A Holiday Prayer

May you all stay safe and enjoy a better year than our current shit storm

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Photo by Jack Sharp on Unsplash

My original observation was about how to reach the gold standard of 2,000 claps for a story, because only 1% of the stories reach that level on Medium.

Back in those heady days of 2019 when claps were king, I guessed that having multiple stories in the top 1% was a proxy for making the same kind of money as the 1%:

It’s a lot easier if 5% of your 4,000 followers like your story and clap ten times than hoping that 50% of your 400 followers clap ten times for your story. Or having 10% of your 400 fans clapping 50 times each.

Full disclosure: the above story had 1375 claps from 61 people and earned $29.70. (Assuming I could churn out a story a day, I would have been close to the holy grail of making $1000 per month.)

The problem is if everyone can replicate the followers and performance of the 1% then whatever level is attained by the 1% (10,000 claps from 1,000 fans?) becomes necessary to be compensated in the 1%.

Consider this simple math. To make $100 per month — Medium’s favorite statistic to shame the other 93% — a writer needs 25 subscribers who do nothing but read their articles, and no one else’s. Those 25 subscribers can’t write themselves, or this would pull some money out of the pool.

To earn $1000 per month, a writer needs 250 paid subscribers to only read their articles.

In March 2019, one article reported the number of subscribers was between 200,000 and 400,000.

In March 2019, another article wrote, “The venture-backed platform hopes to amass 1 million paying subscribers by 2020, according to one source familiar with the matter.”

If there are 1,000,000 paid subscribers, the writers split a $4,000,000 pie (Medium has to take at least 20% of the money pool off the top to fund the business).

If 7% of the writers make $100 per month, that would mean 70,000 people making a total of $7,000,000. The numbers don’t add up, unless the vast majority of subscribers only read and never write.

That is why the social media game we call Medium’s Partner Program is closer in spirit to multi level marketing or a ponzi scheme than to the California gold rush.

Unless you’re the one selling shovels to the prospectors.

Happy Holidays!

Your friend, the Grinch

Written by

Ad agency creative director, writer & designer at https://guttmanshapiro.com. Former pro tennis player and peak performance coach for professional athletes.

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