Why we should stick with Medium
Everyone who writes on this platform will be aware of the $500 bonus that medium recently gave to 1000 of its writers. Within hours of the event, articles on the subject were flooding the platform. Some were celebrating receiving the bonus, others were lamenting having not done so, but almost all of them were asking the same question-
What does this mean?
Even the longest-serving writer in the Medium trenches can’t tell you the answer to that question for sure. If nothing else, this platform is a bit of an enigma in many regards, ebbing and flowing by its own rules that sometimes appear to be utterly random.
I don't think of it as random undulation though. I think of it as settling, like the foundations of a new house as they sink into the ground and find their point of rest.
Medium, despite its millions of readers and army of writers, is still a new entity on the internet block. It's not quite in the wild west of tech start-ups, but it's not a fully-fledged member of the online elites either. It's no Facebook or Amazon, and that's a good thing.
Medium is still new enough to allow its contributors (that us) to feel some sort of ownership over the site. It's not a cold tool we use to reach some end goal, it's a place where writers can be true to themselves and their craft. It’s a place where discourse rages with eloquence (usually) and where communities spring up with members from across the world. Medium is very much alive.
But, like any living thing, it's still evolving.
Just in the time I have been on this platform (around 6 months) I have witnessed a number of changes take place that have rocked the Medium community and made considerable changes to the landscape of the site. From algorithm changes to the winding down of in-house publications, it should be clear to everyone that Medium is in a state of flux.
Based on some of the articles I have read over the past few months, it might well be argued that Medium is almost always in such a state of change, at least in one form or another.
We have to remember that this was a new kind of platform. Medium was not built on a template, a product of a proven concept. Medium was the proof of concept. This site was breaking new digital ground when it launched and it continues to do so today, in many ways.
There are some who are arguing that the recent $500 bonuses were handed out as a kind of good-faith retainer, in the hopes that it would entice writers to keep contributing to the platform despite recent changes. That might well be, and it might well work, but I still think there are plenty of other reasons to stick around too.
Though the basic principle laid out by Medium has now been replicated and built upon by other sites, I still think that this is the platform that is best for writers.
Take NewsBreak, for example. It appears that greater returns are within reach compared to Medium, but contributions can only be made by successful applicants and, by all accounts, the community spirit and polite discourse are distinctly lacking.
As it happens, I can't comment on NewBreak from personal experience because I was not accepted as a writer, but having read more and more about the site I am becoming increasingly grateful for that fact.
Just a few days ago, I attended a zoom meeting with a group of Medium writers (and hopeful writers) run by Michelle Loucadoux, MBA and her writing group. The aim of the event was to give new contributors some pointers about the platform and to answer any questions that we might have about how the whole show works.
The event was free, the conversation was open and friendly amoungst the hosts and the participants, the insights were incredibly valuable, and we weren't even asked to follow each other or anything like that at the end. The only goal was to share knowledge and build a community.
That’s what makes Medium so special. It invites collaboration and mutual support. From the design of the platform to the tone of its statements, Medium is a place designed to make money, of course, but also to be a genuine online home for writers of all skills, topics, and creeds. It’s open, and therein lies its strength.
Medium has its problems, make no mistake. Rapidfire changes and algorithm edits can make for uncomfortable weeks or months, and there have been occasions where the powers that be have steered the ship in directions that the rest of us didn't really want to go. HMS Medium is by no means perfect, and there will be challenges in the future too.
But I have to agree with Medium giants like Tom Kuegler when they say that this platform is probably headed for some serious success down the line. The basic premise behind Medium has all the hallmarks of a site that can play with the big elites, and with the community that has built up behind it, I hope the platform will have all the support it needs to get there.
If Medium does make it as big as it could, we will all be glad that we were there to make a start and build our audiences through the storms of change. A lot of the biggest writers on the platform at the moment have been around since the earlier days of Medium, and with the site still settling and finding its place, I think there's still time to join the ranks of ‘the ones who got in early’.
I may be wrong, of course, but I hope I'm not. I love this platform and I plan to stick with it for a long time yet. There's so much more room for this site to grow, and I hope to be there to grow right alongside it.
I hope you’ll join me.