If You Can’t Beat Them, Join Them.
Why Medium Has (Reluctantly) Become My New Home
I have had a love/hate relationship with my blog for a long time.
I want readers, and I’ve only been sort of successful at that task. And I can’t say my blog has done much to help with that goal.
To get readers using a personal blog, you either need to write a lot (for free) or focus your blog on a particular topic. I simply don’t have the time to publish on my blog for no pay consistently. I am one of those shameful writers who enjoys money considerably.
I also find limiting my personal blog to one topic is sort of the antithesis of owning a personal blog. I should be able to write about whatever the fuck I want. But can I blame readers who have the expectation that I’ll talk about tech to stick around when I have a crisis over my relationship with friends? Probably not, but it does lead to a preaching to the choir scenario that I am also firmly against.
So what is a writer with a lack of dedication to his personal blog to do?
Apparently put aside his ego and just dedicate himself to Medium.
Over the past month or so, I’ve been pushing all my work that I would usually reserve for my personal blog to Medium. And the results have been sort of astounding. Over the past thirty days, my articles have had 400+ reads and 500+ views on Medium. My personal blog on the other hand (where I can only accurately track views) has only garnered a measly 150+ views over the same period with the same content.
Additionally, the content I post over here gets much more of a reaction. It is telling that Owen Thomas decided to respond to my article criticizing Read/Write’s plan to crowdfund on Medium instead of my blog. And just today, Jan-Lk Else requested my post on BlackBerry be published to his Android & Tech News publication; generally, such a post would’ve died in relevance an hour after it was published. And surprisingly, a quick contribution to Human Parts where I wrote a letter to someone I regularly see but don’t actually speak to is my most trafficked article of the week.
Long story short: My little experiment has proved that, for a blogger with multiple interests, Medium is a pretty good home.
And that’s terrifying for a nerdy writer like me. For as little traffic as my writing pulls in on my blog, at least I own that platform. Medium is a platform entirely controlled by some team in NYC or SF that do not have my best interests as a writer at heart. Their priority is growth, and I am sure Ev eventually would like to make money. Inevitably, they are going to stub my toes in ways I won’t even be able to predict.
But I am also a firm believer that, eventually, blogs like mine with domain names and fancy servers I can manage will go to the wayside. Eventually, the web is going to be run by platforms that I won’t be able to control. While I could continue to fight the good fight and own my words, I have more interest in writing where people care about my thoughts than defending an aging paradigm (sorry Nick Denton).
All of this said, I am not completely giving up on the idea of having some form of ownership over my audience. I am actively pushing my newsletter (YOU SHOULD SUBSCRIBE TO IT), and I still plan to copy and paste over my articles to my personal blog. I am also going to dearly miss having access to good analytics. If anyone at Medium is reading, please make it a priority to improve the stats you give writers.
This move is also more symbolic than anything. I don’t think my writing is going to change because of Medium, but my habits certainly will. Instead of drafting articles in WordPress, I’ll be drafting them in Medium. Instead of publishing to my blog first, I will be pushing to Medium first. Instead of sharing links to my blog on my social profiles, I’ll be sharing links to Medium. For my current and future readers, this change doesn’t mean much. But for me, it means a lot. It’s an upending of how I’ve worked with my own personal writing for over six years.
But it’s time to embrace the future of platforms. And thus far, Medium looks like it has a positive future that aligns with my goals as a writer. So considered me hitched to Medium, at least for the foreseeable future.