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Apparently, Subject Matter Experts Are The Future Of Medium

  • 9 min read

Will we make the cut? I’m not quite sure.

Silicon Valley reporter Casey Newton recently interviewed Medium’s new CEO Tony Stubblebine.

He asked Tony what he thinks Medium will look like ten years from now.

What he’d like the blogging platform to be after he’s finished.

What Tony shared about the future of Medium will definitely blow your mind:

Medium = place for subject matter experts

I recently shared my LinkedIn profile and gave my followers some background information about my over 15 years in public relations, media, and marketing.

I didn’t share this to brag.

I did this to share my expertise in the fields I’m primarily writing about: #Writing, #Social Media, and #Marketing.

I bet, you’ll also soon share your credentials and give your followers more background information to sustain here if you hear what Stubblebine shared in the interview with reporter Casey Newton:

“Medium’s first role is a place for subject matter experts to share their knowledge”

If you’re (new here and) reading this, you might wonder:

“Did I miss the memo when I signed up? On their homepage they say something else.”

Anyone can write on Medium.

They name thought leaders and journalists first — which by the way is a thing of the past because this platform isn’t dominated by journalists anymore!

Then they name experts. I guess these are the people Tony is referring to when he talks about “subject matter experts”.

Last but not least individuals like you and me can share their thinking here. When I check my feed I primarily see indie writers.

Experts and thought-leaders are what Medium recommends reading on the right-hand side of the feed in the desktop version.

What Medium should do to be transparent:

  • If Medium is THE place for experts Medium’s communications team should claim this on the website and explain what experts are.
  • Additionally, they should remove “journalists” (who are also experts) because they laid off the majority of their editorial team.
  • Most Journalists who used to write here are gone. One exception is two journalists who get paid an annual fee to write here.

Medium = for people who want to say something only once in a while

It’s no secret that any algorithm loves consistency and new and fresh content.

Medium’s machine learning algorithms are hungry too.

Top Writer Tom Kuegler who first called it quits and then came back writing here, started publishing 1–2 posts per day again. Superstar Tim Denning shared 1–3 posts per day.

Apparently Tony has other insights:

“Most people don’t want to set up a blog or a newsletter (…) Medium fills a niche for people who have something to say only once in a while.”

I agree with Tony on the first. Setting up a WordPress blog can feel daunting, takes time, and only pays off if you’re strategic about it.

Otherwise, you’ll only hear crickets. In regard to newsletters, I think people love (paid) newsletters on Substack.

That’s a totally other game than writing here. Setting up your Substack is pretty easy. Maybe Tony is referring to ConvertKit and MailChimp… but also these email providers are easy to set up.

However, I guess this insight is coming from the product team and is based on actual data. They have to know Medium’s audience. So this is actually pretty interesting.

But when Stubblebine shares that “Medium fills a niche for people who have something to say only once in a while” I’m scratching my head again.

What? Where does this come from?

As mentioned above, Medium’s superstar Tim Denning as well as almost all of the Top Writers are publishing regularly — not once in a while.

What Medium should do:

  • If it’s really the case that Medium wants to attract people who publish here only once in a while… they miss the whole point of blogging.
  • From a communications perspective, I can’t recommend putting this information on the website. What they could do instead is to communicate this to “subject matter experts”. Something like: “You only have to publish once in a while, we’ll do the distribution for you”
  • But then Medium would need a verification badge for experts as on Instagram.

Medium = broader audience

In the interview Tony also shared the following:

“The value the service provides lies in helping people find a broader audience than they might otherwise on their own, and enhancing the reputations of the people who publish there“

I agree with this.

Medium can help build an audience plus it can enhance your reputation, for instance when you get featured in a bigger publication such as “Better Marketing” and become a subject matter expert/ Top Writers here on Medium.

Though, for me, these types of experts can also be people who share their messy life stories, their relationships, or parenting tips. They don’t need necessarily to have a degree in XY.

