Should You Write Shortform Content on Medium?

I tried writing short posts but was unimpressed by the results.

What Is Shortform?

It’s been about two-and-a-half months since Medium rolled out new profile pages. You can read about all of the changes on Medium’s official blog, or see an example on my profile page.

Initially, the change that I was most excited about was that Medium had decided to start encouraging shortform content — in other words, posts with less than 150 words.

With the new profile pages, these shortform posts would be displayed in full, without the need to click through to any new page. Medium calls this “frictionless reading.” As I understand it, the basic idea is that someone can more easily browse through all of your writing at once.

Since I joined Medium, this site has always focused on longer writing. Nearly every post I had ever written or read here was at least 500 words and often far longer. I was curious to see how shortform would perform with these changes.

My Results

At the beginning of December, I wrote two shortform posts:

The first was just a couple of quick paragraphs about sobriety, with a link to an article I had written a long time ago that elaborated more. The second was a shoutout to my favorite publication on Medium.

Neither of these posts did particularly well. The view counts are 263 and 82, which are not great for an account with 3,000 followers. The combined earnings were only 66 cents.

My Verdict

Overall, I’m unimpressed by shortform posts. Mine didn’t have much reach or earn much money.

Medium doesn’t consider shortform posts for distribution either, which means that they won’t get any promotion throughout the site. (Although Medium’s latest blog post about shortform mentioned that this might change.)

Even more importantly, I didn’t enjoy writing them. I prefer longer posts where I have a chance to really develop my ideas. When I tried to write shortform posts, the results felt superficial.

One last concern that I have is that Medium is waffling on exactly how they present shortform. They recently changed it so that you now have to click through to read these post. The idea is to help them earn more money, but it also seems to go against the entire point of shortform.

It’s worth noting that I have a small sample size. Rebecca Sealfon did a much larger experiment with shortform posts. I’d recommend giving that a read too.

As for me: I might write one or two shortform posts in the future, if I have a particularly good reason for it, but I’m not going to make them a regular part of my posting schedule.

Written by

I’m a lawyer and teacher from North Carolina. I write about sobriety, mental health, running, and more.

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