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The Exodus from Medium to Substack

Should you follow

Recently, Ben Le Fort moved his successful Medium publication “Making of a Millionaire” completely over to Substack.

It’s not the first incident of such a move.

Over the past few months and even years, there has been a noticeable shift of creators moving from publishing on Medium to using Substack for their content.

Medium has been a popular online publishing platform since it launched in 2012, but Substack has emerged as a formidable competitor in recent years, even though the two platform concepts are different.

Let’s explore why!

Why Are People Leaving Medium for Substack?

There are a few key reasons why many creators are ditching Medium in favor of Substack.

The obvious ones:

1. Monetization and revenue share

One of the biggest draws of Substack is that it allows writers to monetize their content through paid subscriptions. Writers can earn revenue directly from their subscribers, and Substack takes a 10% cut.

Medium, on the other hand, monetizes content sharing from the pool of member payments. While this has some unique upsides, it also is somewhat “indirect” and therefore harder to grasp.

Furthermore, it can change at any given point in time. Lower earnings, algorithm changes, new Medium policies, etc.

2. Editorial control and independence

With Substack, writers have full autonomy and control over their content. There is no editorial oversight or restrictions. This editorial independence is very appealing to many writers.

Substack is also dead simple and works flawlessly.

Medium, however, can intervene and restrict content they deem inappropriate or against their policies. And they decide what content they distribute and boost.

These content restrictions have caused frustration for many writers on the platform over the years.

3. Stronger Relationship with Readers

On Substack, writers can foster direct relationships with their subscribers. The free & paid subscription models create a strong bond between the creator and the audience.

On Medium, the relationship might be less personal. Writers are producing content for a more general audience. However, the option for subscribers is here as well.

4. Better Email Functionality

Substack allows writers to communicate via email newsletters, chats, Substack Notes, and threads. This creates a centralized hub for their content that goes directly to fans. In addition to the blog-style web version of the content.

Medium’s email capabilities are lacking in comparison. It does not provide a way for writers to directly reach their audience, apart from sending their posts out via email in preview format.

Why you shouldn’t completely ditch Medium

While Substack has some clear advantages that are driving writers away from Medium, completely ditching Medium may not be the best approach.

Here are some reasons why it still pays to maintain a presence on Medium:

1. Large established reader base

Medium has an immense reader base of millions of monthly visitors.

This huge audience provides massive exposure for (new) writers. It’s an opportunity for discovery that can be hard to replicate elsewhere.

2. SEO benefits

Medium is extremely well-optimized for search engines. Posts on Medium frequently rank high on Google and help writers get found by new readers searching relevant keywords.

These are external views that don’t count toward Medium earnings, but they’re still readers. Writers need readers. That’s the point of writing, isn’t it?

3. Back catalog of content

If you’ve been publishing on Medium for a while, you likely have a library of content and an established following.

You should never delete your Medium presence. That would mean losing all your content, so maintaining your Medium account allows you to leverage that existing audience and content, even if you’re not actively publishing anymore.

4. Supplemental income stream

While revenue sharing on Medium can be very small (most writers never cross 3 figures per month), it still provides a supplementary income source on top of whatever you make elsewhere. Everything counts.

It can also increase suddenly. With a viral story. Or a large catalog of cross-linked stories. When I first crossed 4 figures on Medium, I was freaking out. I didn’t expect it at all.

5. Brand visibility

Having your writing appear on a high-traffic platform like Medium greatly increases your brand visibility as a writer.

This expanded reach is useful for marketing yourself. And growing other platforms and avenues.

The best of both worlds

Rather than taking an all-or-nothing approach, the ideal solution is to take advantage of the unique benefits of both Medium and Substack, in my opinion.

Here are some tips for how to effectively leverage both platforms:

  • Cross-post your best Substack content on Medium to tap into Medium’s large readership. You can expand your audience reach.
  • Use Medium as a supplemental income source by monetizing your back catalog of articles. Treat it as “passive” revenue.
  • Repurpose and expand on evergreen Medium posts as email newsletters sent out through Substack. Find new life for your content.
  • Link to your Substack subscription in your Medium bio to convert Medium readers into (paying) subscribers.
  • Use Medium for top-of-funnel content to attract new readers, and Substack for bottom-of-funnel content for your loyal subscribers.

The bottom line

Both Medium and Substack can play an important role for me as a writer.

Rather than abandoning Medium completely, I use it strategically in combination with Substack. A link here and there, a nudge to subscribe, a friend link to a Medium story, and more.

Take advantage of the unique strengths of each platform for a multipronged approach to finding readers and getting paid for your writing.

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