Medium is trying hard to kill off my living – but I’m not giving up just yet!
If you read me regularly, you’ll know that 3 or 4 days a week I write stories about Apple, Macs, iPhones and tech. It’s the first part of my working day and something I love to do.
But today’s story is going to be a little different as I divert from tech and pull back the curtains of how it all works – and the reality of writing on Medium.
I started writing regularly about two years ago with zero followers – the days when you feel as if you are writing for no one. It’s ever so disheartening but it’s a case of hunkering down and fighting the good fight. As a tech writer, I’m owed nothing – it’s on me to write something interesting for you. If I can write engaging, thought-provoking stories regularly then hopefully you’ll start to look out for my stories and find something to read over your cup of coffee or commute to the office.
I never considered myself a writer. At school, I was a lazy sod and the thought of chaining me to a desk to write had no interest to me…but then I was being told or more honestly forced what to write about.
That’s all different now.
Now I’m passionate about every story I write and love it. I make it the first part of my day simply because the words are tripping over themselves to get out of me.
I came across the idea of writing on Medium through talking with another creator and took to it immediately. I was just starting my journey to become a full-time creator and writing on Medium gave me a buzz – and crucially it was the first platform on which I earned any money as a creator.
I remember being in a coffee shop logging on to my Medium dashboard to find out I’d earned a whopping $1.39! But it felt tremendous – hard earned and rewarding – I’d made a start…I was on my way!
That was May 2022. Back then there was a barrier to entry before I could earn at all – Medium stated you needed 1000 followers before you could apply to the partner program and I had no problem with that.
By gaining 1000 followers it was proof that people were finding my content interesting and also, crucially I was publishing regularly which is a huge part of the playbook for any creator.
So I was happy to prove myself and earn my stripes. I became a better writer as well – more relaxed and found my way of writing. I’d found my voice. I found writing easier than making videos – it wasn’t quite a case of a duck to water, but you get my point…
People seemed to like what I was writing and now I’m fortunate enough to have over 3000 followers. But without taking away the pleasure and passion of writing away, I view it as work – as a job. Let me explain why.
Every story you read will probably take me between 3-4 hours to research, write, proofread, ‘pretty-up’ and get ready to upload the story for you to read. And that doesn’t take into account the thinking time. I know, I know that sounds so wishy-washy and luvvy, but it is a real thing. I am always looking for new stories, ideas and ways of bringing you engaging content. So the fact that I get paid to write I think is fair enough.
You pay your monthly sub to Medium for the simple reason that you love reading tech-related stories. You possibly pay other subs for tech podcasts, creators Patreon’s and websites just the same as I do. If I like a creator I’m more than happy to pay them so that I get more of what I like. It’s a simple enough rule of economics – supply and demand.
Medium used to be very fair in how they rewarded writers. If you joined the platform through my affiliate link then I used to get half of that and I also got paid on read time – how long readers spent reading my content. There were other minor factors but basically, I was paid for writing engaging content – and that seemed fair enough.
Last August that all changed with one fell swoop.
The amount of comments a story received became a factor which on the face of it doesn’t seem that much of a problem but in reality it has created an almost click-bait environment. Shorter stories with a controversial heading are now more likely to earn well rather than well-researched carefully crafted longer-form content such as mine.
The other critical change was that to receive good income a story now has to be boosted. There is no rhyme or reason why it gets boosted and we as writers are given no feedback as to what will get boosted or equally what was wrong with the content submitted.
And the boosts come by the way of real people – an arbitrary choice from humans. We are relying on our stories, from the tens of thousands written each day, to land in front of the right pair of eyes and give the story a boost.
And boy, those changes have hurt. Last August my income dipped by one-fifth – which as you can imagine is concerning, to say the least. But rather than moaning and whining, I decided to ride the storm and go away to make myself a better writer.
It paid off – I had three great months in October, November & December. Suddenly though come the dawn of a New Year Medium seems to quite simply have decided they don’t want tech stories. I’ve not had a single story boosted since 12th December – and the worst part of it? I have no idea why.
If I felt I was writing good stories on topics you wanted to read about or wasn’t publishing regularly then I’d get it – but the stats tell me another story. A story I wrote about Apple TV has had well over 2500 views, a story on Vision Pro has over 1000 views so far and a story about the iPhone 15 Pro Max camera vs a DSLR is growing quickly and already has over 1000 views in a few days.
Those numbers lead me to think I am writing stories that you want to read yet Medium just will not boost a single story and this month my earnings will be down by around a tenth. I’ll be lucky to earn $200 at this rate.
Suddenly it doesn’t add up and sadly I am questioning whether I should sit down and write on Medium.
Economically it makes no sense yet…yet I love it. I bloody love writing about tech and I don’t want to stop.
My voice is not a single voice – many writers across many niches are finding things the same as me although tech has been very hard hit.
Good writers are leaving and looking to other platforms such as Substack which means the sub you are paying will soon start to be less good value. Simply put the writers you have enjoyed won’t be there as they’ll be looking to make a living elsewhere – and you can’t blame them for that.
This story will earn no money and won’t get many reads or views – but I thought you should know why you may start to find less quality tech content on Medium soon.
Whether Medium listens or not who knows, but history would suggest not.
So you find me sitting here today a little deflated and lost. I guess I could switch to Substack full-time but I prefer, or used to prefer writing on Medium. Should I start a Patreon page? How many of the 3000 followers I have would consider paying me a few dollars a month to carry on reading my content? Would you?
For the time being, I’ll carry on – but Medium needs to start to listening to their creators and you just need to be certain that your monthly sub is still delivering for you.
Normal tech-related service will be returned later this week – they ain’t gonna beat me down this easily!
Thanks for reading…what do you think I should do?