Medium or Personal Blog: Where Should You Publish When Established Writers Can’t Agree?
Two reputable online writers have completely different opinions. Who’s right?
In 2019, I launched my first travel blog. I had recently landed in the pungent, sweltering city of Bangkok, and felt inspired. At the time I was 22-years-old and wandered mindlessly through life, one one-way flight ticket at a time. A personal blog seemed like a great idea. And maybe, even a way to make money whilst traveling.
That blog sputtered, failed, and quickly died.
Its demise was due to a plethora of reasons. Lack of reliable WiFi. No comprehension of SEO. Poor formatting.
Above all, it was because I didn’t know where to publish in order to become a successful writer.
Social Writing Platforms Vs. Personal Blogs
Fast-forward to 2020, and I decided to give writing a second shot. I published my first article on Medium in June.
It completely altered the trajectory of my life.
Four months after starting to write on Medium, I landed my first client, made life-altering connections, and gained perceived credibility.
Medium was enamoring. It was a digital landscape for opportunity. There wasn’t a moment where I hesitated openly promoting it. That is, until, I read “How to Write Online” by David Perell.
David Perell is a successful writer with an astounding personal monopoly. He has nearly 140k followers on Twitter, his own writing courses, and publishes beautifully written essays. In short: you want to be like David.
Seeing David bash a platform I held dearly felt jarring. I chewed over this thought, teetering between unsatisfied to wholly converted.
The confusion skyrocketed once this Tweet appeared a few days after:
Nicolas Cole is another online writer superstar. He’s accumulated over 100 million views on his articles, has three books and is the founder of Digital Press. Nicolas hasn’t just figured out the game of online writing: he’s beat it.
Both David and Nicolas are renowned online writers. They’ve amassed fortunes, status, and credibility. Newbie writers look up to their achievements, clinging on to their advice as they claw their way to the top.
But here we are. Two successful writers. Two completely different takes. Only one can be right. Who is it? Where should writers, you know, write?
The Power of Social Writing Platforms
The power of a platform like Medium is unparalleled.
- Distribution is done for you
- Powerful analytic tools
- Democratized (there are no gatekeepers, and anyone can submit pieces to reputable publications)
A novice writer can join Medium today and submit a piece to be featured in Medium’s largest publications tomorrow. You can go from a complete nobody to somebody overnight.
You can’t dismiss the platform’s impressive distribution aspect as well. Medium’s ecosystem buzzes with activity. Hundreds of thousands of writers visit daily, actively searching for articles.
When you publish on Medium, you’re throwing bait into a lake teeming with fish. It’s only a matter of time until one of them bites.
Social Writing Platforms’ Downfall
Granted, there are disadvantages.
- Terrible for SEO
- Mold your writing voice to appeal to Medium’s audience
- Difficult to bridge occasional passerby’s into loyal patrons
To take advantage of Medium’s distribution, writers submit their articles to publications that have large audiences. Oftentimes, this means adjusting your writing style to fit their submission guidelines. A piece is also subject to an editor’s edits. It’s easy for an original piece to lose its essence once it goes through other people’s visions.
And at the end of the day, the writer doesn’t own Medium. If something were to happen to Medium tomorrow, a writer’s audience would vanish. Poof. Never to be seen again. And let me tell you, building an audience is hard. It takes years.
Advantages of a Personal Blog
Having a personal blog is liberating.
- It’s owned by you
- A direct line to readers
- Favorable for SEO purposes
No longer having to comb through submission guidelines, creativity runs free. And when writers begin carving out a name for themselves, building an audience on a blog is sacred ground. It’s their owned audience. A private channel.
It’s important to have a list of contacts that no one can whisk away from you. Followers vastly differ from subscribers.
Disadvantages of Personal Blogging
Personal blogs don’t have the same reach Medium has.
Medium operates as a public square, allowing people to find you serendipitously. Because personal blogs don’t already have this database of users or a powerful algorithm, writing there can feel like shouting in an empty room.
Unless your content is exceptionally good, most of the posts on a blog disappear into the abyss of Google. A mediocre article is equivalent to throwing a bucket of water into the ocean. Nearly impossible to make a remarkable difference in the vast sea of available online content.
Yet, it’s imperative to learn how to make content stand out on a blog. The end goal should always be to have a blog with your own audience.
The key is to use Medium in this strategy for two reasons:
- Learn from Medium how to be a better writer
- Use the attention the platform has to funnel users to your personal blog
Learn To Be a Better Writer
Here’s the most crucial part: if you’re new to writing, you have more to learn than you think.
Personal blogging doesn’t allow for immediate feedback as Medium does. On Medium, you get to dive into the world of online writing steadfast.
You can quickly check analytics to see what’s working. Comb through hundreds of popular articles and study the writing style. Stumble on well-liked writers who openly lay out their strategies.
It’s a whole world out there.
When first introduced to online writing, many writers still carry the foundations from what standard education teaches. Observe. Listen. Research. Wait. Outline. Then write. The opening paragraph, thesis, three supporting points. Conclusion. AP references at the bottom. Done.
Who wants to read an academic essay? No one, especially people on the internet whose attention spans are about the same as a goldfish.
Every day, I see writers who publish on Medium or their blog with the same rigidness and structure that they found in school. And each time, the writing flops.
Use Medium to your advantage. Check to see what Medium analytics reveal about your reader's preferences, and study other popular writers to learn how to write online.
Use Medium to Funnel Your Audience to A Personal Blog
Once you feel as though you’ve got a decent handle on how to write online, you’re ready to launch a personal blog.
You’ll want to use Medium as a bridge where you can guide your readers to this new landscape. To begin forming the bridge, you can:
- Include a CTA to your website/newsletter at the end of an article (if the publication allows it)
- Include the link to your website/newsletter on your Medium profile
- Write an engaging article on what you’re launching and why, as a way to raise awareness on your new platform
- Engage with readers who are commenting positive feedback on your articles and inform them that you’re going to start posting content elsewhere
Because I’ve put Medium on the back burner to focus on client work, I haven’t launched my blog yet. But best believe when I do, my readers will know.
Use Medium as a public platform to attract attention. Yet, don’t forget that attention isn’t as valuable as an audience. Once you feel eyes on your Medium profile, start mobilizing.
The advantage of having private communication channels are bountiful. You’ll own a list of contacts that no one can take away from you. You’ll strengthen your relationships with your readers. Establish yourself as a leader in your relevant field.
The personal blog is the final destination. Just don’t forget to use Medium to help you along the road.