Linda, it all started when I found “How I analyzed a million Medium articles to learn how many claps great stories get.”
In the article, a data guy wrote a script that allowed him to analyze 993,000 Medium stories written between August 2017 and August 2018 and he reported this:
After removing duplicate-stories and comments from the data, I was left with 720K unique stories from 230K authors and 30K publications. The number of claps received for an article ranged from zero claps to 215K claps.
According to the data found in the linked article above, only 1.2% of 230,000 writers had written an article in the top 1% (at least 2,000 claps). That’s 2,760 people. Of the 230,000 writers, only 0.0025% published 8 or more of these articles during the test year. That would mean there are 57.5 people on Medium posting top 1% articles on a regular basis.
I combined that with the Medium newsletter that came to our mailboxes last August that stated:
Based on member engagement from July:
57% of writers or publications who wrote at least one story for members earned money.
7.9% of active writers earned over $100.
$22,639.47 was the most earned by a writer, and $6,720.35 was the most earned for a single story.
Also, I found articles from 2017–2018 talking about Medium’s desire to reach 1,000,000 paid subscribers. Suddenly all the numbers fall into place. Assume 1,000,000 subscribers, we can calculate:
- Total writing fund available for the month = $5,000,000
- Assume Medium’s 20% cut (which I don’t begrudge them for creating and maintain a massive multi-user writing platform with the best formatting features I’ve seen online) and the total money pool for writers = $4,000,000
- Subtract the money earned by the $100 earners and the total pool = $2,183,000
- If we assume a normal distribution curve, where the bottom 80% earns 20% of the total money, that’s $800,000 and the remaining amount is $1,383,000
- That leaves the segment between 81 and 92% who earn more than the bottom 80% but less than $100 per month. Assuming they make $25 per month, that’s about $700,000, decreasing the remaining pool to $683,000
- Divide this pool by 9900 and you get the maximum number of writers who could possibly make $10,000 per month = 69
Obviously these are estimated figures, so I’m guess that there are 9 writers consistently earning the magical $10,000 per month because that’s how many writers have a top 1% article almost every month.
And if I’m off and there are 69 high earners, that still leaves 999,931 subscribers who don’t.
This is why I’ve written so much about the snake oil salesmen trying to sell their writing products to unsuspecting new writers with the promise of making big money writing on Medium.
It’s also why I’ve written about the gamification of Medium and how it is a zero-sum game at best and a sort of ponzi scheme at worst:
From Newbie to Addict: How Easily Did Medium Hook You?
An exploration of Medium’s game and its effect on players.
Of course, that may be why I haven’t had an article curated since last September.