Back in August, Medium changed its Partner Program. For those of you who don’t write on Medium, the Partner Program is how writers like me are compensated. It’s what makes Medium a platform that’s worth dedicating time to publish on.
Tell your story rather than churn out content. Take the time to go deeper, research longer, edit more. We will always be shifting our payment and distribution incentives for this type of writing.
Makes sense. There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with wanting writers to write better content. There is, however, a problem with calculating compensation for writing based on esoteric qualitative value metrics that aren’t actually measurable.
Writers used to be compensated based on readership. This is a model that digital ad platforms, like Google, use to compensate content creators elsewhere on the internet. The more eyeballs you get, the more likely it will lead to clicks. The more clicks you get and the amount of time a reader spends reading your content, the more valuable it is. Valuable content under this model is discerned by readership and compensated accordingly.
Medium has thrown that model out the window. Instead of compensating writers for the number of readers who read their work, they’re compensating for engagement. That’s measured by claps — the equivalent of a like — and comments.
There’s just one teeny tiny problem with engagement-based compensation: the act of engagement isn’t compensated.
For engagement to work, a content creator needs to establish a rapport with their audience. It’s not merely churning out content but acknowledging comments and responding to them.
Writers are compensated for producing high-value content, they’re not compensated for responding to comments. With the shift to engagement, there’s an implicit expectation that writers will need to engage more too. This actually was brought to my attention by a reader on one of my posts after she cited that I couldn’t be bothered to respond to readers’ comments. The truth is I’d love to spend more time responding, but I realistically can’t afford to work for free.