Texting has brought us an entirely new language of acronyms and emojis, LOL. The one that I always found strange was IRL, meaning In Real Life.
As opposed to what?
But I get it. We all have ‘friends’ that we’ve never met. IRL. There is this virtual world we spend more and more time in, and then there’s real life.
So, that’s what I want to talk about today, this difference between real life and a virtual world I discovered about ten months ago.
As a writer, the writing part hasn’t changed. Maybe you used to bang out words on an old Underwood, or you started later with WordPerfect. It doesn’t matter what the method used was, you wrote, you write, you have written. Writers write.
It’s after the writing that has changed. Depending on when you started, you either mailed your article to periodicals or emailed them directly to editors. In either case, you hoped that eventually, your latest piece found its way to the desk of a real person who really read it.
Before politely declining it. If you were lucky. Most times, you heard nothing. After weeks, if not months, you sent it to someone else. Pitching and submitting. Rinse and repeat. It’s a major factor in the writing business.
Or you could pursue copy-writing. People need copy, you need work. It’s a perfect match. Except you don’t get to pick what you write about or even how you write it. You have to come up with colorful and descriptive adjectives for a bumper pool table or an air conditioner. And don’t forget to make it SEO compliant. Make sure you insert this awkward phrase into each paragraph at least twice.
Then, like most years, I’ve cast a new and wide net at the first of the year. Trying to find unique places to sell or showcase my work. Seeking out new markets and ways to reach new clients.
Ways to make a buck with words.
And I discovered Medium. Actually, discovered isn’t the right word. I was already familiar with it. I had found the value of Medium when it started coming up in more web searches. When I discovered well-written articles in an ad-free environment. So, I paid for a membership. $50 a year for all this content? That was a no-brainer.
Then, as I started spending more time on the site, I discovered I could publish my writing there. I had grown tired of maintaining and attracting readers to my WordPress site, so it looked attractive. So, I dug a little deeper to make sure I understood the pros and cons of writing at Medium.
It was at that time, I discovered one of my favorite pros. Money. I could make money here.
But how? How do I get people to come here and buy my work?
What?!? I don’t have to sell anything? I don’t have to do anything? If people read my stuff, I get paid?
Of course, it’s not quite that simple. It has to be the right kind of people. You know, our kind of people; Medium Members. And they have to actually read it. Or at least fool some scripting language somewhere they read it.
Sometime before I joined, they changed the algorithms, and some people got upset. They’ve changed them at least once since then, and some more people got upset.
I didn’t get upset. Because I”m still making money here. And I don’t have to do anything but write. Some months I make more, and some months I make less.
But I have built something of a following here. That’s you. And I am eternally grateful. You are who I am writing for.
Actually, I’m writing for me, but you are a close second. To be honest, I’m first, and the money is second. But you are definitely third. And, believe it or not, I would still be writing here if the money wasn’t as good. Or if there were no money.
Because writing here is just so damn pleasant. I enjoy writing here. I enjoy reading here. I like hanging out with you guys.
But everything comes with a price, and writing for nine months on Medium has a heavy price.
I don’t know if I can write anywhere else. I don’t know if I can go back to that other world. Real Life. It kinda sucked.
This virtual world of writing for Medium is perfect. I get to write. You get to read what I write. I get to read what you write.
And we both make a buck.
So, I’m not sure I can go back to begging some stranger to please, just take a look. Not when 7,000 of you took a look in the last 30 days. Yeah, I know it’s not really 7,000 different people. Some of you looked at more than one article. Some of you read all of them. Really? I’m channeling Sally Field here.
I know Medium is changing. Everything changes. I don’t think it will go away anytime soon, but it may turn into something else. Something I don’t like. I hope that doesn’t happen, and I really don’t think it will. But, sooner or later, Evan is going to come up with some new brilliant and shiny new toy and will take off down another highway.
What will happen then? I don’t know. And at this exact point in my life, I don’t really care.
Because Medium keeps me warm and snug in its little virtual reality, and I don’t have to go out into the big cold world today.
Eventually, I may have to get back to real life.
But today, I published this little piece, and a bunch of you are reading it.
And I’m happy with that.