How writers can leverage new shortform posts

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Photo by Sara Kurfeß on Unsplash

If you got paid $0.50 to $1.00 (or more) for every Tweet you wrote, would you use Twitter more often? Most content creators would almost certainly answer with an emphatic “Yes!”

As part of recent sweeping changes to the platform, Medium has rolled out new options for shortform posts. covers these in detail in a new post on the Medium Creator Hub.

Medium’s shortform options essentially serve as a members-only, monetized version of Twitter.

Writers on Medium (especially those with a following) can use shortform posts to perform many of the same functions as a Tweet, while potentially getting paid for their posts through Medium’s Partner Program — or taking advantage of expanded reach through Medium curation functions and their existing Medium audience. …

Black Friday was originally called “black” Friday because the massive post-Thanksgiving buying spree finally put retailers “into the black” for the calendar year.

In other words, they lost money all the way up to November. By Black Friday, they had broken even for the year. All their profits came in between late November and January 1st, as consumers purchased holiday gifts in droves.

The same dynamic doesn’t necessarily apply to content creators (we have Prime Day now, too!). …

Sometimes your audience on social media surprises you.

I was recently scrolling through my comments on my gadget-centered YouTube channel, and saw a negative comment about one of my videos. I usually delete comments that are negative and hostile, and keep comments that are merely negative and critical.

This one fell into the former category, so I was about to delete it, when I saw that a random follower of my channel had seen the comment and leapt to my defense.

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It’s a reminder that for every nasty troll on the Internet, there’s a troll-buster ready to fight back. I don’t know who you are Aquaboy, but I’m thankful for you.

Read more about the benefits of negative comments and my strategies for managing YouTube comments in my article in Better Marketing.

Try the Anonymizer tool to create a fake face that looks like you

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Image: Donald Iain Smith/Getty Images

If you’ve posted a photo of yourself online in the past few years, there’s a good chance Clearview AI has slurped it up and added it to the company’s massive facial recognition database of more than 3.1 billion images. The New York Times said that Clearview could “end privacy as we know it.” In January, I got my hands on my own Clearview AI profile, and its contents freaked me out.

A wide variety of legal and legislative challenges have been mounted against Clearview. My own article was cited in the American Civil Liberties Union’s landmark class-action lawsuit against the company. …

Gift Guide

Let your loved ones decide what privacy means to them

3 different web cams facing a little figurine person.
3 different web cams facing a little figurine person.
Photo courtesy of the author

One of the best things about the holiday season is that you get to force your own privacy preferences on others.

Maybe your family member wouldn’t normally buy a watch that tells Google when they’re asleep or a doorbell that helps them inform on their neighbors. But during this brief window each year, you can make a whole variety of fraught privacy decisions for them through gift-giving! They’ll be forced to live with your privacy choices or risk offending you by returning your thoughtful, pricey gadget to the Amazon warehouse from whence it came.

You love your friends and family. Really, you do. But if your gadget choice allowed a soulless megacorporation to siphon up their personal data to feed its ever-churning grist mill of profit, maybe you’d be okay with that. Or perhaps you’d enjoy the option of remotely flying a surveillance drone around their home — or activating the camera on their smart assistant by “dropping in” without their immediate consent. …

An experiment in radical openness yielded new ways to connect with fans

Image of hands holding an iPhone.
Image of hands holding an iPhone.
Photo by Adrianna Calvo from Pexels

Would you share your personal cell phone number online, and commit to speaking with anyone who decides to call or text you?

Most people would probably say “not in a million years” — especially if they’re an artist or influencer with a large following. There are plenty of instances of prominent people releasing their personal information online and later regretting it. The CEO of Lifelock, for example, released his social security number online and challenged hackers to steal his identity. It was ultimately stolen 13 times.

But musician Matt Farley of Motern Media feels differently. In an act of radical openness, and out of a desire to connect personally with his fans and followers, Matt released his phone number online on his Twitter account. Anyone who wants to do so can call him, and he’ll chat with them about whatever is on their mind. Matt even sings the number into his song lyrics and included it in a movie. …

And why a high read ratio can be a bad thing

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Photo by Joel Muniz on Unsplash

A good Medium read ratio is generally between 20 and 50%.

It depends, though, on the length of your article and the audience you’re trying to engage. Very short articles (3 minutes or less) tend to have a higher read ratio, because it takes less time for a reader to complete the article.

Likewise, long articles tend to have lower read ratios — but not always. I have a 23 minute article that still has a 30% read ratio because its content is very engaging. But in general, if your article takes longer to read, it will tend to have a lower ratio. …

You can crash it with impunity

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Images courtesy the author

I’ve always wanted to buy a drone, but I could never justify actually doing it. Professional drones, like those from DJI, are expensive. To use one for work (I’m a photographer), I’d have to get a complex license from the FAA.

I’ve also always assumed that if I bought a drone, I’d crash it. At the start of the pandemic, my personal trainer told me that he found a broken drone in his apartment complex’s trash room. He lovingly restored it — adding new propellers, sourcing a remote online, and swapping out its depleted batteries. After a month of work, he finally took it out to fly. On his first flight, it sailed over a fence, landed in oncoming traffic, and got crushed by a car. …

Chicago is hardest hit, but the Bay Area is doing well overall

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Photos courtesy the author.

Covid-19 is surging across the country and around the world, with cases increasing dramatically in many major US cities. Amid the pandemic, many employers have allowed their staff members to work remotely. This is especially true in the tech industry, where many jobs can be done remotely, and partially-remote teams were part of daily reality even before the pandemic.

With several companies making in-person work optional on a permanent basis following Covid-19, however, many tech workers are considering whether they ever want to return to a physical office. …

Why the Anker Nano is a decent third-party choice

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The Anker PowerPort PD Nano. Image: Anker

I always thought that charging a phone, iPad, or Chromebook was straightforward, like fueling up a car. Pump in juice and you’re good to go. It turns out that chargers are much more complex than I thought. Choosing the wrong one could put you at a big productivity disadvantage, fry your phone, or even put your life at risk.

Most devices today use either some variant on a USB port or Apple’s lightning cable. By default, USB supplies five volts of power at .5 amps. That’s what you’ll get if you plug your phone into an ancient charger you found in your junk drawer or the USB ports on many laptops. That’s enough power to charge your phone, albeit very, very slowly. …


Thomas Smith

Co-Founder & CEO of Gado Images. I write, speak and consult about tech, privacy, AI and photography. My tips for Medium success:

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