Medium Is Becoming A Lifehack Clickbait Hell

Nathan Drescher
6 min readJan 11, 2021

Too bad for content mills. Their business model has been disrupted by the biggest player on the block: Medium. The hordes of dreamy internet sensations who take work designing SEO-driven clickbait for peanuts per word have all flocked from Fiverr. Now, Medium is the best place on the internet for an unending stream of clickbait titles followed by mind-numbing lifehack articles.

Let’s not forget about those content mills. They were the scourge of the internet. I use the past-tense because, although they’re still around and seemingly doing better than ever, their days are numbered. Not only did people become sick and savvy of the clickbait titles, but Google itself is actively working on strangling the industry. After all, Google’s algorithms search for quality content via social proof, rather than SEO keyword stuffing. That is, the more an article is shared, linked to, and discussed, the higher it ranks on a Google search. That simply doesn’t happen with cringy clickbait lifehacks. Not a bad start. Too bad for content mills, though.

Also, too bad for freelance SEO content writers. Their business model depended on writing 1,000-word clickbait pieces in exchange for a dollar or two. The lowest bidder wins!

Not any more. That’s on the way out. Medium is the new overlord of clickbait.

Why Medium Is Clickbait Hell

Maybe I’m being too harsh on Medium. Let’s be honest, I love Medium. At least, I love the idea of Medium. It’s a social network for writers and readers, but it’s more than that. It’s a blogging platform, it’s a creative platform, and it’s a publishing platform. More recently, however, it’s become a clickbait hell hole.

It seems that all those SEO content creators from Freelancer and Fiverr have mosied over to Medium and brought their awful clickbait titles with them. Now, when I open Medium, usually as I sit on the toilet and look forward to a good article to read, I’m assaulted by an unending stream of lifehacks.

These 5 Things Will Make You $3,000 In A Week

If You’re Not Doing This One Thing, Then You’re Doing It Wrong

12 Amazing Ways To Write 100 Blog Posts This Month

5 Reasons You Procrastinate

3 Profitable Side Hustles No One Is Talking About

Those are just a few of the actual headlines I randomly picked out from the home page a moment ago. There’s not a single thing there that I would read. None of them appeal to me. They’re all clickbait lifehack crap.

Lifehacks Are Garbage

Life can only be hacked so much before it’s not even life anymore. In the case of Medium, hacks are all the rage. Now, this obsession with spewing lifehacks isn’t because readers suddenly want to hear about 7 ways they are using their mousepad wrong. Instead, the entire lifehack trend is narcisistic opportunism at its worse.

For starters, anyone who thinks they’ve gamed some secret Medium algorithm are wrong. Medium doesn’t use a complicated algorithm. It takes what it knows you like (because you told it when you signed up), and matches that with articles that a lot of people have clapped on. Then it surfaces that for you front and center. That’s all there is to it.

Lifehackers have flooded Medium with so much crap, and spend time clapping on each other’s crap, that all readers get now are millions of lifehack articles.

The truth is that the average reader can only take so many lifehacks before tuning out. At some point, they become nothing more than spam. Add to that the fact that thousands of so-called writers are trying to copy the lifehack frenzy in order to make a buck or two, and Medium becomes hell.

Seriously. Your crappy lifehack article isn’t going to surface above the other 700 crappy lifehack articles for me to clap on so you can get a couple of pennies. Also, I don’t read these crappy lifehack articles anyways.

Medium Thought Leaders Are Cancer

There’s an entire caste of writers on Medium who consider themselves “thought leaders.” They spew out dozens of lifehack articles every month, and most of them revolve around how you can also spew out dozens of clickbait articles every month. But the fact of the matter is that these people are not thought leaders. For the most part, their writing sucks.

Unfortunately, a large swathe of Medium readers are also struggling writers who really want to make a living on this platform. They get suckered in by these inane headlines that promise special “hacks” to game the Medium platform. Almost every one of these wastewater lifehack articles follows the same formula:

Step One: Come up with a catchy title that makes your reader want to click on it!

Step Two: Do a bunch of stuff. Who cares? So long as your title was clickbaity!

Therein is your standard lifehack clickbait article. Of course, flocks of Medium netizens follow suite, thinking that because this one dude made $4000 in an hour, they can too!

Of course, they can’t. What they do is spam my homepage with mindless lifehack drivel that reads like the “Made In China” label on a trash can.

Stop The Bucket Brigade

Have you heard of the bucket brigade style of writing?

Great news!

You just saw it action!

Bucket brigade writing is when you write extremely conversational one-line drivel and break it up with something to refocus the reader’s attention on the text. Also, double space every single line.

Like this.


But here’s the thing:

Bucket brigade writing is for content sites which focus mainly on getting information to a reader as quickly as possible before the reader gets distracted by YouTube and Facebook. The bucket brigade hopes to retain that reader for just a few more seconds. After all, that Google algorithm is watching.

Medium, however, is not a content marketing site. Medium is a reading and writing site. People who love reading come here to read stuff that was cleverly written by people who love to write. You don’t need to keep their attention with bucket brigade nonsense. Instead, you need to keep their attention with well-written articles that hit home. Neither bucket brigades nor clickbait do that.

So ditch the bucket brigade.


Ditch The LifeHack Clickbait Content

Here’s another secret I would like to share with you. I’m guilty of writing clickbait crap. I spent two years as a content creator for several content marketing platforms whose clients wanted only to spam readers with endless articles. When I came to Medium, I was also sold by thought leaders on the need to recreate that content marketing crap.

However, in the past few months I’ve taken a good hard look at my writing. My goal is to become a serious author with published work. I’ve started to get short stories published. I don’t want to copywrite mindless articles about dishwashers. Instead, I’m trying really hard to write real articles.

If you do the same thing, we can save Medium from itself. We could make Medium the kind of place where people come for insightful literature, not mindless content marketing drivel. So ditch the lifehack clickbait and be a real writer.

Will This Work?

Do clickbait articles work on Medium? I don’t know. I’m not a fake “thought leader.” I can tell you that I don’t read them. I pan through my Medium feed, looking for the odd gold nugget and discarding all the crap. So there’s at least one reader on Medium who appreciates good writing.

I can tell you that none of my clickbaity lifehack articles performed all that well on Medium. Instead, an article I wrote about going back to college after reading Dr. Seuss to my kid was a bit of a personal best. Another one of my stories that performed well was about the time I spent three years teaching English in Moscow, Russia. Again, no lifehacks.

Here’s another thing. I don’t care if my new direction does well or not. I’ve decided to take writing seriously. I’m not marketing other people’s content. I’m writing what I see as truth. I’m creating my own personal brand as a writer and a future author. If people prefer mindless lifehack drivel, that’s their choice. That will be too bad for me.