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What Could Make the New $15 Membership Invaluable 

And what’s missing right now


What a month.

Medium introduced the “Friend of Medium” tier to their membership program, a new top level tier for $15 a month or $150 a year.

I bet nobody was expecting this after the recent months, which came with massive changes like:

  • boost
  • removal of the referral program
  • earnings only for paying members

and more.

But this new membership tier is an interesting concept which has sparked numerous conversations in my previous post about it, as well as on Twitter.

There are very positive notes. Many people signed up to become “Friends of Medium”. I did as well.

But there are negative aspects as well. Some people don’t see the true benefit in a 3x more expensive membership level that “only” offers 2–3 notable differences to the low-level $5 membership.

So, let’s go over some things that could make the 15 bucks invaluable.


What’s in it

Before we go over some wishes for the future, let’s again quickly go over what the new membership tier offers. It’s mainly 3 things:

  1. A “Friend of Medium” badge on your profile (kind of cool, but cosmetical)
  2. A new friend link sharing system that lets Friends share any paywalled story via a free friend link to their audience, while the author still gets paid for the resulting reads (great!)
  3. 4x the support to writers, meaning Friends give 4x the value (in terms of earnings) when they read others’ stories (awesome!)

That’s basically it, as far as we know right now. Unfortunately, no payment for your own friend links as I had hoped before. Bummer. That would have been the killer feature of this tier.

So, what could be added to this short list of benefits? Here we go!


The one with the boost

I wouldn’t find it unreasonable if Medium low-key pushed the stories by Friends members a little more in terms of boosting option and general distribution across the platform.

You pay more, you get a higher chance of being seen.

Sounds good to me. It does come with some downsides, of course.

The most obvious: Being a Friend doesn’t mean you’re any good as a writer. So, pushing crappy stuff wouldn’t benefit the platform or the audience.

But I think many good writers and long term Medium users will upgrade to the $15 tier. So, countless great stories to choose from.


The one with the priorities

Along the lines of the first point, I think it would be cool to prioritize Friends members in some ways, for example:

  • prioritized comments
  • prioritized recommendations below other stories
  • a featured section on the homepage (or topics page) for stories from Friends members

Just some ideas. I could think of tons more. You get the idea, though. A slight prioritization of Friends members across the platform, just like X does it with Premium members, for example.


The missing one

I touched on it already. I would have loved to see the option for paid friend links for your own stories as well.

This could have been the biggest feature Medium has ever introduced (right after the introduction of the partner program).

But I see the problems with it. It could be heavily overused and money would become an issue, because someone has to pay for the reads that come from non-members through the paid friend links.

Still, I wish it was there.

You could share your friend link on social media or in your newsletter, and get paid for your Medium story whether the readers are Medium members or not. Sounds like heaven.


The one with the bottom line

Is the $15 upgrade worth it?

Are the 3 main benefits that come with it enough to pay 3x the fee. I don’t know. I am a Friend of Medium now, and I want to support the writers I read with 4x the money (potentially).

That’s a good reason for me.

But I do have a fairly large Medium account and make a good amount of money. Therefore, the Friend membership pays for itself.

For others, that’s not the case. And I doubt that the 3 benefits are doing it for those people.

We’ll see how this new tier works out over the next weeks and months. I sure hope Medium will provide at least a bit of feedback on how this experiment goes.

To end, I am a huge Medium fan. Still. It has flaws. Nothing’s perfect. But to me, Medium is still the best blogging platform on the internet. I mean, you earn nothing on most others. At least, here, you have a chance to make a few bucks.

That’s worth paying for, in my opinion.

What’s yours? Have you upgraded? Are you thinking about it? Or is it complete nonsense? Tell me!

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