Are All of Your Stories Behind the Medium Paywall?

Here is how to find out & change the setting.

Medium was launched on August 14, 2012 by Ev Williams, and has raised $132 million in venture funding. I personally am a fan of the platform and have watched it undergo some changes in the last few years.

I began writing on Medium in December 2016 when everything was free. Readers didn’t pay and writers didn’t earn anything.

In March 2017, Medium launched its paywall for readers, which changed to a “metered” paywall in August. Readers get 3 free stores per month and then had to pay $5 per month for unlimited articles. This is very similar to Slate, The New Yorker, and other online publications.

In August 2017, Medium launched the partner program, an invitation-only for writers to get paid for engagement (was claps, it’s now changing to reading time). In this iteration, you had to be invited to the partner program (I was invited on 8/30/17) and physically select whether you wanted your stories to be behind the paywall every time you published. It was not defaulted to being behind the paywall.

These days, if you are part of the partner program, all stories you write are defaulted to be behind the paywall and you have to physically select it if you don’t want it to be.

In October 2017, they updated the partner program to be open to all writers and no longer invitation-based.

The partner program requires your tax information to pay you and shows weekly updates with how much you’ve earned (this is changing to daily soon).

They began curating more stories and usually, they were ones behind the paywall.

Which brings us to now.

Recently, I discovered that a bunch of my older stories were not behind the paywall.

Even after I was part of the partner program, not every story was behind the paywall, including some which had gotten thousands of views and claps!

While it is now the default for each story to be behind the paywall when you publish, that wasn’t always the case — and of course, there was a time before the partner program existed.

I’d gone to look at an old story for some specific information and say a note at the top that said “This story is not part of the metered paywall and not eligible to earn money.”

I hadn’t realized. So I went in and changed the distribution setting.

But it made me wonder.

So, I went to my stats page and started from the VERY BEGINNING and changed the distribution setting on every single story. It was a LOT of them.

Basically everything before August 2017 and honestly, more than a few since then.

I have lost out on money because I wasn’t paying close enough attention.

Are you losing out?

How to make older (or unpaid) stories eligible for payment:

Go to the story and check the box at the top. If it says this, then you’re good:

If it says it’s not eligible to earn money, do this:

  • Click the settings wheel in the middle-right at the top of the screen
  • Select “Edit story”
  • Click on the 3 dots at the top
  • Select “Manage distribution setting”
  • Click “Yes, make this story eligible” and click “save.”
  • The click “Back to story” in the middle-right at the top of the screen.


It’s easy to do, but takes a decent amount of time to change the bazillion or so stories I had to do!

But once you’ve finished, all of your stories will be eligible to make money — even the ones you wrote long before the paywall existed.

Entrepreneur, writer, editor, book coach, cat lover, weirdo, optimist. Author of “Write. Get Paid. Repeat.” & “Concept to Conclusion.”

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