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It’s The End of Medium as We Know It (and I Feel Fine)

  • 11 min read

The good, the bad, and the ugly about Medium’s current state and future.

Okay, first of all, I love this song from R.E.M.

That’s why I used the apocalyptic opening lyrics to create some tension and excitement.

However, what I’m about to reveal will be shocking.

It’s for all who think they are doing something wrong. Who feels bad, annoyed, or frustrated about their current situation on Medium:

  • fewer reads
  • low views
  • lower income
GIPHY

Some are even thinking of hanging up their proverbial keyboard.

Oh boy, do I hear you, loud and clear.

Something is definitely off.

No need to scratch your head anymore!

Let’s dig a bit deeper and talk about the good, bad, and the ugly in regard to Medium.

Disturbing Data Points

I’m about to share some data.

No worries, it’s a digest — based on my own research and stories I read from fellow writers about the current situation.

Hopefully, it will help you to get the bigger picture and understand that it’s not your fault. You’re doing nothing wrong. Your stories don’t suck!

The Ugly

Unfortunately, Medium doesn’t publish any stats or data (anymore) — although most writers would love to get more insights.

They hate being left in the dark as to what’s really going on.

I found the last post on stats by Medium founder Ev Williams where he proudly shared that 2020 was one of Medium’s fastest-growing years ever:

➤ From 2013 to 2020, Medium has steadily (and then rapidly) grown over a long period of time.

screenshot Ev Williams, internal data

Fast forward to today, the picture has changed.

Medium is going down.

Day by day, and second by second.

➤ Medium highly benefited from the pandemic, it flourished to an all-time high, and then… the downwards spiral began.

SEM Rush; Joe Moody

The corona restrictions have been lifted in many countries. This certainly plays a big role.

More events are taking place again, and people prefer to be outside rather than at home.

➤ Medium’s traffic dropped substantially — from 90M views during the height of the pandemic to 22M views.

SEM Rush; Joe Moody

Good to know:

➤ Most of the traffic on Medium comes from search results (which is great!). More specifically, from programming publications (good for devs, bad for others).

Lucas Dawn; screenshots

➤ Medium is bouncing 73% of its traffic.

newsletter Linda Caroll

73% of their visitors who primarily come from search engines come and take one look at the homepage and then…leave again.

The bad

After breaking down the dreadful and ugly numbers, let’s talk about the bad things that are happening right now:

Personal blogs are BOOMING

Although Top Writers such as Nicolas Cole recommend writing on Medium or other publishing platforms instead of starting your own WordPress blog… millions of people do!

There were over 70 million WordPress blog posts every month in Q1 2022.

WordPress isn’t dead. It’s more alive than ever — although it takes time to get seen and earn money.

The pros: It’s your own little space on the internet — without any algorithm changes.

Strong competition

The social media cloverleaf for bloggers shows more and more platforms: Simily, Tealfeed, Substack, Vocal, Newsbreak, Twitter, HubPages, and many many more.

All these platforms are competitors of Medium.

  • Medium removed this feature and most writers are sad about it. Some are thinking about leaving Medium and writing on Vocal.

Big publications are leaving Medium

A publication with 2 million views is gone.

History of Yesterday closed its doors.

screenshot taken from article by Linda Carol

As you can see, Linda Carol found out that it was one of THE traffic drivers on Medium and people actually READ the stories that were shared.

Why does a successful publication close?

Linda Caroll has the answer:

  • Ongoing piracy problems. “Stories are being scraped from Medium repeatedly and they’re not doing anything to resolve it.”
  • Recent changes to the algorithm: “don’t “favor” his publication. I’ve noticed that, too. In the past, all my posts in that publication got curated. Now it’s hit-and-miss. Mostly miss.”

Linda, who got sometimes 20K views for her stories in “History of Yesterday”, shares:

The owner moved his publication to his own domain.

Now he’s seeking funding to pay its writers.

People are leaving Medium

You can see this in your Referred Member stats.

Members come and go.

One of the reasons is Medium’s constant changes.

Additionally, Top Writers leaving the platform, such as Tom Kuegler.

As of Q4 2020, Medium had 700,000 paying members.

Medium reduced its staff by 29 people

“Today we made the painful decision to reduce the size of the company by 29 people”, Tony recently shared.

Who are these people?

These employees come from the operations, marketing, design and creator relations teams. is one of them. I loved her prompts and updates.

Why did Tony let them go?

“We’ve found ourselves bigger than we need to be for the focused mission ahead.”

The feed has changed

I tell it like it is.

The new “true follow feed” is totally busted and annoys me every day.

I miss seeing their favorite writer’s faces and publications.

It’s not working as it’s supposed to.

