44
66 Comments

Why do you blog on Medium?

People who blog on Medium: Why do you do it?

I'm genuinely curious.

Every month I get paywalled trying to read an article written by an indie hacker or a fledgling author on Medium. And I'm never going to pay. It's never that important.

So help me figure this out. Because there are lots of reasons to avoid Medium:

  • If you're trying to make money from your content, you're better off building an audience first.
  • If you're trying to build an audience, you're better off not paywalling your stuff, because it's just limiting your distribution.
  • If you want to maximize distribution, you're better off on a platform like Twitter that's simply superior at helping you reach readers.
  • If you just want some nice blogging tools, you can easily set up a Ghost or Substack or Wordpress site. You don't need Medium.

What am I missing?

What's Medium offering you that's so valuable?

  1. 19

    Pro-tip: You can bypass the Medium paywall by opening the article in a private window

    1. 5

      another good solution would be to block cookies from medium, which would allow you to read unlimited articles without having to open a private window

      1. 2

        Good for us but I feel so bad for Medium

    2. 3

      I actually wrote a chrome extension about a year ago to read medium articles while being logged in with a free account. If you fake your referrer to be t.co (Twitter) it unlocks all articles.

      https://github.com/eykrehbein/freedium

    3. 1

      You can also use a webpage archive website like archive.is or archive.org

    4. 1

      Been doing this for years :D As a side note, some articles are members only - those you can't trick :D

      1. 1

        Is there even a thing like that?

        I haven't seen one all this time! If you made note of some of them, please share. Really curious to see what type of articles go under that paywall.

        1. 1

          Unfortunately no. But I did subscribe to their daily digest, and every now and then, I'd get an article where simply clearing the browser cache didn't work😁

    5. 1

      This too doesn't work with all the posts on medium @tylerk

      Some publication's posts require you to log in even when opened in a private window.

    6. 1

      If that's true.. holy shite, I got a lot of articles tocatch up on that were bookmarked.

      1. 3

        Also works if you access through Twitter. Even if you DM yourself. More hassle but works logged in.

        1. 1

          That's the workaround I use. Another very good solution (not workaround) is just to close the tab/window and find another paper. That's what I tend to do now.

        2. 1

          Thanks, the twitter dm works great,just tried it. It was for an article that for some reason I was paywalled for, even in Chrome incognito mode.

  2. 10

    Here's my experience with Medium:

    Quick Take: Medium is relatively unique in that it can simultaneously be both an acquisition channel for my audience/newsletter and an income stream. I get 10-20 new newsletter subscribers per day from my Medium articles simply by putting a small CTA to join my newsletter at the end of each article. As a partner program member, I also get paid depending on how much engagement my article gets—sometimes over $1,000 per article.

    To your points @csallen:

    • In the beginning I didn't make any money on Medium, but I did get newsletter subscribers. Maybe only 1-2 a day in the beginning, but much more now. I also ended up building relationships with a bunch of other Medium writers which has been invaluable in terms of learning more and becoming a better writer, but also now having people I can partner with in my business in a mutually beneficial way. I always (and still do) think of Medium as a way to build my audience that just happens to pay me to do it.
    • I was worried about this too. A couple points: 1) Medium's internal audience of paying subscribers is actually pretty big. Most of the people who convert to my newsletter from Medium are paying subscribers. 2) Medium has a "friend link" feature so I can share a link to my newsletteand or somewhere else and it bypasses the paywall. 3) I would never consider Medium as a primary or sole acquisition channel for my audience. But it takes all of 10 minutes to copy over an article I've already published on my Wordpress site, put it in Medium, set the canonical link to point to the WP version, and then publish. I would never want to rely on Medium, but why not take advantage of it?
    • I'm not sure Twitter or any other platform is obviously superior to Medium in terms of distribution... It can take time to build up your following and become a writer in some of the bigger pubs, but once you do, your reach within Medium can be pretty big. Also, I've carefully tracked conversion rates to my newsletter across various channels and Medium is easily 5-10X better than Twitter, Quora, LinkedIn, or Google Search. So, at least given what I write about, the quality of subscriber is much higher for Medium even if you grant that the distribution is more limited.
    • I agree. But again my question would be, why not just cross post everything to Medium too? Most of the critiques I see against Medium as a blogging platform assume that people are using it exclusively. And I agree—I would never want to rely entirely on Medium. But virtually all the arguments I've ever heard against blogging on Medium disappear when you consider it as one among many distribution platforms. An unlike most others, Medium will give you newsletter subscribers and pay you to do it!
    1. 1

      Everything you said makes total sense.

