Is Medium Still a Good Blogging Platform in 2021?

So, it’s 2021 and you’ve decided that this is the year you are going to start that blog you’ve been talking about since 2015. After seeing a few Facebook ads about Wix and Squarespace you feel confident that setting up your blog will be about as difficult as formatting your last Instagram story post. I mean heck, if it’s this easy, you’ll be able to monetize the site before 2022 and start generating some extra income to spend on an extravagant vacation to some exotic place. You can practically see the money flocking to your wallet. 

With a cup of coffee in your hand and dollar signs in your eyes, you open your laptop, set up an account, and begin on your glorious new website. 

But then, the header isn’t centered, and you don’t like any of the themes. And, on top of that, you can’t seem to figure out how to make the menu bar the right color.

Not to mention, after all this talk about “creating a website for free” you feel like all the tools you need to make a professional looking website are paywalled and hidden in weird places. Frustrated, you shut your computer and fume over your coffee.

Sound familiar?

This week we decided to bring in our friend to write about his experiences working on Medium in 2021. Starting a new blog can be challenging, does Medium alleviate any of those growing pains, or make them worse? Check out the article below and see if Medium is still a good platform in 2021.

My experience with blog creation began when I decided to start a student publication for my college. I knew that most people would never pick up a paper journal on campus – I certainly never did – so an online publication was going to be the way to go. As I started researching and experimenting with the various options for website creation, I realized I was way out of my depth. So, I called Blair (my resident expert in web development). I told him what I was trying to do and what features I wanted my blogging site to have. I thought what I was going for would be simple with the right advice. Boy, was I wrong. 

“Honestly, for what you want, you’re looking at a solid 40 hours just to learn the platform.”

My heart sank.

“On top of that, you’ll need to format your content before you put it on the site, which will take more time and learning. And you’ll need to buy a domain name and the right plugins to keep the site safe and running smoothly.”

Sheesh. No wonder people pay developers like him to build their sites.

At this point in the call, I was feeling discouraged and unsure of how I was going to get my publication off the ground at all.  Before he hung up, he had one last piece of advice.

“You might want to try Medium. It’s a free blogging umbrella that takes care of most of the backend stuff so you can publish your content easily.” 

After I got off the phone, I googled Medium, read up on the site, and dove straight into trying things out. For what I wanted, it worked like a dream. Medium allowed me to design the look of my journal, organize the content in a user-friendly way, and publish it without having to set up the backend. I didn’t have to spend several hundred dollars on a website domain and theme or 40 hours learning how to be a web developer. 

What Medium Is Not Good For

Now before you stop reading and try this platform out for yourself, I want to talk about why Medium may not be the right choice for you.

Medium doesn’t give you lots of SEO control

If you are looking to start a blog with finely tuned SEO settings that will rank at the top of google searches and generate ad revenue, Medium is not the place for you. In fact, Medium doesn’t even have ads on its site. That’s one of the things they pride themselves on. While Medium does have SEO settings, they are limited compared to the full control you have on platforms like WordPress.

Medium still owns the real estate

Since you are using Medium’s site to set up your blog, you are beholden to their policies and operation. If Medium goes down, so does your blog. If Medium determines that your content is violating their policies, it will be taken down without warning.

I had a brief experience with this content flagging system while designing my site. To get an idea of what the final product would look like to readers, I published a few draft articles and marked them as “unlisted” so they wouldn’t be publicly visible on the Medium site. Everything looked great until a scary red banner appeared above my post telling me that my post was in violation of Medium rules and had been taken down.

After reviewing their content policy several times, I still could not figure out why my post had been flagged. I wrote a frustrated but polite email to the Medium support team asking them to please explain why the heck my content had been flagged. Within a day, I received a reply saying that one of their algorithms had mistakenly flagged my article and that everything had been fixed. I haven’t had any issues since then, but it was a good reminder that my blog is on borrowed land. 

Medium doesn’t have tons of design options

If you’re a design junkie and want lots of theme choices and flexible layouts for your blog posts, then Medium will frustrate you. What Medium offers is simple and well designed, but it is more or less inflexible. You don’t have control over every little detail. Personally, I have been very pleased with the way my blog looks, but even still I did encounter a few frustrations with inflexible design settings. If you do choose Medium, there are some particulars you may have to let go of, but in the end, your blog will look good, even if it isn’t exactly what you envisioned. 

Why I Still Chose Medium

Despite these drawbacks, I still went with Medium. Here’s why: 

It’s absurdly easy

I really can’t emphasize this enough. If you want to start a blog quickly that will look professional and reach your target audience, you can’t do better than Medium. I have no experience in web design and I was able to set up my publication with a logo, tagline, menu bar, and custom layout within a day or so of discovering the site. With setup out of the way, I was able to focus the rest of my attention on making quality content to publish on the site. 

Something else that surprised me while working on Medium is that you can easily monetize your publications through the Medium Partners Program. You earn money based on how many partner program subscribers read your articles. You don’t need to pay to join the program yourself, you just need to attract paying users to your articles. It’s that simple. 

If you’re looking for a platform where you can easily create, publish, and monetize content, Medium is the way to go. 

Customizable content organization

Another benefit of Medium is ease of content organization. Using tags, you can get your posts to show up under the relevant search fields and reach the right audience. Using the navigation tab, you can customize the way your content appears to the user and make sure that people can easily see what your blog is all about. I was able to use the menu bar and navigation settings to divide my publication into different, clearly labeled sections. As the journal expands, the tools Medium provides ensure that all the journal’s content, past and present, will be easily accessible to future readers.

The User Interface is buttery smooth

The thing that really blew me away about Medium is the phenomenal user experience it provides. With other platforms, you have to work extremely hard to make your site look and feel good to the user. Seemingly small details in the backend of your site can come across as clunky design flaws. Unlike other options, the software designers at Medium manage all of the backend settings of their site which ensures that everything you do within the platform is optimized for the end user.

Any design changes you make in your site settings will be implemented smoothly and easily without any of the hassle usually associated with web design. I can personally attest to this ease of use. I have viewed my site on various laptops and mobile devices, and it works perfectly on all of them.

The Final Verdict

If you have made it this far and you are still wondering if Medium is right for you, the short answer is: it depends. For people who want complete control over the design, operation, and optimization of their blog, Medium will be frustrating and limiting. But for people who need a fast way to publish good looking content, reach their target audience, and maybe even make some money in the process, Medium is still the perfect solution.

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