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Compared to WordPress, Medium is a newer, more modern blogging platform that’s sort of a mix between social media and a blog. On the one hand, it’s designed as a platform for long form content just like any other blog, but it also has social media-like features, such as claps (instead of likes), the ability to highlight sections and comment on them, recommended reading, followers, and more. So, how does it compare to WordPress? Well, what a convenient question at such a convenient location that saves me from writing a transition.
Medium’s Post Editor
In term of editors, I think Medium has one of the best. It’s really clean and distraction free, which is important when writing posts. It also has a lot of little features that make writing posts easier. For example, you can just drag and drop images into the editor, and they’ll automatically be uploaded and inserted into the post. You can also easily add captions and change the image’s position and size. If you don’t have your own images, you can also easily search for and insert photos from Unsplash without ever leaving Medium’s editor. Doing so will even automatically add the proper attribution in the image’s caption.
Beyond images, you can also embed just about any other form of media you can think of. Embedding is super easy; all you need to do is paste a supported URL and Medium will automatically embed it in the post. Once it’s embedded, you can edit its size and position just like an image. They support a lot of websites, ranging from Reddit and Imgur to Twitter and YouTube. Adding media makes gives your post more than just words, and it’s super easy to do.
One of the biggest pluses of Medium’s editor is how accurate it is. The editor shows your post more or less exactly how it will look once published. The only thing that could change is the font and color scheme, depending on where you publish your post. Here’s an example of a post in Medium’s editor and as a draft:
Can you spot the difference? Ok, the font in the second block quotes is a bit different, but other than that it’s a very good representation.
Unlike other blogging platforms, including WordPress (learn more about how much a WordPress website costs), Medium is completely free to write on for anyone. All you need to get started is an account, which is super easy to set up. You can choose between signing in with a social media account, or via email, all of which don’t require you to remember a password (if you choose email, you’ll get sent a magic link to log in instead of using passwords).
Not only is Medium a completely free platform to write on, but it’s also one of the easiest ways to make money from your writing. All you need to do is sign up for the Medium Partner Program, fill out a standard tax form, connect a Stripe account and you can start earning money from your stories (I know that sounds complicated, but it just takes a few minutes). Medium pays based on member engagement with your stories, and updates your earnings daily.
Medium members are readers that choose to pay Medium $5/month for access to unlimited stories. Without a subscription, Medium limits readers to three stories behind the paywall a month. Whenever you publish a story (you can also change settings after publishing), you can opt to have your story behind the paywall, in which case you’d earn money based on member engagement, or having your post freely available.
Medium also allows the use of disclosed affiliate links, although I’ve noticed the vast majority of recommended posts don’t use any affiliate links.
One of the biggest advantages Medium has over writing on your own blog is that they have a large built-in audience. Medium gets hundreds of millions of page views a month, whereas you’d have to start from zero traffic on your own blog. A good analogy would be if you wanted to open up a technology store. You have two options: you can either open a booth in a busy shopping mall, or you can start your own store in the middle of nowhere.
Sure, you can run ads or offer really good pricing to get people to visit your standalone store, but it’s a lot more effort than the alternative. Opening a booth in a mall, on the other hand, gives you access to thousands of people who are already looking to spend money on purchases. All you need to do is offer a good product, and people will come and possibly purchase an item from you.
With Medium, your content is your product, and instead of thousands of people, there are millions in the vicinity. You also don’t have any costs (which we’ll get to in a bit) and don’t need to run your own ads to get traffic.
Medium also allows readers to follow you, which works similar to YouTube’s subscription system. Whenever you write a post, that post will be recommended to your followers. So, as you build up a following on their platform, you’ll start to get more and more views.
Publications are like the equivalent of a blog on Medium. Publications get their own URL, and offer some additional features such as newsletters that aren’t available when publishing directly to your profile. Anyone can create a publication, and a publication can add as many writers and editors as they choose. Many publications accept submissions from writers, and if your post is accepted into a big one, it’s likely to get a lot more views than publishing it yourself.
The biggest area in which Medium isn’t a great option is when it comes to customization. With most other blogging platforms (e.g. Blogger, WordPress, Squarespace, etc.) you can use a custom domain, choose and customize a theme, or even have a freelancer or agency develop a theme for you. At the time of writing, Medium lacks all of those features, but they are definitely improving.
Although I highly doubt you’ll be able to develop your own theme any time soon, they are working on the other two. In a blog post published at the end of August, Medium’s CEO said that they are working on bringing custom domains back. Medium used to offer custom domains, but then stopped supporting them in November of 2017. Bringing them back would provide a huge plus in the customization category, so hopefully they figure it out soon. They’ve also improved the customization options for publications and profiles recently; although it’s still nowhere near the customizability of a platform like WordPress, they are getting there.
Overall, Medium is a great platform for blogging if you need a simple blog and just want to focus on writing. Although it lacks the complexity of other blogging platforms, that can definitely be a good thing if all you want is a place to write. Medium also offers one of the easiest ways to earn money from your writing, as well as providing a large built-in audience.