Medium is Nice But I Really Want You to Read My Website

I’d love Medium if it were mine, but it isn’t

tl;dr: I have a website that I want you to read.

I’ve been experimenting with Medium for a bit now with some success. My thoughts on the site are ever-evolving, and I’ve certainly come a long way since my first post. In the past few weeks I’ve racked up some recommends, followers and decent read ratios. But what I really want is for you to read my website.

I wish my website were Pizza.Net, but it’s the candler blog instead

Your…website?

Yes it’s true! I have a website called the candler blog. I’ve been publishing it since 2009 and it’s still going pretty strong. Here’s what the site’s header looks like:

I originally envisioned the site as a home for criticism from the perspective of people working in the film business. My loftiest goal was for the candler blog to become a modern day Projections, the somewhat-annual “Forum for Film Makers” started by John Boorman and Walter Donohue in the 1990s.

Though I welcomed some guest writers over the years, the truth is that it just made sense to embrace the bloginess of the whole thing and make it a home for my own writings. The candler blog is many things to many people, a fact I’m proud of. Some people know it as a movie review and analysis site. Some people think it’s a tech and productivity site. The truth is it’s both, and I’ll take all comers.

I’m guessing you’ve never heard of it, though, so let me link up some greatest hits:

There are some 900 posts on the site. These are by no means comprehensive, just a sampling to give you an idea of what I’ve been up to for almost 6 years.

So now you’ve heard of the candler blog.

Yeah but writing on Medium doesn’t stop you from writing on your own site, Jon.

Long Island Medium (“Medium,” get it?)

Sometimes I let the candler blog languish without posts for a bit. For some reason, last month I got the urge to crosspost something I thought “had legs” both here (on Medium) and there (on my site). For a little while I caught the Medium bug and kept posting here.

It’s not actually my favorite writing tool, but I can’t deny that there are many things that make articles look great on Medium. Specifically images and animated gifs. Full bleed photos with text overtop is something that would take a ton of legwork to make happen on the candler blog, and I would never want to deal with the hassle of hosting all the gifs I use on Medium posts.

Plus, as I’ve written here before, I’m impressed with Medium’s melding of publishing and social tools. My pieces here are reaching an audience that I may not have had access to on the web at large (where my site exists). That’s powerful and impressive, and something to keep any eye on.

But then someone said I write for Medium.

After I broke down The Dissolve’s 50 best movies of the half-decade, their own Rachel Handler linked to the piece like this:

I want to be clear: I don’t fault Rachel one iota. Her linking to my piece was an act of kindness and an honor. It’s not her mistake, it’s mine.

The mistake I made was publishing the piece on Medium in the first place, where authorship is currently in flux.

Like it or not, if you write on Medium then you write for Medium.

Now, Medium’s Terms of Service make it clear that you own your content. Medium wresting control of my writing from me is not at all what’s at issue. What is, though, is who the perceived owner of my words is.

Anything I write that appears under the Medium “M” is perceived as being owned by Medium. Anything I write on the candler blog is perceived as being owned by me.

But great writing will out. Here, there, everywhere; who cares?

If I write something great that hits either here or there, it’s still a great piece of writing, so what’s the difference? Here’s how I put it in 2013 when I first wrestled with Medium:

If I were to cross-post an article both [on the candler blog] and on Medium, I’d kick myself should the Medium post get linked to by Daring Fireball. … The readers will come and interact and, perhaps, stick around. For my efforts it seems a shame to have that relationship forged under Medium’s logo.

I don’t make money on the candler blog. I have a single ad and have experimented with other forms of sponsorship in the past. These have come close to covering what it costs to keep the lights on.

I don’t make money on Medium either, but someone does. That’s the thorn in my side that’s tough to overcome. Why am I contributing in a space I should be getting paid to write on? The answers I can muster (the content looks great, the community is interesting, perhaps one day I will be able to turn my writings here into a career at Medium) simply haven’t been good enough so far.

I may not get paid to write the candler blog but it’s mine. Not just my writing. The whole damn thing.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Medium is suddenly volatile

I began composing this piece yesterday. Today, February 24th, Medium rolled out a few big changes that I think make it much easier for me to pick the candler blog. You can read more about today’s changes here and here, but the gist of it is:

I began composing this piece yesterday. Today, February 24th, Medium rolled out a few big changes that I think make it much easier for me to pick the candler blog. You can read more about today’s changes here and here, but the gist of it is:

  • There’s an inline editor to allow you to write a post from your home screen (kind of like composing a tweet)
  • The reading stream now features more of a preview of a post
  • You can now tag posts

These 3 things may seem small, but to me they change the entire idea of Medium. I had finally started to feel like I understood what Medium was, and then just like that it fundamentally changes.

Now, the changes may be for the best. Maybe Medium will start making sense to more people and in a year I’ll come around to “getting” it. I don’t think so. I think what they’ve done is added layers of complexity that complicate the whole endeavor; they put up a barrier instead of taking one down. I may write more on that later.

My point in bringing any of this up is that it proves my fears of Medium. The site will grow and change in ways I may not agree with. That’s fine for Medium, but the only way to steel myself against those changes is to continue building a home for my writing on the web, to continue building the candler blog.

So I really want you to read my website

Beauty and the Beast

I plan to redouble my efforts at maintaining the candler blog. Here’s how you can follow me on that journey:

Will I publish here on Medium again someday? Probably. Maybe even soon. If there’s anything that has ever stopped me from publishing, it’s been overthinking a post’s place in the world.

So I’ll just write. And however you get to my writing, I hope you enjoy it.

The Great Gatsby

I write the candler blog among other things. Movies, technology & everything else.

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