or Wordpress.com. Or Blogger. Or… OK, you get my drift. There are several important reasons why I almost never do that, have no intention to do otherwise, and invite everybody else to do the same.
Maximum reach instead of (self) damaging elitism
Publishing behind any paywall makes you get feedback (including paid work, or material usable to get paid work) only from people who can afford to cross the paywall. This may put you as an author inside a really bad filter bubble, plus all the other downsides I already explained in “On paying for everything you WANT to read, and others be damned”.
Certain “platforms” seem as eternal as the laws of physics. But the truth is that NONE of them, not even Facebook, can give you any real guarantee that they will last more than a (very) few years: “Everything ends”. And when it ends (not “if”: when), it brings down with itself everything you (only) put inside that box. See also next point.
Lazyness. No, sorry, I meant efficiency!
I don’t know about you, of course, but I don’t think I am very different by the majority of regular, active online writers. And in all my online activities I continuously want, or more often need, to “quote” myself, that is to repeat, or at least link to, something I had already written, maybe a long time ago. But I need to do that in many different places, which are never the same from one year to the next: Facebook, Twitter, but also online fora, mailing lists, and more.
If that information were (only) on websites that may change in any moment the address of my content, hide it from “non susbscribers” or be mutually incompatible in any way, I would waste a huge amount of time to share it, that is to make myself visible, and above all to remain visible over time.
The solution? The most obvious, of course
If, and only if I write something ONCE and put it on this website you are reading now, then I can (re) post or mention that one link to LinkedIn, twitter, mailing lists, Facebook, whatever, with the smallest possible effort. Now, or ten years from now. There are pages here that are perfectly readable, always at the same address (that is not breaking any link to them on any external website, by me or anybody else) since before not Facebook, but MySpace!
Basically, I really believe that not writing inside any walled garden, paywalled or not, but on an open website which I own beginning from its domain name is much better both for me and for society as a whole. Even if it may make temporarily harder, in some moments, to make ends meet (*). That’s why I encourage any writer to do the same.
This is nothing special, by the way. It simply is what others call POSSE (Publish (on your) Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere). Do it, and you’ll be happy. You can do it in many different ways, and several ones still don’t require you to become a real Webmaster and system administrator. You may, for example, host a blog on wordpress.com, but with your own domain name, so that you can move all your content to a different server, in any moment, without changing any URL.
The obvious, and indeed frequent exception to the “never write on Medium, Patreon etc…” is when I am writing on commission, or when it is necessary, for whatever reason, to republish whole articles, or more often some excerpt, also on some social network, forum or other channel, in order to maximize reach.
Other food for thought on the same general topic
- Today’s attempt to transform Medium into a walled garden is, at best, stupid and dangerous. But it is a reminder that we should never trust a centralised place.
- 3 Things About Walled Gardens That Drive Digital Publishers ‘Up The Wall’
NB: * as far as I am concerned, you may help me take care of that without any paywall, advertising or other invasive annoyances