The Little Dude Struggling to Survive

A Story About the Medium Partner Program

As creatives not only have we become skilled in our craft but we’ve also become skilled at pulling small amounts of income from various places in order to survive. It’s a near impossible feat to be everywhere on a daily basis just to make a buck.

In the beginning I was asked by Medium to participate in a Partner Program research study. I was down. Of course I was. If it helped the little dudes make some cash I want to do my part if given the opportunity to do so.

I wrote a story about how excited I was about the program but much has changed since then. At first the program appeared to be a decent side hustle for cash and included even more benefits than just cash such as streamlining all my work onto one platform and having the ability to publish all my work on Medium opposed to pitching to various publications.

It’s changed considerably since I wrote that story.

It’s my responsibility to promote my writing. At first I thought, how perfect! I can share directly to Twitter and Facebook and gain recognition there. Except those that don’t have a membership aren’t able to read my stories. Yes, non-members can read three paywall stories per month but if I’m writing a few per week their limit is up and that’s to say if my stories are the only ones they’re reading.

What a great way for us to indirectly advertise Medium and their membership program.

While my unlocked story stats continue to soar, my paywall story stats continue to plummet. Why is that? All of my stories should be receiving the same amount of views if they are being circulated through the same amount feeds.

My network section is filled with premium publisher stories and far less from independent writers. Yes, I can filter it but why should I have to? If I’m paying a membership fee what I want to read should be the first thing in my face. I can only assume those publishers won’t be sticking around without enough attention and payout and in order to ensure they do Medium must promote them.

The little dude isn’t permitted to include a call to action in their stories and articles. I’m not able to include my Patreon link and when I did I was asked to remove it. But what about premium publications? Is this not a call to action?

Then I read Ev Williams, Words Still Matter published on October 10th and it got me wondering. Although his words sound motivating and inspiring, what about the little dude?

What our experience at Medium has taught us — or, really, confirmed — is that great ideas can change the world when you create a welcoming space for them. That diverse perspectives deepen our understanding of complex issues. And that lots and lots of people have a hunger for depth and knowledge — a hunger that is being underserved.

Those words do not apply for all of us. Are my ideas not good enough for lots and lots of people? Are my stories not good enough to change the world? Does no one have a hunger for my knowledge? Does Medium determine what constitutes as a good enough story for the world to read and regulate which are and aren’t?

Stories such as this one

Or this one

Not all of our stories are great but little dudes are certainly writing stories on important topics that deserve to be read.

In the past month I’ve had four Partner Program stories picked up by major publications and two of those stories translated into a foreign (to me) language.

I would have hoped they received the same attention on Medium, my number one choice as a publishing platform. A platform I have no intentions of leaving because I believe in our future together. But it’s also a platform I’m beginning to feel leery of and maybe even a bit insecure.

Maybe the unsaid end goal is to receive acknowledgement only from my following or at least my following with a paid membership. At the same time however, it is unfair to claim my “words still matter” when it’s clear they don’t, at least not equally.

I have a voice and the right to exercise my voice in efforts of promoting the little dudes struggling to survive, even if my voice goes unheard or in Medium’s case, unread.

Newspaper reporter in Eastern Iowa. The views expressed are mine alone.

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