I’ve been thinking about jumping ship and joining the Medium crowd for the last few months. As a matter of fact, when I set up this WordPress (dotcom) site about a year ago I was positively considering Medium. I was coming from a Google Blogger blog. All the cheesy themes there looked when I was 17, but as I got older Blogger wasn’t cutting it. Just getting on the first page of search results wasn’t important. I needed an active community around me. And WordPress was the obvious choice. Importing posts and setting up the theme and stuff was easy. My site looked slick and sexy. I settled with WordPress.
Back then, the only way you could use Medium was with your Facebook or Twitter profile. It wasn’t a deal breaker for me. I use Facebook, Twitter and Google logins for many sites. But somehow, it just didn’t feel right then.
It wasn’t really clear what Medium was supposed to be.
It looked like a social network. It functioned as a blogging platform. It wasn’t confusing per se, but it just wasn’t your traditional blogging website. They added the ability to signup using your email address later. That silenced a few critics. I got on the bandwagon and decided to join Medium.
I didn’t really care about people saying Medium owns your content. Medium certainly wasn’t going to reuse my story about my wristwatch.
I decided to give it a go. And I admit I was floored. Medium was smoother than anything. Everything was beautiful. The layout, speed of loading, focus on content rather than the author. It really gave premium WP themes a run for their money. So far so good. I imported one of my posts just to see what happens. Nobody looked at it. It just sat there for days until I deleted it out of pity.
Today, as you know, Medium is the all the rage. This is the party everyone wants to go to. It has become a norm, at least in the tech world, to use Medium as a medium for public statements. Sundar Pichai is there. Melinda Gates is there. Almost every public figure with a Twitter profile gets set up automatically once they signup. All your followers get carried over. That is a neat trick. I tried it. Other than Arpita and Maddy, no familiar faces among my followers. This was when I realized that when it came to getting noticed, Medium was exactly like WordPress; probably tougher – as almost everyone generates quality content. Your writing is the only currency there. And that is something not everybody is expert at. The odds of finding a goofball exactly like me were infinitely higher on Medium than WordPress.
And let us face it. When a site is known for being the voice of popular people in the industry nobody is going to use the search feature there to look for a poet. Medium, by design, is a magazine. The first thing you see there is a list of trending tags and popular posts. It helps if you already have an audience or are a popular person. If not, well, you need to work hard.
“WordPress can do everything Medium can”
And this the part where I finally get to the point. The best thing that could happen to me on Medium is getting featured as the top post. Okay then what? I would get thousands of people reading my posts. A ton of traffic. What would I do with that? I cannot monetize it. There are no ads. I won’t have a dedicated URL for my blog unless I create a Publication. Publication for a single person doesn’t make sense. I’d rather post stuff directly. Even then, my blog doesn’t have a specific address or unique identity. Everything I write would be stored as a post behind my username. Writing for the sake of writing is great. But when you put so much effort into a post it sucks if you don’t get a reward and/or lose your personal brand.
- Medium’s only use for me is providing me a medium of writing. And it does that exceptionally well. So does WordPress. I already have a small but solid group of friends here. There are no newsletters and email followers there.
- Medium gives you the ability to follow the author directly and leave a comment. So does WordPress. There is this huge internal social network complete with a dedicated notification section about follows, shares, likes by other users. And though WordPress doesn’t support tagging users directly in the posts by @, it can done by linking their URL. They would get the notification. Same thing.
- Medium has Top Stories. WordPress has Freshly Pressed. (Update: Freshly Pressed has changed to Discover now)
Medium excels at generating great content because it is intimidating. Everything you see is slick and polished. Everyone you see is writing about the next game changer. You find yourself right in the centre of the action. It is a publishing platform that enables you to write posts. If you blog because you are a housewife with free time, Medium is an overkill. You try your hand at their game and it does not go well. When it comes to WordPress, as far as an average user like me is concerned, I get more service. It has always been a blogging service. There is a powerful ecosystem of writers. There is Blogging U for newcomers. There is customization. I am not a journalist or a CEO. I don’t make statements. I write for myself. And when I do, I like maximizing its reach. I like theming my site. It matters how my site looks to world. People are not going to find me unless I make them find me. WordPress has that front secured by SEO and the ability to use webmasters and sitemaps. All this is about the .com version. If you have a self-hosted site you can do anything. Use any plugins. You are in charge here. On Medium, you don’t really control anything.
This doesn’t mean I am not going to use Medium. It is cool. But there is nothing groundbreaking about it that would move a set user away from WordPress. Will I use it along side WordPress? Yes. Will it replace WordPress? Never. I don’t want the trouble of moving into a new home 100 kilometers away and finding out that I am in an exactly same house, the only difference being a paint-job and an arguably better neighborhood. I am going to use it for showing off my most popular posts. Because hey, why not!