      But we folks are here because Medium outranks almost all the other results on search. They show up top with a really good title and description that convinces us to click.

      And when we click it's a glorious paywall. Not something one likes to see.

      1. 1

        I hear you...

        I guess I come at it from the perspective of a creator rather than a consumer.

        I agree that as a consumer it's not great to have content locked behind paywalls (which is why all my articles are also available free on my website).

        But as a creator, Medium can be an amazing channel for both income and audience-building.

        1. 1

          Exactly. If I write for Medium and I have taken considerable time on the article, then I would do the same -- paywall it.

          More reach and easy money, who wouldn't want that.

          It's the disruptive experience that gathers the hate. If that gap is bridged, every reader will be satisfied.

          Hopefully someone finds a way to bridge while benefitting both the parties.

          1. 1

            Yeah, this is a big reason why I like to talk about my experiences on Medium:

            Even though I can't control how Medium operates, I can influence how other writers make use of Medium—both for their own benefit and that of their readers.

            It's really not that hard to have a version of each article on a simple Wordpress or ghost site. It's also not that hard to just share the friend link for your article so everyone can read it.

  3. 5

    I usually cross-post on Medium with a link back to source blog and found it to be very beneficial from SEO perspective. Also, it helps in building my authority on Medium.

    1. 2

      I do the same. i write blogs on my own platform and cross-post it to Medium, Dev.to. Actually, i automated this process by building a tool (http://crossxpost.app/). i would love to get your feedback on it. let me know

  4. 5

    I refused the idea until I learned that @NickWignall made $100k in a year from Medium.

    So for Rosieland I'm now re-evaluating how to put more free content out there whilst also making it a balanced win, part of that may mean cross posting to Medium.

    1. 2

      Is Medium still down with crost posting? This is a good point, almost seems like Medium is one arm of your distribution strategy?

      1. 2

        Doesn't seem like they have any issue with it! When publishing articles they still offer a canonical link option to signal cross-posting and to index accordingly.

      2. 1

        Not only are they okay with crossposting, but if you're part of the partner program they will literally pay you to do it! And even better, you're allowed to include a CTA to join your email list at the end so you can also grow your own audience by taking users from Medium off platform onto your own.

  5. 4

    Why is everyone so worried about the $5 Medium requires you to pay to read the articles? You are right when saying that an individual piece is not worth coughing up $5, but when you sign up you get access to a ton of content.

    If reading 5-10-20 articles each month and learning a couple of things from each article isn't worth $5 for someone, then I don't know what to say.

    Sure, you can find equivalent content by searching more, but the convenience of Medium and Medium app for me is a real life-saver. As a reader, I can just read 2-3 articles using the Medium app before going to sleep and learn stuff every day.

    That's my perspective as a reader.

    As a writer, on the other hand, the main benefits I get out of it are:

    • Money. The Medium Partner Program, pays me on average $32 per article. Articles take me an average of 2 hours to produce, so this would be about $16 per hour in earnings. At the same time though, I'm building an audience, and gaining followers, which is increasing my average earnings overtime.
    • Distribution. I'm not a dedicated freelance writer, I don't have any products to sell or a blog to promote. I don't intend to write full-time, but writing during my free time and making a fun $16 per hour makes Medium worth it for me. I don't need to bring the audience, it's already there.
    • Community. There is a large community of writers on Medium who are helpful and kind. You get the chance to pitch your articles to publications, that either accept your article which feels good or reject it which gives you a chance to improve your writing. Blogging on my own, I would have never gotten this much useful feedback on my writing.
    • Portfolio. I have been using my most successful Medium articles as my portfolio to land multiple writing gigs at over $200 per article. I wouldn't have landed my first few, without having previous work to show. Medium solved the chicken & egg problem for me as a writer.
  6. 4

    Free distribution.

