Medium.com and Monetizing: Pay for Why?

The entertaining parts of our lives are slowly turning into subscription services. That’s not a bad thing. I pay for what I want, don’t pay for what I don’t want, and sometimes I have to count the cost of doing without when I sort of what to do with.

Sometimes I have to choose—like between Netflix and Hulu, Google Play and Spotify, the local newspaper and the New York Times—because I can’t buy them all. And even if I could, I don’t have the free time to utilize them all. What if I can only weekly listen to a few songs, watch a movie or two, and read several articles? What am I actually paying for each track, film, or essay?

These monthly fees are usually $5 to $10. Not many people think about how many services they have, and what annually each are adding up to in subscription costs, but I do. I’m an author, actor and activist. My funds fluctuate. Also, I want more bang for my buck.

And I’m sure I’m not alone. But it seems now everyone is getting on the subscription method instead of obtaining their funding from advertising. Seems okay to me. I rather pay to hear streamed music without commercials and chatter. And the artists should get paid, also. Same with writers from articles in the webzines and newspapers.

But like I said, my funds are inconsistent. My monthly income may change, but my bills usually don’t, and my subscription services are going to pull their money from my account whether it cuts into my food money or not.

I write articles and commentary on Medium, a publication platform of many writers and publications. It’s kind of like a neighborhood on the internet. Several of us write solo, and some of us write for a clique. And you can tag it up with keywords that link cross-platform on Medium, and you can click a simple box to “monetize” your post. This makes the article mostly hidden from reading besides the headline and byline, a paragraph or so, and the Clap (thumbs up variant)/Share widget.

Essentially, you are almost encouraged to upvote it and share something around that you might not have read.

Myself, I publish onto Medium a copied version of something I had published on my own personal website (stevedustcircleus.wordpress.com). This same article also automatically publishes to my Goodreads blog, usually a day later. Medium is a great resource and there is quite an array or articles on the platform, but I have not decided yet whether or not I want to pay for the services ($5/month) to become a premium Member.

As previously noted, it does seem like a cool platform, and I’m gaining followers on there, but even with my profile directing others to my personal website for the original content, as well as a list of my books they can buy, I’m just not sure if the traffic is happening. If it is, it’s minute. I’m not winning by publishing on Medium, but I’m not losing by it either.

But as any reader of my material would quickly notice, I publish a lot of FREE content on Medium (and my website) that are in the books I’ve written. Yes! FREE full chapters. Without monetizing my posts. I’m fine with that. I hope that by sharing some free content, a reader or two will find something that I have for sale worth buying for themselves.

But I have a hard time thinking that every word that proceedeth out of my mouth should be valuable. I don’t expect every single person curious enough to click on a title of one of my essays to have to pay for what it says. I’m just not that powerful of a writer and salesman. I’m not Stephen King or Noam Chomsky. I’m simply not in high demand.

And neither are many of the writers on Medium, in my opinion. Most of the essays I read are from people just like me. We are slightly knowledgeable about a field we show interest in and can craft the words and sentences so as not to bore. There might be some rare gems in the mass of Medium writers, but I think those folks are on their hosted domains making a killing in traffic without having to depend on the pennies that they can pull in from Medium.

Obviously—or maybe not so—I’ve been thinking about that little check box: Monetize. Seems so easy to select. Seems almost dumb not to. “Do you possibly want money from your art, or no?” For me, No. Not if it turns people away. I write as an educator and entertainer, and I want my writing to reach as many eyes as possible.

That brings me to networking. Every article on Medium that I felt was relevant to my complex lifestyle, I would Follow the writer (and publication if applicable). In return, they would sometimes Follow me back. I would occasionally get the invite to write for one of the publications, usually for one that was just started the day or the week prior. Yes, ANY writer on Medium can start a publication (or band of writers) with a link-click and a submitted short-form. I have amassed a nice list of people that I follow, and they are incorporated into the daily emails alongside of editors’ picks.

Rarely am I featured, but I do show up in the emails time to time. I did an experiment today. I opened into new tabs each and every article from my email today of Medium articles. 15 out of 22 required me to be a paying Member of Medium, a few out of publications and people I followed, and some were suggested from the editor. I made a decision today to Unfollow each writer and publication:

  • Eric Turner, Megan E. Holstein, & Crystal Jackson of P.S. I Love You
  • Gustavo Razzetti of Personal Growth
  • Neville Chamberlain of Small Business Handbook
  • Rachel Withers of Powertrip
  • Cammila Collar of Pop Feminism
  • Jack Crosbie of The Edge of Adulthood
  • as well as Mitch Albom, Anne Miltenburg, Lissa Harris, Dan Pedersen, Jessica Wildfire, Shannon Ashley, and Gid M-K

Most of the articles were fluffy, feel-good stuff. Some were just journal-entry types. Others seemed like it would have been a good read, if I could have read it. Sure I can subscribe, but overall I’m not sure how often I’d use the service.

I read Medium essays time to time, but some of the writings are available elsewhere. Some of the bigger name publications have their own websites, and I can read them for free there, or if I’m already a paying subscriber there.

Even though I read Medium a couple times per month, I might do moreso to Unfollow from the egocentric monetizers and narrow-scope my Medium email suggestions.

Am I against paying for Medium membership privileges? Not necessarily. I guess if I’m going to subscribe to anything, I want to know what I’m not only gaining (more content) but I want to know what I’m missing out on, as well.

Additionally, if EVERYONE on Medium is monetizing, then the whole website seems like a pay-to-play, and others will avoid visiting the site for the various great content that brought me there as a reader and writer.

Maybe it’s my perspective. But I see Medium as a way to gain new eyes on my work as a landing place, and then invite them over to where I make a living (books) and share a bit more (personal tidbits): my personal website. Monetizing my posts on Medium just seems like charging the customer for the free introductory offer.

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Author | Essayist | Activist | Humorist | Model | Artist

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