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Stop Speculating, Start Creating
Quit trying to guess which platforms work best.
The easiest way for you to figure out whether a platform is going to work for you is to, you know, try it out for yourself.
Many creators get stuck in this strange mindset where they try to figure out how platforms work by getting their information secondhand instead of just trying it out for themselves.
I call them speculators.
Speculators are the types of creators who spend most of their time making judgments or assumptions about platforms they’ve never used much based on gossip.
“I heard substack is the new place to be.”
“Is Medium dead? I hear the algorithm is broken.”
“LinkedIn and Twitter are poppin, I hear long-form content is dead.”
Have you ever played the game telephone?
When you play telephone, you sit in a circle and one person whispers to the person sitting next to them. That person whispers the same thing to the person next to them.
Eventually, the statement reaches the last person in the circle and that person says what they heard out loud. Usually, by the end of the game, the end statement sounds nothing like the first one.
This is exactly what happens online with creators.
This usually happens with new creators. They hang out in forums, Facebook groups, or other spaces online and mostly gossip about platforms instead of creating on them.
It’s the blind leading the blind.
I remember there used to be all these weird myths about Medium, one of them being this idea of “curation jail” that meant if Medium didn’t promote a handful of your articles, you’d be banned from ever getting an article promoted again. Totally false, not a thing at all, yet many people believed it.
Just like all gossip, speculation does start with a seed of truth. Platforms do go through different stages. It’s important to know these stages, but it’s also important to be an active creator so you can navigate these stages well.
Let me explain how this all works.
The Early Adopter Stage
I heard about Medium in 2015 when barely anyone was using it. At that point in my career, I was trying to get my work featured on every site possible, so I gave it a try.
In 2017, they released their partner program, which allowed you to earn money directly from your articles. If you were one of the writers who started early on Medium, it paid off big.
By the time the program came around, the people who started early on Medium had big followings, which made it easier to earn money from their articles.
Of course, it pays big to bet on platforms early. If you started posting on TikTok back when it was musical.ly, you’d probably have a giant following. Some of the top creators on YouTube were the ones who used it back in the mid-2,000s.
It’s similar to betting on a company — buying Amazon before it becomes Amazon. The downside risk is also similar. You might build on a platform that doesn’t take off and fizzles out (vine anyone?).
The Waves and Cycles Stage
In this next wave, people who were a bit late to the development of a platform, but still relatively early, earn disproportionate rewards.
In my backyard, I saw tons of writers go on to achieve massive success who started in 2017, 2018, 2019, and even 2020 and 2021.
This is how the process works. There are always new cycles of creators who hop onto a platform each year. Only a small handful stick and become top names, but that’s just how it is because most people don’t do the work.
Each new cycle presents a lower promise than before, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad opportunity.
Again, let’s use the stock analogy. If you bought Amazon stock in, say, 2001, and held it, you’d be crazy rich. But, you still could’ve bought it in 2008 or 2012 and still got pretty damn rich.
A lot of people say stocks are too high to buy, don’t buy them, and watch them continue to skyrocket.
I can’t tell you how many people thought about whether or not Medium was worth it year after year after year after year. Meanwhile, I was making money hand over first as well as a bunch of my writer friends.
The Maturity Stage
Once a bunch of people knows about an opportunity, the upside goes down. Also, the platforms themselves tend to lower their reach once the user base gets big enough.
There was a time on Facebook when you could write a post that reached millions of people. You could still get traffic for free. Once Facebook had enough eyeballs, though, it forced creators to start paying for traffic.
This is the game platforms play. They use creators to build their user base then they cash in, reach goes down, they bring on more advertisers, etc. By this point, these platforms are still viable, of course, but they don’t have the crazy upside they used to.
The question is, what should you do once a platform matures? Should you create on mature platforms?
It all depends on your situation.
The first question to ask yourself is “What are the alternatives?”
Medium has matured as a platform and it’s not as easy to succeed as it used to be. Should you still write there?
Consider your alternatives…
You could start a Substack, but then you’d better be damn good at selling, persuading, writing copy, and getting people to become paid subscribers.
You could hop on the LinkedIn and Twitter wave, but then keep in mind that if you want to make money you will have to create a product or a service to sell.
With Medium, you can still get paid to write, albeit not as much as you used to years ago.
I like the route for beginners because most new writers aren’t in a position to monetize their writing yet because they’re not even good at writing, let alone email marketing, copywriting, and making offers for sale.
There are many mature platforms that are still great options for creators. You can start a YouTube channel in 2022 and make it successful. Same with Twitter, which has seen a renaissance as people find unique ways to use it.
The decision is up to you, but I would encourage you to stop speculating, because, if you do, here’s what will happen to you.
The Ultimate Fate of Speculators
You don’t need to be married to any one platform. You can hedge and create content on multiple platforms. You should.
But you want to avoid speculation at all costs because speculators miss every single wave.
I wanted to see how Substack works so….I started one.
I can’t tell you how many writers I’ve seen debate back and forth about whether Substack makes sense.
Why not just try it?
The theme of this newsletter should be pretty clear to you by now.
The more time you spend sitting on the sidelines thinking about creating content the less likely you are to actually pull it off.
If you want to stop being broke and make money with your craft, sign up today because it’s the smart thing to do
So, get started, see what happens, and assess the platforms by actually using them.
Watch this webinar replay I co-hosted with Self-Publishing School to learn how to write a best-selling book
Take my free 5-day course that teaches you how to make a living writing on Medium
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