There are some success stories, people who began writing on Medium (perhaps in tandem with writing they did elsewhere), who have, since then, gone on to bigger things.
I have no idea what he got paid for the initial piece, maybe nothing at all, but whatever, the shit got seen and the end result is what it is.
As for literary agents, I got mine through writing on Medium. It was a post that maybe only 150 people read.
Of course he was drawn in by something that had gone viral, but it was that other one, the one nobody really read, that made him reach out to me.
I say that with having 13 years of professional writing experience behind me, worked at this company, that company, been on television, radio, blah blah blah nobody cares.
It was this little fucking thing that nobody read and I definitely did not get paid for, that got us together.
So, the people are out there. They’re looking. That’s one thing I know. You think they aren’t, but they are.
Now, some of this obviously happened a few years ago, before Medium was in whatever state it is now. Even still, I don’t know what anyone expects them to do.
As far as I can tell, for written content, there are maybe three or four pillars of distribution on the internet (desktop, mobile and in-app) — Facebook, Reddit, Twitter and Google News.
For video, it’s YouTube. For photo, it’s Instagram. For short-form bullshit that disappears in two seconds, it’s Snapchat.
Somewhere in there is Tumblr, and it’s pretty important, with a giant user base, but it has certainly slipped from most people’s consciousness.
Point is, doesn’t matter what the hell Medium does in 2017, unless your piece pops on one of those other channels, for all intents and purposes, it does not really exist.
I mean, of course it exists because it’s there, but it’s not going to get the eyeballs a company needs on it for any kind of monetary investment in it to make sense.
The promise of Medium, or at least the one before the latest one, was that new users would hang around on the platform, thus leading to discovery and maybe more content, which would lead to more users and… well, frankly, it’s a very simple model.
Except, it opens the floodgates to what is arguably trash — your trash is someone else’s treasure, worth remembering — and that has, in turn, driven some people from the platform. Which was probably not the intended effect, but fuck it, what can you do.
The bottom line is that the “hey I’m gonna write this thing and people are going to look at it!” era of the internet is done, has been done, and will continue to be done, for some time.
It’s done on YouTube just the same as it’s done here. Think I’m kidding, launch a YouTube channel and try it out. You will probably be hearing crickets for the next year or so, unless you’ve got the most amazing idea ever, or you are a cute suburban teenager and enjoy giving makeup tutorials.
Do I think you’ll have better chances of success making YouTube videos and you would making Medium posts? Probably. But that’s only because YouTube is, fundamentally, a more robust, more seasoned platform, with more people on it, better functionality — look, YouTube might be the most amazing thing ever invented; nobody is going to recreate a thing like that.
I just don’t really know what else people want. Can they leave Medium. Sure. Launch a website, write your posts as Facebook notes — there are other options.
You can also just start writing eBooks and publishing them for the Amazon kindle. I know this is not a very sexy idea in the “media is dying!” corner of the internet, but Amazon has a huge user base and already has a business model. It’s just sitting there waiting for you to do something with it.
Ultimately, I always tell people that writing and music are inextricably linked. If you have followed what has happened in music, the way most artists build their careers now, that is the way you should treat your career as a writer.
Focus on doing high-quality shit, build your audience slowly, person by person, and don’t go courting millions when you can’t even really retain one.
If I had to summarize most the problems people have with Medium — including myself — it’s that we want the platform to do the work, when in reality, it’s just a fancy, easy-to-use publishing tool. That’s all it is and that’s all it probably ever will be (but hopefully not).