Substack or Medium? How to make the right choice?

There are lots of guides about how to start a career in writing. If you are looking to start making money by writing online, then here is something you need to know about the internet’s two biggest writing platforms Substack and Medium. Which platform should you pick to start your blog in 2022? Let’s see!

Substack Overview

Substack is an online platform that provides publishing, payment, analytics, and design infrastructure to support subscription newsletters. It gives authors the possibility to send digital newsletters directly to subscribers, improving the chance to establish a more intimate and personal connection with their readers..

Let’s say you publish a post on twitter or LinkedIn or any other social media platform. if someone likes reading it, they will like it and comment it and that’s all they’ll vanish. But in case of a newsletter, you can keep talking to your readers repeatedly as you keep sending them newsletters. This helps in developing a deeper, personal, and more intimate relationship with your readers. You get to know what exactly they want, and you can solve those problems for them.

Secondly, when you publish a newsletter on Substack, it also gets published on your home page on the Substack website. Even readers who are not your email subscribers can read your posts by visiting the website. This provides a very interesting social media experience which makes Substack very popular among readers and writers.

Substack’s Monetization model

Substack writers have the option to set up a paid newsletter. Basically, you will collect a monthly revenue from your readers every month. You can control your content where, few posts are visible to all and majority of them are locked and exclusively available to paying subscribers.

As a writer you will have the freedom to set whatever rate you want depending on how much value you can provide with your content. For every payment that is made, Substack keeps 10% of the transaction amount and that is how Substack makes its money — whenever the writers make money. This is an amazing feature and Substack is built in such a way to encourage paid subscriptions.

Pros of Substack

#1 Obviously, the first one is the direct connection you can get to your readers.

#2 You can send emails free for life. Other email service providers like mailchimp, mailerlite or ConvertKit charge you up to $20 per month and sometimes even more than that if you have a very large email list, just to send emails every month. But on Substack you can send emails for free for life there are no hidden charges. Substack only makes money when you make money. If you decide to keep a free newsletter, then you don’t have to pay anything, and can run a newsletter for free on Substack.

#3 You have full control over whatever content you post. This provides the possibility of running brand collaborations and sponsored posts on your newsletter. Once you have a successful newsletter and a fixed set of readers every month, you can open up ad slots on the newsletter, so that relevant brands in the same niche as your newsletter can reach out to you and do some paid promotions. This will an incredible added source of side income.

Cons of Substack

#1 Lack of the community aspect. At the end of the day, Substack is an email service provider. So, the comment section on Substack is not so greatly popular. Even wildly popular newsletters only receive a few handful of comments on them.

#2 The money-making part of Substack is very exclusive. Since Substack uses Stripe to pay money to the writers, it is only accessible by people living in the countries where Stripe is operational. In case of people from India, Stripe is still in BETA mode, so you can make money from a newsletter on Substack, but you can only accept payments in INR. If you are a writer living in India and wants to set up a monetized newsletter, you can do that. But you can’t accept payments in USD. Even people who are living outside India, will have to pay in INR. But for now, this is the only option available, and I think it’s better than not being able to monetize at all.

#3 It’s very difficult for your post on Substack to be discovered on Google effectively. Whenever you publish something on Substack the URL of the article will look like this yourname.substack.com/article-name whereas on Medium if you publish an article the URL would look something like medium.com/article-name. Since Substack follows a sub-domain kind of URL structure, is difficult to be discovered on Google. If you are writing for SEO purposes or if you want your articles to rank on Google, then Substack is not a very good option compared to Medium.

#4 Lack of detailed analytics on Substack. The options are limited. You can see how many people open your newsletter and how many people clicked on a link. But you can’t see where these people are from, what is their age group or what other topics they are interested in. This sort of defeats the purpose of your newsletter making it difficult to target your subscribers with posts that will help them.

Medium Overview

Started in 2012, by the founder of twitter and blogger, Medium is an online publishing platform where writers can publish their articles for free. Medium has over 60 million active users every month which provides great discoverability and amazing potential for exposure of your articles.