    I think the optimal strategy, however, is to:

    • Post the blog on your own website
    • Wait a week for Google to crawl it so the algorithm knows which website it was posted on first
    • Post on Medium, Twitter, LinkedIn etc - it's free after-all
  7. 4

    As a reader I despise Medium as it has the most obnoxious nags to subscribe or create an account of the whole web. I'm not against paywalls or paid content, it's just that Medium's nags are the worst. I can't never figure whether I can read up to 3 free posts per month or a specific post up to to 3 times. And the content is not compelling enough for me to pay.

    But I no longer bother.

    I don't click Medium links. I don't read Medium content. I don't share Medium links. And I curse under my breath when realizing a link I clicked leads me to Medium.

    1. 1

      I have developed a different behaviour.

      Whenever I land of a medium article I first scroll upto bottom to make sure I am not paywalled.

      If I am paywalled then, I abondon the article and move on.

      1. 1

        That's a possibility. But I'm so fed up with Medium I don't read a story I land on even if it's not paywalled.

  8. 2

    I carefully read the medium experience of the big brothers below. Unlike everyone, I also published an article some time ago https://lelinta.medium.com/shopify-seo-657b602c2d03 to see if it has the effect that everyone said. For example, visits and e-mail subscriptions are attracted. Unfortunately, I have found that only 6 people have read so far. Maybe it is myself? I guess it may be restricted in the area where I am located. I am in a country where stripe cannot be activated. Is the traffic restricted? I can’t open a middle-level membership, so I only attract traffic to my website or email subscriptions. If there are regional restrictions, I have to give up medium, because it would be a waste of time. I don’t know if you have regional restrictions. Problem, or is there something wrong with my article?

  9. 2

    Medium has fallen pretty far from where they were 3-4 years ago, when they very briefly dominated all blogging on the Internet.

    Since they've started the Partner Program (the paywall), they've pushed it on authors every time you post to Medium, and to be honest, for the vast majority of Indie Hackers, it's not the right option.

    For professional writers, it seems to work. From what I've earned on relatively-low performing articles, it seems possible for a writer to earn a significant amount from publishing to Medium's audience.

    However, Indie Hackers should be leveraging Medium to rank their articles in Google– which can drive thousands of visits in a much shorter time-frame, compared to working SEO on your own content, on your own domain.

    2-3 years ago, Medium stopped providing distribution for articles outside the paywall. They will never recommend your article to anyone outside your existing audience, unless you paywall it.

    However, as long as you're under www.medium.com (and not your own domain), you're getting that 100/100 domain authority from Medium on whatever you write. So, if no one has written a how-to guide in your niche or for your keywords, you can be on page one of Google tomorrow. Maybe the top result.

    I wrote a bit more about this here: https://www.indiehackers.com/post/does-anybody-know-how-to-make-medium-article-be-more-visible-9e79030a61?commentId=-MJHk2KrZJ9WjC-4X3nE

    ---

    I can't really blame Medium for pushing the partner program. For people who make their living writing, paywalling their content sucks, but there aren't a lot of great alternatives.

    There are writers out there who aren't in it to build an audience or a following, and just want to get paid for their work. Traditionally, you'd sell that writing to an online or offline publication, it'd get published, and you'd get paid.

    Medium's partner program is the closest thing to that, while Substack offers something a bit more compelling if you're looking to build a following in a specific niche.

    But, the user experience of going from "the best place to blog on the internet" to a junk paywall site is really killing their brand.

    ---

    A bit of background: I've been writing on Medium for about 6-7 years, have a few million reads, and have earned around $5k from the partner program.

    But, to be honest, if you count the work I did on Medium to drive SEO and content marketing to products I've made, every dollar I've made on the internet in the past 3 years has been tied to Medium.

  10. 1

    I've blogged on and off on Medium for awhile. My issue is the content that gets a lot of views isn't very interesting for me to write while content that I like writing doesn't get a lot of views.

    My friend and I ran a publication called Dealmemo.co through Medium for awhile that was primarily about doing investments in crowdfunded start-ups through SeedInvest and Republic. It was more work than it was fun and the deal flow was pretty shitty through those sites. This was before Medium started their paywall feature. We are aspiring accredited investors.

