After shaking my fists at Mother Nature when I found out the Penn State Lehigh Valley Writing Project’s annual Best Practices Conference had been postponed due to weather issues, I thought I’d share a resource with you. If you were planning on attending my session about publishing in the digital age, we would have talked about creating an “author platform.” A author platform is essentially what you create to present yourself to the world, usually online. It’s about your content and how you connect to others. Read this article for one writer’s perspective on the topic.
One of the possibilities I would have shared with you this morning is Medium. It’s a newfangled blogging platform started by Blogger founder and Twitter co-founder, Evan Williams, and two former Twitter employees. Medium describes itself as “a new place on the Internet where people share ideas and stories that are longer than 140 characters and not just for friends. It’s designed for little stories that make your day better and manifestos that change the world. It’s used by everyone from professional journalists to amateur cooks. It’s simple, beautiful, collaborative, and it helps you find the right audience for whatever you have to say.” Medium says its benefits include simple composing and formatting, opportunity for collaboration, and the opportunity to be part of a larger, interactive community.
This article on Slate convinced me to take a look at Medium. I found out Medium’s format is super-easy on the eyes, the content is fresh, and each post notes how long it might take you to read it. You can choose “collections” that interest you. A few of the collections I follow are Life Hacks, Teaching and Learning and This Happened To Me. There is something for everyone here.
If you are someone who plans on publishing your writing, Medium can be cool place to start. Read posts, recommend the pieces you like, connect with some writers. When you have something to say, post something. See what happens. (And shazaam – you have your name in the digital writing world – bonus.)
I’m using Medium was a way to write the nonfiction I’ve wanted to write and to easily connect with other writers. I’ve decided 2014 is my Year of Writing Dangerously and my first post was something I’ve had written for years but never shared. Finding out about Medium gave me the impetus to put it into the world.
Would people read my precious piece? Well, the stats are a really cool component of Medium. As of today, I know:
I try not to dwell on the people who viewed but didn’t read. It’s easy to obsess over who isn’t reading your writing. In the end, I decided two things: I hope the people who read this piece felt a little comfort and that I’d learn more about Medium to see how I can reach a more readers and connect with more writers. Believe me – it’s ALL a learning curve with creating your author platform, so try, try again. My next piece is called The Digital Age Is Not For Snotty McSnottersons. I’ll let you know how it goes.
So the pros about Medium:
- It’s democratic – no editors, no gatekeepers. (Unless you want to post in a collection, then you need collection editors’ approval).
- No commitment – you can just read until you’re ready to post.
- Posts include the time it might take you to read it. Could be appealing to readers.
- You can search for pieces by areas of interest.
- You can recommend posts and thereby connect with other writers.
- It’s easy to set up. You just need a Twitter account.
- It’s easy to post. You can save drafts, share drafts with others to seek feedback before you post and you can add an image.
- You can connect with many other writers about many different topics.
- Stats are really simple and easy to understand.
- You can find a niche based on data from your stats.
- It’s timely – you can write about last night’s episode of American Horror Story: Coven or the latest news.
- Medium is having nifty little contest based on the idea of six word memoir, so here’s an easy opportunity to give it a whirl.
Cons about Medium:
- You have write so your voice is heard above other voices and you have to research how to do this. Let me know when you figure it out.
- It’s democratic, so the quality of the other contributors isn’t assured.
- If you want to post, you need a Twitter account.
CAVEAT TO TEACHERS: there has been much ado about teachers and social media. I personally think a lot of it comes from luddites who are afraid of change. Listen, the revolution still might not be be televised (immediately) , but it will be and has been Tweeted. We might as well get on board. Just remember: don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your principal or superintendent to read. If you want to be a writer in 2014, you have to create an author platform, so you might as well start now and start small.
Parting offer: if you are interested in posting on Medium and would like someone to give you feedback before you post, I’ll do that for the first five people who email me. The only stipulation is that you’ll do the same for me sometime.
Please post comments and questions below, ESPECIALLY if you post something on Medium. Come on, take a chance! We’ll add a few clicks to your stats and make you feel mighty special. And don’t forget to connect with me on Twitter and Facebook so we can support each other as we write.