Social networks and closed ecosystems, like Medium, are great. You should use them; monetize your content if you want to. Get the exposure you crave. Interact with your readers. However, let me tell you why you should have a backup plan.
The circle of life
Great as they are today, time changes everything. Medium, Twitter, Facebook. They will all die eventually, some faster than others, but it will happen.
Today's hot platforms will join dead ones, like Geocities, Google+, Google wave, Google buzz, Friendster, MySpace... and I could bore you to death with sites and platforms no one uses anymore.
Use the popular platforms you have today. These platforms are amazing. I am writing this article for Medium. I follow everyone that follows me, not because I need to reach some arbitrary number of followers, but because I want to see what they are writing themselves. I want to know my community. And the great benefit of having a manageable number of followers is that I can pay attention to them.
I see the craziness about reaching 100 followers. I get it. There is a "partner program" and getting content monetized. Well, those are the rules when I am writing this post. They will change. Like they kept changing on youtube, which leads me to the next big issue with these platforms; they evolve.
I do not have 100 subscribers, and I don't care. Only a Christmas miracle would allow me to reach that number. It may happen; it may not. It will not make a difference in the medium/long term.
There will be other ones in the future. That is the nature of content platforms and paywalls.
If you follow Youtubers the pattern should be very familiar to you. Everyone wants followers, and everyone wants you to hit that notification bell. The metrics that allow creators to monetize content are "a moving target". Find similarities with Medium followers?
Also, similar is what equates to getting money on Youtube; viewer time watching the videos. In Medium it's the time spent reading what you wrote.
The barrier of entry for new content creators keeps changing. As platforms mature, they become more interested in providing a better quality content ratio to their users. Not so much in how many creators they can cram into the platform.
Rules and the administration of justice also evolve.
I have seen creators lose all their content. Because their account was hacked in some cases, because platform rules changed and their content was no longer welcome on the platform, it may even be breaking some new rules.
You see, it's not your platform. You are just a user. You can make as much noise as you want to complain; it won't change anything.
You can create a business on Medium, as you can on Youtube. However, that fact does not in any way mean you should. At least not with some backup plan. Having your content in an alternative platform is a backup plan. Just do it! Even if you keep that platform private or publish your content with some delay, it creates additional value for subscribers who consume it behind some paywall. But at minimum, keep a backup of every content you create somewhere.
No, it does not cost you a lot of money and/or time
I use Publii on my blogs. It is free, has free hosting options, and works offline. Meaning, you can have a backup system "ready to go" if needed, with all your content, in case your platforms have a change of heart about wanting you.
Creating your backup platform in Publli is as easy as downloading the software and using the CMS offline. You can save the bother of making the site available (hosted somewhere) for a rainy day.
For a few reasons, dynamic content management systems that work online, like having a WordPress site, are a terrible idea as a backup platform:
- You have to maintain and upgrade them against security issues.
- You have to host them on servers that have PHP and databases.
- Good luck finding decent free hosting.
This article was published on Medium (I am a subscriber and highly recommend it).