What is Vocal?
Vocal (vocal.media) is a blogging platform which, as far as I know, is the closest thing to Medium that isn’t Medium.
Anyone can become a writer on the platform, upload posts, and get paid based on readership.
There are, however, a few key differences between the sites:
The first difference is that every single post on Vocal has to go through a submission process. When you submit a post, you’re asked to choose a “community” to include it in. Communities are kind of a hybrid between Medium’s publications and topics.
Each community has curators who determine whether to accept submitted post, although they appear to have fairly lax standards. The curators can also choose to feature posts, which is much rarer. New posts are typically approved in less than a day.
The second big difference is that Vocal doesn’t use a paywall. Your posts are available for everyone on the internet to see, and you get paid per view. But, the rates are not very good.
The standard payment on Vocal is $3.80 per 1000 views. Vocal also has a paid membership option. If writers pay $9.99 a month (or $99 a year), they start earning $6.00 per 1000 views.
I have to say that I don’t like this system. It really rubs me the wrong way to charge writers for the chance to earn more. Although it’s not a literal pyramid scheme, it certainly gives off those vibes.
Vocal is also very big on writing contests, which they call challenges. Every week there are new challenges based around different topics, with the top submissions winning thousands of dollars. However, there are hundreds to thousands of submissions, so your chances of winning are slim.
There is one thing about Vocal’s payment model that I like: tipping. Every story has a button that allows readers to tip writers directly. This is something that I’d actually like to see added to Medium. It seems like a great way to encourage support for writers. (In the meantime, if you ever want to tip me, check out my Ko-Fi page. Sorry for the shameless plug.)
The final big difference that I’ve noticed is that Vocal makes no real attempt at community interaction. There are no comments on posts, and there’s no way to follow specific writers.
As a writer, this is a big drawback for me, because it seems like it would be much harder to grow on Vocal. Even if someone likes one article that you wrote, they’re unlikely to ever see another.
I Tried Vocal and Failed
I created a Vocal profile in January. It didn’t go well.
Vocal allows previously published submissions, so my hope was that I could use it to find a second life for some of my older posts here on Medium.
I wasn’t expecting much, but since the posts were already written, I figured it couldn’t hurt to try. I thought that even if each post only earned a few dollars, it would be a good way to diversify my blogging income a little more.
Over the course of two weeks, I uploaded seven old posts. I made sure to choose posts that had done fairly well on Medium, since those would have the best chance of succeeding on Vocal too. I also wrote one brand new post for Vocal, just to see if it would perform differently.
It’s now been two months since those eight posts were uploaded, so how have they done?
I’ve received a total of 6 views, earning a whopping 2 cents.
That’s obviously pretty abysmal. For me, it’s clear that it isn’t worth my time to keep trying.
Does that mean it’s impossible to earn significant money from Vocal? No, but I suspect you’d have to do a lot of promotion and marketing to start seeing any real cash. I’d rather spend that time writing.