A lot of people have discussed this debate, and most bloggers new and experienced at some point wonder if they’re on the right environment when it comes to choosing the right real estate for their blog.
“Wow Medium is just beautifully minimal — zero cost and zero setting up!”
“WordPress is my own thing, with my own style and could maybe even be monetized in the future.”
“But I do spend more hours tweaking the blog than actually publishing content…”
“Ghost on the other hand is relatively ‘cleaner’… right?”
“Old-school with LiveJournal?”
“I just heard about this thing called Svbtle…”
“Hmm what about Tumblr?”
— are some of the things that run through your mind at different parts of your blogging life cycle.
You might not recognize all the platforms mentioned above. But trust me – at some point or other every blogger will go through all this and may even (like I did) switch between them from time to time.
I started blogging on WordPress for the first time in 2012, and in just over a year I gave up on the idea all together. I was undeniably tweaking the themes and plugins a 100 times for each post published. At first you’re excited by all the freedom – but eventually you just wish you had less control.
Two years later after much pointless switcheroo; I was up and running smoothly on Medium. I published several articles a month, got a fair amount of hits as a fresh starter and worked up to about 200 followers before I realized I needed more.
Publishing content by itself has it’s own kind of value and pleasure, but it didn’t feel right creating content for a domain which wasn’t mine. It was as if I was furnishing and painting someone else’s house in return for a room to work in. It’s a pretty deal, but it just isn’t your house.
All these services can make publishing and getting your content out there in front of readers super easy. But there is no real value beyond that — specially if your blog turns out to play a big role in your line of work. For example designers can blog about design, and use a carefully crafted site to covert some visitors to customers and potential business.
Publishing original content builds domain value and ranks your site higher on searches, which if on a service like Medium just builds up the ranking for their domain – their real estate. It’s like the fact that everything you publish on Facebook benefits them the most; by driving in more traffic, eyes for ADs and eventually more business and popularity. It’s simply not your real estate.
I value everything I write, and on the most part it helps me develop my skills as a writer and the topic I’m writing about. The extra reading, research and knowledge I gain in the process has always been more valuable to me than the number of hits on the stats page. That kept me on Medium for almost a year.
But when you’ve been through several life cycles of blogging and eventually discover that arbitrary line between ‘blogging’ and blogging. You finally learn to focus on content before the so called ‘blogging’ which includes the theme, plugins, functionality, SEO and what not! It’s important — but it’s nothing without the actual content.
So after many iterations, my perfect blogging environment (for any serious blogger) is a hosted version of WordPress (or another standalone platform); where you own and control every aspect of the blogging experience for you and the reader. But remember with great power comes great responsibility — so force yourself to focus on what actually matters.
I feel I should end by mentioning that blogging & writing platforms with a community built around them (like Medium) are great places to test out your writing and blog ideas with minimal risk — think of them as beta versions of your blog or in start-up lingo the MVP (Minimal Viable Product).