UPDATE September 22, 2020: in 2019 Medium announced improvements in newsletters. But newsletters still suck. What’s in this article is unfortunately still valid. More on what got worse here:
I recently wrote my first newsletter on Medium, from one of my publications.
The result is just embarrassing. Not because of the text or the metrics but because of the complete lack of features.
You see a newsletter from Medium and you think you can get the same results and provide a decent letter to your readers. Or have at least the same layout features at your disposal.
Let’s take one of the last Medium newsletters:
Simple, but good-looking. A pleasant green background, diverse fonts, separators, green links…
Or we can take another example, the Human Parts (a Medium flagship “collection”) newsletter:
Here, we can also see buttons and a nice embed for the featured story.
Now let’s look at the newsletter I sent from my publication:
I could have added a picture or a better logo, but, honestly, my will slipped out of my mind as soon as I saw that the best I could do was adding a full-width picture. Nothing else. You cannot even add a separator, except the default in the footer, or embed a story with its picture, subtitle, and author. Nothing.
The nothingness made newsletter.
Clearly, nobody at Medium has worked on that tool since years.
And, of course, you can’t use external tools, because emails are in the hands of Medium. You think you have a mailing list, but you have not, and that’s another story.
So, Medium bombs you with daily polished emails, but the editors of independent publications are not given the tools for writing formatted letters themselves.
Not to mention the curious thing about the letter being available for clapping and commenting yet invisible in the stories. I needed the help of Medium support to understand precisely how the friendly thing works (letters are invisible, unless you have the link or they are featured in the publication).
I summoned my patience — like several other times — and contacted Medium support to let them know my disappointment with the “minimalist” experience.
Do you guess the reply?
“It’s helpful to know that this is something you’d like to see on Medium. We’ll keep it in mind when planning future developments.”
Oh. It seems they still have to plan, and maybe they’re even hearing that for the first time. Funny. The “letters” feature has been there for years, in the same “poor” mode — for the independent editors — .
“We always appreciate hearing what we can do to make the Medium experience better for everyone.”
If nothing, I have to admit they’re good at positive and ironic copywriting. I’m afraid I’ll have to be content with this.