Before discovering Medium, I published a WordPress-based blog called “The Dulin Report” and the “Cloud Power” blog at Computerworld. The former is a permanent place for me to host my writing and links to my work. The latter gives me exposure to a very broad audience of Computerworld readers as well as an interaction and advice of an editor. I also write for my employer’s blog All of my blogs connect to Twitter to notify my readers of updates. I also use Twitter to post links to interesting articles I read.
One thing I’ve been trying to get, with limited success, was networking and interaction with other people. Unlike WordPress, Medium is both a social network and a publishing platform. The social aspect of writing is Medium’s strongest feature.
What Medium gets right
Here is my observation about the publishing industry as a total outsider:
- Few major publishers keep an army of staff writers anymore. Most writers are freelancers, and a single writer may work for many different publications.
- Readers want to discover, follow and interact with writers. It is too much of a burden to have users set up accounts on various platforms, install different apps, and look for writers and blogs to follow in different ways. Medium offers a unified interface to finding ideas.
- Writers want to interact with readers who write thoughtful comments rather. The platform should encourage thoughtful responses.
I’ve used WordPress for well over a decade, and I found it difficult to have the same sense of a community that Medium builds. Medium makes it easy and natural to discover and interact with other writers. The entire platform makes writing simpler and encourages a healthy exchange of ideas. Tools do matter, and as a writing tool, Medium does not get in the way of writing.
What WordPress gets right
I feel like WordPress has more of a sense of permanency. I have no idea where Medium will be a year from now or five years from now. It is not clear how Medium is monetized, if at all. There is not even a promise that my content will be there forever.
WordPress is an open-source publishing platform. I am confident that I can move my wordpress.com hosted blog to a server on AWS, and all of the URLs will be preserved. Even if the open-source WordPress project gets abandoned, I could, in theory, maintain it on my own. My blog will remain published in the format of my choosing for as long as I can maintain it.
Here are the three things WordPress gets right compared to Medium:
- The sense of permanence. I can always self-host WordPress, but I have no way of knowing whether my content will remain published on Medium in the long term.
- Detailed stats. I can analyze each post individually and see where my visitors are coming from and what search terms they are using.
- WordPress blogs show up in search engines much faster. I am not sure if there is a technical reason for that, but I am not the only one who noticed. Despite Medium’s lag with the search indexing, it respects canonical links.
I’d love to move this entire blog to Medium similar to what ThinkProgress did, and I may just do that in a few months. I am, however, somewhat skeptical of the long-term permanence of Medium, and I’d like to see a particular plan presented by their team. I’d be happy to pay for a custom domain and a custom theme like I do with WordPress.com if that means a sense of permanence.
For now, however, I am going to continue to post on my WordPress.com blog first and cross-post to Medium where I can get better engagement with my readers.