Many Creators Are in a Slump — Are You?
We could sit here all day and complain about the algorithms, but we would rather create for the sheer joy of it
I scrolled through my newsfeed longer than I should have because I just didn’t care. I lingered on YouTube watching ghost videos because the alternative was getting to work and writing. I tried brainstorming ideas that people might like to read, but it felt so futile.
What’s wrong with me?
Medium has turned into a waste of time for me. Ever since the last algorithm change and the sweeping changes made to the platform, my earnings have been in a freefall. I used to count on my old stories earning and getting a nice little check for $300 to $500 a month, but Medium is no longer promoting any of my evergreen content.
My views have dropped to 1/10th of what they used to be. Even if my stories get distributed, which is not very often, I can’t count on Medium providing any views and reads.
My earnings and stats for February are dismal, back to a level where they were when I first started writing on the platform almost three years ago.
But I keep writing. I don’t write only for the money. Like this story I’m writing here, I know no one will read it, but it feels good putting down my feelings and fears and seeing them in black and white.
The bottom line is that I feel like Medium turned their back on the very people who got them where they are now. There were many of us, from mildly successful writers like me to some big names, who used to be fiercely loyal to Medium and would tell everyone who would listen that they needed to come over to and join us.
We were the cheerleaders.
But, Medium is a business, and instead of promoting those of us who pay $5 a month and publish religiously, they push non-members. The prominent Medium publications are full of mediocre stories by writers who don’t even bother to support their fellow writers on the platform.
They don’t add to the pool and interact with other writers in reads, claps, and comments. I don’t know what kind of program they signed up for, but all they have to do is pump out a few crappy stories a month — all of which get promoted at the top of my Medium feed.
But I keep writing.
Many of us will feel disappointed because News Break ended up doing what we all knew they would do and screwed a lot of people. At least they followed through on my deal with them. I published a few stories and got $3k for my efforts.
But, there won’t be any more money coming out of that platform because they figured out how much money they were paying writers and switched up the rules.
That leaves us with Medium and their less-than-enthusiastic algorithm. Can we make it work for us again?
I am hoping more changes favor the writers, and essayists don’t get ignored anymore. I hope the witch-hunt for anything that remotely sounds like clickbait finally ends, and we can go back to using a little marketing to make people want to click on our titles.
I am not saying it needs to go back to how it was because I was getting tired of seeing so many “10 Things” listicles succeed when good writing was being ignored.
I don’t like to complain, and I rarely do it anymore, but it felt good to put it all down in words and stop overthinking it.
I’ve been a writer for a long time, but I’ve only been serious about it since I started writing on Medium back in 2018. I know it takes a long time to pay our dues before most of us find any measure of success.
I may never make it on Medium, News Break, LinkedIn, Vocal, or any of the platforms out there. I may finally hit it big when I release a book.
Heck, I may not ever make it as a writer. My YouTube channel may take off before then, and I will devote more time to that. I may get to a point where the only writings I ever do are passion-projects that I don’t expect to earn from and scripts for my YouTube videos.
There is a lot of opportunities right now for writers because story-based content works very well there. But YouTube is like all the other platforms, and you will always be at the mercy of an algorithm.
It’s the nature of being an online creator.
I don’t know how this will all work out, but I set a goal for myself for 2021, and I’ll be damned if I let any platform keep me from it. If I earn on Medium, great! If I can monetize my Youtube videos, I will be super-happy.
And even if I have to start ghost-writing again, I will make a living as a creator on the internet no matter what I have to do.
I guess the best thing we creators can do is get all this complaining out of our system and get back to the basics. Sit down and write each day. Make the vlogs and videos. Spend enough time on Twitter that people know what to expect from you.
There are dues that need paying in front of a laptop before any of us will be successes. We have to earn the watery eyes and flat butts from sitting at a desk all day and night.
So I guess I will stop complaining and start getting back to what worked for me before. I wrote for the sheer pleasure of it and took the right kind of chances with my work.
It’s time I — no, we — got back to the basics and kept finding those new pathways to success. Nobody ever got anywhere sitting on their ass and whining about how unfair everything is. We went places because we created despite the unfairness of it all. We made it work for us.
So, creators? Let’s get back to it, shall we?