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Medium Goes Big with Brand-Friendly Publishing Suite

For years now we’ve known Medium as a neat little self-publishing tool that anyone can use to put their words in virtual ink.

Now, Medium’s made an aggressive move to position itself as much more than that: a comprehensive platform that could effectively replace your blog — or even your whole website. But before I get too far ahead of myself, let’s review the slew of new features Medium announced last month:

Branding tools

Now publishers can customize the color, layout, and navigation of their Medium pages.

Blog content migration

Publishers looking to move over permanently to Medium can now take years of archived content hosted elsewhere with them when they go. Timestamps and links will stay preserved on your custom domain even though it “lives” on Medium.

Medium reports Time Inc.’s Money and Fortune are making the switch to their platform, as have other popular publications like The Awl, The Billfold, Pacific Standard, The Bold Italic, and Signal v. Noise.

billfold-medium
The Billfold is one publication that has moved its entire content backlog to Medium.

Revenue beta

Medium is exploring a two-pronged approach to monetization, one targeting publishers and the other targeting readers:

Promoted Stories — Medium explains it best: “Select publishers and bloggers who consistently produce meaningful, original content and maintain a loyal following of engaged readers will have the ability to host stories from brand partners on posts in their publication.”

An example of a promoted story in Medium.
An example of a promoted story in Medium.

Membership — Readers can choose to pay a monthly membership fee to the publications of their choice in order to view exclusive members-only content from those publishers.

Collections

Now available for mobile and web, Collections are lists of stories from Medium or elsewhere on the web which are centered around a theme or topic. Currently curated by Medium, Collections will eventually be opened up to all Medium users which creates significant opportunities for thought leadership and partnership around specific ideas and communities.

Coming soon: cross-platform integration

Medium plans to launch compatibility support for Facebook Instant Articles and Google Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), which will help streamline the publishing experience across platforms.

So will these new features kill blogs?

Let’s go back to the bold claim that Medium can actually eliminate the need for publishers to maintain their own websites. They certainly make a compelling argument about saving time and money:

Right now on the web, publishers are forced to spend time and money maintaining their aging content management systems. Expensive redesigns inevitably fail to keep up with the rapid pace of technological innovation. On Medium, publishers have full control over their content and spend exactly zero time, money, or effort on tech and hosting, instead focusing their resources on producing great content and reaching new audiences.

Obviously, the key word here is publishers — most brands simply require more functionality, whether it be ecommerce or even the ability to add custom codes and scripts, to give up on their existing websites. But where Medium could make a real difference outside the publishing industry, however, is the corporate blog.

It seems dubious at first, but Medium offers some distinct advantages over operating a blog out of your own website:

  • A built-in audience — Medium’s already-established network of engaged readers, plus its mentions and recommendations features, means that posts are more easily discovered than on a standalone website.
  • Updated design and technology — if your corporate blog has struggled to keep up with changes in trends, screen sizes, and even details like SEO optimization, Medium offers a quick and worry-free upgrade solution.
  • Smart commenting tools — Medium’s built-in response, moderation, and inline commenting tools could outperform your current CMS.
  • It’s free to publish — if you’re operating a full website then you’re already paying for hosting and your own domain, so moving the blog portion to Medium won’t help your budget — but it also won’t hurt it.

Medium is, of course, not for everyone. If you already have a successful, thriving blog community where you’re at, or you want full creative control over your blog and and user experience, or even if you just want to be able to add tracking codes to callouts or buttons on your posts, you’ll want to stick with what you have.

But if you could use publishing additional resources and support that you simply can’t manage on your own, then Medium just might be the right, er, medium for you.

 

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