Who’s Ready to Promote Medium’s New Referral Program?

The image contains the word “Medium” spelled out with wooden blocks, magnetic letters, Scrabble tiles, and letters from a children’s game.
Photo and “artwork” produced by the author (Joyce O’Day).

Will this novel marketing move drive up membership or lead to the decline of the platform?

I recently read the provocative article This Feels Very MLM by Emory Ann published in Feedium. Like Emory and most of her respondents, I was disappointed to see Medium sink to this level.

View at Medium.com

I publish my thoughts and political rants on Medium to get it out of my system. My following has finally met the magical threshold of 100; I have never been curated; and up until a couple weeks ago, I had only been accepted in a single Medium publication: “Crow’s Feet.” My husband teases me every month when a few cents from my Medium articles get deposited into our account. I recently followed the advice from Karen Banes’s article Should I Re-Publish My Own Blog Posts On Medium?, and I published my last article on my personal website first and then linked it to Medium. Still, I write to cleanse my soul, so I plan to continue posting on Medium.

MLM: The Dirty Truth

I have personal experience with multi-level-marketing — from the inside. I was the Copy Department Manager for Equinox International in the mid-1990s. Equinox sold health and nutrition products, and I wrote or supervised the writing of their catalog, product labels, and advertising/marketing materials. I had no affiliation with the recruitment end of the business, but was in direct contact with the legal department, as everything we wrote had to be approved and product disclaimers were mandatory. Fortunately, I quit Equinox before they got shut down by the government for being a pyramid scheme. It was a wild ride that I really should write an article about. Hmmm!

As noted in the comment by Edward John,

It would only really be MLM if we also got a cut of our referrals’ referrals and their referrals. So actually Medium is SLM (Single Level Marketing).

True, Medium’s new hustle will be not be a MLM scam unless we get an additional cut from the people who sign up from the accounts of the new Medium subscribers we personally recruited.

I would never have made it as a hooker.

Alas, I am terrible at sales. Seriously, I have failed at nearly every “sales-related” job I have ever attempted: real estate, television advertising, and even waitressing. Sad, I know. I am simply not comfortable encouraging or pressuring someone to spend their money on something I am compensated to recommend. I feel awkward. I feel like I am prostituting myself. Randomly, I have been very successful as the director of a nonprofit and have felt no remorse in soliciting donations to the causes I support.

To Quote Dylan, “The Times Are a-Changing.”

Soon, everyone will be outsourcing their monetization on Medium. Both Ko-fi and Buy Me a Coffee can be linked to your Medium account. (Check out Ko-Fi vs Buy Me a Coffee — Which is Better? before you take the leap.) Kristina God has even advocated starting a petition to get Medium to introduce a tip jar in her article Now It’s Time To Tip And Get Paid On Medium, published in Illumination.

Out With the Old

Most would agree that Medium’s old — and current — reward programs are flawed in that outside reads receive no payment, even though engagement from sources other than Medium — such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google — certainly deliver new paid members, myself included. I joined Medium after a colleague/friend posted a very personal story on Medium. After reading a few more articles and discovering that Barack Obama published on Medium, I paid my annual membership, and after a couple months on the platform I treated my stepdaughter to a membership. However, the gimmick to ask writers to solicit their readers to commit to a membership seems desperate at best and somewhat cheap and sleazy at the worst. Yet, it may be a brilliant strategy to convert Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google users into Medium aficionados.

I feel like a Luddite.

Although I have never really profited from my Medium “hobby,” I already miss the purity of the original concept wherein writers enjoyed a platform to share their work and discover the work of others.

I am curious to hear your thoughts on the matter!


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