    I never see articles on Medium that I really want to read. Perhaps I'm not following the right people, but overall I think the content is written for too broad of an audience. I did a subscription for Medium for a year and I was not impressed with what I got. There is a lot of "How I make 100k/year on Medium," articles or "How I make 100k/year doing drop shipping" or "How I accomplish XYZ/year by doing 123," that I think are popular that all follow the same sort of formula and tell the same story.

    Doing a newsletter has been more fun for me writing wise. I find that I am better able to engage with my readers through comments or their replies to my email. My reader count might be a lot lower via my newsletter right now, but I find it more rewarding.

  11. 1

    I resisted Medium for a long time, but eventually gave in to it in 2017 because:

    1. Visually Medium posts looked great and what you see in the editor is what you get
    2. Maintaining my own Wordpress instance became a burden and I was embarrassed by my outdated template and concerned my budget web server wouldn't handle a Slashdotting (or whatever the modern equivalent is)
    3. It was surprising how much traffic my blog posts acquired (e.g. one post has 71k views and continues to receive traffic). The analytics updates by email encouraged me to keep posting.

    I've recently stopped using Medium and gone back to my own Wordpress blog because:

    1. The paywall is irritating for my readers and being pestered to have my posts featured in publications is irritating for me. I've never intended to make money directly from my blog.
    2. I prefer to self-host my blog posts. My blog is now 18 years old and I doubt Medium will be around for another 18 years. I've copied all my Medium posts to Wordpress for posterity.
    3. Wordpress has since caught up in terms of attractive templates and a modern editing interface and upgrades have become easier.

    I may continue to occasionally cross-post some posts in order to generate traffic, but intend to maintain my own blog going forward.

  12. 1

    I actually signed up to post blog content last night. I plan on posting on my site and medium to learn and build from other writers. (Hiring someone of course to actually produce the content - I'm a terrible writer) lol

  13. 1

    Great question, and I agree with your sentiment.

    The surface appeal is that Medium:

    1. Requires no coding or domain
    2. Has an existing audience you can use to get traffic.

    The reality I've experienced is that yes, you can get traffic more easily than starting your own site...but very little of that traffic will leave medium and go to your site, or become part of your audience. This is why my company is moving off of it. We publish tons of content, and the Google Analytics numbers look GREAT if you look at everything as a whole...but if you filter out all traffic that's on the Medium-hosted blog articles, there's a tiny dribble coming to our actual website.

    The Baremetrics founder had a great article on this a while back:

    https://baremetrics.com/blog/medium-back-to-blog

  14. 1

    I syndicate my blog to Medium and it brings me some referral traffic every month to my own website. I use it as a distribution channel for my content: https://www.kasiamanolas.com/blog

  15. 1

    I used to have a personal blog but maintaining it was a pain so I didn't blog often. Medium made it is easier for me to blog and I now do it weekly.

    Eventually through using Medium I started to use the app to read articles by others and discover people who blogged about similar interests to myself so I decided to pay for a subscription.

    I then realised that some of the articles I had written would earn me enough to pay for that Medium membership based on the number of reads they had, now I get enough to pay for my membership and a little extra.

    My primary driver for blogging is still to share my experiences and document the technical challenges I overcome while building various projects but it's nice to be able to get some reward for your efforts.

  16. 1

    I suspect it's people that are a bit unexperienced/behind the times.

    For instance, someone I know started a blog recently about their upcoming holiday.

    You or I would choose our personal blog or maybe something like substack. They choose blogspot which even hides away the email form for subscribing and is an option I had forgotten even existed.

    Some people still use Internet Explorer as their main browser.

  17. 1

    I write 3 - 5 articles per month on Medium. I publish via large Medium publication like The Startup, Better Programming, Code Like A Girl most of the time which gives me the reach that I wouldn't otherwise get with my blog. As a vanity metrics, I have about 2.7k followers on Medium but I don't have their email addresses so I am not doing anything with them.

    Medium is great for certain topics such as Programming, Tech, Personal Development and Personal Stories.

    The reasons why I publish on Medium:

    • Reach
    • Pocket money
    • And last but not least, I enjoy writing on Medium because I like their Editior and I like choosing photos that relate to the topic I'm writing about. It's a creative outlet for me.

