To the READERS of Medium Who Want to Support Writers
I don’t believe in karma. I know lots of wonderful people who have suffered great tragedies. And known, well, lousy folks who seem to have an unending streak of fabulous luck.
I don’t believe that everyone will find love. Some people do. Some don’t. I rejoice for those who do! But, alas, not everyone does.
But I do believe in serendipity!
So when not one but two of my readers asked me virtually the same question within a few minutes of each other, I knew serendipity had stepped in.
Which means I’m in the awkward position of writing ABOUT Medium once more. (I really try to be sparing in my writing about Medium, but have written a few stories on this topic over the past few weeks.)
If this story wasn’t important, I assure you I would not be writing it.
As READERS, what can we do to support the writers we read and follow given the new Medium payment plan structure? How can we support YOU and our other favorite writers, Bonnie?
They both clarified that they were 100% asking literally not rhetorically.
Audrey pointed out that she can easily find stories written to OTHER WRITERS about keeping their chins up, staying the course, and not giving up during the recent Medium Payment Plan change.
Neither Tony nor Audrey are writers on Medium. Audrey shared that her time on Medium is spent reading entertaining, soul-stirring, and authentic stories. She’s looking to be inspired and moved.
This may sound improbable (and incredibly, well, dumb), but I had incorrectly assumed that most of the people on Medium were also writing on Medium (or had some desire to write here at some point in the future).
I had this epiphany to shift my viewpoint to look at their question (i.e., “how can we best support writers”) through the eyes of a reader.
I’m not sure if I can make that shift entirely, but I’m going to make every attempt to answer them earnestly.
In my mind, my answer to their question hinges on the literal, theoretical, and philosophical.
Before jumping into my response, I am compelled to start here.
What would I tell my readers who want to support me on Medium?
THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!
I can’t speak for every writer here, but I can say that I know what it’s like to have 1 or 2 readers. It takes so much resolve to keep writing when virtually NO ONE is reading your stories.
I know a lot of different writers here in Mediumland. Some would write even if not one single person read their work. I know others who make no money. I know some who only care about comments and engagement. I’ve known a few of the bigger players, too.
I can only answer this question from MY perspective.
I don’t EXPECT anything from readers out in Mediumland.
You do not owe me anything!
But if you enjoy my writing, my voice, my perspective. If I’ve entertained you or moved you or validated your experiences, then it is lovely to hear from you.
The new system might no longer financially reward me for the time you take to comment or highlight, but I assure you that those things reward me EMOTIONALLY. I can’t put a price on that!
Those words of delight, praise, understanding, or other positive engagement can be the difference between feeling like I’m foolish or wasting my time or not providing something of value.
Please do not feel like commenting or highlighting or clapping are worthless now. From an emotional standpoint, they mean every bit as much as before.
There are several motivators for me to continue writing on Medium:
~The joy of sharing music.
~The knowledge that I’m helping others out there in the dating realm.
~The community of folks that I’ve connected with who enjoy my Bonnie perspective on life, music, and relationships.
~And, yes, some spending change for the hours I spend sharing my thoughts, my life, my loves.
From a pragmatic, practical angle, how can readers financially support me and/or other writers under the new system?
I’ve been reading up and it does appear that there is no short cut with the new system: reading time is the primary factor.
This puts the onus on the reader to find the time to read their favorite writers’ stories in their entirety.
Frankly, I know this is not always practical. Plus, it punishes writers with readers/followers who are fast readers (like myself).
Speed reading, skimming, and scanning are not going to be enough.
I’ve also realized there is another way you can help funnel more money to your favorite writers, but I’m not thrilled with this answer.
Confession: I do sometimes read clickbait or something by guilty pleasure type folks or WAY over the top stories.
Under the old system, I might read part or all of the story, think it was pretty ridiculous or poorly written or trashy and I would move along. No clapping but I certainly never left an unflattering comment. I skimmed or read and then did nothing.
So, I could read something not knowing if I’d like or not (or fully aware on the front end that I would not be clapping for it), but not worry about my small $5 being siphoned to that writer for that particular story.
I no longer approach Medium this way. If I think something looks uninteresting or poorly written or not my style, I don’t even give it a chance now (or jump ship AS SOON AS I think I won’t like it). This way I have some small control over how my fee is disbursed.
I don’t like this approach. I liked being able to read something and THEN deciding if I wanted to clap — I felt like I had a tiny bit of control about how my meager $5 was disbursed.
