Read on Medium.
The feature I miss most on Medium is the customizable profile page.
Why is it the most important lacking feature for me? And why is Medium avoiding it?
From personal blogs to Medium
Many authors have or have had a personal blog. Maybe spending countless hours for its setup, getting some views and zero comments.
Medium seems to change all this. No setup needed, and a community that stumbles on your stories and leaves a crumb of love. So refreshing.
But Medium goes beyond. Gathering content from so many authors, offering toy publications, and with some unique features like highlighting, it opens the doors to a big community of readers and writers.
The promise of a Nirvana in reading and writing. That’s how it feels, at first.
To add up, ads-free zone and the Medium Partner Program to let some money flow in the pockets of wealthy authors, whose meals starving authors can have the crumbs. Better than nothing.
Then posts begin to accumulate
After some dozens of posts, unless you already became the new Oppong, or you have been put on a pedestal by Medium as a proper representative of the US pop culture, you ask yourself: “Where do my posts go, after a few days?”
Reply: buried. Forever. Someone will come to visit and leave a flower, occasionally. No more.
You justify yourself: “My posts are in the publications!”
No, check better. A couple of your posts are still on their home page, if you’re lucky. The others are in their archive, that no one consults, and that would be anyway impossible to consult.
The only hope, your profile
It happens that someone visits your profile. Or that you want to refer to your profile. But they’ll see just one featured story and a useless long list of your relics. No one checks more than a few pages, there.
You could feature a recap article but… How many would click on such a catching and irresistible post?
You could open a personal publication, replacing your blog but… You may want to post also on other publications, on Medium, and you can’t duplicate content, nor would it be a good idea on the same platform.
So, it could be great to show a small portfolio on your profile page. More or less like Medium toy publications.
Nice to have, but…
Hey! I can have that on my external blog, or a portfolio page! It’s not rocket science. And Medium has indeed the resources for that. Why didn’t Medium implement that from the beginning, and still doesn’t implement it?
The first time I asked myself that question, I froze. Because I feared the answer that my guts were suggesting. And that the whopping 160 characters allowed to describe yourself were saying aloud already.
Where does Medium focus all of its efforts? On curation and flagship publications. That’s where you see most of the changes and the most important hirings. They always had a thing, with prioritizing the editorial work.
They’re a magazine first. Maybe innovative, maybe partly distributed, but still a magazine.
The Medium Partner Program is a big and welcome innovation, of course, but it usually feeds those in line with Medium’s editorial taste. It’s a wealthy cycle that starts from the featuring act by Medium (not just curation). If you are not featured, it’s usually the small change. And when you are no longer featured, you return to famine. Exceptions are rare and are usually in the make-it-on-medium field.
Medium wants your stories to stay on their home page, or that of their publications. Or in the daily digest.
Out of that, they don’t care where your stories go.
And the reality is that your stories will go to the virtual graveyard of the Web. The huge trash can that sucks down all that is not featured or heavily indexed. The altar of the game of quantity is merciless.
When I asked Santa — oops, Medium — for their plans about a customizable profile page, that should have been there since the beginning, they replied (2017): “This will be added to our user suggestion list. We appreciate hearing how we can make the Medium experience better for everyone.”
Maybe it’s good that this feature is just a “user suggestion,” and elves are not at work on this gift. The last time that the Medium staff paid attention to “custom” they removed the possibility of custom domains.
Medium likes the content to stay in the Medium channels and to be picked by algorithms or editors. Possibly, fresh and trendy.
In the meanwhile, most writers are in constant and desperate search for alternatives, striving for an external home for their writing that could easily be found on Medium, if Medium wanted.
Medium may have reasons for this “strategy.” Or just a lazy team, who knows. It’s just that it can be my writing home. They could have easily made me think differently.
A customizable profile would allow you to feature and gather your writing, avoiding to set up an external blog. A comfortable little home with a link to share, that would not take anything away from Medium. Maybe, it would let some of your stories survive the grinder of the Web and let Medium attract more authors.
Will I ever see that feature on Medium? I’m afraid not. They don’t seem to want it.
Consider that, when the time comes for your writing home.