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The Illusion of Exporting Subscribers on Medium

Abracadabra! Most of your subscribers just… disappeared!

Photo by Nikolay Ivanov from Pexels

We already knew that newsletters on Medium are just a useless toy.

Promoted changes on this didn’t change the situation. Adding insult to injury, the subscriber export feature is just misleading advertising.

Newsletters on Medium suck

Anybody who’s ever tried to write a newsletter on Medium realized that those newsletters are a joke.

The formatting is as poor as writing on a typewriter. This would feel pleasantly vintage, if it weren’t for the unfair competition of the newsletters from Medium and flagship publications, which are obviously formatted with much better tools, clearly not available to all mediumers.

If you think that you can use a better tool yourself, think twice.

They have the emails. You have not. You can only use the crappy tool from Medium because that’s the only tool that has access (limited, very limited access) to your “audience” on Medium. Medium has the emails and uses them with advanced tools. You have them not.

That’s where the think-positive team says: “now, you can export emails!”


But wrong.

Exporting subscribers

My account on Medium has 2.4k followers.

How many subscribers can I export?


Nobody opted in.

The export option is there, but it’s as useful as an ATM card for a bankrupt poet.

My writing is that bad.

Or the process of subscribing is an additional step that nobody sees or understands.

That is the reality, beyond Medium promotion. If that promotion of a new feature of exporting subscribers were a headline from you, Medium would certainly label it as “baiting”.

With one of my publications, it’s much better: 37 subscribers on 883 followers.

I mean, 883 decided to follow. But I can only export 37 of them, those who also subscribed after a certain date, even if they already subscribed in the past. So, I can use a decent external newsletter tool with only 37 of them.

I can still reach nearly half of the other followers with a newsletter, but a letter written with the second-rate Medium tool. Is that clear, to followers and subscribers, enough to subscribe again? I don’t think so, and a reminder to them, which wouldn’t come from Medium itself, would certainly sound “pushy” or just be dismissed as an extra bothering step. It’s possible that the tricky mechanics is not even clear to some editors.

What to do with the exported list?

I don’t know about the US or the rest of the world but in Europe you now need explicit consent from subscribers (GDPR regulation).

Where is that explicit consent, in the list exported from Medium?

Nowhere, of course. Or better, it’s on Medium. No trace of that consent, or where an email comes from. You just get a list of emails.

Use them at your own risk.

Also, no possibility of audience segmentation.

When you subscribe to one of my external newsletters, you can specify what you're interested in:

Thus, I can target my emails only to the interested part of my audience.

Not mentioning that I ask the first name, just to say hi to someone with a name, even if a nickname.

Lists from Medium are pure and simple email lists, with nothing attached to them.

Is that all we can get, Medium?

If it’s a matter of money, Medium, please let us know the additional expense for a decent newsletter tool.

I’m not even speaking of export. There, it’s not a matter of money. But having a decent tool on Medium could soothe the issue of newsletters, at least.

But I suspect that it’s not about money, nor any other techy detail. That’s about telling us that we can do something while not allowing us at the same time. That’s about pretending that we can reach our audience. While, at the same time, keeping that audience firmly in the hands of Medium, daily targeting it with recommendations from… Medium.

More or less like trumpeting about customizable profiles, when all that’s allowed is picking a font and a color.

I perfectly get that Medium wants mediumers to stay on Medium.

I get a little less than they make unfair competition to independent publications and authors — their own customers — but that’s also understandable, up to a point.

But, please, can you at least try to give us a decent feature, especially when promoted as part of a new course?

You recently discovered that we need a relationship with our audience. You got it a bit late (something like a few decades), but that’s okay. Now it’s time to work at it. If you’re not ready, please don’t talk about it. If you talk about it, please DO.




Unofficial insights on blogging.

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Vico Biscotti

Vico Biscotti

Engineer, rebooting from crash. Jack of all mistakes.

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