The day after the New York Times published an article suggesting Ev Williams, a co-founder of Twitter and CEO of Medium, will “change the internet” with his renewed focus on Medium, Nieman Labs published a report detailing how the blogging platform’s head of partnerships, Basil Enan, sent an email at the end of April to the site’s 21 remaining independent blogs telling them their subscription service would be cancelled in a week. Medium offered to extend the deadline for publishers who needed more time.
News of the independent publisher purge came just days after Williams penned an article about the success of Medium’s own subscription service “Medium Membership.” Enan told Nieman Labs that the main reason for the service cancellation was that independent blogs created “confusion” on the platform.
“The primary reason for discontinuing this feature is that it creates confusion among paying Medium members who do not have access to certain stories that are locked only for subscribers of a specific publication. In addition, out of the tens of thousands of active publications, only 21 still had active paying members. Since Medium introduced its own subscription product in March of 2017, publications that want to build their own subscriber bases have largely found other avenues via which to build that base.”
William’s Medium post, titled “The Medium Model,” doesn’t touch on the subscription shutdown, but it does give a lot of insight into the company’s business strategy going forward, which is largely based around the 60$/year membership model. Among these insights, Medium plans to continue partnering with external media outlets to enhance the site’s “story” quality.
Our goal is to offer the best selection of insightful stories — not news — you can get anywhere. To do this, we go beyond what our editorial team and individuals on the platform create and partner with other publishers in two ways:
First, there are hundreds of small publishers on Medium that do original work. Some of them are in our Partner Program, which means they publish their stories behind our paywall and can get paid. We work with some of those publishers on a contractual basis to do original projects (like this great series on California politics).
Second, we license content from major publishers that are not on Medium. By doing this, we give our readers a curated selection of excellent stories that they can read and interact with in our ad-free environment every day.
While Medium appears committed to working with external news sites, their decision to blindside the remaining independent blogs using their platform comes as a surprise to those affected and leaves limited time to figure out new monetization options. One such option may be Medium’s own partnership program, which is open to anyone and allows authors to choose whether to put up a paywall on each article. According to Williams, “It’s definitely the easiest way to get paid directly for writing.”