Marketing Junto | Content Discovery

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My Take

Ev Williams, one of the original founders of Twitter and the founder of Medium, recently stepped down as CEO of the Medium publishing platform. Lots of people started to decry that Medium was a failure and that it was good as dead. I don’t see it that way. I see it as a changing of the guard. Ev has done what he can at Medium and with some new blood in there maybe it will flourish again.

The problem on the web now, and it’s always been the case, is discovery. Medium tried to solve that and didn’t totally succeed. But with newsletters spreading like rats swarming a pile of cheese, finding good content is still a challenge. We still rely on recommendations from others to find content.

The article by Nathan Bashez over at Every.To makes some great points about how Medium did both — win and lose. Monetization is where everything breaks down. To fund a writing platform or a publication in general you need funds. So do you charge the writer? The read? Go for ads? That’s where I think Meidum might have lost. They tried to monetize and put articles behind a subscription paywall that was too restrictive and blocked a crucial need on the internet — Content Discovery.

Nothing is more frustrating than finding something you want to read and then discover it’s behind a paywall. Especially when it’s poorly implemented.

According to Bashez:

The problem was: what kind of writers do you attract by building the easiest way to make money from writing on the internet, rather than the best way? Furthermore, the value proposition for readers was always murky. What kind of stories do you get when you become a subscriber? Why are they worth paying for? Who’s it for?

So what’s different between Medium and Substack? Well, for one, Substack has billed itself as the next way to do a newsletter. Medium is thought more of as a blogging platform. Substack is new and shiny compared to Medium, which has been around for a while — don’t underestimate the power of shiny object syndrome.

Ultimately I think we have crisis of lots of content and not an easy way of discovery. Yes, we have Google et. al but finding specific writers is still a battle.

What do you think? Will Medium survive? Or will Substack eat its lunch. Let me know your thoughts.

Web Finds

Newsletter Of Note

The Menu by Amanda Natividad is a great quick read premium newsletter published every Sunday. It’s a newsletter of marketing and creativity-related insights — all bundled into a list to give you some food for thought. It was recently named in Forbes as one of the “Top Marketing Newsletters You Need To Subscribe To.”

Every Sunday you get:

  • 1 short essay on marketing or creating.
  • 4 valuable or funny links.
  • 1 recipe or kitchen tip.

Be sure to also check Amanda out on Twitter where she posts prolifically.

Podcast Of Note

If anyone knows my podcasting habits, they will know that I have a thing for Tom Merritt‘s podcasts. It’s A Thing is no different. To be honest it’s made even better with the addition of Molly Wood as the cohost. The two of them have so much fun on the show talking about trending topics and culture that has become “A Thing” in the mainstream. Check it out. You won’t be sorry.


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Until next week. Stay curious!

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