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Shortform: Earnings, distribution, and a helpful update

There’ve been a lot of discussions about how shortform works, so we thought a quick primer might help. We’re also making an update to help shortform earn on Medium.

Shortform is any story under 150 words (including title and subtitle), and it is eligible to earn money if it is metered. Like all stories on Medium, shortform earns based on reading time on its story page, not simply viewing it in a feed.

A few months ago, we made reading more frictionless on Medium by switching to a single stream of stories on profile and publication homepages, making it easier to draw readers into a story. In this new design, a shortform story was displayed entirely inline without requiring readers to visit its story page (via a “read more” link). This worked well for longform and unmetered shortform, but shorter stories that were metered saw a decline in their earnings.

To help shortform earn, we’re changing how it is displayed on profile and publication homepages. We think comic artists and poets will find this particularly helpful.

If a story is under 150 words and metered, it will be truncated in a way that encourages readers to click through to its story page. It is important to note that unmetered shortform will not be affected by this update.

Here are a few examples of how metered shortform posts are now displayed:

Metered shortform without an image is truncated at 30 words

Tip: There are times when you want to display a shortform story in full despite being in the Partner Program. Easy. Just unmeter the story when you publish, or in story settings if it’s already published.

Shortform is fun, but if you don’t know the person who’s writing it or the context in which it was written, it can feel incomplete — or worse, confusing. That’s why we don’t yet include it in curated spaces like Medium Digests. As those spaces become more flexible and follow-based (so you always know who’s written something and why), you can expect shortform to start making an appearance.

When you write shortform today, rest assured your followers will see a notification in the “Latest from Following” section on the web and in the app.




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Ritwik Dey

Father, husband, heading up design at Sanity.io. Trying to do as much with as little as possible.