Kin Lane

Feeling Sad For Those Who Gave Away Their Authorship To Medium

I remember throughout 2015 and 2016 people were telling me that I should be running API Evangelist on Medium. So much so, that I finally began syndicating some posts to the blog network. Medium never released a fully baked API that enabled both reading and writing of data, allowing me to automate the publishing of my research, so the blogging platform never really rose to be a first class syndication tool in my world. I’m just too focused on maintaining my own domain, as well as only using tools and services that provide a usable API to expand that reach. In 2020, I’m feel kind of bad for those who are writing interesting things, but have decided to give away their personal authorship to the “network effect” of Medium.

I am proud of my digital domains (kinlane.com and apievangelist.com). While not perfect, they have served me well. I remember folks telling me back in 2011 that I should be running my blog on Posterous, which was echoed by the Tumblr, and then the Medium believers—something that ultimately left me very suspicious of it all. It has taken me 10 years to build up the authorship credit I have, due in large part to me working hard at my domain apievangelist.com. People rarely notice an authors name under the title, but when stories are read within the same domain, with a particular branding and story associated with an author, eventually some people will remember your name. If you operate within some else’s domain, the network effect might make you feel like you matter for a while, but once the algorithm changes, you will be left out in the dark.

I am glad I didn’t go all in with Medium. I may have gotten more page views at the peak, but I think over time the long tail will be greater within my own domain. I am also feeling the same thing about Google lately. I used to cater to the SEO games, but after a couple of algorithm changes I haven’t been able to keep up, and my numbers are half of what they used to be. I find my time is better spend focusing on learning about the interesting things across the API sector, and writing a steady stream of stories, than it is tweaking the knobs and dials of the SEO beast. Google has become an ad engine, and I’m not in the business of generating revenue from ads, so it really doesn’t make sense for me to be playing that game full time.

Google is still my biggest traffic driver with direct links, then Twitter, and LinkedIn trailing after that. My Google traffic isn’t top placement for the big words, it is top placement for the long tail of the API sector. It is about writing interesting stories that a handful of people will find interesting. My blog domain isn’t something that will generate riches or fame for me, but it does allow me to continue extracting value from my work in the form of sponsors and partners. I genuinely feel bad for those who gave away their authorship and value to networks like Posterous, Tumblr, and Medium. I am not sure this moment in time will occur again, and instead of planting your own flag in cyberspace you chose to ride other people’s trains. When you should have been investing in your own domain, and learning to play well with others when it comes syndication, sponsorship, guest posting, and partnering. In 2020, the train has left the station.