Stop Complaining About Medium…on Medium
It happened again.
I just read yet another post about how Medium is a terrible platform, written by a Medium writer and published…on Medium.
Seriously, can someone who is unhappy with this site — unhappy enough to whine about it ad nauseam — explain to me why they would continue to publish here? Is this a thing that one does in other areas of life? Like, do you go to Starbucks, buy shitty coffee, rant about how bad it is, and then go back and buy it again the next day?
Look, I get why people become frustrated here. They come to the site, allured by the siren call of the Medium Partner Program, and are woefully disappointed when they make less than a couple bucks. It’s especially disheartening when they see all the “Here’s How I Made $4 Billion in My First Month on Medium” posts.
(Okay, though I don’t think anyone has ever claimed to have made $4 billion from Medium, a quick peek at the home page shows more than 20 posts on just how easy it is to make crazy amounts of cash here. It is a very, very common topic on this site.)
Here’s my take, Angry Writer: If you don’t like it here, you have three options.
- Leave. Easy peasy.
- Continue bitching.
- Work harder.
Number 1 is obvious.
Number 2…also obvious, but trust me, this will get you nowhere fast. You can only complain about something for so long before even your most ardent followers will get sick of it.
So, that leaves Number 3, which can take many forms.
Work Harder…at Writing
If you’re not getting the money you want, take a moment to read through all of your past posts, using a critical eye. Are they grammatically correct? Are they engaging? Do they inspire, educate, or entertain? Are they too long? Too short? Do they convey the message you want to share with the world?
There is always room to improve as a writer. If your work isn’t getting the recognition you feel it deserves, spend some time honing your craft. Subscribe to writing magazines like The Writer, Writer’s Digest, or Poets & Writers. Read books on writing and publishing. Watch tutorials on Masterclass or Skillshare. Take a class at a local community college or sign up for one of the many, many online courses offered by literary journals. Join a writing group in your community. Instead of ranting and raving, use that energy to craft beautifully written pieces that will attract more attention, thereby earning you more of the Medium Partner Program pot.
Work Harder…at Marketing
In a perfect world, you could join the Partner Program, publish a blog post or two, and make enough to quit your day job. But if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that this world is far from perfect. In fact, it’s kind of insane to assume that just because you write a couple of posts you’re going to make enough to cover a cup of coffee, let alone pay your rent.
This site is massive. Barack Obama publishes on Medium. Katie Couric publishes here. People around the world rely on this site to share their hopes, fears, dreams, and wishes. It’s easy and, if you don’t subscribe as a member, free!
What this means is that you have to work SO much harder to get anyone to read your work. Attention spans are short and the internet is vast; in order to stand out, you must have a quality product (or catchy click-bait) and you have to market the hell out of it. If you’re not constantly promoting your work, no one is ever going to pay attention to it.
Join Facebook groups for Medium writers and share your latest posts on their daily threads. Create social media accounts on the platforms of your choice and update them regularly. Engage with other Medium writers — read and comment on their work, and they might return the favor.
Treat marketing as an important part of your job. Because unless you’re willing to put your work out there, all the time, no one will know it exists. There are just too many other things vying for their attention.
Work Harder…at Being Yourself
I started on this site just over two years ago. Right after sharing some posts, I joined a couple Medium-related Facebook groups and heard about this chick Shannon Ashley. She was also new to to Medium but she was WAY ahead of me in terms of followers and earnings. I was so green with envy — why wasn’t I making thousands of dollars having my work splashed all over the home page?
Well, it’s because Shannon is an awesome writer who was publishing a TON. Like, multiple times a day. She turned Medium into her full-time job. She wrote, published, wrote, published, wrote, published, and in between that, shared her work — every single day. Medium wasn’t a hobby or a side gig for her; it was a career. And she was willing to write about truly personal topics in an insanely honest, open way, which made her work appeal to so many. (It also made her a prime target for trolls, but that’s another story.)
Point is, I was never going to be able to compete with Shannon because I was never going to write as much as she could in a day, and I also wasn’t comfortable sharing that level of personal information with the world. That’s just me. Shannon has her way of working, and I have mine.
Two years later, I’m publishing in more traditional outlets (The Boston Globe, The Washington Post). I love conducting interviews and writing articles. Shannon, meanwhile, continues to kick ass here on Medium. And that’s awesome! She’s figured out what works for her, I’ve figured out what works for me.
Now…what’s going to work for you? What do you want to get out of this? Are you just looking for a hobby, a way to share some of your writing without having to host your own blog? Are you hoping to earn Shannon-level money and become one of Medium’s big earners? Do you eventually want to want to do something else, like write a book or have your work in print publications?
Any or all of it is fine. But you have to figure out what you want and pursue your dream in whatever way works for you. Don’t worry about what others are doing here. Their success has nothing to do with you. Keep your eyes on your own paper and plug away at your work. Eventually, you will find success — whatever that means to you.
Spending your days complaining about Medium on Medium is old. Trust me. I’ve been here for a couple years and there have been dozens of people who have whined about how this site doesn’t treat them the way they feel they should be treated (and yet, they’ve refused to leave).
Don’t be one of those people. Be unique. Be you. Inspire us. Inform us. Entertain us. Tell us the stories only you can tell. Just please stop complaining about this site while using this site. There’s so much more you can offer…if you just work a little harder.
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