Writing on Medium: A Bloggers’ Guide

If you regularly read articles on the internet, chances are you’ve come across a post published on Medium. I view Medium as a long form adaptation of social media for people with a lot to say. The question is, will Medium replace traditional blogs, or will it enable bloggers to embrace another form of publishing and syndication? I’d like to think it strengthens traditional blogs by providing new outlets for content.

What is Medium?

Medium is a writing platform with streamlined editing tools (headers, images and text) combined with integrated social linkages for liking articles and following their authors. Whether viewed from the desktop or mobile app, Medium is a clean interface without advertisements cluttering the sidebars. Traditional blogs can be overwhelmed with advertisements, and Medium provides a refreshing view where white space is welcome.

What I Like

Social integration

Medium comes pre-loaded with Twitter and Facebook integration so you don’t have to start a social profile from scratch. Connections on Twitter who are also on Medium become part of your network with a simple toggle in settings. If it took years to build up a Twitter following, no need to restart those efforts since the followers come along with you, if you wish.

Personal accounts + branded publications

Medium can accommodate personal accounts and branded accounts in a really slick way. I set up Medium under my own name. However, I was wondering what to do about a branded account for my blog. I discovered that the best place for my blog’s brand would not be a separately managed account (requiring separate email and login), but as a new “publication” created from my account. Publications are Medium pages with their own URL, and are associated with the editor (account owner) who created the page. Stories can be added to the publication by clicking the 3-dot icon at the bottom of each post.

Clean and functional writing interface

The Medium writing editor is so appealing that it’s starting to replace my tendency to draft posts in Google Drive. The editing interface slashes superfluous formatting choices and boldly leaves the basics in place, such as titles, subheadings, links, images, videos, embeds, and lists. In a world of too many choices, this less-is-more approach becomes all I need.

Privacy options

One of my favorite recent quotes is from a BlogHer editor who mentions how “writing begets writing”. We need to start somewhere, and the key is to just get started. Medium offers a private workspace while ideas are taking shape. Drafts can be circulated through a Share link viewable only to those who have the link. Posts can be marked unlisted until you are ready to make them public. With these options, Medium can be used for thinking, archiving, and idea generation in addition to being used as a public writing platform.

Reading what others are writing

Medium articles, which are emailed to me in a Daily Digest, have a thoughtful and introspective tone, sometimes bordering on provocative. With a glance at the top stories I can see which subjects are gaining popularity and observe about how catchy headlines are constructed. If Medium can keep its depth without turning into a Buzzfeed, it feels like a democratic environment where writers can learn and grow.

What I’m Still Learning

The algorithm

Today, Medium reminds me a little of the App Store: tons of content without a clear view on how content gets featured. I understand that sharing special sauce can be proprietary company information, but it would be nice to know if tagging, for example, makes much difference to a post’s visibility. Also, how much content does a follower see, and does follower count make any difference to the popularity of a post? This is an ongoing experiment for me and I plan to share more as I learn more.

Image formatting

There are stunning images on Medium that span the entire page view. There are also image grids to support multiple photos in a single section of the post. Medium’s Help Center explains how to format these images and embed them in your posts.

Letters to publication followers

There is a feature for publications called Letters, and it’s a way for the editors to reach out directly to followers. I have not used this feature, but like the idea of a mail list function that doesn’t require separate mail list management. Will Letters help build more connections? Will Letters be interpreted as spam? Here is what Medium says:

“Letters have the potential to provide what blogs used to through RSS subscriptions. With this, we’ve now made Publications truly a place for people to follow your work and get updates on your ideas, thoughts, and stories. We’d love for you to try it and let us know what you think at yourfriends@medium.com.”

Seamless connections to other channels

If publishing on Medium becomes just another item on the to-do list, traditional bloggers may be deterred from taking on more work. With the help of publishing APIs and IFTTT (if this then that) Recipes, integrating Medium into a blogging routine can become a seamless task. From a preliminary look, there are already 269 ways to connect to Medium through IFTTT: https://ifttt.com/medium.

I’m sure there are plenty of tips and tricks waiting to be discovered, and a full Medium FAQ has been published to help address the learning curve. Meanwhile, I look forward to finding more bloggers on Medium. With our native sense of community and mutual support, opportunities should abound.

Let’s connect! https://medium.com/@lorraineakemann

Lorraine Akemann | Cofounder and Editor | Moms With Apps

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