Sad news, but it’s not officially the end of This Bitch.
I love Medium. It’s a great content creation platform. It looks pretty, it’s easy to use, and you can find a lot of really thought-provoking stuff on here. It’s great for writers.
Not for publications. Medium was in the news recently for its most recent pivot that left a few of its publications in the dirt, and this is only the latest wave of publications and their issues with Medium. Recently The Awl and The Hairpin shut down completely, and a while back The Ringer left to join the Vox network. These are just two big-name media examples that come to mind for me, but even with my piddling attempt at blogging through a self-made publication, I had my own frustrations with Medium.
Remember This Bitch Blog? If you’ve ever met me since 2016, you would recognize it pretty quickly. It was a blog I started for a class while I was studying in Los Angeles, and then I decided to spend 2017 posting once a week. I only made it through June before my drive died out. But it was a nice little blog, I’m proud of a few of the posts I wrote for it. I put a lot of thought into its upkeep, marketing, brand, style, the whole works. But eventually, I didn’t see a point to keep it around. Or at least, not on Medium.
At its peak, my dumb blog got about 2,000 viewers a month. For me, that was a lot. Considering the Pulitzer-prize winning content, I can’t believe more than 50 people found This Bitch. But there was no way for me to do anything with those numbers. I couldn’t get any engagement (claps or comments), I wasn’t turning those one-off views into Medium Followers, and there was no way I could monetize anything. So I just wrote my blog posts and enjoyed working on “my brand.” When the burn out hit and I stopped posting frequently, I couldn’t figure out a way to revive it and make it worth my while. By this point I had already started Rugo Writes for my more “professional” side, and started wondering why I had two publications I couldn’t work with.
So was the death knell for This Bitch. I migrated all of the stories I liked to Rugo Writes, got rid of the rest, and then officially deleted This Bitch Blog from Medium. A moment of silence, please.
Fear not, however, because I still own the thisbitchblog.com domain, all of my old branding, and the best stories are still under my name on this new blog. Once I get around to really thinking what I want a blog to be, I’d like to bring it back. This won’t be the last you’ve heard of This Bitch, I promise.
But now I’m looking at my Medium profile and wondering what the hell it’s for. For whatever reason, I keep going back to one point: the writer’s profile on Medium is really, really bad. It’s minimalistic to a fault, and that’s coming from a fan of Apple laptops. They all look the same, there’s no customization options, and there’s hardly room to write a bio. It’s practically useless, hence why so many people start their own Medium publications. Those customization options offer a lot more creativity and opportunity for a writer to stand out, but it’s still pretty limiting.
Which is one of the (many) reasons I think a lot of Medium publications suffer and eventually leave. At first, it’s nice to have this simple and good-looking blog set up. No hassle, it’s all there, go and write to your heart’s content! Then you notice that, like writer profiles, all publications look the same. Give or take some colors or background photos, Medium is very, very limiting. Not to mention the terrible monetization opportunities–– that’s a whole other beast.
I’m not the first one to point out Medium’s faults, or offer suggestions. I have no idea what Ev Williams has planned, or if he’s even listening to any suggestions because frankly it doesn’t seem like it. Like, look at this post from the official Medium Engineering publication about updating writer profiles:
This was posted on April 13, 2015. And unless there’s something wrong with my web browser, iPhone app, and iPad app, none of these updates have happened. And I’ve stayed tuned. While still not perfect, these changes would have at least done something for writer profiles. And yet, in 2018, we end up with a restrictive “open paywall,” publications losing their membership and bland AF profiles. They could at least figure out how to add some of the custom publication features on writer profiles.
I love Medium and don’t plan on leaving the site despite all my gripes. I see some well-established writers use the Partner Program and benefit nicely from “member’s claps.” I loved the “pop-up zine” last month about bodies and body image. That stuff is cool. The publications that I follow–– the Mission, the Establishment, Electric Literature, the Writer’s Cooperative–– I love them and would be so sad if they went the way of the Awl. But more and more I see Medium pushing them out in favor of one-off writers with 20 mintue long think pieces.
I know Medium isn’t for starting-out writers/ bloggers. Or small publications. Or even larger, name-brand publications. In the end, Medium needs to reckon with and design itself around the fact that it is meant for (moderately to well-established) writers, not publications.