My current issue with Medium

I’ve always been a fan of Medium and I worked there before. But, over time I’ve found myself writing less while wanting to publish more. I’ve been trying to put my finger on why. (PS. the irony of this post is not lost on me).

Today, I have over 9,000 followers on Medium and yet I publish less than ever. Why? I think it’s because I don’t know who my audience is.

Medium is the intersection of two concepts: A personal blog and a social network. I can write a thousand and one posts and they’ll all appear on my profile (personal blog). I can interact with other actors within Medium by following them, liking there posts, and influencing their personal feeds (social network). It’s that intersection that makes Medium a special place.

Still, I feel there’s too much friction and (quite honestly) too much fear to write here. The fear comes in the form of not understanding my audience and writing something that doesn’t resonate with them. To be honest, I feel this in a microcosmic form on Twitter, but perhaps more so with Medium because it feels more permanent and like it’s meant to be more thoughtful.

Aside: Have you ever written a post that’s received over 3,000 likes and then another that’s gotten no more than 10?

I have and it feels kinda shitty. Why should anyone be made to feel so shitty for putting themselves out there in the form of creative expression?

My core issue stems from the fact that Medium is a broadcast network. There is no (easy) way for me to narrowly cast on specific topics. For example, I would love to publish more posts about nitty-gritty engineering topics that I experience on a daily basis — but I have no clue how many of my followers want to hear about that. There are several other topics that I want to talk about, but I don’t, because I just don’t know my audience.

This is a really hard problem. As a former tech lead on Google+, I know it’s not simply solved by organizing people into lists or by creating separate personas. Secret (RIP) turned the problem on its head by allowing you to take on any persona with every post as there was zero continuity between the posts you created. However, you were unable to build a following or cultivate an audience in that model.

What I want is a robust narrowcast network. Narrowcasting has been represented since the beginning of the Internet in the form of BBS’s, forums and products like Reddit, because it keeps the content and conversation focused to topics. You know you’re speaking with like-minded people.

I do believe (hope) there’s a solution that gives us the ability to capture our own individual audiences while maintaining a single identity (or perhaps multiple identities) and even make money 💰 from it. This is something I’ve been exploring a lot these days, between playing around both with a new kind of Secret product and some of the things we’re working on with Bold.

I may not be the one to solve this problem, but I think it’s incredibly important that we continue to have more safe spaces to interact and share with others.

Am I missing something or silly for thinking in this way? I’m really curious what you think. 💭

Tweet at me at http://twitter.com/davidbyttow or just email me at david.byttow@gmail.com or however you want to talk at me. 🗣

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