Substack vs Medium

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Substack vs. Medium | Which is Better 2024

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Are you looking to monetize your writing and are unsure whether Substack or Medium is right for you?

A few years ago, I started researching writing on Substack and Medium. These online publishing platforms allow writers and creators to share their content, build an audience, and make money online.

Substack, Medium, and Beehiiv are among the most popular choices. Each platform offers unique tools tailored to different writing and publishing needs.

In this article, I’ll share everything I’ve learned from writing on Substack and Medium. I’ll give you the information you need to decide which platform suits your personal goals, desired audience, and monetization strategies.

Substack vs medium comparison chart

Substack Overview

Substack is a publishing tool designed for independent writers who want to establish their own loyal subscriber base. It’s a platform where writers can launch a newsletter, grow an audience, and make money online.

Writers have a direct relationship with their audience, which gives them full control over their content and email list, making it an appealing choice.

As a writer on Substack, you can charge your readers through paid subscriptions and earn money based on the number of subscribers you reach. Substack makes monetizing your newsletter easy with its payment processing feature. You’ll use your Stripe account to process your transactions, but Substack will take care of all of that, so you can focus on writing.

Medium Overview

Medium, on the other hand, is an online publishing platform that draws in writers interested in writing about many different topics. When you publish content on Medium, you contribute as a writer to Medium.com under your profile name.

Your audience subscribes to Medium. If you choose to paywall some or all of your content and join the Medium Partner Program, you can earn money when other Medium subscribers and members read your content. How much you earn will depend on the read-and-listen time along with engagement, such as claps, responses, and new followers. You have to be a Medium member to be eligible for the Medium Partner Program.

One of the biggest draws to writing on Medium, aside from Medium’s Partner Program, is its audience (Medium Members) and SEO benefits. Medium currently has a DR of 94, which means it ranks well in the search engines. Your articles will have good visibility, which means you’ll have more readers.

Substack Features

  • Substack is an easy-to-use and navigate newsletter platform for writers that allows you to create and send newsletters.
  • You can upload and add videos to your newsletters and content
  • Substack lets you post content to the web like a blogger, improving your visibility online.
  • You can start a subscription podcast on the Substack platform.
  • Substack recently released a social feature similar to X (formerly Twitter) called Substack Notes.
  • The platform offers a chat feature that allows you to DM paying members.
  • Substack handles the payment processing for your subscriptions via Stripe.

It’s much more than a newsletter. It’s an all-in-one platform where writers can create more than one type of content and grow a paying audience.

Medium Features

  • The Medium platform allows you to sign up and start writing. Their editor is easy to use and simple to navigate.
  • You can embed X posts (formerly Tweets), images, videos, and other forms of content.
  • Medium posts directly to the web.
  • When you publish your story on the web, you can choose to email it directly to your subscribers. If your story is paywalled, you will not be paid for the time they spend reading part of it in email.
  • New writers can publish to other brands and publications to gain visibility.
  • Writers have access to analytics so they can understand what resonates with their audience.
  • Readers can comment and respond to a post, creating a sense of community.
  • Writing on Medium offers you more exposure as a writer.

Building an Audience on Substack

Substack makes it easy for writers to connect directly with their audience. Instead of just posting content, they build an invested audience. The platform gives you, as a writer, full control over your mailing list and user information. If you want to leave and take your subscriber list with you, you can.

On Substack, you can connect regularly with your audience through your newsletters, Substack Notes, and the chat feature. Readers who are more engaged are more likely to become paying subscribers. They are more engaged and willing to read and share your work. You’re essentially creating a dedicated audience on Substack.

Substack boasts more than 50% of new subscriptions and 25% of paid come from within the Substack ecosystem.

Building an Audience on Medium

Writing on Medium will help you gain visibility through search engines and with Medium’s algorithm. Writers looking to grow their own standalone audience and connect with readers should take advantage of writing on Medium. Mediums’ vast reader base interests can range from entrepreneurship and personal development to society and culture.

