To Meter or Not To Meter, That’s the Question

Medium’s latest changes to the Partner Program have left me confused and uncertain.

Erik Burger
3 min readSep 23, 2023

A few days ago, Medium sent out an email titled We’re putting you in control of Medium’s paywall. In it, they describe that the current system of “3 free reads” was apparently confusing readers, who “didn’t know if a story was going to be free or not”.

Some readers appreciated this (who doesn’t like free things?), but we also heard that it was confusing and complicated. No one was ever completely sure whether the “metered” story they were clicking on would be free or not.

Okay, fine. That’s a fair point. However, what they decided to do about it was remove the free reads altogether. This means that readers cannot access your writing altogether, and puts the decision on whether or not to meter your stories squarely, as they put it “under your control”.

I want to emphasize that you are in control of whether your story is paywalled or not. If you want to earn money for your work and meet the eligibility criteria, join the Partner Program, write a story, and paywall it. If you’d rather your story be freely available to everyone, let it be free!

Nope, not paywalling this one. Image by author.

For me, this raises more questions than it answers.

It looks like the only real beneficiary of this move is not the reader, nor the writer, but Medium itself. More people will now be forced to sign up -which, in theory, is a Good Thing-, or miss out on most of what Medium has to offer. Unless most writers opt for un-paywalling (de-paywalling?) their stories, an option which actually hurts the writer, and benefits Medium (because, hey, free publicity, right?).

Now, I am a beginning writer. One day, I’d like to make money off my writing. If that day is today, I’m not going to complain. But with this change, that day may never come at all.

Because what is my strategy supposed to be? Write only paywalled stories, that only members can read, limiting my follower count to only members? Write no paywalled stories, thus needing to find monetization elsewhere, and if so, how the heck am I supposed to do that? A combination of the two? And what should that combination comprise? Is there, like, a golden ratio? How do I decide what’s best for my goals and ambitions?

I’m sure the “write about writing” crowd will be churning out article after article capitalizing on this, promoting YAPC (Yet Another Paid Course) to explain the “10 step program to becoming wildly profitable on Medium, in only 4 hours a day”. And, uhm, wasn’t this exactly the content we were trying to avoid in the first place, Tony?

A few months back, changes in the Medium Partner Program dropped my income from $20 to $0.5 per month (I did mention I am a small fish). I write mainly tech stories, that are generally not read by a public that is into interaction, aka the IT Crowd. I’m one of them. I read an article for the information, then go on with whatever task I needed said information for. What’s clapping, anyway?

I don’t write for the money. But I’d like to.

So I’ve basically been in a funk for the past month, hands in hair, paralyzed by the question “What the heck am I going to do?”.

This adds another month of that, at least.

What the heck am I going to do?

And with me, I imagine, hundreds, if not thousands of other aspiring writers. What’s the reward? What’s the strategy?

I’d really like some answers.




Erik Burger

Poly-passionate. Coder, writer, technical lead, coach. Also into mindset, fitness, productivity, finance and personal development.