So now I don’t read as wide a variety of stories and writers as I did previously. Because I want my money to go to MY favorite writers and stories.
As I see it, this is the literal, practical answer to the question posed by Tony and Audrey.
There are only two ways readers can DEFINITELY financially reward their favorite writers:
(1) By reading their work (both new and old stories) in their entirety as slowly as possible.
(2) Avoid reading stories and authors that they don’t want their money to go to.
Bluntly, I’m not in love with (1) or (2).
As Audrey points out, she has a VERY busy life. The old system allowed her more flexibility in disbursing claps to support her favorite authors without spending hours reading. That flexibility simply does not exist under the new system. The new structure demands her time.
I love options! So number two leaves me feeling icky. The new payment system requires the reader to be prescient in knowing what he or she might enjoy. Ugh! How impractical and limiting!
I do have some good news, though, for readers who want to support their favorite writers!
If you find yourself with extra time on a quiet evening, while waiting for an appointment, or sitting at the airport, you can pull up older stories of your favorite writer(s). It’s possible you’ve read everything (which is amazing if you have!), but there’s also a good chance you might have missed some things over time.
If those stories are behind the paywall, they are still money makers. The last few weeks I’ve been able to see that many of my old stories are still being read. I only made pennies on most of them, but others made a few dollars.
This has always been the case, of course, but my longer dating/life stories are worth more under the new payment structure and I’m seeing a bigger financial bump from those.
When you add up all of that old material, I actually made about $40 in the past 2 weeks just from random stories from weeks and months ago. That’s cool!
I have a third way that I believe helps writers emotionally but also very possibly financially, too:
(3) Give the maximum number of claps.
Hear me out, please.
This one is the most palatable of the options, though is surely the least likely to contribute much financially. Still, I think I’m offering sound advice.
Receiving the full allotment of 50 claps is good for a writer’s ego (in the healthiest sense — oh, this person enjoyed my story and/or me in general). So the emotional reward is definitely there at least on some level.
But I also believe there might be a financial gain to clapping the maximum amount.
When folks are unfamiliar with a writer and they see a higher number of claps, they might be more inclined to decide to check out that story.
My thinking is obvious — the presumption by a random reader scrolling through who sees a higher-performing story is that it must be better than average. He or she might be more likely to click on that particular story than a lower-performing story.
Your extra claps might bring more eyes to your favorite writer’s work. This is an incredibly valuable thing — it’s tricky for the smaller fries like myself in Mediumland to get fresh eyes to find our writing.
So those extra claps might lead to additional readers and reading time, which should boost the earnings for the writer. And might lead to new followers.
Another word about clapping that I wanted to make sure you were aware of. If you read (thank you!), but never comment, highlight, or clap, I have NO idea that you enjoy my work. I have no way of knowing that you are one of the followers who actually likes and reads me.
Many folks “follow” simply to be followed. They never read anything by me.
If you clap, even just once (it doesn’t have to be 50 claps), then I will see you in my fan list. I have a small enough following that I can keep up with my fans who clap for several stories and/or make comments.
I know you in a way that is impossible without your ever clapping, highlighting, or commenting!
Under the new system, you can be a silent reader/lurker and I will still make money for your reading. But I won’t know it was you.
At the end of the day, what matters the MOST is that you enjoy what you are reading!
I don’t want to put any pressure on you to do anything you don’t want to do. I’m not a fan of games or strategies regarding my writing. I strive to be authentic. I’ve earned each follower the old-fashioned way. By showing up and doing my own Bonnie thing.
So today’s story is not a ploy or a plea. It’s merely my honest attempt to answer the question for those readers who see the reality that some writers like myself are experiencing.
And wonder if there is something more they can do.
Thank you for caring. Thank you for reading. Thank you for supporting and encouraging me and the other writers out there in Mediumland.
Please take a look at my blurb at the very bottom of this story. I include it with EVERY SINGLE STORY (except when publications make me remove it, which always crushes me a little).
That paragraph is everything to me.
You ARE busy! And you chose to spend your time reading random Bonnie Barton.
If you missed these stories, by the talented P.G. Barnett, they’re worth a gander. A humorous but insightful perspective on the new reality:
Thank you for reading this story
I know you are busy and have lots of ways you could be spending your time. You using your time to read my work means the world to me — my sincerest thanks!