On Medium writers can publish stories either on their own profile or they can publish them in publications. It is effectively like the social media for writers because there is a home page where the algorithm curates’ specific stories for you. There is a robust community on Medium where readers can clap for your article, they can save it, they can share the same on social media, they can leave long thoughtful responses to your story, they can even add your article to their list and read them later.

The best part about Medium is that you can write about whatever topic you want. This is a very special perk over Substack, because on Substack only writers who stick to a specific niche are the ones who are the most successful. But on Medium if you don’t have a niche, if you are a generalist or if you are multi-passionate who has more than one interest, then Medium is a great place to write about whatever you want and build an amazing portfolio.

Medium’s monetization model

On Medium writers can earn money in two ways. One is through the “Medium Partner Program” where writers get paid based on how many minutes their stories were read by paying members on the platform. The payment gateway used on Medium is Stripe and currently the “Medium Partner Program” is available only on some 33 countries that Stripe supports. The second way you can make money on Medium is through a referral bonus. The Medium membership for a reader is $5 per month. So, if a reader who is not a paying member, reads your story and then they become a paying member then you get 50% of whatever they pay, and you keep getting it for life. That’s an amazing way of earning passive income. Again, sadly this payment is also made through the partner program. So, if you are living in a country where Stripe is not operational then you can’t earn money through either of these ways.

Pros of Medium

#1 Much better distribution options compared to Substack writers. One can get named as one of the top writers on Medium, they can be featured on the topic page and their stories can be curated and distributed over a wider network of readers. This provides visibility beyond just the followers of the writer, which makes Medium a great place to start building your personal brand.

#2 Medium has an insane domain authority of 72 which means you have an amazing opportunity to receive lots of traffic directly from google to your articles. You don’t have to spend hours trying to get traffic. Just write a good quality article, publish it on a great publication on Medium and you can receive traffic on it year-on-year.

#3 Publishing your story on a publication — you get access to the follower base of that publication. The most active publications on Medium have a reader base exceeding few hundred thousand of people all over the world. If you publish your stories in some of these publications, then your stories can be viewed by all the followers of those publications, giving you incredible reach.

Cons of Medium

#1 Exclusivity in making money — since the “Medium Partner Program” is available in only 33 countries, people living in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh or Brazil can’t make money from Medium.

#2 Success on Medium is algorithm dependent. Since you don’t own your audience, you don’t know how many people will get to view your story. For example, you might have 1000 followers on Medium, but when you publish the story, if the algorithm of Medium doesn’t like it or thinks it’s not worthy, then your story might be viewed just by 10 people even though thousand people follow you.

Conclusion

Let’s answer the big question — Substack vs Medium which writing platform should you start building your blog in 2022. I wish there was a single correct answer to this question. But in reality, the choice depends on your requirements and what are your goals as a writer.

If you pick Medium, you will be paid based on the number of minutes your article has been read. Even though you live in a country where the “Medium Partner Program” is not yet available, you can piggyback on the great domain authority of Medium and can get exposure to a global audience and build a strong personal brand for yourself. If you want to write articles and maintain a blog and eventually get freelance writing gigs, then Medium is an amazing place for you.

Substack lets you send emails for free and helps you set up a paid newsletter subscription model. You are in control of your readers, and you also know exactly how much you will make at the end of every month and you will get paid at the end of every month. However, on Medium your earnings can fluctuate every month depending on how the algorithm decides your stories are worth in that month. Even though Medium also has a newsletter option where you can send all your articles as emails, since Substack is primarily an email service provider, it is of course a better option to use if you want to send out a newsletter. If you want to run a successful newsletter, have a fixed income every month and do some crazy high value brand sponsorships later on, then Substack can be the right option for you.

Now, which platform will you choose? I would love to know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Thanks for Reading. Stay tuned!

Look forward to connecting with you!

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- Murukesh Jayaraj

#contentwriting #publishing #medium #substack #blogging #creators

Originally published by me at https://www.mumas.in

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Murukesh Jayaraj

I am a techno-functional personality with well-honed skills in Business Analysis, Architecture, RPA, Team Leadership, Design Thinking & Application Development.