Medium, the text-focused publishing platform created by Twitter cofounder Evan Williams, is reinventing itself again, part of an ongoing evolution that mirrors the struggles of publishers to make money on the Internet.
After ditching advertising, it later introduced its “Partner Program,” offering premium, all-access subscriptions to content protected by an “open paywall,” aggregating publishers and paying subscribers on a single platform.
The Partner Program has already signed up a number of big publishers, including The New York Times and Rolling Stone, as well as scores of pure-play digital publishers and independent writers. Subscribers were enticed to pony up the $5 per month membership cost with premium benefits, including exclusive access to special content and, offline reading, and of course, the ad-free presentation.
Publishers are rewarded financially, based on reader engagement and the number of “claps” their content gets from members. Publishers can make content free or put it behind the paywall as they see fit; nonmembers can still access up to three articles for free.
Now Medium is planning to open the Partner Program to publishers of all sizes, the platform announced in a blog post this week. In a separate post on Medium, Williams explained, “starting today, anyone can enroll in our Partner Program and earn money, based on the depth and value they provide to members, not the fleeting attention they deliver to advertisers.
“Along with that, we add stories from the world’s best publishers and seamlessly combine it all in an ad-free, personalized experience. The end goal is to offer the world’s best source for important stories and ideas.”
The new phase began with invitations to a relatively small number of publishers and authors that aren’t already in the Partner Program, with more to come. Interested publishers and authors can request an invitation, and eventually, Partner Program will offer access to everyone, no invitations needed.
Medium advised: “When you join the program, you will have the option to publish your story to Medium members only and get paid based on engagement. Your content will still be distributed to your followers, discoverable through search, the Medium homepage and our apps.”
The post added: “If you are not interested in making money from your work, nothing changes: Medium remains free and open. You can create an account, write directly on Medium, publish your work and share it broadly … all for free.”