Substack vs Medium: Which Writing Platform Wins?

This article may contain links from our partners.

Sharing is caring!

Substack vs Medium, who wins? These are two very different platforms. I happen to use both platforms so, I can share firsthand experience of what each one is like and which one I recommend.

You might have questions like:

  • Medium vs Substack: which one is better?
  • Are these writing platforms free or paid?
  • Can you make money with these writing platforms?
  • How does Medium work and how does Substack work?

I’ll address all this and more.

Let’s get started.

Is Medium the same as Substack?

Medium and Substack are not the same. Medium is a blogging platform. You can write about just about anything you’d like from politics, trending news, cooking, money, travel, and more.

After you reach 100 followers and if you’re in an eligible country (check the requirements), you can apply to the Medium Partner Program.

Under the Medium Partner Program, you earn money based on your member reading time. That means if you have a lot of readers who view your content for a long time, you can potentially earn a lot!

Even if you don’t, MPP is a nice way to earn passive income.  It works similarly to how ad networks work.

Medium has a social element built into it too, so you can have followers who follow your Medium account and content. The more followers you have, the more visibility your content has, potentially.

Here’s a look at my profile where you can view the number of followers I currently have.

With Substack, I see it as an email marketing tool.

You can publish content to the Substack platform and to your subscribers. If you want to grow your subscribers quickly, you’ll need to put in some effort to push new viewers to your Substack.

Substack can be paid or free and you can write about virtually any topic under the sun.

How does Medium work?

Medium is an online blogging platform. It’s a free way to start blogging online. If you’re against getting a self-hosted blog, Medium is a platform you can begin writing right away and build your social following.

How does Medium work?

1. Visit Medium

2. Sign up as a writer

3. Set up your profile and start writing

In three steps, you can start writing and publishing on Medium. You can publish to your profile or you can submit your content to publications. Publications have an audience.

For example, Better Marketing, a publication around marketing has over 115,000 followers.

Imagine submitting your article to that publication. You’d get the opportunity to have your Medium story viewed by thousands of people, which may be more than your audience starting out. It’s an excellent opportunity to share your content to a niche audience.

From that can come opportunities to connect, grow your Medium following, and more.

There are tons of different publications on Medium. To find them, all you need to do is search. There are benefits of publishing to your profile and there are benefits of publishing to a publication. You can do one or the other, or both!

Quick Facts about Medium

  • Free to join
  • You can establish a social following
  • Monetize with Medium Partner Program and other ways
  • You can earn passive income from Medium

How can you make money from Medium?

There are several ways you can monetize your Medium content:

  • Medium Partner Program
  • Affiliate marketing: Refer affiliate products in your writing (make sure you follow Medium’s affiliate rules)
  • Selling products and services: Refer your products and services in your writing
  • Growing your email list: Refer viewers to your email list where you can sell them products/services, market to them, affiliate marketing, and more

Pros and Cons of Medium

There are benefits and drawbacks of Medium. Here are some to consider:

Pros of Medium

  • Quick and easy to get started
  • Free to use
  • Passive income opportunity

Cons of Medium

  • Slow social growth
  • You can’t post about any topic you want (for example, gambling is not a topic Medium wants on their platform)

How does Substack work?

Substack calls themself a place for great writers and podcasters. I see it as an opportunity to grow your email list and build a social community online.

You publish content to Substack and it lives on your account and it can be emailed out to your subscribers.

You can offer free and/or paid subscriptions. It’s free to join Substack and you can get set up in less than 15 minutes. If you want to build an email list but don’t want to invest in email marketing software, like ConvertKit, for example, then Substack would be a path to try.

Quick Facts about Substack

  • Free to join
  • You can offer free and/or paid subscriptions

How can you make money from Substack?

The money is in the subscriptions, free or paid.

Hear me out..

First, free subscriptions. You might wonder how you can make money from your free subscribers? The same way you would if you were to do email marketing.

When you have an email marketing software tool for collecting email subscribers, one like ConvertKit, Mailchimp, AWeber or others, those are all free. Email subscribers are super valuable. You can probably make more money with free subscribers than you can with paid subscribers, to be honest.

  • Affiliate marketing: Refer them to affiliate products and make a commission when your referral results in a sale.
  • Selling products and services: Share the products and services you’re selling with your audience
  • Brand deals: You can invite sponsors to your Substack and they’ll pay you to be featured in your content.

Collecting free email subscribers is easier than paid, I think. That’s because all the subscriber has to give up is their email address. They don’t have to open their wallet to get access your content.

Next, paid subscriptions can earn you money through the money subscribers pay to get access to your content on Substack. You can charge $5, $9, $15, whatever amount you wish and make money passively just producing content, as you normally would.

For example, for Lenny’s newsletter Substack says he has tens of thousands of dollars, on a $15/month subscription.

That means just 10,000 subscribers at $15/month could make him $15,000/month, just for writing content on Substack.

Pretty neat, right?

And, with paid subscribers you can still monetize in the same ways you would with free subscriptions.

What’s the best writing platform to start writing fast?

The best writing platform to start writing fast is Medium. Once you register for the platform, you can begin writing and publishing content immediately.

Substack has a pretty quick startup as well but, I think Medium is a little quicker. So, if you’re looking for an option that lets you sign up and start writing and publishing super fast, I recommend Medium.

This is my Medium account if you want to check it out.

Pros and Cons of Substack

Here are the pros and cons of Substack…

Pros of Substack

  • Free to join
  • Simple setup
  • Free alternative to email marketing

Cons of Substack

  • Less ways to monetize compared to Medium

Is Substack good for blogging?

Substack can work for blogging, yes.

But, I think a better option for blogging would be either your own self-hosted WordPress blog or a Medium blog. The self-hosted blog is paid but, the investment is pretty affordable and you have an opportunity to earn a lot, much more than if with Medium, in my opinion.

Here’s a free guide you can read on how to start your blog and make money.

Substack Alternatives and Medium Alternatives

Here are a few alternatives to Substack and Medium:

  • Ghost: A open source, self-hosted platform for building and running online publications.
  • Medium: A popular blogging platform that allows users to publish articles and essays on a variety of topics.
  • Blogger: A blogging platform owned by Google that allows users to create and publish their own blogs.
  • WordPress: A popular content management system (CMS) that can be used to create a wide variety of websites, including blogs.
  • Wix: A cloud-based web development platform that allows users to create professional-looking websites without any coding knowledge.

Substack vs Medium: Which Writing Platform Wins?

It depends on what your goals are.

For email marketing, Substack wins.

  • Send newsletters
  • Grow your email subscription base
  • Monetize your subscribers directly

For blogging, Medium wins.

  • Earn money passively with the Medium Partner Program
  • Explore multiple ways to monetize
  • Publish to your personal account or to publications

Both platforms allow you to build a platform. Both are free and both are easy to use.

But, why not do both?

That’s what I do!

Jenn Leach, MBA

Jenn Leach is a Houston-based MBA with over a decade of experience in the banking industry. She writes at Millennial Nextdoor where she writes finance, money, business, and lifestyle content to help millennials create additional income streams online. Join her on Substack at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Posts