Disclaimer: We use WordPress for all our websites so we have a bias towards WordPress, but we are trying to give pro’s and cons for both.
When you want to create a blog there are two names that constantly come up, WordPress and Medium. We are specifically talking about the WordPress version that you put on your own website, wordpress.org, not wordpress.com in this case. There are pro’s and con’s to each, and which you use depends on your situation, knowledge, what you can afford to spend, and overall which you feel would be best for you. There are pro’s and con’s to each.
How it is to use
If you spend time and trouble trying to use something then that’s less time putting out content.
Some people have said WordPress is easy to use, and some have said it’s very overwhelming. If you have never used WordPress before you may feel lost or unsure where something is because there are many places it could be. If you have used WordPress before then not much has changed and will feel familiar.
Medium focuses on making it all simple. When signed up with a brand new Medium account this is what it looked like after completing the signup process.
There are many icon’s which only tell you what they do when you click on them, and there isn’t a clear way to write a post, or a ton of other things, which can all be seen when you click on your profile picture then a list will drop down.
Getting started process
Do you want to spend your time being able to choose many different things, or do you want to quickly sign up and start posting?
You need to buy a domain and hosting for the site, to get started you can buy these from the same company and they usually offer a discount. Without these, a reader would have to remember an set of numbers in the right order, then when they get there they would see a blank page. There are so many options for these that it’s easy to get overwhelmed. If you are looking for an hosting company we would suggest you read our post on finding the best website hosting for you.
If you end up choosing one of these and the company doesn’t work out for you then you can move to another company.
Make sure WordPress is installed, and the login details will be given to you. If you lose access to your email you can still login to your WordPress site.
As you can see, the process is more complex for WordPress but you get much more choice.
Medium allows you to sign up with Google, Facebook, or even your email address.
Here’s how to get started using your email address. Go to medium.com, click get started, enter your email address, complete a recaptcha if required to do so. You will then get an email and you click which takes you to another page on Medium, that asks you to enter your name, then click create account. The account is then created.
You probably wonder about a password, Medium instead sends an email to you each time you login. That link will auto-login you. What happens if you lose access to your email and you need to login? You will have to contact Medium through their website and try to provide them proof of who you say you are.
Look and feel for readers
Do you only want to use the default’s that come with your blog? Do you want to be able to customize how your blog looks for your readers? Want to change what’s on the side of your writing? This is all about how a site looks and reads to a reader.
There are many ways to change the look and feel of a WordPress site, with different themes, many settings, and a customizer where you can change even more.
While there is tons of things that can be changed, it can get overwhelming and difficult to find what you are looking for.
Medium has a limited number of options that can be changed regarding this. You can change what is inside of your post but you can’t change the sidebar or what appears before or after your post.
Some people say they love this because they can just focus on the content and nothing else.
If you need technical knowledge in order to use it then it can make it too hard for beginner’s to use. If you don’t have enough for those who have the technical skills then they will move to something else.
It does take some technical knowledge, or carefully reading guides in order to get started using WordPress. And WordPress is built on those who have technical skills.
If someone has the technical knowledge they can tweak WordPress to be what they want, they can add or remove things, and almost make it look like the site isn’t using WordPress.
Medium doesn’t work well for those you have technical knowledge and they have made it that way on purpose. They want to make it easy for anyone and not provide any technical options.
It’s important to be able to get help if you need it. You don’t want to spend endless hours searching trying to find something and finding out that it’s not possible.
And you want to know if you have to pay for the help, or if you get it all for free. You also want to know if you have to fill in a support ticket and wait for an answer.
Automattic and the volunteers behind the WordPress offer documents as well as as a support forum. But with so many other people using it and some of it very general you may consider looking elsewhere for help.
If you enjoy reading blogs then there are many blogs which post about solutions or ideas for WordPress sites. Some of our favourite’s include this site, WPBeginner, WinningWP, and many website hosting company have blog posts on certain topics. Sometimes the best way to find a specific thing is by searching online for it and seeing what blog’s come up.
