I caught wind of an interesting Twitter exchange featuring Scott Hanselman and Rick Strahl, among others, discussing the merits of using a blogging platform like Medium over blogging on your own domain.
Ya, Medium is pretty and makes it easy to get writing online. But by being too lazy to buy a domain/get a blog you're giving it all away.
— Scott Hanselman (@shanselman) March 24, 2015
You can view the whole exchange by clicking here.
Scott Hanselman’s viewpoint seems to be that so long as you host your content on a separate blog platform, the lifespan and visibility of your content is tied to that of the platform.
Here’s a post Scott made back in 2012 about the subject on his own blog:
Put yourself out there and make it findable. And still you tweet giving all your life’s precious remaining keystrokes to a company and a service that doesn’t love or care about you – to a service that can’t even find a tweet you wrote a month ago.
I sympathize with the point that eventually every blog platform fails, so by relying on a separate social network-connected site to host your content, you’re giving that content a lifespan.
The Counter-Point: Extra Eyeballs May Be Worth the Loss of Control
There’s a good counterpoint made by Rick Strahl, though:
@shanselman depends on whether the benefit of sharing outweighs the cost of being captured. We don't have a problem with GitHub for example.
— Rick Strahl (@RickStrahl) March 24, 2015
Everyone seems to be hosting code on Github, and one can make the same argument there considering Codeplex is barely being used anymore: The lifespan of past content posted to CodePlex is now pretty low, and by hosting your code elsewhere, you’re missing out on potential eyeballs to your own domain.
However, if your code isn’t on Github, people aren’t likely to discover it either, and that’s where Medium is so useful to bloggers, as a discovery tool.
My posts don’t seem to be ideal for a platform like Medium, where I’m writing what are practically personal notes on my own blogging experience. I don’t do a lot of “thought” blogging, but I enjoy the publications feature of Medium as a way to keep up with a group of coding-related blogs.
Medium’s Publications Just Seem Like Archives
My issue with the Publications feature is that a lot of the coding-related ones only have old posts — 2014 and earlier. Turns out Medium no longer supports “open submissions” to publications; you need to be added to a publication as a writer first. This has no doubt cut down how many of these publications have newer content.
Yet when searching for publications, no info shows about how old the content is; only the names show. This makes finding a “current” publication a tedious exercise.
I suppose Medium’s Tags feature is how content is being discovered now. The tags work the same way WordPress’ does, except each tag has a dedicated activity feed page where content with a certain tag is listed.
Cross-Posting Might Be Ideal
— ILYA SPEKHOV (@ispekhov) March 24, 2015
It sounds like nothing is stopping me from just cross-posting my content — at least the content more suitable to Medium’s format — to both blogs. The tags feature on Medium could help with discovery.
Many of us already cross-post to Twitter and/or Facebook, although Medium is a bit different because people might want to stay on Medium to read others’ content. If I’m cross-posting everything, then why bother visiting my website at all?
In my case, I likely wouldn’t post my code-heavy content there, as I’m not sure it translates well to that platform. Anyone who clicks through to my main site, then, would find content I haven’t shared elsewhere. Maybe that is where I could go with this.
The “Right” Path Depends on the Goal
Hanselman made the point that cross-posting content could hurt Google SEO to my domain. Google’s guidelines on syndicated content say that:
If you syndicate your content on other sites, Google will always show the version we think is most appropriate for users in each given search, which may or may not be the version you’d prefer. However, it is helpful to ensure that each site on which your content is syndicated includes a link back to your original article.
So if I cross-post content to Medium and that post gets more exposure, a Google search will probably show my content on Medium higher in search results. So long as there’s a link back here though, users can potentially find my website.
If I were selling a product, I might be worried about this, but as an individual, I’m not worried which platform I’m discovered on, so long as someone who likes my content can be linked here to find out more about me.
I’m not Cross-Posting Yet, Though
I’m not seriously considering cross-posting until I have more longform content that’s worth sharing; as I said, I don’t have much content here that seems like it would translate well to Medium’s platform.
This is definitely something I’ll consider in the future… provided Medium is still hot enough at that point that it’s worth my while.
The speed at which things come and go on the internet, you never know.