How Medium became a leading blogging platform

Iconic Products episode 006

Blogging is a cornerstone of internet culture — it was essentially social media before we even had the phrase “social media.”

Aus diesem Grund sind im Laufe der Jahre Dutzende von Blogging-Plattformen aufgetaucht (und wieder verschwunden).

However, while we’ve had platforms such as LiveJournal and Xanga capture our attention for a moment in the past, there just isn’t a platform out there quite as iconic as Medium.

Founded in 2012 by Twitter’s co-founder and former CEO Evan “Ev” Williams, Medium is a beautiful, easy-to-use blogging platform that allows users to publish on just about any topic imaginable— all while being part of a larger community. 👫

But what makes Medium stand out versus the other platforms that came before it? Let’s go more in-depth to see how it became an iconic product!

Medium ist nicht nur eine Plattform, sondern auch eine Gemeinschaft

Williams schuf Medium von Grund auf mit der Idee, die Nutzer zu ermutigen, Beiträge zu verfassen, die länger sind als die 140-Zeichen-Begrenzung von Twitter.

That, and to fulfill his personal ambition of fixing what he viewed as the broken world of journalism and create a new model. 🛠

Medium isn’t just another blogging platform, it’s an active blogging community — the home page is always filled with posts that are trending on the site, or fits a certain theme for which they are curating content. Essentially, anyone has the ability to be featured on the home page.

little girl saying, 'i'm famous!'

Like other blogging tools, there is the ability to follow profiles of interest (and for them to follow you back), so there is the added bonus of having your own network — plus curated pages on a wide variety of topics.

Interested in design? There’s a topic page for that. What about politics, media or science? Yep, there are writers both famous and less well-known creating valuable content around these topics.

Medium’s community also explores more unique or profound themes, such as experiences on drugs, the future of artificial intelligence, words of the year and lessons from entrepreneurs.

Der Kategorisierungsaspekt von Medium ist unübertroffen. Die Tatsache, dass man Inhalte zu so ziemlich jedem Thema von Menschen aus allen Lebensbereichen findet, ist ziemlich erstaunlich.

It’s also a great way for businesses to elevate their brand and place owned content in a community of like-minded readers.

Besides, it probably gets more views than your own blog

Since Medium is a highly ranked website, it’s a great way to share your content in an SEO-optimized space.

Because of this, it’s also faster to build a following and traffic that “sticks” on Medium compared to a blog that you’ve just created on your website.

Medium gets around 180 million monthly visitors, and each of those visitors is a potential reader of your blog — which makes for some pretty exciting possibilities.

excited sloth slowly opening his mouth

Plus, as Medium focuses more on the information and ideas you share rather than who you are specifically, it’s a trusted resource that ranks incredibly well in search results.

This means that if you write a blog that is valuable and is getting the right attention, it could reach the first page of search results quickly and further boost your exposure. 🚀

Wenn Ihnen der Gedanke, Ihre Inhalte zu Medium zu verschieben, bereits Kopfzerbrechen bereitet, brauchen Sie sich keine Sorgen zu machen: Es ist ganz einfach, Blogs direkt in die Plattform zu importieren, ohne dass Sie Beiträge, die bereits anderswo veröffentlicht wurden, erneut einreichen müssen.

Ein einfaches und schönes Leseerlebnis

Medium’s design looks simple in its execution, yet the small details show that it’s a well thought-out for both the readers and the writers.

And this isn’t from the fact that creating Medium’s aesthetic is nearly impossible to pull off, but rather it’s from a collection of key decisions that end up making something greater than the sum of its parts.

Diese Entscheidungen, wie z. B. die Tatsache, dass die Dauer der Lektüre eines Beitrags angegeben wird, und die Einheitlichkeit der Darstellung, machen Medium zu einem großartigen Leseerlebnis, egal wo man auf der Website landet.

In addition to its beautiful interface and easy-to-read layout, Medium also showcases how much engagement a post is receiving through “claps” — that way, Medium can be more precise at surfacing relevant posts to readers. 👏

Claps can also gauge how much a particular reader enjoyed a post, as they can clap once or they can clap 50 times (evoking an “applause” of sorts), rather than just upvoting or liking something mindlessly.

drake clapping on the side of a basketball court

Ähnlich wie bei der Klatschfunktion können Nutzer Teile eines Textes, die ihnen in einem Beitrag besonders aufgefallen sind, markieren und kommentieren. Diese werden dann in Ihrem Profil archiviert, so dass Ihre Follower die Art von Inhalten sehen können, die Sie besonders interessant oder tiefgründig finden.

