There has been a steady stream of publishing companies that have arisen over the last few years but few if any seem to have developed a sustainable and growable model of existence.
The latest casualty early in 2017 seems to have been Medium, nominally called a social publishing platform, which closed offices in New York and Washington, D.C. and laid off staff.
Most observers perceived the move as a way to avoid repeating what other similar blogging platforms have undertaken, namely encouraging publishers and authors to focus on superficial attraction to gain reach and page views and satisfy ad revenues rather than urging them to focus on quality engagement, useful information and entertaining storytelling.
After $132m of investment in Medium’s case there is naturally some speculation over how any of these platforms can truly generate repeat and high quality income.
The CEO of Medium seems to think he has a solution. “We are shifting our resources and attention to defining a new model for writers and creators to be rewarded, based on the value they’re creating for people, and toward building a transformational product for curious humans who want to get smarter about the world every day. It is too soon to say exactly what this will look like.” he said.
The publishers who remain on Medium will have to work with a smaller number of tools. When Medium launched its publisher program last year, one of the highlighted benefits was ‘sponsored’ content, facilitated by Medium. Medium says it will no longer offer this option indicating that native advertising offered “at best, incremental improvements on the ad-driven publishing model, not the transformative model we were aiming for,”
Micropayments and membership have been rumoured as potential ongoing areas of investment although neither model has worked particularly well across the spectrum of publishers. We will just have to wait for the medium-term..