For Medium.com, a Tough Year Ahead?

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This year kicked off with bad news for blogging platform Medium. Two examples:

SignalVNoise announced their exit from Medium – they switched back to a custom and self hosted WordPress blog.

And for sure not without Schadenfreude, Matt Mullenweg (CEO of Automattic, the driving force behind wordpress.com and the open source project WordPress), shared another example on Twitter:

These are just two businesses announcing their exit from Medium that recently showed up in my feed. A search on Twitter for #medium and #wordpress tells me the discussion about Medium vs WordPress is heating up again. (That is maybe also due to many new year resolutions being “start a blog”).

But what makes businesses second guessing their decision to host their blog on Medium?

Mediums tagline reads like this:

a place to read and write big ideas and important stories

If you want your big ideas and important stories to be accessible to anyone with an internet connection and a web browser you have to be careful. Medium rejected the ad model and has to find other ways to make money.

Which brings us to the changes Medium made to its site in the last 2 years. The site launched a subscription model (5$ month / 50$ year) and degraded the reading experience for free users. They promoted the membership model and pushed members-only articles.

That brought also changes to its user interface: a pop up reminding readers to sign up for an account after reading more then 3 articles. As a writer, you want the reading experience to be friction-less.

This shows up after reading 3 articles on Medium

One more tiny but important detail: It is no longer possible to set up a custom domain. All blogs on Medium have the same URL structure. That is bad news for marketing your blog.

I would say there are only two reasons to start blogging on Medium in 2019:

  • You are blogging occasionally and therefore don’t want to think about any technical details
  • Your blog is not a content marketing asset and doesn’t need to be integrated in any other sites

In both cases, you can also go with WordPress.com (it lacks the social networking / community features of Medium), which allows easy transition to a self-hosted WordPress blog later on.

The business model on WordPress.com is different: You can pay for gimmicks like custom domain, making your site ad-free or getting premium themes.

It will be interesting to see if “exiting Medium” is turning into a trend, and how Medium will adapt its business model.

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Rolf Mistelbacher

Rolf Mistelbacher

Hi, I am the CEO & Founder of Fresh van Root, a boutique digital agency in Vienna, Europe.I got first online in '96 and since then I am hooked on the web. Here I blog about social media, WordPress and blogging, productivity, apps and tools for digital marketers, and all things related to running a digital agency.Before starting Fresh van Root I was working at Microsoft for quite some time. Get in touch with me on LinkedIn or Twitter!

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