I think it’s fundamentally about the difficult Medium has in curating a homepage that pleases its users and reflects what they want to see there.
It seems very weighted towards their own ‘featured stories’ and the ‘specialist magazines’ they now run. I follow some Publications and writers, but stuff from them rarely crosses my attention. You may notice the odd thing in the ‘new from your network’ area, or with an alert on your phone… but it feels hit-and-miss.
And when you search for writers and pubs to follow, that’s not a good experience. Most of the pubs are defunct, or don’t release a lot of content. It’s frustrating for me, in particular, because I DO run a pub that releases 5–7 things a week… but it’s always “ranked” way below pubs that publish maybe 2 things a week of inferior quality. Medium needs to employ more humans to curate the best stuff, if they can afford to. Or just declutter the search results, so you can FIND good stuff easily.
Otherwise, yeah, you really just have a stylish/easy platform to write on, with a useful paywall to make a few pennies, for your social media followers to click on. Maybe. The new ‘Friend Link’ may help, as at least this means your “fans” won’t be faced with ‘member preview’ stories they can’t access — potentially ever, if you’re happy with that.