But it’s fine with me if you give up.
Medium, like the rest of the Internet, is a rapidly changing environment. Trends (read: cryptocurrency this summer and, this week, bashing on Amazon) sweep through like wildfire and take over our home-pages, then move on.
Algorithms, like on every other social platform, change…a lot. And, with them, so do our results. As the overlords of our content devise new plans to create exclusivity and generate profit, the Medium Partner Program shifts and creates waves.
Some writers skyrocket while others tank. On the worst days, our favorite publications publish 💩 articles that suck up all the clicks like a Dyson gone wild.
And we all get mad. So mad.
But it doesn’t all have to be doom and gloom. As a matter of fact, this is all part of a completely natural process. Even though Medium has its highs and its lows, it is revolutionary as a platform that lets creators publish to the world in the blink of an eye. Call me naive, but that’s something I believe in. Call me even more naive, but I View Medium as a meritocracy. And one that still works.
If you’re relying on income from posts on Medium, your life is gonna suck.
The long play:
I’d like to make a comparison between Medium and the stock market here, but I’m not sure I have the data to make my point. Essentially, it tanks at times and explodes at others, but the trend, year after year, is upward.
I personally have most of my portfolio in a Vanguard Total Stock Market Index. It’s the best ride imaginable at times and a miserable mess at others. But from 1975 to 2015, the average return was 11.9%. I don’t know about you, but that’s dang good money.
Here’s an example I can make a bit more clearly:
Have you ever reset the average fuel economy meter on your car while you’re driving? My Volvo averages at about 24 miles per gallon, but if I reset the mileage while I’m going 55 on a flat road, it’ll hover at 40mpg for a bit, then spike to 80mpg when I go down a hill, then drop to 12mpg when I go up the next hill. After 10 or 15 miles, the average starts to settle back in around 24 miles per gallon.
If I were to sample these numbers without any knowledge of whether I was climbing a hill, cruising on a flat road, or coasting down a steep decline, I would find the’ to be wildly erratic. So much so, in fact, that I’d curse Volvo for building such a piece of junk.
It’s not a piece of junk. Best dang car I ever had.
Similarly, we all sample our writing performance over an incredibly short period of time. I read an article yesterday from an artist who was so sick of the variations in his performance over a 6-month period that he had decided to give up.
He made a few bucks from a couple mini-viral posts over the summer (so did I) and has made next to nothing from his articles this fall (same here). And, just like that, he was done. And he sure was grumpy.
Here’s my concern with the growing sentiment that Medium is out to screw us all:
- If you’re relying on income from posts on Medium, your life is gonna suck. Don’t do that. It’s a fun perk designed as a thank-you for creators — not a writer-focused business model.
- Well, duh. Of course Medium is going to prioritize its own profitability over that of a few of its writers — or even all of them. It’s a business. If you owned a significant share of Medium, you want it to be wildly profitable as well.
- It’s a platform for sharing. Want to own your content, control who sees it, and monetize your page? Build a dang website. It’s pretty easy to do.
So, for the rest of us, why stick around?
You can find a million articles about the feedback loop, writer’s networks, and access to publications, so I won’t get into all that.
Instead, I’ll tell you why I’m staying,
Because, quite simply, I like Medium.
Being here is fun! Sure, I occasionally get feedback that lets me know my content has made a difference for someone, and my analytics show that a nice little trickle of traffic comes to my website here and there, but I don’t need those things to stay here.
Instead, I can open Medium and learn how creators and thinkers all over the world really feel.I can understand the emotions of people who oppose my political point of view, find inspiration from people who work on the edges of medical, financial, and information technology, and learn from people who share their own experiences in business, writing, life, and love.
In addition, I can host all of my content here for free and tap into communities of people who share my ideas. And, not to mention, I can link back to my own site from a pretty highly trafficked web presence, which slowly but surely makes a difference.
I could go on for a long time, but it’s unnecessary. Here’s the bottom line:
Medium excites me. I’ve built a small business that supports me, so that’s not what I’m looking for here.
If you’re worn out, it may not be that you’ve overextended yourself, but rather, that you overextended your expectation from a free platform. The only promise here is that “Medium is the easiest place to share your ideas.”
As far as I’m concerned, Medium has kept their promise.