Medium debuts its paid membership subscription program

Official platform of hot takes Medium has launched its new business model: paid subscriptions, which the company said it would debut sometime this quarter at Upfront Summit back in early February. Medium started the year with some tough times, including layoffs and a change in direction, so it’s got a lot riding on these subscriptions attracting some… well, subscribers.

Medium’s subscription model rewards those willing to pay with exclusive content, which is what you might expect from a site with a focus on content. This is something Medium’s subscription has in common with other publishers looking to derive direct revenue from readers, and also with other content businesses, including podcast networks, which might be a more direct parallel as they often go with the model of giving away the bulk of their stuff for free, and holding only a small selection of exclusive content for paying members.

Other benefits of joining up with Medium include getting early access to its new features as they arrive. You’ll help guide product direction, too — and it makes total sense that Medium would value the input of its paying subscribers above the freeloading rank and file.

Finally, members will get access to an offline reading queue, sort of like a Medium-exclusive Pocket, which they can take with them on whatever device.

Medium founder and CEO Ev Williams detailed the subscription’s purpose and design in a Medium post (!), explaining┬áthat the first new feature people will get access to is a new reading experience that provides a “limited set of carefully curated stories, chosen by experts among topics we care about.” Williams says this alone is worth the $5 per month (introductory price only, take note) fee that Medium is asking.

Still, there’s also that exclusive content, and Medium will be putting 100 percent of the revenue it receives from those who sign up during “the first few months” toward writers directly. That’s because, Williams writes, Medium’s membership plans are intended specifically to ensure the platform can continue to fund the creation of quality content that isn’t created strictly in pursuit of clicks.

FYI, I tried to sign up, but received a note saying that the membership program is “currently in limited release,” with an option to receive a notification when it actually does become available.