Why Medium Is Different and How It Promotes Itself

Why Medium Is Different and How It Promotes Itself
The win-win business model that distinguishes it from most social media apps
Image source: Author

You might have heard about the highly effective product placement strategy that’s cleverly designed to place the ad within a movie or a series to capture the attention of its audience.

Medium is no different; it makes use of the same strategy.

What is unique about Medium, though, is that it promotes itself using its app, and honestly, that’s a brilliant strategy to attract more people.

How Did They Achieve That?

You sign up as a Medium member, and you are intrigued to read articles from ordinary people.

You relate to the writer’s stories, and when you keep following an author, you feel connected to them.

It’s a similar strategy to that any of the social media apps uses. But wait, let’s not jump into comparing Medium to a social media app. Medium isn’t like most other social media apps, and I will explain later why I say that.

Anyway, a lot of people who read are also equally interested in writing. And if you are one of them, you get motivated to give it a try.

You get inspired by other writer’s stories and start penning your views and thoughts on a topic that’s close to your heart.

After a lot of debate, you finally gather the courage to hit Publish. You get a few views and reads, a few claps and comments, and these give you an adrenaline rush (much higher than even your workout routine).

Now you write a few more articles, add a few publications, get curated, and slowly start seeing a few cents. Yes, that’s what you almost always see in your first month, unless you are a published writer already and hiding in your closet.

You do your research on Medium — what exactly this platform is, what works here, how much money writers earn, what writing styles should you adopt, and a million other questions.

Over time, you slowly better your articles. You invest in other apps, such as Grammarly, ConvertKit, MailChimp, your blog site, etc.

And before you even know it, you are officially a part of the ecosystem.

When you create a new social media platform, it’s easy to attract new users but challenging to sustain that. Remember how Google+ and Myspace failed to captivate their audiences.

However, Medium has been steady in attracting new users (mostly readers) who then convert to writers, and the cycle keeps continuing.

It Has Grown Organically

Writers create content and socialize it with their friends and family. They share their articles on various social media platforms, thereby encouraging others to check out Medium.

The Friend Link feature has been very cleverly designed so that an author can share this link with their friends and followers, even if they aren’t subscribing members. Soon, these non-subscribers are intrigued to read more and become subscribers.

Thus Medium’s subscription base grows organically because of the writers who create content and bring more people to their platform.

It is now seeing not only more subscribers but also higher percentage gains every month since early 2018. More than 50,000 writers publish their stories each week.

Image for post
Credit: Emma Smith, Medium blog

Medium attracts people from all different streams: professors, politicians, porn stars, students, retirees, veterans, etc. For anyone who has a compelling story to tell and knows how to tell it, Medium helps in delivering their story to the right audience.

While it optimizes its algorithm for engagement, just like any other content generation platform, what sets it apart is the human intervention.

In essence, a small in-house team of curators scours the platform to give the readers a selection of excellent stories customized for them, based on their interests.

However, the economics behind these apps remains the same.

Let’s try to understand what works for Medium and what makes writers and readers stick to it.

It Isn’t Twitter or Instagram

You can share your experiences, life stories, insights and opinions. You aren’t micro-blogging, and you aren’t restricted to 140 characters. It isn’t about the photos either — the images on Medium are just to add colour to the black and white text. Unlike other apps, these photos are mostly stock images. The main focus is on the story that the author wants to convey, nothing else.

Stephanie Georgopoulos, an editor in Medium, when asked for her comments on Medium being called a long-form Twitter, said she doesn’t agree that it’s like Twitter, where people spew venom at the drop of a hat while hiding behind their digital identity.

Writers on Medium are more thought-provoking and insightful.They write stories that you can’t find elsewhere and inspire millions of readers each day.

It Has a Different Revenue Model

Medium doesn’t promote any ads on its platform, which also sets it apart from the mainstream social media, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

The no-nonsense interface and its subscription-based revenue model have helped it grow its subscriber-writer base.

They are similar to some other digital media subscription businesses, like the Time or The New Yorker, or even Spotify and Netflix. They sell content on subscription, however, what distinguishes them is that they rely solely on subscriptions (no advertising).

Most of all, it pays the writers. For every $5-subscription fee they earn from members, they return a part to their writers.

The only other social media site where you can create content and get paid is YouTube.

I have written about my journey on Medium so far, and how I earned my first-ever $826 from a single article. It has further strengthened my belief in the entire system.

Also, they are very transparent when it comes to earnings. They give you insight into who’s earning on Medium, what the maximum potential is for a single article, and what the maximum earning is for that month. Medium publishes these payout numbers to all writers participating in the Medium Partnership program each month.

Image for post
Source: Email from Medium in Jan 2020


I am no expert in this field, but from what I have learnt so far, Medium very cleverly uses its subscriber base to grow its business. Offering a level playing field for writers (most of whom are not published authors elsewhere) it has given us a platform to express and earn.

It’s a business model that thrives on a win-win strategy. Everyone gains — readers, writers, editors, publishers, and Medium themselves — by consistently growing and generating quality content. History has shown us that a mutual benefit approach helps to accelerate growth, provide employment, and promote creativity.

By Oct 2019, Medium had paid out more than $6 million total to 30,000 writers. Developing an app that can then self-promote itself through its readers and writers is pretty clever.

Medium’s business model is designed to serve writers and readers. That’s it. For more information, read “How Medium Works With Writers” by Siobhan O’Connor.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *