Choosing the best platform to publish content is a difficult decision for most startups. Several options work great when it comes to distribution and inbound traffic. However, not all options are equal.
A comparison you will often come across is that of Medium vs personal blog. Both options are tempting, as they can benefit for startup companies. But make no mistake - the two platforms are completely different.
In this article, we will explore why Medium has become a major player in the world of startup content and how it stands against the power of self-hosted blogs. We will also help you understand which option will benefit your company the most.
Medium vs Personal Blog debate
Boasting more than 60 million active users, Medium is the go-to platform for blogging enthusiasts. The website offers a lucrative, passive income model for writers and thousands of publications to avid readers.
Due to its success, several startups are now switching their main channel of communication, migrating their content from personal blogs to Medium channels.
But is this the natural progression of blogging? Or is it just a trending fad? After all, self-hosted blogs like WordPress or Webflow are responsible for approximately 20% of all personal websites. That is more than 455.000.000 sites that trust the power of self-hosted website builders, an amount that massively outnumbers Medium users.
To understand which platform is best, we need to first have a look at the benefits of each option.
Pros of blogging on Medium
Medium blogs outperform self-hosted blogs in several areas. On first instance, these benefits seem luring to startup businesses, where speed is of the essence.
Very high Domain Authority (DA)
Domain Authority is a metric that determines the ranking potential of a website's content. Medium Domain Authority (DA) is 96, which is higher than any personal blog. This benefits early-stage startups, as it helps them rank for keywords faster.
Avoid the Sandbox period
New personal blogs are often stuck in the Google Sandbox, which can last anywhere from 3-6 months. In short, this is a period where Google will deliberately filter out your website's content from its search results. Medium users do not need to worry about this since their content is hosted on an aged website with high authority.
Easy for non-technical users
Medium has a very simple interface. Formatting content and uploading images take little to no effort. For founders familiar with the complexity of WordPress or Webflow, it is one of the best web-based publishing experiences. No coding knowledge is required. The platform also has many guides and resources on how to use medium for blogging.
Link-building without worries
New websites need to be very careful with their link-building efforts. A few too many links can lead to a Google penalty, which flattens the traffic of a page, or even the whole blog. With Medium-hosted blogs, there is no need to worry about this. Adding more niche-relevant links will only help the content rank faster.
Trusted platform = More clicks
Medium is a well-known platform with a reputation for good content. Due to this brand recognition, users are more likely to click on and read a Medium article as compared to blogs they are not familiar with.
Automated push notifications
Medium has a built-in feature for push notifications and automatically informs your followers when new content is published. The different types of notifications include:
- Medium Digest - Notifications of top industry-related stories, picked by Medium editors.
- Recommended Stories - Featured stories and columns sent to users based on their reading history
- Followed Publications - Stories from the channels that users follow on Medium. This is the option that can benefit your startup the most.
While notifications for Followed Publications are most similar to push notifications, startup channels can also benefit from a placement in Medium Digest or the Recommended Stories.
Publish your work on the best Medium publications
Another great feature of Medium is the ability to publish your content on publications with a massive follower list. For example, if you write a great piece on marketing for startups, you could publish it on Better Marketing or The Startup.
By curating their articles, startup owners can reach a much larger audience. It is one of the best (if not only) ways to increase brand awareness through Medium. This can turn into a double-edged knife, however, since most publications will not approve promotional content.
Build a network
Finally, one should not forget the power of networking. Medium helps authors connect and engage with other writers through comments and claps. If done right, this could help you build a reputation as an authority in your niche.
Pros of blogging on a personal blog
While Medium is the modern solution for blogging enthusiasts, personal blogs have been the standard for decades. But what is a personal blog exactly? In short, it is a type of web-blog in which posts are written by one or more authors. They are purely self-hosted and are not controlled or limited by third parties. Even though they are “older” than Medium, self-hosted blogs are still used by most large companies with an online presence. There are several reasons for that:
More design freedom
You can fully customize your website's design using all the available plugins found in website building software. If you have a technical background, you can also add custom code to your posts. Medium is very limited when it comes to such functionalities.
You own your content
Aside from the design elements, you are also free to decide what you want to write about. You own the content, which means that you don't have to abide by third-party guidelines.
Analyzing content performance
Self-hosted blogs can benefit from the power of Google Search Console and Google Analytics. The two tools analyze tons of content-related data that helps you understand what type of content performs best. The video below gives you a basic idea of all the performance metrics that Google Search Console analyzes when it comes to SEO:
Create promotional content
Indirectly promotional blog posts and lead-generating landing pages help you grow your product's user base. Medium has very strict guidelines when it comes to promotional content and does not allow email capture forms. In contrast, self-hosted blogs have a lot more flexibility and are a great way to create product-related landing pages.
Optimizing conversions & building an email list
Self-hosted blogs can help you improve conversion rates in ways that Medium will not allow. You can add sidebars, sticky headers, pop-ups, and other types of opt-in forms to capture your readers' personal information. In time, you can grow an email list, which can be used as a secondary source of inbound traffic to grow conversion rates.
More monetization opportunities
While authors can monetize their content on Medium, self-hosted blogs allow for a higher degree of flexibility. You can generate affiliate income by promoting products that supplement your product or service or run ads. In turn, you can use the earnings to outsource more content, automating the writing process down the road.
Renting an apartment vs building a house
A great example to understand the difference between Medium and self-hosted blogs is that of renting vs building.
Renting an apartment - Publishing on Medium
When you choose to place your content on Medium, you "rent" the platform and its users. You never really own your content, neither the traffic that the content receives. However, the content starts to rank faster. While this can be a good, short-term solution for new companies, it is very limited. The landlord (Medium) owns the living space. This means that he can kick you out if rules are not met (temporary or permanent ban from the platform).
Building a house - Creating a personal blog
On the other hand, creating your own blog is more like building a home. The process takes longer to complete but is more rewarding. Initially, you will need to invest a lot of time and money, without enjoying the perks. This period could last anywhere from 6 months up to a year if you consistently produce valuable content. However, once your home (personal blog) is built, you can easily maintain it, while spending little to no money. Aside from that, you can make changes without asking for permission.
Medium vs Personal Blog - Which one is best for your startup?
So, where should you publish your content? Here is a good overview to help you get a better understanding.
Medium Blog - Fast traffic and easy design
Best for: Bootstrapped startups & companies looking for a quick exit.
Why: The instant gratification and low upfront costs of the platform can help founders rank their content faster, generating an initial "boost" in traffic.
Risks to keep in mind:
- Publishing on Medium removes the "face" of your brand, as most people only remember the platform they read your content on, not the author. Therefore, Medium is best for startups that want to use blogging for generic content and news, instead of brand awareness.
- Medium is not a sustainable strategy for the long term, as it can be hard to acquire users or get newsletter subscriptions.
- Going against publishing guidelines can lead to a temporary or permanent ban.
Self-hosted Blog - Brand awareness and lead generation
Best for: Startups that want to grow their user base & content strategies that focus on brand awareness.
Why: Readers can easily subscribe to your email list or invest in your product. You can also offer more value by creating lead magnets, and promoting the strong points of your product without fear of getting banned.
Risks to keep in mind:
- Content takes longer to rank in the SERPs due to low DA and the Sandbox period. This is resolved with high-quality content and niche-relevant backlinks.
- Website builders like Webflow or WordPress have a small learning curve, as you may need to get accustomed to all the different plugins and functionalities. Once you have a basic understanding, however, it offers more freedom than Medium.
- Generally has higher upfront costs than Medium.
Final thoughts on Blog vs Medium content
Medium was initially created for independent journalists, looking to monetize their content. It is not necessarily built to serve startups that want to grow their user base.
The benefits we explored make it clear that startups can benefit a lot more by employing patience and going the "old fashioned" way by creating a personal blog. Here are the attributes that lead us to this decision:
- Early-stage startups should emphasize on brand awareness and actual users.
- The best way to do this is by utilizing the power of SEO-optimized content, which is applied and analyzed better on self-hosted blogs.
- Self-hosted blogs will never ban you or remove your content.
And that's it! We hope that this Medium vs personal blog comparison helped you get a better idea of the benefits and drawbacks of each option. There is also the possibility to create a hybrid model, where both platforms are used simultaneously. More on that, in the FAQ section down below.
Frequently Asked Questions
For further information related to the Medium vs personal blog debate, make sure you read the following Q&A.
Does Medium own your content?
According to Medium, you own the rights to the content you create and publish on their platform. This includes the risks that come with it (content's accuracy & claim of intellectual property). Medium does also not sell your content to third parties without permission. However, the platform does use your content for promotional purposes and is able to remove your content for no particular reason.
Can you be banned from Medium?
In its terms of services, Medium mentions that they can "change, terminate, or restrict access to any aspect of the service, at any time, without notice.". The company further explains that such a decision can be made when the rules of Medium are violated.
Can I create both a Medium and a personal blog for my company?
Yes, you can, and there are many startups that do this. There is definitely some benefit in using Medium as a platform to "syndicate" your content. In essence, it can act as a secondary distribution channel to generate more traffic. This option is beneficial to all startups that use self-hosted blogs as their primary platform for content distribution.
Medium vs Facebook - What is better for engagement?
Medium's audience is much lower and less niched-down compared to Facebook groups. If you are looking to engage with a targeted audience of potential product users, it is best to promote your Medium content in relevant Facebook groups.
Blog vs Twitter - Which is best for short posts?
Blog posts are considered "weak" when the word count is very low (<400). This is because there is less chance to rank in the SERPs, and because it's hard to cover complex topics. However, short blog posts can always be expended in the future.
On the other hand Tweets and Tweetstorms from influential accounts can be very powerful, as they are easier to discover and share. They can also be embedded in blog posts. As such, Twitter may work best for short-term awareness campaigns while blog posts can benefit a startup's digital presence in the long-term.
What are the best Medium blogs for startups?
Why blog on Medium, you may ask? Well, the platform is not just a great place to host your content; it is also one of the best information databases for startup founders. This is also why many founders use a medium blog for business purposes. Make sure you check out some of the best medium publications to enrich your knowledge and get some fresh perspectives:
- The startup - 694K followers
- Mission.org - 548K followers
- Startup Grind - 423K followers
- Thinkgrowth.org - 195K followers
How should founders communicate (Medium vs own blog)?
Another question that often comes up is whether a founder should update his audience through a Medium channel or create a self-hosted blog. While these two options are certainly not the only communication channels available, they are often used in addition to social media and Substack newsletters. If we had to choose one of the two options, we would most likely pick Medium. There are several reasons for this:
- A Medium blog takes little to no time to setup and is very easy to learn.
- No technical skills or coding is needed.
- The audience that founders target through their blog are already familiar with them. As such there is no need to build awareness (through SEO, etc.) and monetization of the content can start instantly.
What are some of the best personal blog sites to draw inspiration from?
When searching for popular personal blog sites, you might want to search for the medium channel of your favourite founder(s). These will often be shared from the founder’s Linkedin account in an attempt to increase traffic to their articles. You may also find them in the signature of their email. From that moment onwards, you can navigate through the website to explore similar content to get new ideas.
Personal blog vs medium - What is best for customer retention?
When considering to create a medium startup blog or even a medium personal blog, one of the points that come in question is that of nurturing (or retention). Medium may be a better source to use for retention (when comparing medium vs self hosted blog) since all your followers are automatically notified of your new content. On the other hand, self-hosted blogs rely on push notifications and email marketing to achieve the same thing.
Writing on Medium vs your own blog - What is easier?
As explain in detail within the post, the writing process is easier on Medium. Not only is the design and user experience much better and easier to learn, but you will also not need to know how to rank medium article on Google - The high DA of Medium takes care of that automatically and you might even be paid if the content is published under a reputable publication.
Medium vs Blog - Does it make a difference in organic traffic?
This highly depends on your SEO experience and your long-term goals.
- If you create a brand new channel on Medium or personal blog, then the later will find it harder to rank due to a low Domain Authority. In that case, your Medium channel has a higher potential to drive new traffic to the page.
- However, when talking about Medium vs platform with established reputation and high DA, Medium will always be outranked. As such, when may today seem like a wrong decision (publishing on a personal blog) may help you rank better in the future if you continue to improve the strength of your website and your on-page SEO.