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The Real Difference Between the New $15 Medium Friendship And the Old $5 Membership

And what is missing

What a bomb Medium dropped yesterday. Out of nowhere. I wasn’t expecting this.

Medium introduced a new tier to the membership program.

For $15 per month or $150 per year (for me in Germany it’s €17 per month), you’ll become a “Friend of Medium”. Not just a “regular” member.

But what does this mean? And what’s in it for writers?

Let’s take a look!


Along the announcement post, many comments appeared from readers and writers who seemed confused about this new tier.

The most common questions:

  • What’s the benefit of the 3-times more expensive tier?
  • Do writers in that tier get paid more?
  • Do they get boosted more often, or distributed more frequently?

What’s the deal?

Great questions. I have some thoughts.

Two class system?

First of all, I don’t think this new tier “Friend of Medium” will impact the boosting or distribution frequency (for now).

Nore do I think writers in that tier will get paid more. Not directly. Back to that in a second.

So, no two class system in that regard.

The benefits are of other nature, mostly of supporting nature.

With the $15 membership, you’ll be supporting your fellow writers much more. In fact, 4 times more than those on the $5 tier.

Medium said that in the announcement:

When Friends of Medium spend time reading member-only stories, they’ll generate four times more earnings for those writers compared to regular members.

This is pretty cool. I like to support the writers I read. And that’s a good option to do that without any extra effort. Just read and they’ll benefit.

But there’s more!


A “Friend of Medium” will also be able to share friend links to non-Medium members.

Friend links are nothing new. They’ve been on Medium for a long time. They’ve always been powerful. But now they are even more crucial.

Previously only authors could share friend links to their own stories on social media or anywhere else on the web.

Now, every “Friend of Medium” can create and share friend links to ANY paywalled story (their own or from other writers) and share them “for free”.

The great thing about that: The friend link will still lead to paid reading time. As Medium explained:

Now, we’re opening this up to Friend members. Friends of Medium will be able to create and share Friend Links for any paywalled story. When non-members follow these links and bypass the paywall, their read time is factored into the writer’s earnings. This means you can drive more earnings and reach for writers you love by sharing Friend Links to their stories.

This is huge!

The implications are even larger (Unfortunately they’re not what I hoped)

With this new friend link feature, we will finally be paid for external views!


If you share your own story via a friend link, the external reads from non members will factor into the writer’s earnings. Yours in this case!

UpdateMedium unfortunately clarified that your own friend links will NOT work like this and will not become paid reads.

This is so unfortunate as this would have been the best feature and the main reason to upgrade to the Friends of Medium tier.

There’s still one more thing.

How much

People in the comments of the announcement rightfully asked how much this friend link reading time would earn the author.

As much as a read from members? Or less?

I would have assumed the latter. Less than a members’ reading time.

But in deed, it will be the same rate as the member reads, as Medium employee Breana Jones explained in the comments.


That means external reads can earn just as much as member reads.

The bottom line

I am a “Friend of Medium” now.

I’ll try this new tier and friend link system thoroughly to see if and how it works.

But it’s early and Medium is known to change things quickly. Referrals, anyone?

Also, there are some concerns with this system, of course.

For example:

  • Where does the money com from for this friend link payment?
  • How does this affect the regular membership?

We’ll see.

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