A lot of you won’t like what I have to say, I’m guessing.
Hey, Medium folks. I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that I’m wrong because I’m about to deal out some criticism of the never ending deluge of inspirational listicals and you don’t agree.
But I can’t stay quiet anymore. I’m far too aware.
I wish I wasn’t, but I am.
What I mean is that I’m aware of what people are trying to do, and I’m aware of the techniques they are using to do it. It’s so formulaic. I even tried it out myself when I first signed up to Medium. I saw what was popular and I tried out some listy-tastic posts of my own. With headlines that were designed to be like click-bait.
But today? Today I’m feeling the cynic in me rising up. She’s had enough of the inspirational shit. She’s bored with the lists and the click-bait headlines. Why is she so pissed about this? Because it’s all I ever see in my Medium digest. It’s like Medium figured out that I had some insecurities, some flaws and a deficiency in my inspiration meter and that was it. Bam!
We’re going to inspire the fuck out of you for the rest of the decade!!
Except now I’m not feeling inspired anymore. Now it feels like a big con. I feel like, instead of inspiration, there is a different agenda at play. It feels to me like people are aiming for followers, likes or that good old viral post.
You need to provide value to your readers.
I’ve heard this said a few times. I get it, I do. I mean, I understand that providing value is a good thing and it will make people more likely to follow you but let me ask you this: are you really writing what you want to write about? Are you really being authentic? Or are you writing things you think people want to hear so that you can grow your email list?
I did say I was feeling cynical…
I do understand the why. It’s important to build up that audience and a good way to do it is to provide what you think is value to your reader but I would argue that the value is not always there. It’s often either regurgitated, obvious or just plain mumbo jumbo. I could give examples but I won’t. I think you know what I mean. Have you ever read a post and thought that the writer was just being a bit of a Captain Obvious?
I know what you’re going to say, though. These are the posts that are popular on Medium. Yep, that may be true. And that’s why everyone is trying to write them now. But aren’t you getting bored yet? I know I am.
Lately I also have a pet hate about signing up for an email list and receiving sales pitches twice a week. I had to unsubscribe from that stuff.
But before you berate me for my negativity, answer me this: have you noticed that there is a new culture of this online? Maybe you noticed it a while back? Is it just me or does it feel like everyone is providing “life changing” content and then selling courses at you through email lists? Courses that promise so much, through techniques designed to entice you and get that hook into you so that you can’t resist buying?
Maybe you think I’m bitter because I’m not making money off people in this way? That’s not it at all.
Let me tell you my dream: I want to write fiction and make a semi-decent living off of it. I would even like to use a pen name because I don’t care about the recognition and I don’t care if I only make a modest living.
I know that I need to build an audience to do that but I don’t want to peddle them courses that promise them the world on the way. I don’t want to have to tug on their emotional heartstrings to part with cash for shit they don’t need. And I don’t want to write click bait listicle headlines to get more reads on Medium.
I just want to find an interested audience who like my stories.
Can I not just do that, instead? Pretty please?