    You can check out my medium at https://eisabai.medium.com/

  18. 1

    @csallen - I've actually just thought of this YESTERDAY!

    I wanted to start creating time-laps of me working on various interface re-designs and user experience improvements on my app and publish it.

    It would have a Before and After shot, a time-lap (1 min video), the reason behind why it has been done and the steps I took to do it.

    Twitter is the first platform that came to my mind, and all is good BUT I also wanted to create some sort of 'archive' where people can refer to for all the different "time-lap projects" I've done in the past.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but to me Twitter is all abut what is going on right now.

    So in response to your point: "If you want to maximize distribution, you're better off on a platform like Twitter that's simply superior at helping you reach readers" = I really really want to use Twitter as I agree with you, but I couldn't figure how to create that "archive".

    Instead, I have decided to publish on Medium and then Share on Twitter.

    Making Medium my "Base/Archive" and Titter the "Now".

  19. 1

    There are two different ways of using Medium. Few people do it to get some attention and to build their profile. Other shares to promote their content.

  20. 1

    I couldn’t agree more. +1 to this question from me

  21. 1

    Because Medium pays good money to their writers. You don't really need to build an audience to make money on Medium, just write good content without worrying about the domain or hosting.

  22. 1

    I've double posted on medium and my own blog before which seemed fine, I've also posted exclusively on both platforms.

    Ultimately I went away from Medium for all the points you've made and can't see myself going back. As a user I've unsubscribed for all medium blogs and actively avoid medium kinks which is a real shame because I read so much content on it in the last and there is a lot of good programming knowledge that has been accumulated there over the years.

    I don't think I'll go back as a reader or a writer.

  23. 1

    While I have only one post on Medium, I have not put it under paywall as I want my content to be accessible to everyone. In my opinion, Medium is a good place to get discovered due to its reach. I also link my website at the bottom to denote where they can find my content. One HUGE downside is that Medium severely limits your post's discoverability, but I'm not too much concerned as I'm doing it as a hobby and external sources are driving the traffic for me pretty well so far.

    See the following image for reference: https://imgur.com/a/qXDYnIP

  24. 1

    I wondered about this too - who are the people who actually pay Medium to read those blog posts?

    I don't think I'll. Do people enjoy having one place to find articles? Or are they moving towards following their fav writers separately now?

  25. 1

    For me it’s really 3 reasons:

    1. You can repost content without taking SEO hit on main blog. Great way to potentially get in front of people you wouldn’t have otherwise (and linking to newsletter etc. outside of Medium). My thought is, hey why not?

    2. Pitching and getting published in large publications gets you in front of tons of people. This is the real key. It prevents the struggle of simply publishing into the void.

    3. The paid program is a neat way to make a little money if you aren’t otherwise getting paid for your content. For example, I published a short article in a large publication and earned over 40 bucks from people clapping for it. Not as high as I make from official freelance gigs, but it was content I would have otherwise made no money on.

  26. 1

    I use Medium with two-prong effect.

    1. Writing on medium pays me. Currently I am at 10$ a month.
    2. I write originally on my own blog and then cross-post on Medium without losing any SEO.
    1. 1

      That's a smart way to write a blog content without losing the content ownership from us. Do you use any tools to cross-post it to Medium, LinkedIn, Twitter?. if not, would you like to try one(http://crossxpost.app/). i would love to get your feedback on my product.

      1. 1

        Hey Ganesh,
        I can help you with this. Do you want to connect through email or twitter?

  27. 1

    Good question - why not setting up a Ghost blog and monetize the content with a built-in newsletter?

  28. 1

    You can unblock Medium articles with this chrome extension: https://github.com/manojVivek/medium-unlimited

  29. 1

    In my experience, Medium and its publications only distribute your content to other readers if you put it behind a paywall.

    So I use my own site as my "real" blog, then post a copy to Medium, with the link to my personal site at the top. I still haven't gotten any traffic from Medium to my actual site, but my Medium + paywall posts get way more views than my own website + Twitter.

  30. 1

    I started blogging on medium very early on Feb 2014, got a couple of hit pieces (got lucky) SEO kicked in and now I'm trapped. I think I gathered 1800 hot and warm leads from one article purely from medium hogging the front page of Google for that 3 keywords. If I could go back, I would NOT do it again.

