Recently Medium has been more insistent in encouraging people who write on the platform to post their stories behind its paywall. I remained oblivious to this till a little over a month ago, when I noticed that the handful of stories I’d posted since January had been attracting fewer readers than I’d normally have expected. I discovered that Medium’s curators would in future promote only those stories which were behind the paywall. Other posts would be seen only by the writer’s followers.
The rules are complex and a bit confusing. Early in 2017, Medium introduced its partnership program, which made it possible for writers to get paid out of membership subscriptions, in proportion to the amount of applause their posts attracted from members. Stories posted in the partnership program were automatically placed behind the paywall. This means that people who are not Medium members, paying a subscription of $5 a month, can access only 3 such stories in any month. While I was a subscription-paying member for 18 months up to last Monday, I’ve never posted any of my own stories in the partnership program. In other words, I’ve never tried to get paid for what I post on Medium, and I’ve no plans to do so in future.
But, under the new arrangements, it’s possible to put your stories behind the paywall without joining the partnership program. From the reader’s point of view, these stories will generally be indistinguishable from partnership program stories: it’s possible to read only 3 a month unless you subscribe.
Once I grasped the broad outlines of the new scheme, I decided to make my most recent stories eligible to go behind the paywall. That’s to say, I ticked a box, as shown in the picture below. So far, the curators haven’t taken me up on on my offer and all of my Medium posts remain outside the paywall. In that respect, they belong to an increasingly rare category. Most of the stories currently appearing in my feed on Medium have those tell-tale little stars that indicate they’re “members only”.
These are the stories of mine that are now eligible to go behind the paywall:
- Rereading Kate Atkinson’s Behind the Scenes at the Museum
- Overkill’s deceptive attraction: Plotting in Gillian Flynn’s Dark Places
- Eluding the algorithm: Web discovery in the aftermath of social media
- Why ebooks aren’t real books
If I continue to post on Medium, I’m going to make my future posts available to be behind the paywall, at the curators’ option, but I won’t be putting them there myself by including them in the partner program. If the curators do select any of my posts to be promoted, I’ll post a friend link here on Micro.blog, on my own personal site and elsewhere. The friend link makes it possible to bypass the paywall. Ideally, I’d like to find a balance between taking advantage of the “visibility” that Medium sometimes provides, while at the same time making sure that my posts remain free to read.