Writer or Entrepreneur?
Interviews with 5 top Medium writers left me confused, questioning and naked.
Most students centre their dissertations on the macro-economic effects of who-gives-a-fuck-factor on X-Y-Z-country. Instead, i chose to focus on something that i, and all you reading, find interesting and engaging. I chose Medium.
I’ve been writing haphazardly on Medium for the better part of a year, and my sloth-like approach to producing content has yielded less than mediocre results. To combat my laziness, and kill two birds with one stone, i decided to write my dissertation on Medium writers. This way, i’d simultaneously get a degree and produce content.
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My methodology was simple, i’d interview some top Medium writers and immerse myself in the digital environment through an approach called Netnography (Web-based ethnographic research). During the month of February, i conducted interviews with 5 top Medium writers and wrote 11 articles. As i didn’t care about publications or curation, i was essentially pissing in the wind; thus, i earned a measly $1.43 from a total of 224 views.
Luckily, you Medium writers are a bunch of kind, willing participants. Therefore, I had insightful conversations with Kate Feathers, Steven Gamberdella, Matt Lillywhite, Alving Ang & Benjamin Davis. All awesome, all interesting, all proponents of their digital personas.
While i can’t reveal the complete version of my dissertation (as it’s yet to be marked and graded), i can discuss certain aspects that i found intriguing. Perhaps the most thought provoking notion was found in the matter of self-identity and how this ultimately influenced output.
To provide context, i’ve never had an affinity for writing or literature. Rather, my mindset has always been focussed on money, human connection & nature. My upbringing has led me to believe that financial stability is paramount; thus, i’ve developed into a self-affirmed entrepreneur. A young, better looking, less creepy, Mark Zuckerberg.
Hence, my research was conducted through an entrepreneurial lens. Disregarding my background for a second, any amount of time spent on Medium could you have you believing entrepreneurship is the holy grail. The subject of entrepreneurship/business/financial independence reigns supreme on this platform, with a large majority of the content detailing useful ‘tips and tricks’. We all know the articles i’m talking about:
5 Ways To Boost Your Productivity
7 Signs Every Entrepreneur Should Look For When Founding A Company
38480 Ways To Make A Side Hustle In 2021
Side note: what’s with the incessant capitalisation and numbering? I’m not saying that i don’t partake but why does the algorithm have such a hard-on for this?
My experience on Medium was similar to that of a horse with blinders on; my interests were clear while all else remained a blurry haze. The data illustrates how wrong my initial convictions were, with the following statistics taken from my interviews with the aforementioned Medium writers:
- 40% Identified as writers
- 40% Identified as writers but preferred the term ‘Digital Nomad’
- 20% Identified as entrepreneurs but mentioned that if they could quantify their percentage of entrepreneur to writer, it’d be 80% writer and 20% entrepreneur
I couldn’t have been further from the truth. I, being one who self-identified as an entrepreneur, felt naked. It may come to no surprise to those reading, as Medium is a blogging platform after all. But for me, it restructured my understanding of what it was to write on Medium and invited curiosity to explore the topic further.
What is the average Medium writer’s background? How much does their self-identity affect their success? Why am i still naked?
While i didn’t have time to conduct large-scale qualitative research, i did postulate some possible realities. It’s important to note that these are pure conjecture, and thus, are less empirically founded than your mad uncle’s giant lizard theories:
- Writers do better on Medium. Writers produce through inherent passion; for a love of the craft of writing itself. Therefore, they’re more likely to persevere in the face of failure. They don’t care about the fiscal return, that’s extra; they’re doing this because they love it. Additionally, their focus remains laser focussed on writing and isn’t distracted by unrelated, possibly entrepreneurial, opportunities.
- Self-identity is malleable. Purported by The Law of Attraction is the idea that you attract what you believe in. If you manifest success, opportunities and a future for yourself, then eventually you’ll become your self-fulfilled prophecy. Similarly, by identifying through a particular characteristic, such as a writer or entrepreneur, you can actually become said characteristic and evidence this through your actions.
On the contextual surface, we find that the majority Medium writers are indeed, writers. How intriguing, what a novel insight, you’ve blown my mind. Jokes aside, this did surprise me. I’d always assumed that Medium was a platform for entrepreneurs to express themselves and make money. Perhaps the Medium creator base is home to myriad of heterogenous individuals, and maybe that’s the best thing about it.
We’re all here to better ourselves, to improve our writing, to make some money. We’re a community from innumerably diverse backgrounds with similar goals. Maybe we’re all part of the Medium melting pot; a diverse soup of writers and entrepreneurs best served with lightly toasted sourdough and a lathering of butter.
Through searching for deeper meaning, we uncover self-identity and it’s pliable nature. How we define ourselves changes many things — what we believe about ourselves, what others believe about us and ultimately, what we produce. Maybe it’s time for a little self reflection; time to reconsider your identity and certify its correlation with your goals.
My dissertation and the matter of identity continues to perplex me. I wrongly conceptualised Medium as a writing platform where entrepreneurs expressed themselves. I felt and feel foreign in a land of established writers/literature lovers.
Although deduced from a small sample, the results demonstrate a variability in the identity of Medium writers with a large percentage associating with the title of writer. Writers on a blogging platform, how weird?
I’m intrigued to uncover the true nature of the Medium user. Are we entrepreneurs, writers, or something entirely different? Let me know in the comments down below. How do you identify? How does this affect your approach to writing on Medium?
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