A couple of weeks ago, the Free Code Camp project made headlines by announcing they had decided to abandon their independent blog in favour of posting content directly to Medium, the popular online publishing platform.
Go where your audience is
On the Digital Action Plan, we advise participants to engage with their audiences in the places they ‘live’ online rather than expecting people to come to you. That’s why today politicians are using Facebook and Twitter to encourage people to vote in the local elections.
Should bloggers do the same and abandon their own independent sites in favour of getting closer to the large audiences Medium and LinkedIn offer?
The Medium effect
Free Code Camp do a good job in their blog post of summarising the advantages of publishing directly on Medium. Essentially, it comes down the fact that if you post your article directly to Medium you have a better chance of being discovered by a community of readers who are interested in reading what you have to say.
Posting directly to Medium doesn’t prevent you from doing all the things you already do to promote your posts like sharing them via Twitter, Facebook, forums and email newsletter.
Of course, it’s important to remember that for now at least Medium’s audience is skewed towards a younger, more tech savvy audience, but there’s no denying Free Code Camp’s message that posting directly to Medium could very well give you readership boost.
Time to abandon your own blog?
While there are clear benefits to blogging directly on Medium, I wouldn’t recommend bloggers shut down their own blogs and switch to Medium just yet. Here’s my reasons why.
Have your cake and eat it too
You don’t have to choose between running your own blog or posting directly to Medium. Medium has an excellent importer tool which makes it super-easy to bring your posts over to Medium.
Medium’s importer tool means people can easily discover your posts via Medium while anyone who visits your own site will see a well cared-for blog. Better still, Medium automatically tags your posts so that Google and other search engines won’t get confused by your post showing up in one place. Currently LinkedIn does not offer this feature, which means simply copying from stories from your blog into LinkedIn Pulse could hurt your search profile.
Managing your digital identity
While it’s great that platforms such as Medium and LinkedIn are providing us with new ways to engage with people online, I don’t feel they’re a substitute for having your own blog.
Just like most organisations haven’t abandoned websites in favour of simply having a Facebook Page or Twitter profile, there’s still a case for maintaining an independent blog as a means of managing your online identity.
With your own blog you have the final say over how your writing is presented. At their best, independent blogs makes it easy for readers to find out more about the work you or your organisation does and get in touch with you. Posting directly on Medium or similar platforms gives you less scope to influence the reader in this way.
A more nuanced approach to blogging
Just as we make decisions as to what we share based on the social media channel we are using and the audience we wish to engage, we should make similar choices when it comes to where we blog.
For example, instead of simply importing every post you write into Medium, a better idea might be to reserve Medium for posts which you think will have maximum appeal to people on Medium. By doing this, you can be building up reputation on Medium whilst posting more regularly on your blog for those people who already know you and want to follow you more closely.
Bloggers should think carefully before giving up their independent blogs. With a little bit of thought, it’s possible to maintain your own digital identity whilst still benefiting from the engaged audiences that can be found on Medium and LinkedIn.