4 min read

Is Friend of Medium a Good Idea?

For those who write on Medium you might be tempted to upgrade. But is it worth it?
Is Friend of Medium a Good Idea?
Photo by Camylla Battani / Unsplash

Today I was made aware of the Friend of Medium membership level, an idea “designed to support the Medium community” and good writers.

But is it a good idea?

First let me say, I’ve really started to enjoy writing on this platform, despite being a 15 year business veteran and expert in WordPress. I made a shit ton of money in that industry over the years and helped others do the same. It wasn’t easy to let go and move on.

And while there are many more benefits to using WordPress, I’ve found various reasons to plant my flag here for now. More on that down the road.

So that being said, I’m offering my opinion based on working in this type of industry for a long time.

red and white coca cola signage
Photo by John Cameron on Unsplash

Medium, like WordPress, has a robust and diverse community.

Both include people who contribute to building and growing the platform in various ways. Ultimately, we are the ones who make them sustainable long-term. Without our love and nurturing, the platform will die.

Then there’s those who invest in others from the community; the people who create a vibrant ecosystem to benefit each other in a symbiotic way.

It can be in the form of encouraging your fellow writers to keep writing, sharing or commenting on their posts, or even sending them a thank you gift or buying their book.

I whole heartedly believe we should do more to support each other as writers and creatives. Especially today.

Yet the Friend of Medium idea isn’t something I can buy into.

While it’s a fantastic concept in theory, there are reasons spending $10 more per month isn’t beneficial to me or our community of writers.

There’s no additional value to me as a writer other than a short dopamine hit for doing something good.

If Medium unlocked extra features we need or incentivized us with benefits like generating more traffic to our posts, then it makes perfect sense to invest those funds. But the reality is most of us are here to make money, and from a business perspective, the ROI isn’t there.

We can use that additional $120 per year somewhere else.

There’s also the problem that Medium, a large capitalist company with a value of over 600 million dollars, is putting the burden on content creators to reward ourselves.

Like those annoying tip request screens on almost every damn purchase we make these days, we’re being asked to subsidize the income for others who are building the platform. I don’t like that.

Also, Medium benefits not only from our $5 per month membership, they gain power and authority from our work because we drive traffic to their website and brand. This increases their valuation and profits.

While we have an idea of how Medium rewards writers monetarily, the algorithm is unknown, and like Google whom I hate and plays God, Medium controls the overall outcome.

This can be good and bad.

For example, Google rewards people who produce great content. Those who build authority ranking and get backlinks (among other things) are rewarded. If you work hard and do great work = rewards!

In a perfect world this makes sense, but as you know it’s not perfect.

Google also has the power to drop the rankings of your website or articles if they can monetize that space with someone else. If they can make more money from advertising or selling their AI generated content = screwed!

If there is someone who is more popular than you, you lose.

The truth is corporations care about the shareholders and executives first. Unless you’re an upcoming Amy Porterfield or Joe Rogan, they don’t give a shit if you write or not because there are millions of others who will gladly take your place.

It’s a numbers game and we can’t forget that ever.

Medium might not be like that. I don’t know because I’m not on the inside. But I know how business works.

I watched dozens of great developers, designers, and content creators build WordPress (an open source platform) create amazing wealth for Matt Mullenweg, the founder of Automatticwhile getting fucked over by his lies of making WordPress plugin and themes repository equal for all.

Matt is a hypocrite who has created something that largely benefits himself or his for-profit company.

This is why many of the original company founders who made WordPress a powerhouse have moved on or sold their companies. It’s also why there have been thousands of discussions for years to take everything they contributed code wise to fork out and create a new platform.

It’s something to think about.

Finally I’ll share my last reason for not fully jumping on board with Friend of Medium at this time.

There are writers who have smaller followings whom I love and deserve to be rewarded, but I have no real control over helping them earn more.

In my opinion, the writers who have been on Medium for years and have substantial fans already, will be the ones who make the biggest portion of money. See above.

If I was able to choose the writers I’d like my contributions to go to, then I’d sign up right now. To some this might not sound fair but it’s how I feel. Maybe some of you think the same way.

I would rather take that $120 and send it to someone who has impacted my life or the lives of others from their writing.

Obviously there are many considerations into offering a program like this and it’s a delicate balance to figure out. Maybe I am right or maybe I am wrong, but that’s just my two cents for the day.

Do you think this is something you should invest in?