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Medium Subscriptions – Probably A Pain in the Butt for Creators

here we go again… everybody always thinks they’ll get people to buy subscriptions… so far always a bigly mistake…


It turns out that medium, the long form writing site that I previously wrote about here, is planning on adding a new subscription feature to their site in Q1 2017.

If Medium can get enough of its readers to subscribe to a paid product with extra features, it may be able to achieve its initial goal of building a different business model for publishers. Readership grew 300% last year, so it’s building a wide funnel for the subscriptions. While readers may be apprehenisve to pay for different separate paywalled sites, they may be more willing to buy a subscription for a platform that aggregates multiple publishers together.


lol okay…

If we’re being honest… I don’t think this is going to work out for either medium or the creators that I’m sure they’ll share subscriber fees with. Don’t get me wrong I’d love to see somebody out here in the art landscape normalize content subscriptions for consumers… but I just don’t see medium as the place for it.

I mean for gods sake… click new tab on your browser and a few clickity clacks of the keyboard later you can find the same information found on medium on a non-subscription website. A medium subscription service is going to run into a lot of headwinds both from a fundamental issues point of view and a content creators point of view.


It’s a fundamental problem with medium…

You know, medium acts like it has all of this unique content that attracts people to it. It doesn’t. There is nothing innate about the medium platform that makes content better or encourages creators to only post to medium. Over and over again I see medium treated like a place for content that people can’t find a home for on more commercial sites. And you know what? That’s an issue of classification… caused by lack of imagination. I have a “nonsense” category for that stuff at Pink Ink. Other people are just too afraid to be different and so don’t create those categories.

Another good chunk of people writing on medium post their work there because they don’t have another place to post it. Well you know what, that problem was solved years ago. It’s called WordPress and it’s neat. There’s also social media,, and a lot of sites even let you submit articles. Medium ain’t solving any problems there either.

There’s a lot of fluff but not enough substance to medium. They just aren’t solving a lot of problems for people.

For Creators

For all of the writers out there, the bloggers, the artists talking their paint stained butts off… this is just going to be another program that we all get really excited about because it’s providing us with wish-fulfillment… We finally think we can get fairer compensation… the world is suddenly full of light and happiness.

And then… months later we realize that it’s not to be.

The number of subscriptions you get have flattened off. Nothing is happening. You keep trying and trying, pouring effort in, and nothing.

You’ll see one or two big authors put in little to no effort and yet they get promoted and given money out the wazoo. You’ll gaze on in sadness and frustration as nothing happens for you.

And the shared fees you get after working so hard kind of just add insult to injury… “yeahhhh thanks for the $120… that’s great.”

This has happened so many times over the years… maybe I’m being bitter but I just don’t see medium’s subscription service as being anything but a pain in the butt for content creators. For the handful of already famous people, yeah this will probably be great. It opens a new revenue channel allowing them to skim even more money off of fans.

You’re not famous though… are you…


Until I get more information that might change my mind about medium’s subscription service I can’t help but continue thinking that it’ll be a dead-end for most of the creators out there. Let’s hope I’m wrong.

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