Everyone Wants To Leave Medium
There is a mass exodus that happens every few months on Medium. I’ve seen it happen many times since I started writing here on October of 2018. Writers come to Medium with stars in their eyes because they hear about the top writers earning 20K a month and think they can do it too.
I did the same thing. I saw people who started around the same time as me shoot to the top and start making thousands without any effort, or so it seemed. I kept telling myself, “If they can do it, so can I. I just need one good month!”
But my good month came and went and nothing ever happened for me. Shannon Ashley and a few others, who started a few months before me were talking about making $20k a month (correction. Shannon never made 20K) and I was barely hitting $500. I only mention Shannon, because to me, she was the epitome of success, and she will always be the face of success on Medium for me.
I started throwing blame around and most of it went at the platform.
- The algorithm changed and was unfair
- Curation was problematic and unreliable (still is)
- The curators had me blackballed and made sure I wouldn’t succeed
- Editors were playing favorites
- Non-members came in and took all our views with their fancy publications that nobody could get in unless you were already a big name or you knew somebody high-up
- Ev Williams was going in the wrong direction and forgot who built the platform for him
I heard it all and agreed with all of it. This platform has been the most frustrating experience I have ever been involved with, and I truthfully don’t know how I made it this far.
I say it’s pure stubbornness. After all, I was still making a few hundred dollars and my big break could be over the next hill.
Now there is a whole new freshman class at Medium who all claim to know the inner workings of Medium, just like we, the seniors, did at one time.
The morale on the platform is as low as I have ever seen it. Many of my writer friends, who have stuck with Medium for years through the worst of times, are finally getting tired of all the bullshit.
Just to give you an idea, I wrote a post of Facebook about a concern I had with curation. I always have a problem with curation because you can’t gain traction without it, but there are never any clear standards or feedback when it comes to the curation/distribution process. It has always been one of those things — a piece you never thought would get curated, does get distributed and the ones you think are pure gold are ignored. And we never know why they are ignored because there is no feedback process, there is no learning or growing.
So I posted on Facebook:
“Hey, Medium folk? For a long time, I was at a 100% curation rate, but all a sudden the last 20 or so I’ve published have not been curated. I know I am following the guidelines, I know the damn things by heart.
What has changed, what has been everyone else’s experience? Did they change something and I missed it?
I know, I know, you are going to say that curation (distribution) doesn’t matter, and your stories do better without, but I use curation as a way to gauge if I am on the right track with the audience and algorithm and it seems as if I am completely missing the mark lately.
What is going on?”
The responses gave me the first clue that the old guard of Medium are finally in the process of packing their shit and heading out the door.
“Tedium is probably giving all the attention to their new favorite group of writers that they invited to join the creator program would be my guess. I’m focusing about 90% of my effort on News Break now. I kind of gave up on Vocal too. “
“I wouldn’t worry about it, man. Ain’t nothing you can control. Medium doesn’t know what they are doing. …focusing attention on platforms that actually pay something decent is a better strategy. “
“Medium is quickly becoming low-hanging fruit for me. And I love Medium. But truthfully, the money is elsewhere.”
These are the die-hard writers. These are the people who have weathered the algorithm changes and the great MPP Fiasco. They are the people who publish every damn month, tirelessly, finally giving up on the platform that we have all been the greatest cheerleaders for over the years.
People are leaving.
Except, I’m not ready to go. I see hope on the horizon. In fact, the past few months I have increased the amount of stories on Medium I publish and have increased my engagement with the readers.
Yes, I have diversified. I am heavily invested in NewsBreak, but as much as I write there, and even though I make a fraction on Medium of what I make at NewsBreak, I am still publishing. Even when all of my last 20 stories were ignored and not curated, I kept going.
Here is why.
The New Medium
I made it no secret I hated the direction Medium went when it completely changed the MPP. I hated that they were starting these big publications that regular people like me couldn’t get in. They were throwing money at Human parts and hiring editors. They were paying established writers to come to Medium and get put at the front of the line in front of the diehard Medium Members who were waiting their turn and paying with their time and money to be part of the platform.
There were all these writers who didn’t pay their $5 a month expecting us to read and clap for their stories when they were getting all the benefits of our hard work.
But, I kept publishing because I have always believed in Medium. I grumbled to myself but was a huge cheerleader, touting the benefits of membership across the web.
Then the pandemic happened and our meager earnings went ever further in the toilet. Our views and reads dropped dramatically and it did seem like anyone bothered to engage with the platform anymore.
But I kept publishing, I fact, I published more, even though I was lucky to make $100 a month. But I heard and felt rumblings of changes in the background.
Then came the monthly bonuses. I got the first two, and will most likely get the third. Then came the new creator program I have been invited to. I filled out the information, and I don’t know if I will be accepted to the new program, but I feel like it’s a step in the right direction.
Whether they pick me or not, I am going to keep publishing.
I feel like this is a sign that new things are going to start happening. Most people are scared of change, but I embrace it. Change is a constant for me, and my life wouldn’t be where it is today had I not stepped on the road and started making changes in my life.
So I despair that my writer friends may be abandoning Medium, but I understand. For some, they can only take so much of the unpredictability and are heading to places where the money seems to be easier fruit to pick.
For me, I will continue to diversify, but I will also continue to publish unique content on Medium and keep hoping that my big break is just over the horizon.
Everything else is coming together for me in my life, I have to believe that all these years of hard work and stubbornness with pay off in the long run.
So I continue to publish on Medium, and when my chance to shine finally comes for me, I am going to relish the fact that I never gave up, no matter how difficult the journey was.