What the heck is going on with read rates at Medium? Are we a bunch of goldfish now?
If you only write in one place, you might think it's you.
Once upon a time, I was really proud of my read ratios at Medium. They were consistently over 60%. Not anymore.
Right now? Pffft. 37%. 32%. 29%. 34%
Those are the read rates of the last 4 pieces I published there.
My piece on how ChatGPT actually works has a pathetic read rate of 23%. Which, okay, fine. Makes sense, given it’s a 17 min. read. It’s not really a 17 min. read, because Medium uses a really low words/minute rate to calculate read time.
But still. 23% is a pretty pathetic read rate.
It shows in the comments. People leave comments that assure me they did not, in fact, read the article. Or they wouldn’t be saying what they’re saying. lol.
They say the “ideal” read time is 5-7 minutes. Apparently people don’t like to read long than that. TLDR!!! (too long, didn’t read)
Like, wtf? People can read books, right?
Do we read a book for more than 5-7 minutes? How would we get through a whole novel in 7 minute reading jags? Or is it just that they can’t handle more than 5-7 minutes reading on a screen? No idea.
Only thing that’s passed 50% read ratio is the story of the “dying” woman who ran away from home and won back life. Maybe because 40% of reads are external?
Are people so frustrated with Medium that they use it the way they watch tv, flipping channels looking for something interesting enough to stop the infernal dead eyed clicking? I don’t know. Makes no sense to me.
Here’s the thing.
I’m not seeing the same at Substack.
Read rates are crazy good here. Some weeks, I have more reads than subscribers. It’s pretty cool to look at the number of reads and see a higher number than the number of subscribers I have. I guess I can thank the Substack Network for that.
Now, maybe you’re not seeing the same results at Substack.
Hang with me a minute, okay?
I know a woman who thought she had something worthwhile to bring. She does visuals, not words. She tried Instagram and Pinterest. Youtube and Facebook. Flopped everywhere she went. Then she tried TikTok. Wham. Over 100K followers.
She likes to say she found her people. I guess she did, indeed!
Here’s the thing.
When you’re not getting response, it can make you question yourself.
I like to think I’m a decent writer. I’ve had 2 people randomly reach out and ask if I can offer a course on how to be a stronger writer. I used to write for print magazines back when I had the patience for the process and wait times.
Maybe the problem isn’t even me. Maybe Medium sucks at knowing what a read is. For all I know, maybe readers have to scroll all the way down, past the article, past the recommended stories, and hit the bottom of the page to be recorded as a read.
I have no idea why the read rates are so vastly different at Medium and Substack.
But I do know if I only had Medium to use as my criteria, I’d think I sucked as a writer. And if it was the only place I wrote, I’d feel even worse.
Because, here’s the thing.
A lot of people equate “success” to the number of subscribers they have. So if they have very few subscribers, they think they’re struggling.
That’s not correct and it’s not even vaguely helpful.
The size of your following comes down to exposure and titles. Most people have no idea how much difference a good title makes.
But engagement, that’s a different story.
Reads are what matters.
If you have 20 subscribers but get 15 reads, you’re doing way better than someone who has 1000 subscribers and gets the same 15 reads. Know what I mean?
Sometimes writers tell me they don’t have time to write more than one place. Sure you do. Import your stories from one place to another. Or copy and paste. It will tell you a whole lot more than just having your words live in just one place.
Then again, maybe it’s just me seeing read rates at Medium take a nose dive. I don’t know. Have you seen a drop, too?
Feeling kindly? Scroll down a bit and click the heart. Won’t cost you a penny and it makes me feel appreciated. :)
To paraphrase the great Canadian bard Gordon Lightfoot: "Oh. Linda, they've done us wrong..."
I honestly don't care about how the sausage is made there anymore. I took the enhancement off my stats and don't ever check them. I'm content with where I am at this moment with them.
Some writers I like are leaving the platform like it was the "Titanic" after the iceberg hit, and I know I will miss their presence. But my autistic mindset compels me to remain loyal to those who are staying put, and when I can publish something new, people actually read it. That's all I want.
I know it won't make a lot of money. When I announced I was taking my Substack paid, I said that earning money was as unstable as She-Hulk's mood swings, and I stand by that. For Medium, you're writing for anyone who will listen, whereas with Substack people sign up to your account to listen to you alone.
Honestly, I don't know what's going on Medium HQ, and I don't want to know. But as long as people are still stirring the pot on it, I want to be there....
A little known fact is that, although NewsBreak prefers local stories, you don't have to only write about where you live. For instance, I live in Pennsylvania but I can still write local stories about other states. When you go to publish, you just put in the appropriate location.