Medium’s value for indie writers has gone down the toilet
Benek Lisefski

Thank you Benek.

I was thrilled when I first joined Medium. Every day I was just clicking away, reading so many articles from so many indie writers, some experienced, some not, about so many topics.

Lives in nutshells, everywhere.

It inspired so many of my stories. It gave me such a sense of community, that I felt inspired even in those times when I couldn’t write a word.

I read it at home, at work. And while traveling; heck, I was even reading Medium offline, lying down with my laptop and all my pinned explorer tabs, freezing at the back of my van in Shithole, Down Under.

Then that paywall & membership thing came up, and I just ignored it because I thought it wouldn’t catch. I didn’t want to make people pay for my stories, even a cent. Gorging on stories and lives and useless, unmonetizable words was for me the whole point of Medium, it was what made it precisely genius.

Medium was what it spelled: a medium; a link; shared writing, ergo shared humanity.

But the paywall & membership thing caught. For more than a year now, every time I open a Medium tab in my explorer, my heart sinks. Virtually everyone is behind that paywall.

Also, I can’t help thinking: $5 a month may be nothing to many of “us” — aka mostly privileged and/or Western and/or White people who can afford the luxury of sipping coffee in front of a blank page at 3pm on a Tuesday. But it certainly is quite an expense for some other people in the neighborhood or in other places in the world.

And that “get paid for your writing” thing... Sounds like a rat race to me. How many of us will have sacrificed their audience, their style, their own reading time, their visibility, their soul, for a few dollars or even cents? Yeah, their soul. Am I being dramatic here? Well isn’t it precisely what writing does to us?

Honestly, how many of us make it to hundreds of dollars a month via Medium? A handful, just like everywhere else? Story of all writers’ lives since Johannes Gutenberg started to monetize Printing (spoiler: it didn’t end well, and his creditors took over).

Anyway, I kinda lost that feeling of belonging and commitment, I dropped our 4WD collection, after watching all those “stats” drop for months and losing track with Medium’s algorithm updates. Clicking “Publish” just didn’t work anymore — not outside of a Publication, not for free, not about any topic, no matter how many Followers you had. Even the people I am following don’t pop up prominently in my feed.

The worst is this: my Medium followers didn’t stop to read me and I didn’t stop to read them; we just stopped being able to see each other’s stories in time. That paywall is like fog, and you need to sign up and buy special glasses to be able to see special people in it.

Do I regret resisting that unstoppable wave? I don’t know, I’m not sure.

But I sure regret the unstoppable loss of what, imho, made Medium special, and a cut above the rest — and I do not mean in “market” terms.