Medium announced some impressive changes today to its service to foster its future growth, which made me start paying a lot more attention to the service. So much, in fact, that I’ve decided to move my personal blog over.
In the past, I’ve dabbled in publishing on Medium and saw interesting results, but never went all-in because I couldn’t customize the site fully (in particular, not having a ‘brand’ for the blog was a sticking point), or have my own custom domain.
When Medium launched, I cried wolf that people should own their own content and platform, but I’m now convinced that the service is worth embracing because the way it works as a platform and social network ultimately means your work gets in front of more people.
Running a blog is a time investment — not only into the design itself, but the hosting, distribution and the part where you actually write. Medium is helping in every area, by removing all that friction between you and actually saying something.
Publishing on Medium almost guarantees your work will get seen; the distribution and network effect there is powerful. It brings smart, interested readers to your blog who actually engage with you, because the engagement tools work so well.
People stick around and engage because it’s easier to get content to them on an ongoing basis, and even easier for them to comment or share it in a meaningful way with their network. They can highlight their favorite part for sharing, give context in inline comments or respond with their own quick thoughts at the bottom.
On Medium, people actually come back because they’re able to follow you without needing to sign up for a newsletter or RSS feed. Instead, stories are pushed to followers using — *gasp* — something far more modern: push notifications.
For years the only way to push content out to followers or to reach new eyeballs was to share it via social media, RSS feed or slathering it on link sharing sites.
Fast forward to 2015 and Medium’s powerful network effect makes it easy to tell everyone you know what’s worth reading by pressing a single heart-shaped button. It lets everyone that follows them know that it was worth reading, and even reaches them directly on mobile.
Now that you’re able to tag and attribute other Medium users in your articles, it’s even more interesting. You can pull others into the conversation, or just let them know you’re talking about them. It provides more context, rather than just names and links to other places.
And seriously, when was the last time we had a universal writing API that developers embraced?
WordPress has one, but it’s not exactly consistently used or something people get excited about. Medium’s, however, means that it’s easier than ever to syndicate content to the service or publish from any app you want.
The company has carefully built the blogging network many of us always dreamed of ten years ago, which helps distribute your thoughts and engages you with the community by quietly working as a social network as well.
Sure, plenty of my writing will probably still ultimately tank and not be seen, but a chance to get it in front of more eyeballs that actually want to read it is compelling. Medium does the work for you, because the platform is so good.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ll miss some of the control and freedom from running my own blog: tweaking the layout to how I want it, or adding custom HTML.
There’s something to be said for building your own home online for sharing what you write online, but when it comes down to it, that was often a distraction from actually writing — tinkering away for hours, instead of sharing a thought, opinion or feeling.
The sheer attention to detail and thought that Medium pours into building the service is admirable, and makes it a service worth using.
So, this is it. Now that Medium offers full support for domain names, custom publications and even better writing tools, I’m ready to fully embrace it.
I’m transferring everything of my own in to really give it a shot. I’m excited about the idea of just writing for myself again and I hadn’t been in a long time before Medium revived that interest — I’ll let you know how it goes.