying users interacting with your work. It’s a much bigger gamble than site ownership. However, you don’t have the upfront costs of hosting, domain registration, and more.
This circles back to an advantage I mentioned earlier, Medium is free to get started. That’s why as a broke college kid with only a bit of experience under my belt, I sacrificed myself to the Medium gods.
No Exact Payout Metric
Competitors to Medium often include an x per y-views equation that writers can use to help anticipate their income each month. With Medium, toss that idea out the door. You might make great money on a story that doesn’t seem to do much while making little to nothing on a story that picks up a lot of speed.
A lot of Medium’s payout is a mystery which is one of the reasons I took a decent amount of time away from it to focus on more profitable alternatives.
How to Monetize on Medium
To monetize on Medium you need to be part of the Medium Partner Program. T join the Medium Partner Program you need to have 100 Medium followers and have published one story on Medium. You must also be over the age of 18 and should be in an eligible location.
Once you’ve enrolled and are in the Partner Program, you’ll need to check that your story be published behind the paywall each time you create a new story on the platform.
How Writers Make Money on Medium
Writers are paid from the pot of Medium members. The royalties you earn each month are based on claps, read time, and other forms of engagement. However, there is no clear-cut formula given to writers for how their stories earn money. It seems that some pieces of writing make more money than others with no real rhyme or reason.
Another way to make money on Medium is through referred memberships. When you refer a new reader that becomes a paying member you get half of the new reader’s membership fee. This is recurring income for as long as that reader is a member.
Should You Write Fiction on Medium?
You should heavily consider trying your hand at writing fiction on Medium. Your success will hinge on a tidbit of luck, your ability to build relationships and grow readership, and your patience with fluctuating income.
I’ll be honest. I used to be a major Medium fanatic. I wrote a number of articles, have an okay following, and still pull in (tiny) royalties each month from my time on the platform. I haven’t been keeping up with the platform’s updates as closely until I sat down to begin researching this topic.
I think it’s definitely worth a try to write fiction on Medium. You never know until you try and all that good stuff. While I’m not going to say you’ll make a ton and find great success, there is a non-zero chance you could do well for yourself there.
Alternatives to Medium
While there are excellent alternatives to Medium in the nonfiction space (Newsbreak being a major one), fiction is a bit more difficult.
Simily is one of the most promising new(ish) writing platforms where writers can be paid for their work. It’s actually one that I have become more familiar with recently and plan to spend time on exploring.
They are currently in beta and offer $20 per 1,000 views. Essentially this is $0.02 for each unique view your story received. That’s actually a decent deal and you’ll have a better understanding of how the payout works. You can read more about how Simily works for writers here.
My largest issue with Medium is that you can’t anticipate your income in a month. That makes Simily, by and far, a better option right out of the starting gate. Of course, Simily is a new platform in its infancy and when it comes out of beta, their terms may change. (We saw something similar with Newsbreak, that paid quite well until it became more popular.)
Hubpages uses a model where writers are paid based on pageviews. Most writers report not having high or consistent earnings through this platform, however. While it might be worth a shot, I don’t consider it as solid of an option as Medium.
Vocal is trying hard to compete with Medium but I’ve heard grumblings from Vocal writers in Facebook groups that makes me think they are less than satisfied. There is a payment threshold you have to reach (at the time of writing) and while I did a stint to try out their program, I found it somewhat lacking.
I’d say Vocal is on par with Medium when it comes to earning potential.
Substack’s concept is a paid newsletter. This could work for you if you can garner enough interest and dedicated readers to have monthly subscribers.
Patreon is a common way for fiction writers to monetize additional content. This is excellent if you already have a dedicated fanbase and want to put out exclusive content for them regularly.
To me, personally, it sounds like an absolute pain. Plus, if you don’t already have a dedicated group who is ready to start paying monthly then it might not be worth the time you need to spend making content.
Revue is a Twitter-owned alternative to Substack. If you are looking to go the paid newsletter route this may be a good option for you.
Ghost markets itself as a Medium alternative where you own the site. It’s a good option if you want that Patreon feel where you built a community of paying subscribers.
It does have a monthly fee of $9/mo that is billed yearly. And it seems the major way to monetize is through memberships which I find isn’t always a good option.
I don’t recommend Ghost unless you are completely averse to using WordPress.
Building Your Own Site (WordPress)
Building your own site, most often through WordPress, will give you the most control over your writing. However, when you’re writing fiction this can be a bit difficult. You can monetize with ads, gated content, sponsored content, or memberships.
The downfall with WordPress is that you need to bring the audience to you. Often by driving people to your site via PR tactics, SEO strategy, or paid avenues.