The Content Treadmill Ruined My Fun

Finally playing my favorite games of 2020 in late 2021

Alex Rowe
8 min readDec 15, 2021


Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity screenshot taken by the author.

Last year sucked in some way for basically everyone on the planet. It had so much garbage in it that no one could have seen coming, including a still-ongoing global pandemic you might be aware of as long as you’re not a science denier.

At the start of 2020, I was riding high on a wave of finally “making it” here on Medium and in my other online writing endeavors — where “making it” means that my content was finally breaking even and sometimes even squeezing out a small profit. It took me many years to get to that point, and then the pandemic hit.

I thought that my audience would fade away — but that turned out to only be half true. My traffic stayed high, but more and more of it came from Google instead of in-network here on Medium. The public at large was now suddenly very interested in my gaming headset reviews, not only because they had taken up gaming as a new housebound hobby but also because headsets serve as great work-from-home equipment.

My audience from late April to late May 2020. This was the work from home/gaming at home bump, but it didn’t pay off nor did it last. Screenshot taken by the author.

As my audience shifted over from paid Medium members to hundreds of thousands of Google users, I tried to keep up. I scrambled to keep putting out interesting content that would get clicks— even as my personal monetary reserves were depleted. It didn’t really pan out. I had a long slow decline in monetization in spite of near-record clicks, and now this year I’ve had a long slow decline in readership.

My stats for the last thirty days. The decline started late last year and it has stayed around this level for all of 2021. Screenshot taken by the author.

My view numbers have gone from 250,000+ per month to about 55,000, which puts me right back where I started building momentum years ago. The vast majority of those views come from search engines, but Medium’s paywall system only really gets excited about in-network views and reads. I went from earning a bit over $1000 for the month of Dec 2019 to earning just $18.28 in November 2021. The last month I surpassed $100 in earnings on Medium was May of 2020.



Alex Rowe

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