Before we talk about Medium, let’s talk about Vocal for a minute, okay? A lot of writers really kind of hate Vocal. Know why? Because it’s hard to get reads. There’s two kinds of writers who love Vocal. First, the people who win the writing challenges. Because, duh.
As you note, people come to Medium for the social flywheel. The audience is already there. That's a huge value add compared to, say, just having a blog somewhere in the ether. That's also why so many writers are willing to pay $5/month to be there. It's an easy investment with a (potentially) huge upside--and part of that investment is the understanding that Medium will supply the traffic.
Now we have the CEO on record as saying that we will need to bring our audience to the show.
That's a lot of dissonance for writers to wrestle with.
To be clear, I appreciate Tony's "real talk." It's a refreshing change from what we had previously. But more and more, it feels like we're returning the era of gatekeeping pubs and away from the indie writer.
I don't know what this says about me, Linda, but I'm happy to get any sorts of readers any old way. Some of us might be in this game exclusively or primarily for the money, but I'm not. If I can develop a reputation for being a good writer and someone who supports other writers in their time of need, that's all I want.
To paraphrase Jesse Jackson: I may not be making a living writing, but I am somebody.
This seems like an underhanded way to increase Medium's profits by pressuring writers to convince people to join. If you spam your email list, coerce your family and friends to join Medium, you will be rewarded with a boost. Seems like it all is coming down to marketing, not writing. A change in the core purpose of the platform?
They are thinking like business owners who don't understand who their customers are. Medium might have formidable business costs that are eating up their profit. That's not my fault.
If I violate someone's trust by misusing their email, they will NEVER trust me again. They show it by opting-out and not reading another thing by me. People must have have the freedom to say "No."
You are one of only two writers on Medium that keep me from cancelling my account, and you're the only reason I created a Substack account. I rarely ever write on Medium anymore because I find it an enormous waste of time. As someone without my own mailing list and who doesn't have 18 hours a day to try to build one, I originally turned to Medium to try to get more eyeballs on my writing -- a way of getting back in the game as someone who a long time ago used to make my fulltime living as a freelancer. The only time my stories generate any respectable number of views is when I really hustle to share the link to other sites/groups that may have interest in the piece in question -- or I tag the hell out of pieces on multiple social media posts. Medium doesn't pay us for those, of course. My lowest number of views/reads actually comes when my pieces land in big Medium publications. That seems to be the kiss of the death -- a big publication picks it up, and I get even fewer reads than self publishing. My dream is to rebuild my writing career -- writing again for a variety of national and local publications. I thought Medium could help me get some eyes on pieces written from the heart that really mean something to me, but that doesn't really happen. I know in my head that I would be way better off taking every second I waste on Medium and using it to pitch stories to real media outlets, and continue writing works in progress. I've even thought of Substack, which seems to make more sense, but it seems like I would have to invest the same enormous amount of time I don't have trying to build a list there -- or wait until I start publishing more frequently again in national publications and then using that to help build a list. I honestly have no idea.
I clicked the heart, but not because I enjoyed this. More like it breaks my heart. I've begun focusing more on my Substack, because I see more potential here. Thanks for clarifying why my Medium traffic is slowing to a halt.
Excellent questions raised and I have the same reluctance as you do about what I do with my (small) readership. I won't just plant them anywhere. I am getting reading to ask my Medium subscribes whether they would be willing to follow me on substack but I will never be one to do a grand transplanting.
I am very glad that writing is my hobby because if I needed my Medium payout as my source of income, it would be a very dark world for me.
My head is spinning. I was steadily building a following which hit 1.2k and was making
hundreds a month and one viral hit which went over $3k. Then Tony arrives and it came to a screeching halt. Linda, I so appreciate your insight, and thoughts--Tony translations, really--but I'm still lost how I can regain any income on Medium. I'm so f'in frustrated that my best writing is now free content for a CEO who I believe doesn't care. Would Tony care that I took a part-time job to make up for it is which sucking away my writing time and creative energy? I'm sure he'd shrug and say, not my problem.
I think they want the Zulies and the umairs, and the Wildfires and the rest of us can suck eggs. Why should they promote our work? Because we're subscribers who provide content for practically nothing, that's why. Last month was my all time worst earning one in almost 3 years. I made more with zero followers than I do with over 2,000. What is even the point? I haven't found much benefit to sharing on Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. I think this is a sign that I need a new direction.
I've been watching all these changes on Medium really closely. It's definitely going to change what I write there. Now I need to think about what articles people off-Medium might like to read. And I will have to start writing more like I write for publications off-Medium (eg., major online magazines). The problem with this is that Medium really was a place for readers to get to know the writer personally. I could write about subjects that wouldn't get an off-Medium audience, but I knew that my Medium readers would enjoy reading about. I also think about all the Medium readers who've told me I've helped them through my writing. This counts for nothing? I hate the idea of having to depend on Medium publications as gatekeepers. That was one of the beautiful things about Medium--self-publishing and actually gaining an audience. But I also understand that what Tony may be doing is trying to eradicate all the shit that gets published on Medium. Much of the articles are low quality. He's basically asking people to up their game--write articles that a vast, picky, internet audience will want to consume. The way I'm dealing with this is to up my social media game. I'm focused on readers outside of Medium now. I've been headed in this direction for a while--but this is basically a wakeup call to get this new focus going. The days of depending on Medium to build my audience for me are over. But yeah--if the focus is external views, then pay us for them....
Thank you for breaking this down for me. Self promotion is sooooooooooooo hard- especially because it takes up time I could be creating.
I clicked the heart because I'm glad to know this is happening. But I don't like it.
It reminds me of book publishing. "To publish" means "to publicize". We have to proof, edit, design the art, market, EVERYTHING except hiring the printer. WE are the ones publishing and they are getting 10-20 dollars, of which we get $1, maybe. Yeah, I was just beginning to make some money on M. Great. Not a fan.
Yikes. Medium is getting worse. Writers with big lists don't go to Medium, they're on Substack.
Since Medium will have access to those lists owned by individual writers, will the Medium board decide to start marketing their platform to persons on that list?
Another question: will hackers be able to scrape those lists from Medium’s servers?
This is really sad and surprising but I guess I should have seen it coming. I’ve always thought of Medium somewhat like a magazine. They provide readers and writers submit stories for readers to enjoy and hopefully there is at least some payout to the writers. In theory, good writers and stories should rise to the top.
Now, we hear all that really matters is that writers bring a large audience to Medium. Sounds like they want others to do their marketing- thus using writers for their benefit even more than they already have. Writing is a tough gig but Medium once felt like a little light of hope. I naively thought those in charge cared both about readers and writers. Seems like neither is true.
Appreciate the info Linda. I do not see a lot of boosting in my near future. 😂