  31. 1

    One value I see from Medium is they do try and help writers get discovered. Probably better on Twitter—you're right—but it's the only platform that offers you a little bit of kickstart distribution (if the problem is: get this in front of people).

    Substack, Wordpress, Ghost, distribution is kind of up to you. Medium doesn't help you own your audience in any though, which I think could be a long-term problem for writers on the platform.

  32. 1

    I open the article in an incognito browser and I can read their paywall content.

    But I have articles on Medium behind their paywall because they pay not bad and I get real US dollars sent to my Stripe.

    I have around 5 posts on Medium that are legit articles I put a lot of effort in and some I sent to publications but I get maybe $2-5 USD a month just from having them up.

    I think the most I ever got was $11 a month.

    If you put in the effort, Medium can be a solid income stream.

  33. 1

    I used to do well writing articles on Medium, a couple of years back. Got a decent number of claps. I loved the editor, the simplicity. It felt like my articles got distribution. I built up 100+ followers there.

    Now, it sucks. My articles go absolutely nowhere. Thinking that this might be because Medium gives no airtime to writers who aren't behind a paywall, I changed my distribution setting to be part of their gated community.

    Still sucks.

    At this point, I just copy paste articles I write elsewhere to Medium - with canonical link - in case it will help out at all for my SEO.

    Feels like Medium is dying in the age of Substack/Ghost/anything else where you actually own your mailing list. Wish I had the emails for the 100+ people who are pointlessly my Medium followers.

    1. 1

      I did the same. i write it in my own blog(https://cloudnweb.dev/) and copy pasted to Medium and Dev.to. it's a manual and time consuming process. I tried buffer but it's not providing an option for Medium or other blogging platforms. So, i built (crossxpost.app) to cross-post my blogs to Medium, Dev.to, Twitter and LinkedIn.

  34. 1

    I abhor Medium articles showing up in search results. For certain topics/industries, there are often 2-3 paywalled medium articles in a given Google search. I switched back to DuckDuckGo because it seemed they were down-ranking paywalled Medium posts, but I was wrong.

  35. 1

    I once considered it an important part of content distribution and back linking, even though I always marked my articles as free. The idea was that it would resonate with different readers as different people would read different sites.

    Mostly I did it to see what content would stick where and found Medium didn’t get me much so I stopped.

  36. 0

    Hi @csallen,

    I started out blogging on medium since it was free, no-code and had a audience base already, don't need a domain to start.

    But everything came at a cost and it was heavy, the user experience on medium sucked.

    1. Every time I tried to read a paywalled article, I would be bombarded with popups.
    2. Also I didn't see any value generated in the long run.
    3. My readers (who were not in medium) found it hard to find my article and read.
    4. I couldn't customise the themes to match my taste and everything was same in all the posts. On the whole the user experience was very bad.

    So I started looking for alternatives and found WordPress. Even though it was popular among writers, it was a heavy swiss knife with many features I didn't even care about but should pay at end of the month.

    So I set out to built a content publishing platform, IndieCreators, which would focus on just 2 things: The publishing experience and the creator.

    Find out more here IndieCreators

    IndieCreators vs. Wordpress

    IndieCreators vs. Medium

    If you are passionate creator, who want to create what you love and get powered by your fans, sign up for early access to know more.

    1. 1

      It’s not developed yet. I’ll submit it and wait for tomorrow. Is it okay if I’m not in India, and how much is there to charge?

      1. 1

        Yes its okay if you are not from India.

        This is completely going to be a SaaS. So your geography will not be a limitation.

        Regarding the pricing, its not finalised. But I can assure you it will be low around ($12-$15/month)

        I would be nice if you could submit for early access and we would communicate further over mail

Trending on Indie Hackers
Best Gumroad Day Ever 18 comments 4 of my biggest mistakes from 2 years of building 👎 16 comments Uncomfortable = Learning 12 comments "all that can be invented has been invented" syndrome, how do you deal with it? 11 comments From 13 followers to 1000 in less than 2 weeks 😱 9 comments My Newsletter Mention Brought More Traffic Than Product Hunt 3 comments