The good news is that Medium pushes pretty hard on who and what gets written in their partner program and as part of that push there are basically no listicles. Personal development still does well by nature of the subject (that’s what I write and edit). But, I can see that authors who bring a passionate reader base in with them are definitely going to do very well.
For example, if you actually managed 5000 claps that would definitely have been worth more than $1000 in the last round of payments. The profit share is directionally based on an individual reader’s subscription fee spread over their entire clap behavior. So If I clap for you once and no-one else, then you get 100% credit, but if I clap for 100 people 50 times, then you’d get 1%. So you can’t say anything clear about what a clap is worth. But, anecdotally, I heard between $0.33 and $0.67 per clap in the last round of payments.
I think, to summarize, that Medium is paying very well right now partly because the market of authors isn’t flooded. So now’s a great time to test things out. And, in the future, if you don’t like the payments, you can always pull things out of the program.