This further adds context to users’ content and allows readers to become even more engaged with what they’re reading.

It’s design and functionality decisions like these that make Medium a simple and beautiful platform for readers. 📖

It’s the little things that make it a powerful writing platform

Medium thinks of everything that makes writing easier — or so it seems. 🤔

Kleine, praktische Funktionen wie das Einstellen von Sonderbildern sind ein Kinderspiel. Aber es geht noch weiter.

Links that have been redirected to new publications are still intact. So if you share a link to a post that is then later added to other publications, Medium saves both links and just automatically redirects the original link to the new publication — all without the user needing to do anything. 🔗

millie bobby brown motioning that her mind is being blown

Onboarding and logging in is incredibly easy as well. All you have to do is connect an existing account (Google, Facebook, Twitter or email) and you’re ready to start publishing.

And because Medium’s platform is uniform in terms of design, you don’t have to worry about the smaller design details or aesthetic choices.

With Intercom’s explanation of tool time vs. goal time in mind, Medium minimizes the “tool time” needed to carry out what you want to accomplish in the platform (layout, admin, etc.) by setting everything up for you — so that your focus goes straight to “goal time,” which is creating great content that engages your audience. 🥅

Your work is autosaved every few seconds so you never have to worry about losing anything, the options for media input is easy and works amazingly (and if you can’t find an image yourself, there’s a searchable archive of royalty-free stock photos on hand) and you can easily tag topics and select a featured image before you publish.

Cool, right? 😎

Mitgliedschaften, keine Werbung

So, how exactly is Medium making money? 💵

Vor etwas mehr als einem Jahr führte Medium sein Programm für kostenpflichtige Mitgliedschaften ein, das laut Williams das Wachstum des Unternehmens verbessert hat.

Wie er es beschreibt,

“After a strong start (when people were really just subscribing because they believed in and wanted to support Medium’s mission — 🙏), and a mediocre middle (when we were figuring it out), we’re now seeing not only more subscribers, but higher-percentage gains every month this year (accelerating growth).”

He goes on to explain that the key factors driving this are the fact that they’re putting great stories behind the metered paywall and they’re helping people find great stories they care about.

paul rudd saying, "give me it"

Und mit einem Mitgliedsbeitrag von $5/Monat unterscheidet sich Medium von so ziemlich jedem anderen Abonnementunternehmen für digitale Medien.

Although they have a “paywall” like many other media companies, the difference here is that they rely solely on these subscriptions rather than on advertisements. And they have a mix of original and not-original content.

They want to keep Medium a beautiful place. And to do that they need to keep ads out. 🙅‍

Medium currently employs zero writers on its staff, with no plans to hire any in the future. They do, however, have an editorial team that commissions writing by professionals — journalists, authors and thought leaders on a variety of topics. 🗣

And as they’ve found that many great writers and experts are already writing on Medium, they have the chance to elevate these voices and get their content the audience it deserves.

This enables Medium to constantly have a stream of quality content that people want to read — and when you think about it that way, asking a small monthly fee for this feels like a steal.

baby speed reading

Some writers have even called it the “best financial deal in the history of media.

Quite the bold statement — let us know if you agree or disagree in the comments! 🤷‍

Williams selbst bringt es wahrscheinlich am besten auf den Punkt:

“There is — and probably always will be — a surplus of free content. But that’s like saying there’s a surplus of free food in the dumpster behind the alley. Some of it may be perfectly good, but most of us would rather pay for something more reliable and convenient if we’re able. And many people will pay a lot for something superior.”

It’s going to be interesting to see how Medium continues to grow in the coming years, and if they will indeed stick to their subscription model.

In der Zwischenzeit haben wir eine praktische Spickzettel mit Medium-Tastaturkürzeln zum kostenlosen Download hier. ⌨

Keep rocking it, Medium (and keep rocking it too, Medium creators)! 🤘

Möchten Sie weitere Iconic Products kennenlernen? Lesen Sie die gesamte Serie hier! 📲

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Ali Colwell