Great, very valid question.
Short answer: Yes. We’re doing work to improve the lives of the individual writer.
Long answer: This (all of this, imagine me waving my hands inside the proverbial cavern that is what makes Medium) is a work in progress and we’re at the beginning of that process. While we’ve rolled out updates to publications now, we’re not doing that in lieu of or in preference to publications above the singular writer. These efforts are all pieces of the larger whole that makes up Medium and for Medium to be successful, all those pieces need attention, respect, and work — constantly.
Improving the writing experience (and the reading experience, the highlighting experience, the sharing experience, the discovery experience… I could go on, but I think you get me here) is all important and necessary for us because it’s necessary for you. I know that the writing experience, specifically, is being worked on currently. As for details and timelines, I don’t have those (and under pain of death by the product team, I wouldn’t promise anything, anyway, because I’m the last person who can estimate when things will be good enough and ready to roll out for your use).
So much of what makes Medium great comes from individuals. The desire that bring me back everyday is primarily not built on publications — it’s built on individuals that I know and follow and the possibility of new names with new stories that have never written on Medium before. I’m not alone in this sentiment, either — it’s shared throughout the company — and hopefully is not a surprise to anyone reading this. Hell, I got my start on Medium as an individual writer and built my following as such. I feel you on the benefits and the pitfalls of keeping your writing pub-free, of submitting, of starting your own. And even though I work here, I’m far from an expert on what’s best (in truth, I don’t think there is an answer for “what’s best” because “best” differs depending on the person so drastically, as well it should).
As for making money, we’re in the very early days and we’re far from done. We have some people who were already on the platform on board with our early work on this front, as well as new people, but we want this to be powerful and useful for lots and lots of people. Again, that which benefits you benefits us. We don’t exist without you. And we built what we built for you. That sentiment held true years ago and it holds true now — for how we build new stuff and make existing stuff better, for how we think about the individual, the group, the hobbyist, the pro, and everything in between.
I feel like that got a bit cheerleader-y at the end, so follow up questions are welcome. I’ll answer them to the fullest I can.