The Pros and Cons of Using Medium as A Publishing Platform

By: Daniel Imbellino
June 29, 2016

At present, it appears the publishing platform Medium, originally developed by Twitter Co-Founder Evan Williams, An example of the Strategic Social News Wire publication on Mediumhas embarked on a campaign to push publishers across the web to migrate their sites and integrate with the now popular platform for publishers. While many already use the platform as a place to post their latest work without the hassle of a CMS, the platform also offers the ability to create standalone publications, with a number of social features already baked in. But the question of many remains, is Medium really a good bet for publishers and bloggers? Is it really worth ditching your CMS and migrating your site to Medium? As it turns out, there's a number of pros and cons to implementing Medium as a web publishing alternative, and I'm going to walk you thru a number of them here.

The Pros:

We've all heard the statement "If you don't own it, then it isn't yours!" However, with Medium, publishers have the option to migrate and keep their domain if they so choose to do so. Also, the platform offers a number of options to migrate your existing content directly from your CMS. The real benefit here comes with the fact that publishers are no longer forced to battle with outdated plugins, buggy CMS's, malware attacks, etc, as the platform handles the job of technical maintenance for you.

Spending less time focusing on the technicalities of web publishing means more time for publishers to focus on what matters most to them, creating compelling content that will drive engagement.

The platform is also simple to learn and get up to speed with. Getting started with Medium is really a breeze, and publishers have the option to add editors and writers seamlessly. If you plan on adding a number of contributors to your publication, Medium makes accomplishing this task simple.

Another plus to publishing with this platform is the fact they're now opening the doors for publishers to monetize in a number of interesting ways, including through the use of sponsored stories, creative partnerships, and member-supported publishing. These are all part of Mediums Revenue Beta program.

The sponsored stories feature involves publications on the platform offering their readers access to promoted stories, in which those publishers can take a cut of ad revenues earned.

Publishers in the beta program also have the option to produce sponsored content for brands, as well as get paid by Medium itself to produce native campaigns.

The member-supported publishing feature offers for publishers to monetize directly from their fans. With this feature members will be able to contribute a fixed amount of money towards their favorite publications. You can lock premium content for paid subscribers only, and set a fixed price in $1 increments. They're even planning to offer support for annual subscriptions. You can read more about this initiative here: Member Supported Publishing on Medium

Another benefit to adopting Medium as a publishing platform comes with the fact the platform itself has a strong social audience. When you join Medium, you sign up using your Twitter account, and any followers you have on Twitter that have a Medium account will automatically become followers on Medium as well.

The same goes for publications. If you create a new publication, you can tie in a connected Twitter account, and it's followers too will instantly become followers of your latest stories. Medium actually brings your existing audience to you! Plus, as your publication grows, you can pick up new followers from the platform itself.

Also, I noticed that once we setup our social networking brand's publication on Medium, the platform automatically made the followers of both our brand's Twitter accounts and my own automatically followers of the new publication for a combined total of 650 followers right out of the box! Here the publication is brand new, yet we have all these followers to get the ball rolling, a huge plus!

You can also set up a navigational structure for your publications just like you would with a real blog in Wordpress, and you have the ability to customize your links as well.

Best of all, because the platform is free to use, there's no more web hosting fees to worry about, or having to pay for new and updated Wordpress themes. More on migrating from your existing CMS including Wordpress here: Migrating To Medium From A CMS .

The Cons:

So what's the catch? Well, sorry to say, but your ad revenues from Adsense and affiliate ads are down the drain with Medium. Also, their revenue Beta program isn't open to everyone, but rather those publishers they choose to accept, and so far this seems to be a limited feature at best. It appears they're aiming for larger publishers, and even then there's no guarantees you'll get accepted.

While being able to publish without the headaches of a CMS is a great, not being able to monetize from your audience could be a show stopper for many. What you can do to help ensure success is apply for the revenue beta program before integrating to the platform to see if you're even accepted. For established sites, it may not be worth migrating thousands of pages of content only to realize you'll never monetize from it ever again.

Another problem with this platform is the fact you have a very limited set of features as far as social options and integration of apps. Scripts don't seem to work with this platform, and publications only have the option to share content to Facebook and Twitter. There's no social buttons for any other platforms, including Pinterest, Google+, etc. This platform seriously needs to consider integrating more options for social sharing.

Publication layouts too appear to be very limited in terms of options. There's a just a few initial layouts to chose from, although all look very clean and are easy to navigate.

And there's one more thing, it turns out that links in general are nofollowed on Medium, definitely a problem, as publishers typically follow links to other publishers content they vouch for. It's likely that Medium set up their platform this way to keep spammers at bay. The other problem is trying to rank in organic search results from a platform where every link is nofollowed. Even if you got back links to your content on Medium, the category links for your publication are still nofollowed, and link juice won't flow to your other articles.

Also, you can't set external links to open in a new tab, a total annoyance to users, and an unacceptable practice for the modern web. Just imagine, you're half way through reading an article, click a link to read a relevant resource, only to realize the original story you were reading is now gone. Users expect publishers to be wiser than this, plain and simple. Yet, Medium continues to offer no viable way for publishers to set links to open with a new tab like they should. Any good publisher never closes the content a user is on when directing them to external resources. They really should consider changing the way they handle external links.

Some have argued, "well, you can just open the link in a new tab by right clicking." To put it plainly, users just aren't typically going to do this, and naturally, people just expect external links to open in new tabs.

Conclusion:

So, should you ditch your CMS and jump on the Medium band wagon after all? Well, I think this depends on your needs as a publisher. Recently my own media organization decided to adopt Medium to help our social networking brand, Strategic Social Networking, to grow. While we own the domain and had been planning to set up a site and integrate it with our social brand, we opted for Medium because we wanted a quick and easy way for our members to be able to contribute their content, and the ease of publishing on the platform makes it worthwhile as well.

Sure, there's some negatives, like the lack of social buttons, limited layouts, and limited options for monetization, but I'd argue the platform is a sure bet for those who're just starting out in the world of blogging and are looking to grow an audience. After all, many individuals are currently making use of this platform as a personal blogging space.

On the other hand, seasoned publishers shouldn't jump the gun and hop aboard Medium until they've done their homework and know what they're getting into. Yes, you have the options of a hassle free user interface with no CMS to fight with, adding editors and publishing content is a breeze, but you still have to be sure you have some way to monetize after the integration is complete. Definitely something to think about. Thanks for reading!

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