Why is the journalism business so dismissive of Medium's new model? An experiment.

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

Medium membership - my first post

This morning, I’ve written a 2,000 word blog post about journalism and publishing strategy.

But, you’ll note, this is the first blog post on here today. What’s going on?

Well, Medium recently expanded their partner program, allowing more writers to lock their posts to Medium members only, and we’ll get a cut of the revenue, based on a engagement metric heavily weighted towards their new applause reaction.

In other words, the more people read and applaud my post, the more cash I’ll get.

This is a taster of what’s over there:

Once Ev Williams had explicitly rejected [advertising], then [membership and indirect revenue models] came into play. And who can blame him? Everyone is playing for the ad pot, and when your competitors are Facebook and Google, you better be damn sure that you offer something unique that they can’t replicate technologically. Every month sees another “safe” niche fall before those behemoths.

Joining an already crowded marketplace is rarely a smart way to make a business work, unless there’s more cash sloshing around than the incumbents can soak up, or you’re offering something so profoundly different you can disrupt the space. Brutally, neither of those was the case.

It’s a long-form analysis of the publishing industry’s reaction to Medium’s new approach, and if you’re a regular here, you’ll probably enjoy it.

You can also read it as one of your three free members-only posts a month, if you haven’t signed up for Medium membership.

But why post it on Medium?

Within an hour of publishing it, I got my first bit of pushback:

Now… if I didn't have to sign in/offer up my data I'd read this. @Medium

— jeremyhead (@jeremyhead) September 5, 2017

So, yes, if you’re used to getting all of my writing for free, I can understand the upset. But here are my reasons for doing it:

  • I’d like to earn money for writing about journalism – for the past half-decade this blog has been indirectly earning me money. Much of the training and consulting I do is driven from my profile here. But that work also takes me away from writing for the blog. If I can derive revenue from longer posts pushed to Medium – well, that frees me up to spend more time as a media analyst.
  • I’d like to understand Medium’s new model – One of the best ways to understand a thing is to do that thing. And so, I’m committing myself to spending a couple of months writing on Medium at least once a week. If it’s a success, I’ll continue. If it’s a failure, I’ll bring all the content home here. But either way, I’ll report back.

If you’d like to support this effort, and you’re a Medium member, the best way you can do so is by giving my piece some applause.

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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.