Dear Huffington Post,
That’s it. I’m over you. I’ll still keep up with you on Facebook, but I’m not going to make an effort to give you my free and completely awesome content anymore. You’re just not worth it. Our relationship started off with so much excitement and promise, but now I’m just feeling frustrated and unappreciated.
Medium treats me so much better than you do. So I’ve decided to break up with you and go steady with Medium. If you want to talk this over, you know how to reach me. And if you’ve forgotten my contact information, please get in touch with your cousin, Huffington Post Deutschland. Medium introduced us, and we’re becoming friends.
Thanks for the memories. Best wishes in your future endeavors.
By now, you may be wondering why I’m breaking up with the Huffington Post. After all, not long ago, I wrote an article published in Beyond Your Blog titled “A Newbie’s Guide to Writing for the Huffington Post.” In the article, I described how I became a Huffington Post contributor, the important differences between Huffington Post’s old and new contributor platforms, and how I got my articles promoted.
In the article, I touched on some of my frustrations with the new platform, but I didn’t go into too much detail. In a nutshell, while the new platform allows “publication” of almost anything on the Huffington Post, the new platform makes you do a lot of work to get your articles posted on one of the Huffington Post’s webpages (“verticals” in Huffspeak) and even more work to get your articles circulated by social media. Also, there seems to be almost no cross-vertical communication. So if you are like me and you don’t exclusively write material that would fit a single vertical like “Parents,” it’s really tough to get work that would fit another vertical (for example “Politics”) seen by anyone outside of your immediate family. (And honestly, my family is so sick of my writing, that it’s a fair bet that no one but me is seeing anything I submit to the Huffington Post.)
Since my “Newbie’s Guide” was published, however, I’ve had some experiences that have made my frustrations boil over to the point that I’ve decided that the Huffington Post is not worth the effort. At the same time, I’ve had terrific experiences on Medium.com. So I’ve made the decision to switch to Medium for any article that I am willing to publish without pay.I'm switching from HuffPost to Medium for any article that I am willing to publish without pay Click To Tweet
I’m sure you’re wondering what exactly pushed me over the edge, so I’m going to share my story with you. I’m primarily a humor and satire writer, but on occasion, I write serious pieces. I started out writing mostly about parenting issues and most of the pieces I’ve written that have been promoted by the Huffington Post have been featured on the Parents vertical – probably because I have a working relationship with an editor of the Parents vertical.
More recently, however, I’ve been writing time sensitive articles about politics. (Hasn’t everyone?) Since I didn’t have time to let the articles sit, I submitted my satire pieces to Bullshitist. (Sorry if you’re offended, but that’s their name. Don’t complain to me; I didn’t pick it). Bullshitist is a Medium humor publication.
If you’re not familiar with Medium, it’s a publishing platform that allows you to self-publish. There’s the parent platform “Medium,” but there are also “publications” which are like mini e-magazines that aggregate content (usually around a theme) and publish it. You can even create your own publication. Bullshitist is a humor publication on Medium. Drawing comparisons, “Medium” is like the parent Huffington Post website and the “publications” are similar to the verticals on the Huffington Post. You can submit to a Medium publication (a story for another day) or sometimes a publication will see something that you self-published on the parent platform and reach out to you to ask your consent to publish the article in their publication.
For readers, Medium has a couple advantages over the Huffington Post. Medium allows you to “follow” publications and writers you like, and it allows you to recommend articles. Based on what you follow and recommend, Medium sets up a news feed that features those publications and writers you follow and finds articles it thinks you will like. So unlike HuffPo, Medium readers end up with a news feed tailored to their specific interests. In addition, Medium (the parent) curates daily editors’ picks and a changing array of featured topics. Medium also tracks authors who are popular in the types of writing you are interested in. Those features help readers find new content and writers that they might like.
For writers, Medium’s audience is smaller than the Huffington Post, but it gives you a greater opportunity to get your writing seen with less effort. It also gives you an opportunity to develop a dedicated audience when readers “follow” you. It notifies you when there’s activity on your article. And unlike the Huffington Post, Medium gives you stats with information such as the number of people who have viewed your article. Medium also gives you the flexibility to write about any topic and in any style you want and makes engagement with your readers much easier because its comment interface is better than HuffPo’s.
So how do these differences play out in the real world? I’ll give you a real life example. I recently wrote a satirical political article titled “30 Reasons Why Guns Are Needed in Schools.” It was a reaction to Education Secretary Nominee Betsy DeVos’s statement about guns being needed in schools in case a grizzly bear attacks. I submitted it to Bullshitist late one evening, and it was up on their site and tweeted out by them within a couple of hours. From there, the article went nuts by my standards. In the first week, it was viewed almost 5000 times. It’s been recommended by readers hundreds of times. It’s helped me be named a top writer in Humor and Satire on Medium. It’s also driven traffic to other articles I wrote on Medium and to my website.
A few days later, I had a completely different type of piece – a serious piece about the repeal of the Affordable Care Act published up by a different Medium publication, Extra NewsFeed. That piece was selected as a Medium editor’s choice, and it was viewed almost 1000 times in the first two days. Those are good numbers for me.
In the meantime, I also posted “30 Reasons” on the Huffington Post new platform, emailed it to a bunch of editors, and waited for them to promote it.
It went nowhere. Instead, in an ironic twist, I was contacted by an editor of Huffington Post Germany, who had seen “30 Reasons” on Medium and wanted to translate it into German and publish it on Huffington Post Germany. I gave him my consent and pointed out to him that I had already posted it to Huffington Post U.S. I asked him if he could help me get it promoted on the U.S. HuffPo. He told me he’d try if the text was “well written.” After I banged my head against my desk a few times, I responded that I hoped he thought it was well written because it was exactly the same article that he was painstakingly translating into German. Ach du lieber! He then told me he’d try to help. (It probably goes without saying that nothing has happened with “30 Reasons” on the U.S. HuffPo even though it’s available in German on Huffington Post Deutschland. But I now know the German term for “flying monkeys,” so it’s not a complete loss.
The lessons I learned from this experience are: a) I’m consistently getting more eyes with much less effort by publishing on Medium than the Huffington Post; and b) an effective way of getting promoted on the Huffington Post is to publish on Medium. (That thunking noise you may be hearing is me banging my head against my desk again.)
So if you’re still reading this, Huffington Post, look for me on Medium. If you like what you see, let me know, and I might allow you to republish it.
But I’ll probably make you wait.