At the end of last month, Medium changed its earnings model from being based on the number of claps per story to the total reading time. It seemed like a good idea on face value, although you never know.
Let’s cut to the chase: Medium’s changes significantly reduced the momentum I’d built on the platform over the last twelve months.
Now for the part you’re not expecting: that’s a good thing and I’ll explain why shortly.
We can hypothesize until the end of our lives
Every writing expert can try to cast their magic wand and tell you why the recent Medium changes have been good for some and not so good for others.
The truth is we can guess forever and still not know the answer. You are not a Medium Developer and you don’t have access to the code.
For all we know, no changes occurred to Medium other than a new dashboard, and all of this is a placebo pill designed as some kind of social experiment to test human’s ability to write and be paid for it.
Maybe the changes to Medium come down to this one idea:
Your writing sucks this month and it has nothing to do with Medium.
I’m prepared to own that reason even though it’s a tough pill to swallow. Maybe Timbo Jones sucked a little too much recently and let his big dumb ego get in the way.
It’s hard to say although taking responsibility never fucked anyone’s career that I’m aware of. We have to own our progress in life and on Medium. It’s fine to have an ‘off’ month.
A reduced number of claps
Many people have commented that they are seeing fewer claps on their articles. Again, maybe people are clapping more than ever. It is highly possible that the changes to Medium haven’t affected the way people clap for articles at all.
The typical Medium user probably has no idea that Medium has even changed. The typical Medium user is coming to read content and wondering what all the fuss is about.
Maybe claps are up, or down, or people are clapping while standing on one foot. Does a static image of a clap really change our life and validate that we’re good enough? I don’t think so. We decide if we are good enough and if we believe in what we’re doing as writers.
My advice: just write.
You don’t own Medium
That’s the biggest shift in thinking to consider. Medium could go bankrupt tomorrow or get bought by Facebook and tell everybody to go get stuffed while selling our privacy to the highest bidder.
It’s probably not going to happen with Ev Williams steering the ship, but it could. The changes to Medium should be a wake-up call to be grateful for what you already have.
Everything in life will one day be a distant memory. In 2040, Medium might be nothing more than internet stardust on a distant galaxy circling the rings of Saturn.
You can’t control Medium and you shouldn’t want to. If your life is shackled to the feet of a company, unshackle yourself and focus on your work.
Don’t be so obsessed with yourself.
That is the answer if you are joining me in the Medium club this month, where things have gone a little off-track.
The point of Medium is to express yourself and help a few people along the way. Stat-hacking and Harry Potter wand casting won’t make your writing better and your results increase — or go back to normal, in my case.
The truth is, if you are feeling sorry for yourself because of the changes, you don’t have to. An obsession with one’s self only leads to darker paths like mental illness.
Medium is good for you, though
Medium has changed my life in so many ways. Here are a few:
- It has made me more confident
- It has given me a voice
- It has given me a tool to create ‘surprise and delight moments’ for readers
- It has focused my writing skill
- It has helped me build new habits
- It has given me a tonne of articles to read and learn from
- It has given me an alternative income that helped when I lost my day job
- Most of all, it has helped me meet other extraordinary writers
You have to consider all the good that Medium brings before you address the changes they have made recently with any real thought.
Medium is good for writers, good for writing and even better for readers. Let’s focus on that.
Medium’s changes are a good thing
Okay, don’t hate me for this one.
I love Medium’s changes because it’s distributing more of the power of the platform amongst an even greater number of users. You could have been a Medium Writer for five minutes and yet you still have the same opportunity as the rest of us.
Medium is democratizing writing and increasing the impact of the written word. This is the real value of the changes to Medium.
Focusing the platform on the amount of time someone spends reading an article removes all the gamification and manipulation that might otherwise be possible. You can’t fake read time or use bots to be a success on Medium like you can on other social media platforms (that is perhaps the biggest feature of Medium that no one talks about).
Embrace the changes to Medium and share the love of the platform.