In the past, it was easy to choose what blogging platform to use. There were only three serious platforms to consider, at least amongst the free ones: Wordpress , Blogger , and LiveJournal. Today however its not that easy anymore.
At the time when Medium was born, WordPress was (and still is) well established and widespread. It allows for themes and has functionality that qualifies it as a Content Management System (CMS), meaning that it could easily be transformed into a website with all its bells and whistles.
Blogger, powered by Google, provides many customisation options, but few themes to choose from. Nevertheless it had a strength point that even today many blogging platforms lack: a strong support for the languages of the world. Especially for RTL languages, often not represented well in the tech industry, Blogger was the platform to go.
Livejournal focused more on the community aspect of blogging, allowing for features similar to that of social networks. It also allows to use Livejournal as a private diary.
When Medium entered the blogging market, it did the following well:
- It is minimalistic and uniform, allowing to focus on the content rather that the design of the blog, which could often become complicated and time consuming with WordPress, because of the many themes of options.
- It allows for the first time to comment on a specific part of the post and not at the end, as it was traditionally the case with other blogging platforms.
- It allows highlighting specific passages on the post, also a new feature not seen before in the mainstream blogging platforms.
- It provids a draft mode where it was possible for invited editors to comment on your content before making it public.
- At the end of a post, a suggestion of posts is provided.
- It is possible to respond to a post directly under it. A reply is a better alternative than comments that grow almost the size of a post.
- It is well integrated with Twitter.
Needless to say, not all these functions were available the first time Medium was released, but most of them where relatively fast added to the first version.
The only thing in my opinion that Medium does not well is the support for RTL languages. If this issue is fixed, Medium would give to millions of RTL users access to a powerful and very easy to use blogging platform.
Today, like no other time before, it is an exiting time for bloggers, especially those who love minimalistic platforms. In addition to the 4 options mentioned above, there are some new powerful players that makes it really hard to decide which platform to keep, stop, or start using.
After I had stopped using Facebook for good, Facebook had started to transform its Note feature into a serious minimalistic and beautiful blogging platform. The greatest thing about it though is that you already are going to have a readership, because your long-form blog posts are going to be accessible to your social network, literally and metaphorically speaking.
Then there is the wonderful LinkedIn Publishing feature that also harnesses your already existing professional network. Its a great way to allow your writing, next to your resume, to showcase what you know and are passionate about.
Recently Telegram, a powerful and popular messaging platform, released Telegraph, a minimalistic quick and dirty platform that allows you to start writing right away, without even creating an account. Although not new, its a notable options because its based on a powerful and well established platform with strong infrastructure.
A very bold move is bold.io, a simplistic, easy to use, and nifty platform. First, it allows you to blog right away without the need to create an account. However if you create an account, it allows you to manage your posts. It also allows for markdown, slash commands, in addition to a nice feature which is to have an ambient sound playing in the background, like the sounds in a forest or that of a calm storm. For some, a sound in the background helps putting them in a writing mood.
This blog is obviously hosted on WordPress. And I think it makes sense to keep it that way. WordPress remains the most powerful, well established, and diverse platform out there. About 60-80 million websites, and 26% of the top 10 million websites on the web used it in 2016. I like it because I have the option to have a website with a blog enabled, rather than just a blog. I also like the different themes options.
However in terms of writing and commenting, Medium is definitely a better option. Facebook Notes, although attractive, is for me not in question since I quit it. But LinkedIn publishing is.
Therefore I am thinking about utilising this blog as a springboard to blogs about different topics on Medium and LinkedIn. Its going to be more difficult to manage, but there is no other way to harness the strength of the different platforms available.