3 Ways to Monetize External Traffic on Medium

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Written By Thomas Smith

You wrote a Medium story, and when you went to check your stats, you saw that it went viral. Great work! A viral story can bring in hundreds or even thousands of views. There’s a catch, though. Often, many of these views come from external sources.

Why do external views matter? If you’re in the Medium partner program, Medium only pays you for internal views from Medium members. That means that if you get 1,000 or even 10,000 external views, that won’t count towards your Medium partner program earnings.

Don’t despair, though. There are plenty of ways to make those external views count for you, and to monetize them. Let’s take a look at three ways to monetize your external views on Medium.

Affiliate links

If your article is about any kind of product or service, you can include affiliate links in your post. As long as they’re not excessive, these don’t violate Medium’s terms of service. Officially, Medium says “Affiliate links, such as link out to Amazon with your code, or any other link out where you will receive a commission or other value, are allowed in posts.”

One popular option is to include links from Amazon Associates. You can refer traffic to nearly any product on Amazon, and earn a commission on any sales you make. Some authors and bloggers make thousands or tens of thousands of dollars per year through Amazon affiliate links.

One important thing to keep in mind is that you should always disclose when your post includes affiliate links. You can do this with the simple message at the end of your post. Your message could read “This post contains affiliate links, and if you make a purchase through the link, I will receive a small commission.”

Some writers also like to personalize their affiliate message. For example, I’ll often write a message explaining how the article is monetized with affiliate links, I’ll get a commission if the person makes a purchase through the link, and how this helps to fund my writing. I think that readers appreciate when I express gratitude for them using my links and supporting my writing.

Disclosures are important legally, and also for Medium. Mediums says that “You must disclose affiliate links” and that you also must disclose if you got anything of value for writing the post, such as a review unit of a product or a free experience.

Think outside the box when considering affiliate programs. Even if your post isn’t about a product, there are plenty of ways you can find relevant affiliate programs. For example, I have written several articles about the investment app Robinhood. Some praise the app, and some are critical. Either way, I include an affiliate link to Robinhood in case people want to use my link to try the app out. I got a commission when they use the link.

The other important thing to keep in mind is that your affiliate links should always serve your audience. They should be genuinely useful. If your audience member just read about a product or service, it’s likely that they’re genuinely interested in trying it out or purchasing it. An affiliate link is very helpful in these circumstances.

If you just pepper the links into your article without considering relevance, though, you risk alienating readers. Make sure that your links and the products you’re recommending always fit with your story and provide value to the reader.

Refer New Members to Medium

One of the coolest new features that Medium has created recently is the option to monetize any new members you refer to Medium. You can create your own link, and if someone becomes a Medium member through that link, you’ll get a portion of their membership fee every month. It’s easy passive income, and helps to build the Medium platform as well.

External viewers are by definition people that aren’t yet Medium members. That means that if you deliver a great experience, it’s very possible that they will want to join the platform. They can read more of your writing, and also explore all the other writers on Medium.

If you have an article that’s getting a lot of external views, put an ask at the end of the article directing people to sign up for Medium using your link. Personalize it to the content of the specific article. Here’s a sample of an ask that I’ve used and that has been successful.

The recurring revenue aspect of this is awesome. You can refer a new member in month one and still be earning in month six, 12, 18, and so on as long as they remain a member. See if you can convert some of your external traffic to internal members, and add to both your reading time and your monthly revenue.

Advertise your own services

If you operate any kind of business, or you’d like to get into operating your own business, Medium is a fantastic platform for lead generation. Medium’s audience is often quite interested in topics like writing, technology, entrepreneurship, and more. The audience is also often on the wealthier side, which means they have funds to invest in hiring consultants.

I know plenty of people who monetize Medium primarily by using the platform as a way to get new clients. One writer I know, for example, writes articles about the editing process. They then include a message at the bottom of their article saying that they are available to hire as a freelance editor. They’ve built a whole editing business just out of clients they’ve gotten through Medium.

The cool thing about this strategy is that by the time your reader has finished reading your article, they already know that you’re knowledgeable about the subject. That makes it much easier to convert them into a paying client.

If you write a great article about coding, for example, and then include a message saying that you do freelance coding, your reader will already have seen your coding skills in action. They’ll know that you are good at what you do, and are more likely to contact you and hire you.

It’s a great example of showing rather than telling. In a traditional ad, you tell the potential client that you’re good at something. On Medium, you get to show them you’re good at something by sharing your knowledge in a long, written article. That can be a powerful way to demonstrate your value, and then to convert that into paying customers.

If you already offer any kind of a service related to what you write about on Medium, include a message saying that you’re available to hire, as well as your contact information at the end of your article. Some people even choose to list their hourly rate. Others create a separate Medium post that goes into more detail about their services, and link that from their articles.

Internal traffic is the gold standard for monetization on Medium. Most writers still try to optimize for getting as much internal traffic as possible. If your posts tend to get a lot of external traffic, though, there are still plenty of ways to turn that into an income stream. Try these strategies out and see if you can monetize your own external traffic on Medium.

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