Moving With The Times

Broadening My Horizons

Liam Ireland
ILLUMINATION
5 min readJun 24, 2024

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Photo by Simon Berger on Unsplash

Like a lot of veteran Medium writers of late, I have decided to branch out and join Substack. I am a little late to that particular party, but it’s better than never, as they say.

Let me say first of all, I am not leaving Medium since I have too much invested here, and I don’t mean just financially.

First off I have almost three thousand followers, hard won over the last four years.

Second, I am a Senior Editor on a variety of Illumination publications, which in many ways has been key to my growth.

Thirdly, although I am not exactly anywhere near one of Medium’s highest earners, I am in the top two percent, which basically means that I manage to earn in excess of my monthly subscription.

Fourthly, I have a great many friends here with whom I have managed to form emotional bonds and relationships.

Fiftly, I have seven of my own publications here which I continue to have high hopes for.

Finally, I have an excellent mentor here in the form of Dr Mehmet Yildiz and I value my relationship with the man very highly indeed. I am still in awe of what he has achieved, as well as his commitment to the cause of Illumination, and I still find his values very much in alignment with my own.

Despite all of this, of late I have become somewhat disenchanted with Medium and the multitude of ways in which it has changed over the last year or so.

Up until the most recent round of changes almost everything I wrote was curated for wider distribution. Sadly, that has now all disappeared. This has sadly stunted my growth, along with a great many other writers. This goes against the grain of what I have been trying to achieve. So it seems to me that if I am being held back here, then I have to look elsewhere to continue my trajectory towards success.

I have already started my Substack account and in the near future fully intend to monetize it. I have come across quite a few Medium writers who have taken that step and have seen them beginning to enjoy great progress.

This last couple of days I have given a good deal of thought to what is going on at Medium, and I have to say that as a previously successful entrepreneur business man, I get it completely.

The simple fact of the matter is that Medium has never been a business that has generated healthy profits. Indeed, it is a wonder and a testament to Ev Williams’s commitment towards supporting writers without being obssessed with the bottom line. However, any business must generate a profit of some degree if it is to survive long into the future. The good Samaritan needs to have a few pennies in the bank if he is to continue to do good deeds.

There are a few golden rules to running a successful business. In order to grow income one has to increase revenue and/or reduce costs. Taking a cynical view, I suspect that the powers that be at Medium have seen that reducing curation and wider distribution offered the possibility of lower payouts to writers. Of course, that runs the risk of losing writers who are not happy to see their income go down. I guess that’s what you might call a calculated risk.

There are two ways to increase revenue; raise the price of monthly subscriptions, or find other ways to get more money out of your present client base. The other way is to put on new business, which basically means getting more paying writers on board. As a rule, this the most expensive way to grow a business.

One way of increasing revenue is by allowing advertising, rather like Facebook has done very successfully. However, I get the impression that that is not something Medium (nor its writers and readers) would want to see.

Another way would be to allow writers to monetize their accounts and/or publications as Substack has done. I do think that this would be a very welcome move amongst writers and publication owners. Indeed, such a move would be very beneficial to Medium if they were to do what Substack does and take ten percent of any writers’ monetization revenue.

Such a move would also be potentially very beneficial to publication owners such as Illumination since that would mean that they could actually pay their very hard working volunteer editors.

The great thing about allowing monetization is that if it were introduced on Medium, it would likely staunch the flow of top writers out of Medium into Substack. And of course, it has the advantage of enabling Medium to increase revenue from its existing client base. For that alone, I see this idea as a no brainer.

At this point, I would like to point out the free labour that editors provide on a daily basis does not feel as if it is fully appreciated by Medium. Yes we work for the cause of writing and the good of Illumination, but what we do is also of enormous benefit to Medium. It would be nice if Medium were able to repay that enormous amount of volunatry work in some way, such as introducing monetization.

I have also come across yet another great way for Medium to to generate extra revenue. At Vocal Media they have writing competitions which you can only enter if you pay a higher monthly subscription ($10 US dollars in total).

I sincerely hope that if anybody at the top of the Medium empire reads this post they see it not in any negative way, but rather as constructive criticism and advice.

Of late, we have all seen changes we do not fully understand, and that makes us fearful for the present and the future. It would be nice for Medium to offer us some sort of mission statement that makes clear a vision of where exactly we are headed. Some transparency would go a long way towards aleviating our feelings that Medium just doesn’t care anymore. Perish the thought.

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Liam Ireland
ILLUMINATION

Author, writer, Illumination Editor, Top Writer in short stories and poetry.https://www.amazon.com/author/ryanobryan