Is There Sustainability in the Monetization of Platforms Like Medium?

April 20, 2016

5:38 pm

Publishing platforms have been shifting how they do business over the last few years. While smaller indie publications are cropping up, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to compete in a saturated market for digital content. Many platforms are coming up with new ways to keep the lights on while still finding solutions for raising money and keeping costs low. One solution has been to partner with larger platforms to create a new kind of publishing platform. But while the new kind of publishing platform utilizes strategies from both content creation and social media, will it be enough to keep the niche alive?

How Have Publishing Platforms Come About?

Publishing platforms aren’t a completely novel idea – they’ve actually been around for a while; however, the new wave of platforms are an interesting mix of social media and journalism. Even actual social media sites are considering making the investment into this market – Facebook is looking into monetizing its platform to encourage paid sponsored content.

But for these publishing platforms to have success, we have to examine the longevity of online journalism. It’s definitely changing from how we used to approach print journalism and content creation. Some have argued, however, that because of the oversaturation of the market, online journalism isn’t as profitable as it once was.

Part of this can be blamed on the market structure. Because there’s a plethora of free content already available for readers, there’s not a lot of support for paid platforms. In addition, social media trends also dictate how this information is processed and received by readers. With sharing and reader interaction a crucial part of content creation, it’s important that journalism understand how readers interpret the work and what gives it the ability to trend and attract reader attention.

Platforms like Medium are already utilizing some of these practices, with many indie publications migrating to the Medium brand – allowing for these brands to coninue operating underneath the Medium site.

But other unexpected consequences may arise from this – ethically, these platforms risk alienating their already-existing readership who may not agree with these mergers. There’s also the question of rights; if these platforms choose partnerships that do not utilize their strengths, then the platform may be subjecting itself to an early demise. After all, we’ve seen the publishing platform model work in this way to end Byliner before its time.

So, How Can It Work?

The publishing platform model has the ability to work, it just has to be done in a specific way. It has to understand reader and publishing trends and utilize this information to creating the best content it can. It also has to prioritize writers’ rights over all else to ensure this quality is assured.

Content creation will always have a place on the Internet; it’s how many users are able to access, interpret, and share information. But it’s no longer enough to keep readers engaged. Like many other industries, journalism must shift to match the cultural climate of its readers – which includes shifting the way we look at the viability of publishing platforms.

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Cameron is a tech and culture journalist, comic book enthusiast, and lives near New York City. A graduate of Stockton University, she’s using her words to shift the world of online journalism, one byline at a time. When she’s not writing, she can be found reading sci-fi novels, collecting succulents, and planning her next obnoxious hair color.

Cameron is an editorial fellow at Tech.Co. Send your tips to [email protected] or tweet @BlkGirlManifest.

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