That Weird Feeling About Publishing on Medium
Medium is addictive. I wish I met it before.
But publishing on it leaves me an aftertaste.
Meeting Medium is, for many, the enlightenment in blogging.
For those who come from days spent on tuning the WordPress setup, or lonely waiting for the first comment on their blog, to enter Medium is like, for a child, to enter Disney World.
No need for setup and, suddenly, you meet interesting authors, people that engage with you.
Few views on your articles but soon someone comments. Someone follows you. Someone is interested in you and your writing!
And that international culture, so refreshing, flavored with that Silicon Valley inspirational leitmotif.
Finally, a place where your writing feels at home.
And you read and write. Read and write.
Read and write.
Soon, Medium becomes an addiction.
Your thoughts have found a channel in which to flow.
Your curiosity has found a media where people also write about philosophy or write poetry.
Your need to feel understood finds people who share hard experiences.
Your needs for belonging and interaction find a community.
Medium is the place where your writing dreams materialize, and your thoughtful virtual friends replace the superficial and demanding instances in the flesh. Where your being “different” may be finally understood, beyond the judgment of your family.
I went through that, and there is some good. It’s a boost, much needed for your creativity and your confidence.
But then, months pass, and things may take shape differently from what expected.
You don’t care of numbers. But, one day, you discover to have 10k followers and to have grown a loyal audience.
I’m joking, of course.
Notifications are part of the addiction. Put it as you wish. Acknowledgment, motivation, greediness, curiosity, love sharing, or what you want.
No statistics means no readers. No notifications, again, no satisfied readers.
Without readers, your dreams of writing remain dreams.
Be honest. If you didn’t care about someone reading, you’d have written a diary and kept it in your drawer. Maybe you’re not interested in popularity, but you need an audience, however small it is. If nothing, you need feedback to improve your writing.
You need some growth.
Nobody grows on the Web just by publishing.
You need to be part of networks, to promote your writing, to work on your visibility, maybe to publish on publications.
You also need to work on your productivity. There is so much out there. Just a couple of posts, unless you are Elon Musk, won’t be read by anyone.
If you are no one, you also have to read a lot, clap and comment. You need to be present.
This is all the fun part.
But if you want to go beyond, you need a more refined approach, like tactic tagging. Or being generous in following people.
Also, the fun part needs some commitment.
You cannot just read. You need to read and comment daily, if you want your stats to grow or, at least, to stay afloat. If you don’t do it, they’ll soon forget you.
Or, for example, you cannot just write. You need to write a lot. You are among a crowd of authors publishing every second, in an incessant flow.
Given that some behaviors work better, people tend to exploit what works. If you don’t, you’re left behind. Maybe you don’t care. But many do. I do, in part, because I want my writing to be read. I don’t write for stats but staying hidden does not satisfy me.
So, in your own way, you usually start to play the game.
What you are left with
My 40th story was read by… zero readers (except my wife). A short story that meant a lot to me. But, after 6 months of active participation in the Medium community, for a window of more than 24 hours none of my new virtual friends checked my profile. None. An invisible story, from an invisible author. A too short title, I know (Memories), but that silence did hurt.
I’ve some good friends and loyal readers, on Medium. But they are not always there, of course. They cannot and are just not interested in. More or less like actual friends.
But, in addiction, Medium friends weren’t with you when you married, or celebrated your degree, or got drunk. Or don’t warn you that maybe the Medium thing could lead you nowhere.
Usually, you can’t go hiking with your Medium friends. Nor they are interested to see the photos of your holidays. Okay, also your actual friends are not, so disregard this last one.
The point is that, unless exceptions, your virtual friends are convenient because you don’t have to celebrate their birthdays and give them presents, but they will remain… virtual.
If nothing else, maybe you’re left with money.
Medium paid me $13.34, in February. I gave them $4.17 (paying annually), so I’m $9.17 in profit.
In my case, ignore money.
Or you have grown an audience. Yes, let’s talk about that.
After 11 months, about a hundred posts, and hundreds of comments exchanged, I’ve only 720 followers. And most of them just hit “follow” accidentally, seen that only a handful of people follow me regularly. And if I stay away from Medium for few days, I become the Ghost of Notre Dame.
The guys who practice aggressive following amass the double of my followers in few weeks. Not a real audience, for now, but they gain a stage. While, from my stage, I hear a lot of crickets.
Nothing that stops me or makes me change my authentic attitude in writing and connecting.
Where am I heading to?
Consistency is the key. We all know.
But we are a lot, nowadays. Millions. And many of us started years ago. For each successful writer, thousands here remain hidden, with good stories flushed away every second.
If I don’t try to explain what I’m doing on Medium to a friend or my family, there is a reason.
Medium helped my writing goals, and the community helped me as a person. Even if I didn’t reach the exposure I hoped for, Medium gave me an opportunity, and many authors enriched my perspective on life.
But, in my case, things didn’t turn into something that could change — or start to change — my life.
And the aftertaste remains.
That of feeding a hungry creature.
A creature that is growing bigger. Needing more food. And staring at me.