How Medium Calculates Earnings

I calculated that I earn $1.43 per hour read

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Photo by Mimi Thian on Unsplash

I’m a numbers geek. So, I’m going to geek out about Medium numbers a little bit by analyzing my Medium statistics.

Analysis of my statistics

I started writing fifteen days ago on November 26th. I’ve put out ten articles since then. A few of those received only a handful of views and no reads. But seven received a little attention. So, I pulled those out and put together this little spreadsheet.

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Analysis of author’s articles ~ spreadsheet created by author

So, looks like Medium is paying (me at least) $1.43 per hour of reading time by paying Medium members.

A couple of notes:

  • I noticed that there is a lag in calculating earnings for views in the current day. So, I backed out any reading time in the current day when calculating this. I did this by hovering over the charts and seeing what the reading time is in the pop up window. It doesn’t give seconds so that would cause a little variability in the calculation.
  • I was curious about the one outlier of $1.59. I went into Medium’s Help Center and noticed that reader’s that terminate their membership or are banned will have their stats deleted from your statistics. But the earnings will not be affected. So, my theory is perhaps a reader or two got deleted from the reading time in that calculation, but the dollar amount wasn’t impacted. Thus, the increased rate that was calculated.

Medium calculates pay on two factors

First from the Medium Help Center:

“We’re always working to improve our model as we learn. Initially, we will calculate earnings based on two components:

How long members spend reading your story

As Medium members spend more time reading your story (“member reading time”), you will earn more.”

And second

“How much of their monthly reading time members spend on your story

By calculating a share of member reading time, we support authors who write about unique topics and connect with loyal readers. For example, if last month a member spent 10% of their monthly reading time on your story, you will receive 10% of their share (a portion of their subscription fee).”

So, earnings are based on 1) reading time and 2) how much reading time one particular Medium subscriber spends on your articles.

My calculation is therefore flawed

I calculated purely on reading time. I don’t think there would be a way to calculate the second factor above.

Theories I’m going to explore

I have several theories on how Medium might be calculating their rates.

  • How is the $1.43 from above calculated? If a ton of new subscribers show up and the number of writer’s (and therefore writing) doesn’t increase, would Medium up their rates?
  • And vice versa. If the number of subscribers drops and writer’s skyrockets would the rates plummet?

I’m not sure. But I plan on performing this analysis about once a month and seeing what happens to that rate.

  • It may change due to number of subscribers or writers.
  • It may change due to the reader’s reading my work based on the percentage of reading time of their total they spend on my work.
  • It may change due to other factors.

I’m hoping if I keep calculating the rates per my statistics that as I grow and over time, I might be able to glean some more insight.

The best way to zero in on how these calculations work though would be more data. If anybody wants to do something similar to the above I’d love to hear what rates other’s are calculating?

Finance professional with a passion for reading, writing, history, economics and the world.

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