How I Lost the Will to Write on Medium

And How You Will Too, If You’re Not Careful

Photo by Steven Houston on Unsplash

I was really on a roll. I had published 315,000 words on Medium in 2018. And that didn’t count all of my comments and letters. I had achieved Top Writer status in 19 different categories. I had reached 2.4k followers in less than a year. These are all things I have written about. But I know they don’t matter.

I wrote all of my Medium-related pieces because I wanted to help other writers understand what worked for me and what didn’t. I even keep them all in one single post for easy reference.

The Anthology is a free post. There is no call-to-action. I’ve never had a call-to-action. I’ve never built an email list. Because I thought I would be crushing it on Medium forever. But I won’t be. And neither will you. Because you haven’t been listening to me.

You’ve been fighting the fact that Medium is changing. But in a year, you will read this again and I won’t have to say, “I told you so.” You aren’t looking at the evidence. Because you are hopeful. And you don’t want to lose what you’ve built here. Me neither.

I’m glad you are still writing. I’m glad you are publishing a lot. Maybe for you, it will work long-term. But me? I’ve lost it. I’ve lost the will to write on Medium. And even if you don’t believe Medium will be a wholly different product in a year, you too will lose your will to write here if you aren’t careful.

The Growth of Medium

I’ve written a lot lately about where I think Medium is going. (P.S. — none of these are Medium Partner Program posts, because they are about Medium, so don’t interpret the linkage as a money grab.)

The argument and clapback, although minimal, from these posts was that I should just be grateful to be here. Grateful to Medium for inventing the Medium Partner Program that pays me money. Grateful to have such a beautiful platform to write on. Grateful for all that Medium does for me.

What? Do you also spend time thanking Twitter and Facebook for all they have done for you? These are calculated companies, Medium included. They. Don’t. Give. A. Shit. About. You. Even if they feature you, they will forget you. It’s all a numbers game. This is the Internet. There is always someone to fill your spot.

Why You Are Missing the Point About the Medium Partner Program

How do you think it works when Medium finds a writer who has written a book? And they make a deal with them to write on Medium. Because if they do, they will be featured. And they can reference their book as part of the promotion. But I get an email about requesting claps in a f*cking satire piece?

The Medium Partner Program is not some gift from them to us. Are you serious? It’s a well thought out, calculated plan to grow membership. The more people they pay, the more those paid writers will promote their work and how awesome it is that Medium pays them. Are you following?

Then all of their friends and casual readers will think, “You know what? $5/month isn’t so bad to pay to get this content.” They aren’t just giving you money because they like you. They have done projections and paying us is what they think will be best to place them in the best financial position.

People act like Medium is a little old lady sitting in her house giving out $20 bills, out of the goodness of her heart, for raking leaves for a half hour. The world doesn’t work like that. And most certainly the Internet does not. It’s all about metrics, scaling, partnerships and viability.

You are relying on and vociferously thanking a system that you have no idea about how it works. There is no disclosed formula. Even though many news publications are marked Member Stories, Medium claims that we are not behind the same paywall and the publications are not getting paid. What?

That means that the algorithm and program that runs the payout has filters. Filters can be turned on and off at any time. What about the Member Feature stories by writers who just signed up for Medium to pump their book? Do they run in the same algorithm?

Medium is paying us through the Partner Program because it is a good business decision for them. And because they have full control of how we get paid. And no matter how many times we look at the numbers and claim it makes no sense from piece to piece, we should just be happy to get our $362.14?

Actually, yes. I’ve always said that Medium Partner Program money is free money. I didn’t expect it when I signed up and I certainly don’t count on it. But if you do, you have to realize that you are banking on a formula that you know nothing about. One you will never understand and one that could be changed at any time without notice.

Photo by Ehimetalor Unuabona on Unsplash

Long-Form Twitter

This will be the end result. Have you also seen an uptick in trolls recently on Medium? Have you wondered why? It’s because Medium is bringing the masses to us. And with the masses, come trolls. Did you really think all of their partnerships with news organizations and their perfect connection with Twitter would just bring nice people to Medium?

Or that the intent of the Medium Partner Program was to limit the audience to serious writers and readers? They want as many paying users as possible. And that end game will result in more trolls. More comment destruction by photoless avatars who just popped in to say, “Your story f*cking sucks.”

I got this comment last week:

The new Medium commenter.

It took them two days and two requests on Twitter for them to take the person down. This is the future as they grow. As they search for numbers instead of a tight-knit community of writers and readers. That’s why there are 26 news sources syndicating their news stories here with the help of a Medium editor.

Are You Paying Attention To Their Hiring?

Have you seen the amount of people who have posted on Twitter that they are leaving their job at a news source or online portal to come to Medium as an editor or someone involved in content? There have been several over the past month.

If you don’t think that’s an indication of an upcoming push for growth, I don’t know what is. And hats off to Medium. They are a company and a business. I don’t begrudge them for that. It’s just not going in the direction it was when I came here.

Look at the dates. Medium is not going to look or feel the same in one year. It doesn’t feel the same now as it did when I started. Hiring is the evidence of new direction and new initiatives. And if you have been following along, it’s not going to be good for you. Or me. The independent reader or writer.

Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

Why It Doesn’t Feel the Same as it Once Did

  • The top of our homepages littered with Medium sponsored content
  • The amount of Medium monthly magazines and self-curated materials
  • The increase in imported Medium Member Features from writers who were not a member before the post went live
  • The preference for spotlighting published authors by allowing them, through a deal with the publishing house, to post an excerpt of their book as a Medium story
  • The upswing of media outlets and businesses using Medium accounts to syndicate material that already had its chance in print and online on their own sites
  • The responsiveness of support has been decreasing more and more each month

This is How I Lost the Will to Write on Medium

Because of all that. And because I wrote too much.

But it’s gone. When I sit down like I used to, I just don’t give a sh*t. I still have great ideas, but I find myself spending time thinking if it’s even worth it to put them out there on Medium anymore.

Because chances are, even with this many followers, that my stories will be swallowed by the Medium whale. The one that gets me 1k views on a piece one day and then 163 three days later. On the type of piece that has garnered 5k views in the past.

I’m tired. I’m tired of fighting “the man.” Because I do in everything I do. I always have. I don’t know how to be complacent. I don’t know how to just go along. It’s not in my DNA. I don’t know how to just shut up and write. I. Don’t. Know. How.

I lost the will to write on Medium because of me. It’s not Medium’s fault. I put all my eggs in one basket here. And expected that they, a giant Internet business, would never change. And would be sympathetic to the plight of independent writers, like their mission when they started this whole thing.

But that’s not life. And that’s not business. And it’s sure as f*ck not the modern Internet. So it’s not on them. It’s on me. And it’s on you if you don’t figure it out before it’s too late. Before you too, have lost the will to write here.

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