Simon, Thank you for your coverage and analysis. Thank you for context. Medium captured my attention in 2017. Like you and others who have years of experience as a journalist and editor, I want to learn rapidly where the readers are going for truth and trustworthy coverage. Substack captured my attention in 2018. That business seemed to prefer working with full-time writers while encouraging more professionalism among side-project writers. Plus, you are on Substack and you take your reputation seriously.

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I'm a longtime Medium user and Substack noob. I can already spot a major difference: How engaged and helpful the Substack team is. They listen and implement good feedback from its userbase. They are a part of the community, which appears to have a trickle-down cultural effect: Most Substack users I've encountered adopt a give-to-get approach. Substack users also seem generally optimistic. Medium users, by contrast, are always pissing and moaning and yearning for the good ole days.

Medium had a lot of potential, and I'm still rooting for them, though, like you, I'm skeptical. I've gotten on this train many times. I agree with a lot of what you wrote, to which I'd like to add that I think it was a mistake to forgo rewarding writers for bringing in external views. I understand that it made sense from a Medium-centric financial perspective: "We have a limited pool of funds from our members, and we can't over-extend by paying for the eyeballs of non-members."

Unfortunately, this encouraged Medium users to cater to other Medium users, which created this weird, incestuous, Sisyphean culture in which we all marketing to each other while writing about marketing to each other. Ev Williams decried the ad-based model, but he never came up with a viable alternative.

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Yes, this is it exactly. Early on, I thought Medium was going to be the platform I always longed for as a writer. But I never saw articles from the writers I followed. You couldn’t even comment on an article for the longest time and when you could it created its own post (so weird!). Because it was impossible to make a living on the platform (I have no idea why some posts made $600 and some made $1, and though I wrote for several Medium publications I never earned money for it) it didn’t attract good writers. As a result, there’s nothing good to read there. I finally canceled my paid subscription to this year and no longer publish content there. RIP 🪦

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I think the decision to pivot away from ads on the platform was their biggest mistake, business wise. It would've been pretty simple to have ads for non-members and no-ads for members. I ran the math in an article a while ago and estimated the revenue for writers could've been about 3-5x what it is currently. As someone who's focused heavily on Medium for the last 2.5 years (15k subs with 3 mil views), I can tell you, that 3-5x would've made a huge difference to me.

Great article, cheers.


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Hey Simon, I really appreciate this piece. I joined Medium in 2018, became a top writer, had 11k followers and last year with the last changes, I nearly got bankrupted when I lost 95% of my income overnight. I am a prize-winning journalist and author of two prize-winning books, so am no hack. I've got an account here but not yet ready to launch, and am eager to see how things are different. I'm very hopeful. The only thing you left out was how Medium, in encouraging us to bring in other paid subscribers, turned it into a pyramid scheme of sorts, the Amway of online writing. So much sludge and hate and ugliness showed up. And as for Tim Denning? ohforchrissakes. He can't write his way out of a garbage bag, but people worship him because of what he earns. For my professional writing dollar he is the Kim Kardashian of online writing, as vapid and useless as that entire family.

I finally exited Medium and now I have my own Patreon supported platform. Subscriptions at least provide those of us who take our writing seriously with way to keep it up. I am genuinely excited about the future.

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IMO, Medium is still the best for "I need to write something as a one-off to the world and get max SEO on it for free/without need of monetization" use cases- which is often the case among my peers (tech workers). Unless you can recommend another alternative?

Example- I host https://airpollution.guide as a Medium article. I don't plan on writing any more on air pollution and don't plan on monetizing

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Also, in the long run, Substack seems to be headed the same way as Medium as it recently cut jobs and decided to ditch fundraising plans.

Read this article when it came out and it was very precient:-


Another article that breaks it down further:-


I love reading so many interesting newsletters on Substack but there are only so many paid newsletters anyone is willing to subscribe to, no disrespect for the writers who put their heart and soul in churning out great content for their readers but it is the harsh truth!

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Jul 22, 2022·edited Jul 22, 2022

Hi Simon, I would like to read your take on Capsule Social and if it can succeed where Medium has failed. I discovered it on Republic a few days ago.


They have built a platform called Blogchain with web3 dynamics at its core i.e. features like decentralization, ownership of content, etc.


Let me know (or let us know if you decide to post about it) what are your thoughts regarding it.



PS Great article btw

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