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Writers, We Have To Raise Our Game on Medium or We’ll Fail

  • 4 min read

Distribution has changed. How it used to be and what it’s now.

Medium’s new CEO Tony Stubblebine has been pretty available during the last past weeks.

Whenever someone tagged him (you can do this by typing in @tonystubblebine) in his story, he replied.

Additionally, he did three YouTube interviews with Top Writers such as Zulie Rane, Sinem Guenel, and Amardeep Pamar.

What was the purpose of the interviews?

As interviewers, Stubblebine picked Zulie, Sinem, and Amardeep Pamar. He did this for a reason.

He wanted to prepare their audience for a change.

Change in Medium’s distribution system would affect them directly.

Following the interviews, Medium for instance killed the “chosen for further distribution” tag.

This was a notification many people loved because it was a motivation boost and reward to see that your story was picked by Medium and further distributed.

Here’s more background information.

How did distribution use to work?

There are two versions:

  • In 2018, distribution was fully curated by human curators.
  • Then, stories on Medium mostly were curated by machine learning algorithms. This algorithm focuses on engagement signals.

Both extremes have been bad in a lot of ways.

How does distribution work now?

Medium has been making changes to bring back human curation.

Additionally, they have given direct control back to the readers via the “show less like this button” and the ability to control our recommendations.

What does Tony Stubblebine mean when he’s talking about raising the bar?

In the three interviews he gave, he talked about how he wants to prepare us what Medium wants and needs to raise the bar to make their paying readers happy.

To provide value on the platform so that subscribers think it’s worth paying for the writing here.

"The substance was about preparing them that they'd have to raise their game or they would fail." Tony Stubblebine in a comment.

Medium is an open platform but distribution beyond your followers isn’t open. Only to people who provide valuable articles.

"The page views and the money that comes with it are driven by a need to serve our subscribers value that they think is worth paying for."

The quality bar needs to go up.

"...the bar for what we serve to subscribers needs to go up. The reward for meeting that bar will be higher but it will require more work."

We have to raise our game on Medium, or we’ll fail.

Behind the scenes there are so many changes going on and the decline in our stats we see, fewer reads, views, and earnings are just the beginning.

It shows we need to raise our game and add more value to the platform.

Tony also has a very specific message for new writers:

"There is a category of beginner writer who needs to hear that ASAP because they are starting to make plans to make a living here. That won't be possible"

No worries, new writers, also, Top Writers such as Jessica Wildfire are seeing a decline. It’s a meta thing.

Recently, Tony already shared that Medium can’t pay you what you’re worth. It’s your audience. Either there is an audience on Medium that reads and pays you, or not.

Additionally, the “show less like this button” could break the neck of some writers because people won’t be shown these types of stories anymore.

Final Takeaways

I guess within the next past weeks, Stubblebine and his team will announce more precise and concrete information on the levels of distribution plus what “quality” means on the platform and how we can write a high-quality post.

I know that for a lot of (new) writers this news in regard to distribution and article value makes them feel anxious and angry.

“Why does Medium do this? Why can’t distribution stay the same? Quality and proving value are subjective!”

I hear you.

However, this change can also make us better writers and our audience happier! We can refer more paying members and hopefully, new opportunities will come our way too!

Cheers to the future of Medium!

I’m curious. What do you think about this (vague) news about distribution?

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