Update: On February 1st, 2019, I moved my website away from Medium and back to WordPress. I’m currently hosting my site on WordPress.com. I mention the reasons for the move in this blog article.
A few hours ago I completed the migration of my personal blog to Medium. For the first time in 10 years, I am not self-hosting my blog content. To be perfectly honest, it was a strange feeling giving up that control, but it was also a relief. Medium’s focus on content has leveled the playing field and made it the publishing hot spot. I do not consider myself a good writer by any means but I do enjoy writing, and I’m grateful for my audience, so this decision to go all in on Medium did not come lightly.
Why Medium? Medium provides all of the tools writers and publishers need to deliver written content reliably across many platforms to any size audience. Medium does the heavy lifting so that authors and publishers can focus on content. In a lot of the same ways, Medium is ideal for publishing it is also perfect for reading. Medium’s interface doesn’t get in the way; it is minimalistic placing the emphasis on content.
Medium also provides a robust content delivery network. If one of my stories goes viral, Medium provides the network and compute to support the massive surge in visitors. I don’t need to worry about scaling up the power behind my content. Medium will manage that for me.
With Medium, I don’t need to worry about staying up to date with the latest technology. For example, it is important to support devices like mobile phones and tablets with a native user experience, as it is shown to improve engagement. Since technology changes quickly, staying up to date on a self-hosted blog means installing regular software updates.
Companies like Google and Facebook are developing new technologies to support the ever increasing audience of mobile content consumers. The most significant of these new technologies is AMP — Accelerated Mobile Pages. It is an open source technology that formats content in a way that makes it load almost instantly on mobile devices like phones and tablets. Content using AMP loads up to 4 times faster with ten times less data than non-AMP pages.
Google is now using AMP on mobile pages served from Google Search. They are also likely factoring in whether or not a page is using AMP in the search results. If your content is using AMP, it would probably have a higher rank in search results delivered to mobile devices. That only makes sense.
With the announcement of the AMP toolkit from Google I started looking into what I would need to do to install it on my self-hosted blog. The process was straight forward, but it would require a lot of work to make my blog support it. If I didn’t do the work to support AMP, there is a risk I would lose a portion of my audience. Since a bulk of my audience comes from mobile organic search, I didn’t want to take that chance.
Medium announced support of AMP recently which further shows that the company is planning to support the latest content technologies especially if it improves the reading experience.
There are several recent events that triggered my full adoption of Medium:
- Medium’s introduction of revenue generating tools. I don’t make money on my content, but I want the option just in case I write something that goes viral.
- Medium’s introduction of API support allowing third party companies to connect and provide new publishing and reading features. The API is useful for using writing tools like AI Writer and Ulysses.
- High profile brands have adopted Medium with increasing velocity of successful outcomes.
- Medium’s announcement for AMP support. (Accelerated Mobile Pages.)
Factoring in these four recent developments helped push me over the edge and make the full commitment to Medium. The decision to move to medium didn’t come without risks.
There are some risks with moving all of my content over to Medium.
- Google could theoretically penalize Medium and all of its content for actions committed by someone else. (Think Rap Genius.) Google is unlikely to do this, but it is still a concern.
- The more content I create on Medium, the more locked into the platform I become. Switching to something better in the future will be more difficult.
- Medium might be slow to adopt new standards or technologies that might be important to me, but it hasn’t been the case so far.
- Medium might give preferential treatment to paying customers making it harder for me to attract readers.
- Medium could be acquired by another company who decides to do something bad (like put banner ads on my content.)
- Medium could go public one day and change its monetization policy to do something bad (like put banner ads on my content.)
- I have less control over my content and how it Medium will publicize it. For example, there is no option to write an article and publish it without notifying my entire network.
- Something better might come along.
- Medium goes out of business. What happens to my content in the future if they go belly up?
I carefully weighed these concerns with the benefits of switching to Medium. In the end, I decided that the benefits outweighed the risks.
How did I make the switch?
How did I make the switch? Switching to Medium from your existing blog is straight forward if you are hosting on WordPress. The folks at Medium created a tool that will migrate all of your articles from a WordPress export. They also provide a tool that will import an article one at a time from any URL. This method is time-consuming if your blog has a lot of articles.
One important consideration for moving your content to Medium is how it will affect ranking in Google’s search index. If you have blog articles that receive a lot of traffic, and you want the safest way to keep it’s SEO juice you will want to redirect traffic from your old articles to the new articles on Medium. You will also want to set up canonical tags within your old articles pointing to the new location on Medium. You will need to host the redirect and canonical tags until your articles on Medium take over the ranking on Google Search.
My blog was hosted on Ghost, so I exported my content to a temporary WordPress site and then imported all of my content from there into Medium. The import tool worked very well. It even imported most of the embedded photos and videos in my articles. Some WordPress specific tags did not make it through the importer, and I had to go in manually and correct them. Medium makes this process easy by previewing all of the imported articles before you publish them. I culled some of the bad articles and made sure everything was perfect before completing the import.
Personalization Medium limits the ways you can personalize your content. It is part of their approach to democratizing content. Medium also doesn’t provide a “blog” instead it allows you to create publications. A publication is essentially a blog. Think of it like a container that has a customized look and feel, user permissions, and frames the boundaries for searching.
Once you create a publication you’ll be given additional customization features including:
- Custom logo
- Links on the header main menu
- Header colors
- Layout on the homepage
- Meta data like description and social media links
The customization options don’t seem like much, but they provide more than what you need to add flair to you content. The homepage customization tool makes it easy to choose featured content and select how it is displayed.
The new features also allow publications to have editors and writers. The additional roles make collaborating on a publication with other Medium users very easy. The group collaboration features made it easier for publications from companies like CNN and Amazon move their blogs to Medium.
For a more detailed look at how to customize a publication on Medium take a look at this guide How to make your Medium Publication look professional.
SEO & Analytics
SEO & Analytics Medium doesn’t provide a way to incorporate Google Analytics into your publication. Without this capability, you will need to use Medium’s built-in stats page to gauge performance. The stats page is very basic providing views and reads across each article. It also allows you to see the origin of your referral traffic. It isn’t the same detailed stats provided by Google Analytics but it should be enough for now. I suspect that Medium will provide something more powerful in the next year maybe even supporting Google Analytics integration.
There is something nice about Medium’s simple stats page. By focusing on just reads and views, it enforces the importance of writing good content. The higher your read count on a story, the more likely that Medium will promote it. Write well and people will read it.
There is a clear SEO benefit to hosting your content on Medium. Medium.com has an excellent SEO ranking which benefits all of the articles published there. Compared to my self-hosted blog, placing my content on Medium is going to be a significant upgrade for my content. It should lead to an increase in audience.
Conclusion When Medium first launched a couple of years ago, I didn’t quite understand why a high profile entrepreneur like Ev Williams would found another blogging platform. (He had already founded Blogger, which he sold to Google.) Today however when I look at Medium I see an amazing community of writers and publishers who curate some of the most compelling content on the web. Medium is disrupting reading and writing in ways that we are only just now starting to understand.
I’m excited to publish my stories on Medium.