Medium is a powerhouse publishing platform from the founder of Blogger and co-founder and former CEO of Twitter — Evan Williams. It offers push-button publishing, a beautiful reading experience, and a social graph that makes promoting content relatively straightforward. Williams has not been shy about his intentions for Medium:
I’m not a fan of this view, to say the least. There are many reasons creator- or business-owned websites are preferable to platforms like Medium. Platforms afford little control over content, how it’s presented, how it’s monetized, who can monetize it, who can copy it, how long it will remain on the web, how it is promoted, and so on. Users of platforms like Medium give up control of their content in exchange for convenience and access to the platform’s audience.
As for what Medium gets out of it, that’s yet to be seen, which is cause for concern too — it’s currently steaming along on VC funds with no clear revenue model. It’s possible Medium’s future revenue generating strategies will mirror those of more traditional content farms, to which Medium has been compared.
A WordPress site hosted with a web host like Nexcess, as opposed to a platform like Medium, offers publishers and businesses more control and predictability, and allows them to retain complete ownership of their content.
That said, there are good reasons Medium has grabbed the attention of online publishers, one of which is the platform’s recently released API. The API allows other services to integrate with Medium, including giving them the ability to post articles.
In rather a clever move, Medium has used that API to build a WordPress plugin that allows simple cross-posting of content published on a WordPress site to Medium.
But is it a good idea for WordPress site owners to cross-post to Medium? (It’s obviously a good thing for Medium that they do so.) There are both advantages and disadvantages.
The Disadvantage Of Publishing To Medium
First, let’s be clear: Medium is perfectly fine with publishers posting content to its platform that has already been published elsewhere. They don’t mind at all if you publish on your blog and on Medium.
However, many businesses publish blogs in order to promote their site in search and on social networks. They create content relevant to prospective leads in the hope that a percentage of them will become buyers.
Publishing on Medium undercuts those efforts.
- Medium is a heavyweight in search, and articles published there have a strong chance of outranking those published on business sites.
- There is a potential duplicate content issue — Google often drops duplicate content from its index, and there’s no guarantee that your business site’s content won’t be dropped in favor of the same content on Medium.
- Businesses have no control over the branding or conversion optimization of a Medium page.
- Medium provides rudimentary analytics, but they pale in comparison to tools like Google Analytics (which you cannot use on Medium).
In short, if you publish content for promotional, branding, or marketing purposes, publishing on Medium is not likely to produce the same benefits as publishing on your site, and cross-posting to Medium may well leave your on-site content unseen.
The lack of branding and customization on Medium means readers are quite likely to see your content in their feed, read it, enjoy it, and have no clue about who wrote it or why.
The Advantage Of Publishing To Medium
In spite of the negatives, there’s one very big benefit to publishing on Medium — it has a built-in audience. It can be easier to get content seen on Medium. At the very least, publishing on Medium gives content the potential to be exposed to a wider audience.
A Medium Syndication Strategy?
The best approach to dealing with platforms like Medium is yet to be seen. The evidence isn’t in. Businesses should by all means experiment with syndicating their content to Medium via the new WordPress plugin, but I’d advise a selective approach — don’t syndicate your content immediately upon publication to your blog, and don’t syndicate content created to generate search traffic.