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Medium Needs To Fix Their Publication Problem Right Now

“An overhead shot of a cup of coffee, a notebook and a keyboard on a wooden desk” by Lukas Blazek on Unsplash

To many on this platform, Medium has a “personal development” problem.

Not that personal development isn’t amazing, it’s just that there’s too many personal development-related articles here.

There’s not as much diversity in content on Medium. If you don’t write a political rant, a writing tip, a personal development insight, or a life lesson, that article has a tough shot at getting discovered on Medium.

This sucks.

Also, if you don’t have 10,000+ personal followers, it’s also hard to get discovered.

Medium’s tried to level the playing field by dispatching editors tasked with “discovering” lesser-known (but well-written) articles and then featuring them on the homepage, in daily digest emails, and elsewhere on the platform.

All in an effort to get them more views.

This is definitely cool (and honorable) to do, and it’s helping, but I have a suggestion that’ll solve the root problem, not just the symptoms of it..

Medium Needs To Support Their Smaller Publications MUCH More

In October of 2016, I started my own Medium publication called The Post-Grad Survival Guide.

It had 0 followers.

I was pretty wet-behind-the-ears on Medium, so naturally I decided to post on my publication 5 times per week.

A month and 20-some stories later, I was averaging 30 new followers PER DAY to my fledgling pub. I couldn’t believe it.

That continued for a few months, and it helped me get 5,000–6,000 followers, but…

Fast-forward to today and we’re probably averaging about 4–5 new followers per day (IF THAT) despite having added 200–300 writers.

My steady stream of followers has dried up. The place I used to spend 3–4 hours on per day is now a place I spend MAYBE 10 minutes at per day.

The golden years of The Post-Grad Survival Guide are behind us, I suppose, and I’m now left wondering whether Medium publications are ACTUALLY good things to start.

You know why I used to get 30 new followers per day? Because I believe Medium was actively “suggesting” my publication to new users registering for a profile here.

Twitter does this, too, in the form of suggesting people to follow.

That’s the only explanation I have.

This doesn’t happen anymore. Medium has stopped recommending smaller publications on the scale that it used to and now it seems that even if you’re SUPER active you won’t even break the “5 new followers per day” threshold.

My suggestion?

Medium, start doing this again! And do more of it!

Here’s some publication statistics for you, Medium..

According to smedian.com..

  • Only 6 publications have 300,000+ followers.
  • Only 30 publications have 100,000+ followers.
  • 87 publications have 40,000+ followers.

There’s a sizeable difference between publishing at a 300,000+ follower publication and a 40,000–50,000 follower publication.

And 40,000+ follower pubs are awesome still! Shout to Steve Campbell at the Ascent. 😉

That just shows you how much pull the big pubs really have.

Furthermore there’s not much incentive for writers to WANT to publish at smaller publications because their stats are better at The Mission.

So you now have MOST of the writers on Medium trying like heck to get into The Mission, and unfortunately they can’t get in because there’s a volume problem.

What if there were more publications with 100,000+ followers, though?

What if the Mission stopped getting so many submissions because people legitimately wanted to publish elsewhere?

This would force them to either accept more writers, publish more submissions, or change their focus to get away from personal development (in an effort to attract a more diverse group of writers).

Medium is dominated by a handful of publications. They used to suggest my fledgling publication to new users to help me grow. I reached the 1,000 follower landmark after 2 months of publishing!

And I was the only one that was writing for The Post-Grad Survival Guide!

It’s simply not fair anymore for smaller pubs. Most publications will be lucky to get 1,000 new followers IN ONE YEAR.

Excuse my language, but where the fuck is the incentive in that?

Meanwhile publications like The Mission and Personal Growth get 1,000’s of new followers every single month?

This is not an anti-Mission or Personal Growth article. It’s not their fault that they’re growing.

This is directed solely at Medium.

Promoting Smaller Publications Fixes Your ‘Discoverability’ Problem, Medium

It also fixes a MUCH bigger problem in my eyes..

Wouldn’t it be cooler to have more diversity on Medium? Darren Stehle runs one of the only LGBTQ-focused publications on Medium in Th-ink Queerly.

Hey Medium why don’t you give him some more followers?

The more followers Th-ink Queerly gets, the more writers will want to publish there. Then it will grow naturally like The Mission.

Think about this.. as Th-ink Queerly’s articles get more views, they’ll naturally get shared on social media and beyond, then more people interested in that content will inevitably “discover” Medium and come here to write/read THAT SORT OF CONTENT. Then you have even more diversity.

Then the cycle repeats itself.

AND Medium becomes more diverse over time.

Medium is so laser-focused on “discovering” articles that are good but aren’t getting views in an effort to then disseminate them to a wider audience.

This is an awesome pursuit, but to me this isn’t addressing the root problem.

Maybe Medium should spend more time helping PUBLICATIONS get discovered while simultaneously developing features to help writers get into those publications.

Then the articles that are actually great will have more of an opportunity — if published on these publications — to reach a wider audience.

That means we need to find ways to help authors get into publications.

Can Medium please roll out a feature that helps authors let publications know they want to be a writer there?

Can they also roll out a feature that helps us see the top 20 publications in each “tag” so we can know which ones to target?

Mini-rant within the actual rant over.

Part of the reason we see so many gosh-darn personal development articles on Medium is because as publications like the Mission and Personal Growth grow to epic proportions, the articles published there (that are already getting thousands of views thanks to Medium) are then inevitably shared to social media (because that’s what people do), and then people interested in reading/writing that content “discover” Medium and decide to create a profile and visit more often... TO READ/PRODUCE THAT TYPE OF CONTENT.

That’s why Medium has low-key become “commercialized” with tons of Personal Development pieces.

Honestly, it’s freaking incredible how many bloggers I meet on Pinterest that don’t have any idea what Medium is.

AND MEDIUM IS, AS FAR AS I’M CONCERNED, THE EASIEST PLACE ON THE INTERNET FOR WRITERS TO GET PAID.

We’re almost a year removed from the Partner Program going live for everyone on Medium.

Why don’t more people know about this place?!?

In Conclusion..

Medium’s greatest feature, to me, is the ability to post on publications that have hundreds of thousands of followers to (possibly) get tens of thousands of views yourself.

Without the help of publications such as The Mission or the Startup, a good portion of you wouldn’t be reading me right now.

Got it?

Publications are the actual lifeblood of Medium as far as I’m concerned.

Not Partner Programs, not “Top Writer” awards, and not editors who are tasked with discovering Medium’s lesser-known stories.

Here’s a short list of problems that will be solved if Medium starts to support smaller publications..

  • Diversity on Medium
  • Discoverability for lesser-known writers.
  • Opportunity for fledgling writers/publication editors
  • Fairness within the Medium ecosystem

Medium, let’s talk. (thomaskueglerllc@gmail.com)

Do you think this would be a good way to solve the problem?

Let me know in the responses below.

Want to build an audience of your own on Medium? I have a free 5-day email course called “Your First 1,000 Followers” that will teach you how I did it! Sign up for it right here.

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Tom Kuegler

Tom Kuegler

Travel blogger. 28 years old. Currently in Mexico. Get my free 5-day Medium course via email → https://bit.ly/35yyIIu

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