Medium’s algorithm will help you gain exposure, connect with other writers, help readers find your work, and promote articles relevant to their interests. The algorithm will assess your content and its engagement (reading time, claps, and comments) and push the article to more readers.

If you’re a new writer, you can apply to write for other publications on Medium and gain exposure to their readers.

Monetization Opportunities

There are several ways you can make money with both Substack and Medium.

Monetizing Substack

  • Writing on Substack is free. Writers earn directly from readers through paid subscriptions.
  • Writers choose how much they want to charge subscribers with subscription tiers.
  • Writers can offer subscribers their premium content, such as paid newsletters, exclusive content, early access, and other content readers find valuable.
  • You’ll earn money based on the number of subscribers you have. For example, if you charge $7/mo to 300 subscribers, you’ll make $2,100/mo minus Substacks 10% fee and the 2.9% Stripe free.
  • Writers own their subscriber list and can monetize their list through direct marketing.

Monetizing Medium

  • Medium offers a different approach. Instead of earning money directly from newsletter subscriptions, writers earn money through engagement in the Medium Partner Program.
  • Writers earn a percentage of Medium subscription fees when readers engage with their work. Engagement is measured by reading time, claps, comments, and referred memberships.

Additional ways to make money

Writers can make money on both Substack and Medium through affiliate marketing and links to their own products and services, such as ebooks, coaching, webinars, and courses. You could also promote sponsored posts to your Substack audience, but Medium does not allow sponsored posts.

Which platform can you earn more on?

When comparing Substack and Medium and which one you can earn more on, I’d say it depends. It will depend on your goals, the size of your own audience, how engaged your audience is, the type of content you create, and how much effort you put into marketing.

With Substack, you create exclusive content, own your email list, and have full control, which you do not have with Medium. Building an audience on Substack will require more marketing efforts, but it has the potential to be more lucrative. Check out Substack’s Going Paid Checklist.

Medium has a built-in audience, giving you wider exposure. Writing on Medium will require less initial marketing, but you cannot change the cost of subscriptions.

Substack offers a more predictable and direct way to earn income – you’ll know how much you’re making every month based on the number of subscribers. With the Medium partner program, your income will depend on the engagement of your audience and the algorithm.

If you want to learn more about monetizing your publication, read the Medium Partner Program Guide.

Which publishing platform should you write on?

Substack allows you to have a more direct relationship with your audience, while Medium has a wider audience, giving you a broad reach and access to the partner program.

My suggestion is to find a way to write on both Substack and Medium and see what resonates with your audience. At the end of your Medium articles, invite readers to read and subscribe to your newsletter or email list.

While this article focuses on Substack and Medium, you should also consider Beehiiv. They offer many opportunities for writers you won’t get on either platform.

FAQ: Substack vs. Medium

Q1. Which is Better? Substack or Medium?

Substack empowers independent writers with paid subscriptions. If you have an existing audience, Substack is the better choice. You’ll start earning money from subscriptions right away. If you’re just starting out and want to grow your audience, Medium is a good place to start writing.

Q2. How much does it cost to write on Substack and Medium?

It’s free to start a newsletter on Substack. You will not pay anything until you start earning money through subscriptions. Once you start earning, Substack takes 10% of the subscriptions plus the 2.9% Stripe processing fee.

Writing on Medium is free. However, to join Medium’s partner program, you’ll need to be a paying member, which costs $5/mo. If you’re interested, you can join through my Medium link.

Q3. What is Beehiiv, and how does it compare to Substack and Medium?

Beehiiv is another publishing platform that focuses on newsletter creation, similar to Substack. It offers tools for newsletter creation, direct access to ad networks, boosts, and more. If you’re looking at other platforms, you’ll want to check out Beehiiv.

If you enjoyed reading this post, you may enjoy reading:

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