Read on Medium.
I opened a second Medium account, under a pen name, because I have things to tell that I can’t write under my own name.
When I started writing online, I decided that it was my own name or nothing. But life brings unpredictable turns. While I’m still convinced of my choice and still on an authentic path, I decided that it was time for an experiment with a pen name.
Writing with more freedom felt great but, soon, I also saw the limits of it.
Why a second account?
Someone, like me, may consider a second account for anonymity. Some stories are hard to tell with your own name, maybe to people who know you in person, or that you’d hope to know. Bosses, parents, spouse, friends… Perhaps they’ll never read your stories – big news: it’s highly probable – but, in case, it wouldn’t be fun.
At some point, your B-side feels so unheard that it screams for a second account. A pen name, obviously.
But, for someone else, it could be about separating audiences. Medium doesn’t help in that. If you write about too many topics, your profile will be a mess. Maybe you write about spirituality and they see your latest “7 Creative Ways to Lace Your Shoes.”
We mediumers usually don’t care about that. Most of us proudly sport a pyrotechnic profile. Some make a living by it. But it’s not for all. Someone niched and it worked better for them. If your multiple identities fight over your fans, you may be tempted by a second account. Not necessarily incognito. Just a second one.
Or you may need to go multilingual. Medium hates that. They’re not fond of languages different than English. Personally, I advise you to keep your posts in different languages under the same account anyway, but a second account for your other language may be a decent idea too.
Jumping in and out of accounts, especially frequent Medium accounts, is not an option.
The only decent way I found is having two Google accounts. So, you add another profile to Google Chrome and you can quickly switch between the two from the browser, remaining logged in – with a different Medium account – in both. I guess the same is possible with a few different providers and browsers.
Of course, you must always be aware of what account you’re using. Especially if you write about sex with a pen name.
Also, those accounts may not be well protected. In my case, a guest on my PC would be two clicks away from my “hidden” stories. Fine for me, but certainly not for anyone. If you want true protection, this is going to be cumbersome.
How does it go
I only wrote three stories but the trend is already what I expected it to be. Three stories and two reads.
Your second account is going to be lonely.
First, there’s the problem of split energies. It sounds obvious and it is. It’s hard already to write for one account, promote it, get followers and an audience. Maybe you even have dreams of earning something with it, and that’s reserved to a few. A second account builds from scratch and steals your writing/promoting energies.
But the main problem is Medium itself or, better said, the community effect.
Even stones know that the only way to get visibility on Medium is following, clapping, highlighting and commenting. I intentionally left out reading and being curated (reading is totally optional and being curated means nothing). The Medium community wants you to be present and to be fully aware of the reciprocity principle. The Medium algorithm wants you to help the platform thrive.
So, an account that doesn’t interact has no hope.
A second account means interacting with a second account too. Two identities, two reading lists. The interaction with your main account will suffer. The interaction with your secondary account will be thin.
Being present twice in a community is harder than being present in two distinct communities. You can’t repost, you can’t leverage on your full identity, you’re not stimulated by two different environments and opportunities.
I see only one case with little problems about the split identity, which is multilingual publishing. The two communities would be largely split anyway. Still a problem, but not as huge as two distinct English accounts.
The Medium Partner Program
Did you remember the program that pays writers on Medium? Yes? So, you also remember – or can infer – that anyone on Medium now writes behind the paywall.
That means that either your second account pays for the membership or it’s a ghost account, because you can read nothing with it, so you can’t be seen. It can earn money, but it won’t because nobody sees the stories in it.
Is it worth it?
Maybe earning money is not important for you, but earning visibility certainly is. Leave the I-write-to-think-better stories out of my reading list, please.
Well, getting visibility with two accounts on the same platform – a platform heavily rewarding interactions between members – is damn hard. Imagine earning money.
It can be a good experiment, but you certainly need to try to stretch your main account first. Or you should consider a second platform. Or writing under a pen name only.
If you need anonymity, ask yourself the hard questions about your writing life and try pushing your limits. Being able to write what hurts is part of the writer’s job – like it or not. We’re not always prepared for that, but we also can’t ignore it.
You should choose a second account as your last resort. And, even in that case, think twice.