  • It shows OLDER posts from writers you follow.
  • It does not show the LATEST posts.
  • It shows your OWN stories.
  • It shows stories from people you DON’T follow.

People sent me emails like this:

They thought I quit writing because they don’t see my stories anymore in their feeds.

The algorithm has changed!

From one moment to the next my stats went from 50K:

to

and I’m not alone.

I received tons of emails and interacted with several writers on Twitter:

Here’s one example from Reuben Salsa:

Reuben Salsa Twitter

Top Writers Tom Kuegler, who will leave Medium this year, shares Medium is about to “unfuck” the algorithm.

And Sara Larca shared in a poem

S​he has to let go
Of that dream to be rich
Maybe it’s the algorithm
It could be a glitch.

Good news: You don’t need to run away

You may wonder: “Is it a worrying time (and Medium gonna die)?”

GIPHY

The good news is: “You don’t need to run away. You should stay!”

It’s the end of Medium as many of us know it, but I still feel fine about the future of Medium.

So it’s not an apocalypse.

However, it’s a time of change.

A lot of change will come — and we need to be prepared.

So what’s about to come to Medium within the next past months?

Tony wants to “raise the bar”

Medium’s new CEO gave three interviews.

In his latest one with Amar, he again emphasized that he wants to prepare Medium members. He wants to “raise the bar”.

What could this mean?

I watched all of the interviews, so here’s what will come or is already happening:

  • Less curation. I heard already from Mike Lewis that his curation rate has decreased. A lot of my students shared this as well. I see it in my own stats. In Tony’s opinion, Medium curated too much in the past. So if you’ll get curated in the future this will really MEAN something again and really drive your traffic.
  • External views count. Tony wants to help writers by paying them for external views as well.
  • More support for fiction and poetry writers. A lot of poetry, as well as fiction writers, are disappointed. Tony wants to take a deeper look and check how to help these writers.
  • Publications matter. There are 10 Top Publications on Medium. Better Humans and Better Programming from Tony belong to them. He said that he wants to support (Top) publications more and the people who got published in them.

source: Interview Zulie Rane

  • Less experiments. I want to add that Tony recently announced that they’ll do less experimenting to regain trust to their members. Plus, he wants to parner more with the community.

“Medium has a reputation as a company that has tried a lot of experimental approaches. Experimenting is part of who we are.”

  • More partnership with the community. Tony arranged interviews with Zulie, Sinem, and Amar which is great. This way he could REALLY speak to the community and answer questions.

“When we experiment going forward, I’d like to see us experiment in partnership with our community.”

  • Additionally, he collaborates with Sinem and will be part of a round table discussion. If you want to know more about it and join, just leave a comment. I’ll share the link.

This could come, based on Medium’s acquisitions:

  • Own podcast. To grow beyond words, Medium joined forces last year with the audio-based learning platform Knowable to bring its platform to the next level. This year, they introduced the new listen feature. Maybe soon we’ll also have the opportunity to start our own podcast and read our stories.
  • Own ebook. Did you know that Medium acquired an ebook platform? It’s Glose. Tony always says “Write with a book in mind”. Well, maybe soon we can create and sell our own ebooks via Medium.
  • Own newsletter. Medium does not have a newsletter. Last year, they acquired Projector, a multimedia design platform. This could mean that they’ll improve their newsletter feature to compete with Substack.

The bottom line

Guess what happened when R.E.M. played “It’s the End of the World as we know it” live for the first time?

GIPHY

The audience reacted with a party vibe that threw off the band. haha

They thought the apocalyptic texts would elicit a more muted response.

Well, as far as I’m concerned I was frustrated about my lower reads and reading time BUT then I felt bad about my feelings.

Medium *is* a place where the audience is already there. People come here to read.

You *CAN* get paid and benefit from all the GOOD things here from day one (and as soon as you have 100 followers).

  • Community, feedback, experimenting in public, building reputation, building trust, and gaining confidence…. this is Medium.

We need to embrace the good, the bad, and the ugly!

I want to come back to the initial question:

“Is it a worrying time (and is Medium gonna die)?”

As far as I’m concerned, I think it’s an evolution.

evolution = a process of continuous change from a lower, simpler, or worse to a higher, more complex, or better state (Webster Dictionary)

Things change on Medium. We adapt and move on.

We need to talk about the changes and share our feedback with Tony, his team, and the community.

We need to recommend and refer Medium.

We need to trust the process and Tony.

Otherwise, we’ll be lost.

I’m curious. What do you think about the future of Medium?

© Kristina God

Kristina God is 25x Top Writer and one of Medium’s Top 1,000 Writers.
She loves to share her Medium 101’s, hacks as well as tips and tricks with new writers.
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