All Independent Writing Platforms Have a Finite Limit

I’m Watching You – Ronnie Chappell – 2018

Though I joined Medium as a paying member I do realize that there is a finite limit to the number of people that a platform like Medium can support. I am not talking about hardware or storage. No, I am talking about the complete and utter imbalance between writers and readers. All platforms have this issue, no matter now long they have been around or how new they are.

When I started looking for a new platform to spread my writing around a bit more, there was only one real reason that I chose Medium. Medium articles get picked up by search engines quite fast. I joined Medium for search engine exposure, not much else. At one time I thought I was going to shut down the WordPress blog, but the longer I look into the independent writing gig I think I will keep it as the primary outlet for my thoughts with Medium being the secondary pusher. 

When you think about what has happened over the last two years it is easy to figure out that a lot of these platforms saw massive increases in paying users. The issue to think about is that many of these people are not just readers. More than 90% of the paying members on a platform like Medium are writers, want to be writers, or a combination of writer and reader, very few are readers only. Many came here for a side gig during the pandemic. I do fully expect Medium’s writer base to start falling off over the next few years as people return to work and at the same time figure out that their $50yr. investment into writing has not panned out the way they had hope.

Generally people that just want to read news, opinions, articles and the such are going to spend their money with a major professional publishing source like the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times, not at an independent writing platform like Medium, Quora, or any number of other writing platforms. There is a finite limit to the money available for these ventures.

Lets be real, very few people have the money to subscribe to multiple platforms and even fewer care about your independent opinions, even fewer care about how you are not getting the royalties you expected from independent writing, and even fewer are the least bit interested in what happened to you yesterday or might happen to you tomorrow. What I have found, unfortunately, is that people are very interested in “how to make money easy”, or “do what I did and be a top 100 writer” and all of those click bait titles that draw people in with the hopes of making fast money or gaining followers. Maybe these types of articles even created a few paying readers that thought they could make a quick buck writing. Then they write the same shit to attract followers and the cycle repeats.

In a lot of cases these platforms will balance out to the point that your readers are your writers are your readers and the platform will go stale. Yes, Medium and Quora have been around for a long while and so has WordPress. WordPress is a little different in my opinion, we pay for the customizable platform, not putting all of the money in a pool and trying to act like a publishing house. At least I have never had that experience with WordPress, I am sure there are plugins and groups out there where this is a thing but you can ignore it if you want, at Medium and Quora you can not do that, I am sure there are other platforms that are similar these are just the three I am most familiar with.

So in the end, I guess this message is, do not put all of your eggs in one basket. Independent writing is a hard, cut throat business where your meticulously thought out work can be plagiarized and spread all over the Internet, even with the original author’s name still attached to it. The Internet is a beast.

If you are going to go down this route of independent writing keep in mind that it is hard, the competition from other independent writers is in the millions and every get rich quick article is going to get 75% more traffic than your well thought out essay on humanities. Most people like money and drama, the faster the better. We already have enough of this crap floating around, write because you want, do not turn yourself into a shit mill just to see how many articles you can put out per day.

You are an author or a snake oil salesman, the choice is yours. Just remember, a lot of us do not like snake oil.

–Bryan Vest
January 25th 2022

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