What Medium should do:

  • Show success stories of people like you and me who made it here.
  • Medium should help us to grow our email list and make the link clickable in the app. You can’t click on the link to become a subscriber when you’re in the app.
  • Additionally, when we want to export our email we don’t see the names of our subscribers. We have to add them manually in the excel sheet. This takes a lot of time!
  • Writers need more support with their email list and maybe also a direct connection to our Substack, Revue, ConvertKit or MailChimp newsletter.

Medium = for people who are more interested in reach than in money

Okay, so the next revelation will blow your mind.

Are you ready?

Tony said about experts that they

“are more interested in reach than they are in money, because they make their money somewhere else. So distribution is the first pitch.”

I agree with Tony on distribution but…(hand on the heart) who is not interested in making money here (although he/she is (also) making money somewhere else).

Experts also want to get paid. As a PR consultant, I booked a lot of Key Note Speakers or interview partners, and our clients had to pay for all of them!

What about all the experts who want to make more money because they hit a glass ceiling or know their next pay rise will be 3%?

Or those who want to promote their book/course/coaching?

I really don’t get that point.

Sure there might be people here, for instance, a professor who gets constantly picked my Medium’s editorial team and pops up on my feed… for him, it might be more about making an impact and ego boost BUT I also strongly believe that he is interested in his views and reads.

Reads and reading time means money…

What Medium should do:

That’s what Medium says on the website:

  • Hand on the heart: Are you more interested in reach than in money? Doesn’t money come with reach? Would you uncheck the box for the paywall and share your stories for free? Writing a story is hard work after all.
  • I recommend Medium to people who want to start a side hustle. What’s in it for them? Should I tell them: “You can get the reach but not the money?” It’s not clear to me.
  • One of my students is a subject matter expert. He earns money somewhere else (and per hour what he’s earning here in a month!) but he’s still checking his stats and earnings.

Are Medium writers supposed to be experts now?

This question was raised Nicole Dake based on my latest post about this topic.

I’m also confused and a bit concerned about Tony’s statements.

I do believe we are all experts in our own lives (which also matters for Tony).

In my recommended feed there are so many first-person essays and self-help stories…

It’s the soul of this platform for many and when you visit the homepage you also see tons of personal essays from non-experts:

Additionally, sometimes even people with the credentials to be experts on LinkedIn don’t always know what they are doing.

Plus, a lot of my followers shared:

“Screw experts! I’d rather hear about personal experience any day!”

For me, this is also the soul of Medium.

Should I throw my resume out there?

Lately, Tony Stubblebine has been talking a lot about “experts”.

In his YouTube interviews, he’s referring to them as well as in the interview with Silicon Valley reporter Casey Newton.

So apparently, Tony wants to turn Medium into a place for subject matter experts.

If you want to, you can throw your resume out there to your followers, write more about your expertise in your Bio, About and write an About Me story.

Additionally, I think having something fresh and interesting to say about a hot topic (such as the divorce of Gisele Bundchen and Tom Brady) is good.

Supporting a story (for instance about the shrinking brain of new fathers) with recent research is even better.

Plus, writing from the heart, sharing your feelings and helping others, really makes a difference.

Final Takeaways — Who will make the cut?

I love to read personal essays that draw me in and make me think. I don’t need to read an analysis of Elon Musk and the purchase of Twitter.

More food for thought: Often experts have ghostwriters.

As a consultant, I prepped a lot of experts to stay laser-focused, knowing their talking points and sharing their message in an interesting way when talking to the media.

If you want to pitch a subject matter expert to the media, there’s often a lot of work to do to make him camera-ready.

But let’s come back to writing on Medium and creating content in general.

In my view, it’s all about the 10% edge. You only need to be 10% ahead of those that you are going to serve! If you say:

“Yes, Kristina! I feel like I’m 10% ahead of those that I’m serving!”

you’re totally fine!

I think valuable, good writing of any kind will find its audience!

Does the idea of making Medium a place of experts bothers you?

© Kristina God

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