Why Everyone Should Stop Freaking Out Over The Changes To Medium.
Recently, Medium has made changes to the way business is done around here. The changes are two-fold. First, payments are now judged by an article’s read time instead of the the amount of claps and views that it receives. Basically, the longer someone reads an article, the more the author gets paid for that article. Second, you can’t delete then recreate old published articles to give it a second chance at success.
The citizens of Medium, including some of it’s top writers, were not happy. In the past month, there has been a huge surge of articles decrying these new regulations on our creative control.
The payment change is, without a doubt, the most egregious disruption. Everybody gets it. No artist enjoys starving and writers are no exception. Even if you try not to, you can’t help but dream of the day when you become a major writer with book deals and royalties.
These changes were designed to focus on authenticity instead of cranking out a stream of revenue-generating, attention grabbing, fast content.
However, here’s the hard, uncomfortable truth. Evan Williams, the founder of Medium, and his team do not owe us, the writers, absolutely anything.
If his prerogative was to pull the plug on this entire platform, we have no choice but to respect it.
The (Un)Popularity Contest
Let’s keep it real — Medium has devolved into a popularity contest over the past year.
Statistically speaking, no matter how large your population, there will eventually be outliers. The standouts that separate from the pack and rise to the top through superior writing and consistently showing up everyday to create new content for the masses. Just think of your favorite Medium writers and that’s who I’m referring to. These are the men and women that have developed large followings and have subsequently captured the Medium curator’s hearts in the process.
They showed up and wrote a new article every single day for our entertainment. We salivated for their work on a daily basis and they kept us fed with a constant stream of their work. They rose to prominence to become the household names of this platform and then proceeded to waterboard anyone else that dared to get within striking distance of their success. Whether the curators are to blame or simply the constant flood of content, it was becoming one-sided for sure.
If you have been following Medium for the past year, every other article seemed to name drop them. Nothing wrong with that. They built their success and they got recognized for it. However, one gets tired of seeing the same names dominate the front page everyday.
Maybe that’s why Mr. Evan Williams decided to shake things up? Who knows? However, I’m glad he did. It woke everyone up and realized that coasting off large followings and making quick, hyper-calculated posts to draw that precious Medium revenue won’t be enough anymore.
Using likes as a determining factor for anything has always been a flawed logic. Society has confused number of likes (or in this case, claps) as a measure of success. In some ways, that’s true. The number of people “liking” that article should indicate that your writing, is on some level, loved by others. However, not everyone hits the “like” button. What if you’re an up and coming writer that’s making a name and lack that audience? Is it fair that only those with the most name recognition get paid more than you if you have the better writing?
I’m not sure if I’m qualified enough to answer that last question. It’s something to think about. Do we give into supply and demand or do we buck the trends and rally around the little guys because they are the better writer?
What about the writers of short-stories, cartoons, and poetry? The system is bias against us. Don’t we deserved to get paid?
Without hesitation, I would say yes to this.
I am fully acknowledging that by supporting this new system that it goes against the financial success for anyone that prefers short-form writing. I’m not ignorant of that and I’m making it clear.
On the positive side, there’s a place for everyone. If making money from your writing is that important, there are always other ways to achieve this. Just because Medium no longer caters to you doesn’t mean you no longer have a niche.
If that sounds harsh, then I apologize. However, it’s the truth. If you’re writing because you love to write, then you have nothing to worry about.
If financial gain is your intent, then you should absolutely find seek out other alternatives to profit from your wordplay. No one is going to fault you for wanting pay yourself. It’s not selfish either. It’s self preservation and good common sense.
Being a Writer has NEVER been easy
Read that headline again if you need to.
“Medium has enabled writers all around the world to have a voice, but it was never designed to cater to us. It gave writers a platform, but it was never meant to make you rich. That part is up to you.”
Writing is a career filled with self-determination. Often, your success is determined by how often you’re willing to show up and put in the time to perfect your craft. Even then, even if you’re the world’s highest quality writer, the ubiquitous “Muhammad Ali” of writing, you can still fail.
To become a great writer is one thing, but what about everything else?
We have to learn marketing skills too. It doesn’t matter how good you are if no one knows about you.
We have to deal with the needs of our clients. Our words are judged at the whim by the opinions of others which can be mentally crushing if you allow it.
We deal with the ever-changing landscape that is social media. Every year, social media goes through shake-ups of one form or another. Algorithms change, platforms shut down, and audiences come and go like the wind with each emerging change.
We deal with the fear of rejection on a near daily basis. Because let’s face it getting your passionate words rejected, or worse ridiculed, is never fun. You just offered up your baby and people just ignored you after you brought something great into the world.
Sometimes, we just get too damn tired to write.
My point is Medium makes it surprisingly easy to become successful writers. We have our own platform. We have a great editing and formatting tools. Hell, we basically have our own app that allows to publish from anywhere. ON top of that, there is a giant online community filled with publications and others that all want to share in the love of writing. Networking and building an audience is easy if you’re a consistently good writer. Actually, not even being a good writer is needed. You just have to let your work speak for itself. It’s that easy. Everything is streamlined for us to a ridiculous degree.
And for the option to make money through your writing while you get to sit comfortably at home? The low cost of entry of around 5$.
I get that many people on this platform have actually managed to develop full-time incomes thanks in large part. I also get that this new system royally screwed over promising potential income streams. It sucks but I get it.
However, we’re writers! We’re being adaptable and maintaining our passion for this craft is our way. Always, has been. One day, Medium won’t exist anymore and with it every word we’ve wrote here will be gone with it.
So instead of complaining, let’s adapt and show a little gratitude. This platform gave us a home and a paycheck. I’m just happy to share it with you.
Dayon Cotton is active duty US Navy, fitness enthusiast, freelance writer, and public speaker. To contact me for inquiries, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.