A Medium Mystery!

3 min readSep 13, 2023

Can YOU figure out the earnings algorithm?

Confused woman shrugging her shoulders in incomprehension
Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

I swore I wasn’t going to be one of those writers who posts self-absorbed pieces about how Medium works — or doesn’t work.

Well, here I go, doing just that.

I’ve been writing on Medium since 2020. I post once or twice a month, as the mood strikes me — but I read daily, and I have become very fond of the community of writers and readers that I’ve had the good fortune to join.

And to be clear: I am definitely NOT doing this for the money.

Mostly, I write about what’s on my mind. I like writing, and I find the process of getting something down in pixels helps me to clarify my thinking and move on to the next distracting conundrum.

Up until this month, the most I’d ever earned over the lifetime of a single story has been $1.05. The biggest “cheque” I’ve ever received in a given month was about 95 cents. I’ve never been able to figure out “the algorithm”, but what the heck, it’s legal tender. So I am accumulating my minuscule mad money until there is enough saved up to … oh, I don’t know, buy a used book or something.

And then five days ago, I posted a reflective piece entitled “What’s in a Name?” A three minute read, a personal anecdote, not particularly brilliant or funny or insightful; it’s just some personal observations about how trends in naming babies change over time.

Five days after publishing the piece, I check my partner page. This post has earned $2.58.

This is earth-shattering! A new record. Have I found a brand new audience? Have I been discovered by a publication?

I dig into the stats, and the mystery deepens.

In five days, this article has attracted a grand total of nine views and just five reads. Two members, seven non-members; two clappers; one highlighter and one responder, who may be the same person.

It’s earned $2.58, and I have absolutely no idea why.




Recreational writer, collector of antique corkscrews, urban gardener and retired management consultant to social profit organizations. Proudly Canadian.