I pay about $150 per year for my web hosting. For this, I get to put up as many websites as I like on any domains I own and write and publish as many stories as I like (all managed through one cPanel, so not really suitable for on-selling, but you could if you wanted to). I also get 24/7 support and the support consultants are super helpful.
I tend to put things on Medium, though, because I like the feedback and the sense of community. So I put my content out there — content I charge well for, elsewhere — in return for the free feedback, and the wonderful stuff I read. Sure, some people are probably only here to write, and some to read and comment, but I participate fully and I think it’s a give-and-take situation. I don’t think you can put a price on that.
When Rdio went under, I moved to Google Play Music because they had everything I needed and the easiest billing. I pay my per-month streaming fee and I don’t get great use out of it because I don’t drive much or ride buses or listen while I’m working, and when I’m racing I tend to buy the individual songs for on my iPod because that’s the safest option…but I like having that subscription. My partner and I have a Netflix subscription because it offers us the sort of viewing we can’t get on free-to-air in Australia. And I used to have an Audible subscription, because I love listening to audiobooks during races, as well. Horror stories make me run faster, it seems :D
But I haven’t subscribed to Kindle Unlimited because I’m fussy about what I read. And Kindle Unlimited just doesn’t have the stuff I want to read. It doesn’t have my favourite authors — I have to buy them separately. It doesn’t have the brilliant poetry I want to read — I have to buy those books separately. And unlike audiobooks and music, which I can listen to on-the-go, I have to sit still to read. Given that my day job requires I sit still and read a lot, I don’t do as much reading for pleasure as I once did.
Medium’s membership feels like the last to me. My beloved writers are on this side of the paywall, where I am. I could pay my $5, but it wouldn’t change my reading habits at all, and I’d be paying for nothing.
Further, it makes me feel like my contribution to the platform — as a writer and as someone who writes appreciative feedback — I am giving back to the platform. If I was charging my clients for the stuff I post on here, I’d double my income.
My favourite writers create brilliant Medium stories, not “exclusive content”, and they share it with me not for free, but in exchange for the appreciation, feedback, and sense of community they receive. You can’t slap a price on that.
But right at the top I spoke about how I pay for my web hosting. Servers cost money. Employees cost money. I get that. If Medium said to me, “We know you love the platform; would you consider helping us stay viable by becoming a member for $5 a month?” then fuck yeah I’d sign up.
And if Medium wanted a unique value proposition for members, to really encourage sign-ups, then I totally agree with your comment about pitching it to writers. So how about offering a members-only feature request system that would help get Medium working how we like it? Then I’d be like, “Just take my money already, will you?”