I’m Invited! (Me and Medium)

Photo: Hamish Reid.

Like (I imagine) thousands of other Medium authors, I recently received a message from Medium announcing a new subscription model; some excerpts from that message below:

[We’re] reaching out to you as a popular writer who’s published high-quality stories on Medium.
[…]
As fans of your work, we’d like to offer you the opportunity to pitch your ideas or relevant posts early, and become part of a select group of contributing writers for our initial launch.

While I’m flattered that anyone at Medium even knows I exist, let alone that they’re “fans of [my] work”, I’m also puzzled: has anyone at Medium actually read my “work”, or looked at the statistics? Most of my articles are the sort of stuff no one wants to read — it’s just not that interesting to Medium readers (and the stats bear that out). I’m not primarily a writer — I’m an engineer who dabbles in words — and the articles reflect that. I’m a dilettante, in other words.

And “popular”?! I’m genuinely lucky to get more than a dozen views for most of my articles, and most of them get maybe one or two recommends, if that. That’s a very obscure sort of popularity, for sure. The tiny audience I actually keep in mind while writing doesn’t usually inhabit Medium anyway (they have to be explicitly pointed this way every time I want them to see an article).

I have a very small on-Medium audience, mostly gathered by accident. Little has changed for me since I wrote Medium Cruel more than a year ago — Medium is still a place where the struggle to be noticed can be a little demoralising, unless of course you write about the Tech Triumvirate or produce stupid listicles or write uplifting ego-stroking lifestyle and life hack articles (or you bring a loyal audience with you from elsewhere).

So you’d think I’d leap at the chance to pitch my ideas in an effort to get my writing more visible (or even paid for), no? No. I’m genuinely thankful for the offer anyway (seriously), but I only step up to my Medium soap box when I feel inspired to say something publicly or have the time to speak out, which isn’t nearly as often as I’d like. Inspiration — and the time required to write, to feed the beast — certainly doesn’t come at a regular schedule, which is the main sticking point for me. I can only write when I’m not doing other things — I have a day job and a bunch of other interests. I kinda like the obscurity, but I like the total lack of pressure even more. And, just as importantly, I don’t stick to a single topic or set of topics — I write what I find interesting at the time, which makes for an annoyingly inconsistent set of articles. (You could say that Medium’s mostly just a glorified self-indulgent vanity press platform for me, and you’d get no disgreement from me).

In short, I don’t think I write enough, or well enough, to be able to pitch myself and my ideas honestly, even with the prospect of being paid for them. And I’m just not that important.

BTW, I’m fine with a (probably multi-tiered) subscription model; I’d pay a reasonable amount for what I get out of Medium as an author, and I’d like to see Medium succeed (though not at any cost). But I just can’t see myself fitting in to what’s being pitched here, unfortunately.

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