If you are a writer or a blogger wanting to get your voice heard out there, there is no shortage of online platforms for you. You can easily get online and start a blog in less than a few minutes. If you do not wish to go the self-hosted route, you can rely on hosted solutions such as WordPress.com or Medium.
Speaking of Medium and WordPress, which one fares better for bloggers or writers and why? In this post, I will be comparing the usefulness of Medium and WordPress (both .org and .com) from the perspective of writers or bloggers who share longform content.
WordPress vs Medium: Introduction
In the world of blogging, WordPress needs no introduction. It is the world’s most popular Content Management System and is used to power a wide variety of websites. Medium, on the other hand, is a popular but relatively new and less famous option that caters only to hosted blogs.
Naturally, WordPress serves a broader audience — eCommerce sites, corporate sites, photography sites, and so on. Medium is meant mostly for writers, and not just any writers — Medium prefers longform content. For microblogs, smaller and casual posts, or anything of that nature, Medium might just not be the ideal place to be.
On the surface, WordPress appears to be the bigger and better entity already. However, if we were to look at things entirely from the viewpoint of writers or bloggers, which one would be better? In this case, a lot many of WordPress’ features will be ruled out — many writers might not need custom post types, page templates, shortcodes, or tiled galleries. If viewed purely as a writer’s platform, Medium does seem to have its niche marked out already.
For the sake of simplicity, i will be comparing Medium and WordPress across two different heads: usability and growth.
As far as ease of use is concerned, both Medium and WordPress have a unique, nimble and simple interface.
Starting with WordPress, irrespective of .com or .org, you will find a familiar interface. The admin panel uses “Posts” for you share your articles and writings, and “Pages” for static content such as contact us, author bio, and so on. Medium, on the other hand, also follows a similar model, albeit with a clear focus on “Posts”. Medium, unlike WordPress, has a cleaner and more direct interface.
This is where the difference between the two becomes evident: Medium has, since day one, focused almost entirely on writers and bloggers. WordPress, while it did begin as a blogging platform, has today evolved into a full-fledged CMS and is no longer restricted to just bloggers. Obviously, this means that the WP interface contains elements that a writer might never make use of.
However, there are areas where WP still trumps Medium. Take up comments, for example. WordPress has a separate admin panel for that and you can view, approve or trash comments as per your wishes. You can integrate external services too, such as Disqus. Medium allows for in-context comments, but viewing all the comments on all the posts on one given page is not an easy task in Medium.
This particular section boils down to the blogger’s individual requirements. Consider the following use cases:
- You are a writer, but you also wish to sell eBooks or books via your blog.
- You are a writer, but your niche involves affiliate marketing too. For instance, your primary writing consists of book and movie reviews, and you are an Amazon Affiliate.
- Your writings are of objectionable nature — politically provocative thoughts, free speech compliance, anti-establishment writings, etc.
- You are really great at writing, but not so great at technology. You need something absolutely simple.
- You are a writer, and you only wish to share your posts and want your readers to read and share them on social networks. Nothing else.
All four of the above cases involve blogging and writing, but each one is a unique scenario. For the first case, WordPress is an ideal fit. WP already has multiple eCommerce solutions in place, such as WooCommerce or Easy Digital Downloads, and you can make use of that with very little efforts.
In the second case too, WordPress is the right choice for the simple fact that it has affiliate marketing plugins and solutions available in both free and premium variants.
The third case is slightly complicated. If you go with either WordPress.com or Medium, sooner or later, your blog will be in trouble. However, assuming you find the ideal web hosting provider, you can self-host your WordPress installation and ensure that your content is safe and fully backed up. In other words, “owning your content” is a possibility only with self-hosted WordPress.
The final two cases, however, are something where you would turn towards Medium. In the fourth use case, Medium is the right tool because it just does not have as many configuration options as WordPress. There are no plugins to setup, no themes to install, no shortcodes and page templates to handle, and so on. You just sign up, and get going! Many users might find this too less in terms of features, but if you are looking for a turnkey blogging tool, Medium is your best pick! Similarly, in the final use case, Medium lets you get started with blogging right from the first step. You do not have to worry about external plugins for social sharing or email subscription — just post your content and watch your subscribers grow. Once again, not everyone will like such simplicity (example, you might want to retain your subscribers’ list elsewhere, say MailChimp), but for people who need simplicity in their blogging tool, Medium does not disappoint.
So, which one wins? There is no clear answer here, but depending on your needs, you can pick the tool that’s best for you.
You should go with WordPress if:
- You need added features such as eCommerce, custom portfolio, etc.
- You need greater control over things such as security and SEO
- You wish to own your content (self-hosted)
- You wish to customize the appearance of your site, have more granular control over its aspects, etc.
And you should consider Medium if:
- You need something that just lets you blog out of the box
- You do not need great customization features such as custom themes.
- You probably do not have content that might not be in sync with Medium’s publishing policy
- Your blog will never outgrow itself — you won’t be needing eCommerce or other such tools.
Which solution do you use for blogging and why? Share your views in the comments below.