The platform launched by Twitter co-founder Evan Williams will try to lure publishers with the promise of revenue from sponsored stories and subscriptions
I confess that I never understood why some journalists like Medium such. I imagined this to fit their vision of the future of publishing: a world without art directors, production staff or advertising professionals. For me, part of the fun of publishing is the design, and the engine that makes it all possible is revenue generation. (I know, I’m a dinosaur – I prefer black ink P&Ls to red ones.)
But creating a new digital publishing platform is much easier than creating new media that actually attracts a large number of readers. and financially proves a publisher’s efforts. Apple, which is very fond of going it alone, may be learning this lesson now (although I doubt it), and others who have entered the tablet app market have learned this lesson quickly. No, they discovered that PDF is not some kind of magic thing designed to make platform owners and publishers rich.
Medium, the online publishing platform founded by Twitter co-founder Evan Williams, is the latest to try to attract publishers. Today the company unveiled Support for publishers, which he calls a “powerful network publishing platform for publishers, bloggers and organizations”. We’ll see.
“Medium is already home to the best writing on the internet,” the company boasted. “For publishers, we want them to feel even more at home. This means giving posts a way to express their own identity on the platform. This week, we’re rolling out new branding tools that will allow posts to customize color, layout, and navigation.
To a large extent, this is an admission that the very way Medium was designed was of limited value to publishers. Yes, some journalists liked how Medium made editing simpler – but again, one might want to introduce these folks to the concept of paper and pencil – it’s pretty simple too.
“On the web today, publishers are forced to spend time and money maintaining their aging content management systems. Expensive redesigns inevitably fail to keep up with the rapid pace of technological innovation. On Medium, publishers have complete control over their content and spend exactly no time, money or effort on technology and hosting, instead focusing their resources on producing quality content and reaching new audiences. “said Medium.
If you’re a publisher, you’ve heard this pitch before. It can be summed up as “cheap and easy”. And it’s true that far too many traditional publishers remain at the mercy of clunky and expensive content management systems. But that’s because far too many publishers haven’t decided they need to be as personally expert in digital publishing as they have been in print. Need a new website, outsource it to a web company that wants to sell them a big, inflexible CMS.
Medium says they already have a number of publishers on board, as well as some who have previously published Medium-based products such as Time Inc’s native Money and Fortune Medium products.
To attract publishers, Medium is introducing two revenue programs: Sponsored Stories and Membership.
“Select publishers and bloggers who consistently produce meaningful and original content and maintain a loyal following of engaged readers will have the opportunity to host Brand Partner Stories on posts in their publication,” Medium said. “Our initial brand partners include Bose, SoFi, Nest, Intel and Volpi Foods.”
“The second component of our revenue beta is membership. We are launching with a limited number of posts on Medium that will offer members-only content and other benefits to readers, in exchange for a monthly membership fee paid directly to We welcome publications such as Serious Eats, True Magazine and Great Jones Street which will all offer members-only content on Medium.
As you can see, the idea is the same as on other platforms: give exclusive content to Medium and there will be money in the end.
There will be publishers signing up – after all, there is an oversupply of content and an undersupply of revenue for publishers today. Proof of this is in Medium’s final promise to make its new platform compatible with two other third-party platforms, Facebook Instant Articles and Google Accelerated Mobile Pages.
Like I said, for some reason some new media are in love with Medium. Good for them.
Medium for publishers! 🖊🖋✒️📝✏️📰🗞📚📖👌👌👌🎉🎉🎉 https://t.co/sLlMlV77jQ
— M. G. Siegler (@mgsiegler) April 5, 2016