Medium vs Substack: Which Is Better for Writers?

By Matt Giaro


You want to write long-form content but don’t know which one of Medium or Substack to choose?

I’ve been using both platforms.

In this article, I’ll share with you which one you should pick.

🔎 What’s the difference between Medium & Substack?

The main difference relies in the fact that Substack is more geared towards newsletters, and Medium towards articles.

That’s, on paper.

In real-life, you’ll find that most Substack newsletters are nothing else than articles anyway.

There are few more other subtleties, that I’m going to explain in details below:

🕹️ Ease of Use

Both Medium and Substack make it super simple to publish professional looking articles or email newsletters without a website or blog.

Simply sign up for a free account on either platform and you can immediately start writing and publishing posts.

Medium has a sleek online editor and gives your work a polished feel quickly.

Medium vs Substack editor

Substack’s editor is more basic but allows fast publishing too:

Substack editor vs Medium

I prefer Medium’s editor.

It just feels a bit smoother. But both are easy and quite similar.

🔎 Growing An Audience On Medium vs. substack

Discoverability is crucial for expanding your readership online.

You want exposure where fresh visitors can easily find your articles or newsletters.

This helps attract new loyal fans who’re going to pay you for your work.

Medium’s Newsfeed

Medium has an online newsfeed of articles like a social media feed.

But instead of bite-sized posts, it shares full-length content recommended based on topics people follow.

This allows organic discovery of writers making material readers already enjoy.

Here’s how it looks like:

Medium's newsfeed is similar to Substack's based on interests and reading history

You can also tap into a pool of readers when writing for Medium publications.

Substack’s Co-Reg Feature

Substack’s co-reg feature allows existing newsletter writers to recommend your newsletter when someone opt-ins to their list.

You probably already saw the popups.

Their current subscribers who like their writing may be interested in checking you out too through this partnership. It taps into their built-in audience.

This is good, but you need to be building those relationships, which is hard when you just get started.

Substack Newsfeed

Substack has a newsfeed that allows to discover new writers.

But most subscribers expect getting an email.

This is why the newsfeed recommendations with Substack are not as powerful as on Medium.

Here’s an example:

So, Substack’s discovery relies more on you finding subscribers or collaborations.

For beginners building an audience from scratch, I’d recommend Medium.

🤑 Making Money Writing on Substack Vs. Medium

Monetizing your writing means earning income from your articles or newsletters, rather than just hoping for brand exposure.

As a new writer, you want to understand how each platform handles pay so you pick the most realistic path to get paid.

How writers make money on Medim

Medium has an established membership program readers pay for ($5/month) to access premium ad-free content.

A portion of that subscription revenue then gets split with writers based on the member reading time their articles accumulate.

That’s called the Medium Partner Program.

I’m making several hundreds of dollars with this program each month:

The huge advantage of this is that you don’t need to have your own products or constantly pitch subscribers.

Simply writing good content that keeps members reading is all you need. Well-performing content can make you hundreds a month as a new writer on Medium.

How writers earn money on Substack

The only monetization option on Substack is putting your newsletter behind a paid subscription paywall.

You set the rate (typically around $5-20 monthly) and keep 90% after platform fees.

But it’s up to you to convince subscribers your writing is worthwhile for them to purchase a paid subscription before you start collecting income.

Not impossible for experienced writers, but poses a higher barrier for beginners to earn quickly from scratch.

Building sufficient subscriber numbers to incentivize paid conversions takes aggressive marketing too, which makes Medium more accessible for new writers looking to monetize faster simply by capturing member reading time versus selling subscriptions before earnings begin.

Quicker Path to Earn: Medium

📥 Building your email list on Substack vs. Medium

Substance is commonly used as an autoresponder.

Whereas Medium is more like a blogging platform.

However, on Medium, you can also build your email list in different ways.

So, the first way is that you can include a call to action to your landing page at the end of each article like so:

The second way is the feature that allows Medium subscribers to directly subscribe to your new stories, i.e., articles.

Exporting email subscribers on medium

Medium also allows you to export those email subscribers (like Substack).

Conclusion: On both platforms, you have access to your readers’ emails as long as they opted into your list.

💎 Quality of traffic

Medium and Substack attract audiences willing to read in-depth, focused content instead of brief social media-style posts.

Readers on both commit time to dive deeper into topics, indicating higher interest and engagement. This makes them potentially more likely to become loyal followers.

For reader quality, both platforms deliver interested audiences.

Similar High-Quality Readers: Tie

📰 SEO and Content Repurposing

SEO is a great way to get more traffic to your writing through Google and other search engines.

Having your articles appear higher in search results expands your audience beyond just the platform it’s posted on. More visibility signals to Google that content offers value on those topics, leading to higher rankings long-term too.

Medium actively optimizes features to help writers achieve higher Google search rankings. Their technology and community drive lots of high quality inbound links from external sites, boosting search performance.

I noticed **posts on Medium consistently appear higher on Google ** over similar content from Substack for the same keywords.

Medium is better for SEO.

Content Repurposing

Repurposing means reusing your published content from one platform on your own website or vice versa.

Medium allows cross-posting content without restrictions. But Google penalizes copying Substack posts onto other sites, limiting flexibility.

For new writers trying to maximize audience reach, Medium’s SEO strength makes your content easier to find via search compared to email-centric platforms like Substack with isolated content.

👨‍⚖️ Conclusion: Start Writing on Medium Or Substack?

For those just beginning sharing their writing online, Medium simplifies the process.

It offers:

  • Quicker discovery by readers
  • more SEO-friendly options
  • & built-in earnings

Start with Medium.

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