Let’s just say it: Medium is all the rage. At least in the tech world. I probably read 3 or 4 articles every day on Medium, and that’s just what I find on Hacker News. It’s even popular enough that there is a twitter meme account.
I’ll be honest — I’ve been very anxious to get invited to Medium to write. Mostly because I’ve heard a lot about this awesome editor (which is, admittedly, awesome). Let me be clear, though, I’m excited for the technology. I’m not excited to write for Medium. You’re probably thinking that’s a weird way to say that — I must mean writing on Medium, not for Medium,right?
No, I did not mistype that. Currently, I — and all other Medium users — are writing for Medium. We are currently generating content so that someone can make money. That’s not inherently bad, though; we do it every day on Twitter, Facebook, and even with our personal data on Google. I’m OK with that,though, because each of those companies is providing me an equally valuable service in return. Twitter and Facebook connect me with my peers in return for my data. Google connects me with a wealth of information that I’m interested in, in return for my data.
Medium… does what? If I’m lucky, Medium will feature my post and I’ll get a ton of traffic. That traffic doesn’t do anything for me, though. I can’t put ads up to monetize the traffic. I can’t put a logo anywhere to build my brand. There isn’t even a way for me to put a link to my twitter or my personal website so that I can drive that traffic somewhere useful. Medium’s sole value is giving me an easy way to write and driving traffic to my writing. Admittedly, it does a good job with that.
And that’s a service. If your goals with your writing are just to get readers, then Medium is providing you a great service. The thing that really bugs me, though, is that Medium is cheating you out of your hard work. I will spend about an hour on this blog post. I believe I spend more time authoring my tweets than most, which is about 30 seconds. That means this blog post is about 120x more valuable than a tweet. I put a lot of work into my writing — I want to own it. Regardless of how much work you put in — and how much traffic that drives to Medium — Medium doesn’t care. Here’s an excerpt from their terms of service.
By furnishing your User Content to Medium, you give Medium a non-exclusive worldwide, royalty-free, sublicensable, transferable license to utilize all copyright rights now in existence or that may arise in the future with respect to your User Content…
That’s right — Medium owns your content. It owns it to the extent that it can copyright it and use it for any purpose that is “reasonably appropriate” to their service. As a culture, we’ve sort of become numb to the idea that web services own our data. It’s the cost of innovative services,right? Even I believe that, most of the time, but it’s just not true about your writing.
Do you know how much I pay to host my writing? $0. Do you know how much traffic I get on my blog? 2000 unique readers every month. Do you know who owns my writing? Me. I host all of my writing on Github. I use Github Pages, so my writing is indexable, beautiful, and free. Here’s how Github feels about my data:
We claim no intellectual property rights over the material you provide to the Service. Your profile and materials uploaded remain yours.
That is important. I — and the rest of the writers who have flocked to the internet to gain a voice — put a lot of time and effort into our writing. You deserve to own it. Don’t devalue your writing by hosting it somewhere that doesn’t recognize your work.
I know what you’re thinking right now — “I’m not tech savvy enough to write on Github”. That’s not true either. Github comes with prebuilt pages that are both beautiful and do not require any code to run. You don’t even need to know about Git.
You probably don’t believe me, and I recognize that I won’t reach all of you. You’re wrong, though — it’s easy and very much worth it to own your content. I believe in this so strongly that, if you are interested but don’t know where to start, I will personally help you get your writing hosted somewhere that will let you own your content. If that’s a Wordpress blog, great — I’ll walk you through. If that’s Github, great — I’ll even create the repo for you. If you hate Github’s designs, fine — I’ll give you mine. It’s important — own your content.
By the way, I really mean it — I’ll help you. Tweet to me (@Joe_Wegner) or email me (joe [at] wegnerdesign.com). I want to help.