I Need to Clarify A Quote About the Medium Community

It’s funny that you quote me on this:

“If you’re a passive member of the community [Medium], you get little out of it. You consume and move on. If you’re active, you get rewarded. It’s strangely like real life.”

Because you know what? I don’t think that it’s actually true anymore. At least not as it pertains to this space, which is a growing concern for a lot of people, not just for young Jack, but a lot of writers who are utilizing Medium.

I would imagine you guys are aware of this, but people may read one or two articles from someone — articles that are trending, so to speak — but that doesn’t mean they’ll read much of anything else.

The followers, notifications, email updates, they don’t really do anything to move the needle. You really need a heavyweight — like an Ev Williams or the Medium Staff itself, for example — to recommend something, or else people just won’t see it. Even with those recommends, which I get a lot of, readers still might not see what you wrote.

And I’m not saying this because I want to create problems or anything — you know I love you all like fat kids love cake — but rather, because I don’t want something I wrote to contribute to people, particularly young writers, aimlessly plugging away on this platform (or any other, for that matter) thinking that they might actually get real audience growth out of it.

That growth is a possibility, but like all things in life not called death and taxes, it’s not a guarantee. You need to put a lot of work in, have a good story to tell and the truth of the matter is, you could probably write a thousand posts on here and still not be able to tell if one post is going to get read vs. another. You could get 50 reads on post number 1, and get even less than that on post number 1000. So, it all depends.

I don’t think anyone outside of maybe Gary Vaynerchuck — who speaks to the core demographic of readers here — has really leveraged their audience from elsewhere into a solid Medium readership. Maybe I’m glossing over someone, and if I am, I apologize.

But if I, personally, have a growing audience of readers, it’s not because of Medium — although initially, Medium did help quite a bit, for sure — but because I’ve been writing for over a decade and have upwards of, I don’t even know, maybe 20 thousand pieces (not exaggerating) already available online and print.

Add to that the fact that I’ve been on the radio. I’ve been on television. I’ve made records. I’m heavy on Twitter. I do fairly high-profile stuff and I’m a reputable, trusted voice in the space that I’m in. Then, you can kinda see that I came to Medium with a little juice — just a little, I’m not trying to act like I’m Howard Stern over here — and that sort of plays into why I was able to build some momentum here. Still, I’m fairly young and have a lot more growth ahead of me. Medium has helped me with that, and I’m grateful.

I think this platform offers a lot of opportunity and the community is still there — it’s just that… shit.. I don’t know. Something is off with the discovery part of this site that used to be there. So, this idea that if you contribute you’ll get rewarded, that’s just not always true. Because I contribute a lot and, frankly, I’m not necessarily seeing the growth myself here anymore. Like, there’s some. But again, it’s a lot of other factors contibuting to that. It isn’t just the words.

Having said that, this could be an issue with the entire internet right now, as social referral traffic is shrinking across the board. How do you get people to read your stuff when they’re inundated with content all day and time is limited? I don’t know the answer to that. In general, I’m just kinda happy when someone comes to something when they come to it, and I keep my expectations in check. My expectations are always that nobody is going to read anything, because really, who the hell wants to read? A fairly small group of people.

Written by

Wrote for the New York Times, New York Magazine, Esquire, Rolling Stone, Vice, Fader, Vibe, XXL, MTV News, many other places.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store