Do you prefer to watch youtube videos instead? You can generally find help for any WordPress problem you may have. The search term you use may have to be a bit more broad, for example instead of searching for help with a specific theme, search for WordPress theme ___ (then your issue). That way if someone else has a solution to your similar problem then you have a better chance to find the video.
If you don’t want to solve the issue yourself and would rather pay someone to solve it for you then there are many people or companies who would be glad to help you. They range in price and expertise, and some may not be available because they are booked out. If you aren’t sure how to find paid help then consider looking at your local board of trade (sometimes also called chamber of commerce). If they can’t help they may know someone who can.
Many people have used Medium and have posts all around the internet on answers.
Medium does have a huge number of help documents that you can read and they also allow you to “submit a request” where you can get help with whatever you need help with. Since Medium has so many people using it and not as many staff, you will have to wait for them to provide a response.
More than a blog?
There are some platforms that allow you to do more than have a blog. This will allow you to have a homepage that you can customize, have a contact page. You also could use it as a forum, shop and much more.
WordPress can do much more than be a blog for you. There are plugins that allow you to do many different things with WordPress. You can setup a shop using WooCommerce, schedule appointments using Bookly, show real estate listings, have a forum, invoice a client, offer live chat with Tawk.to, have a knowledge base, have a crm, and much more.
There are also 59,703 other options (at the time of writing) for what you can do with your site when you are using WordPress. Not all the plugins make changes that readers can see, they can make changes that make it easier for you or whoever is working on the website.
Medium is meant for blogging and that’s what is does. You can’t do much else with it, but that is what some people love about it.
If you site is insecure then someone can hack into your website and completely change your website without you knowing. You don’t want this to happen which is why you have to care a bit about security.
WordPress is very popular and it’s on your own website so you have to think about security. Luckily, there are many plugins and other solutions to help with this. They range in price, from free to very expensive, depending on your needs.
There are plugins which are added to your site, there are positives and negatives to each plugin and the way they are in your website. You could spend hours or even days looking at each security plugin, what it has to offer, and how to use it. Instead of us suggesting which plugin you should use, we suggest you look at WordPress.org and see the security plugins there. You can then install any of the ones that fit you the best. If it doesn’t work how you want, then you can switch to a different plugin within minimal issues.
The solutions require a bit more setup behind the scenes, usually these are best done with someone who knows how to edit a website dns. The most popular one is Cloudflare, but there are also others like Immunify360, Sucuri, and many others. This is where you will want to spend the time to find the right one for you, as changing from one to another can take days.
With Medium, they will handle everything for you. Which either means you don’t have to worry at all, or really worry as security is usually very slow on a companies priorities list.
Some people love email, and some hate it. What we all want is the ability to control how much email we get, and if we can send emails using that platform.
You have to set WordPress up to properly send emails (there are many ways to do this, some of the more simple involves using an smtp email plugin). Once you do, WordPress itself will only send you emails when it’s been updated. Plugin’s on the other hand, each of them, may ask for your email address. They are completely optional, some like a security plugin may be worth turning on for important alerts.
If you want to turn off all emails then it will require you to go into each plugin settings, and turn off that email. It is more work, but you also get more options and information.
You can send emails from WordPress depending on what the purpose of your site is, and what plugin’s you use.
Medium allows you to turn on and off emails from them. You can’t use Medium to send emails.
What’s the cost?
If you are going to start using one of these then you want to know how much it’s going to cost you before it’s ready to readers.
Just like was mentioned in the getting started section, you need to pay for a domain and hosting. After that, the rest is up to you. You can go with many free options, and there are also paid options.
After the domain and hosting, you can get ready for readers with the free options available. If you feel like a paid option would be better for your readers then try out a free version first then upgrade to paid. This way you can know if it’s worth it rather than spending that money first.
There are no costs for you. As a writer you don’t have to pay for anything.
After you’ve paid for some things, or spent the time to make it look how you want. You want to make some money from it. Both WordPress and Medium have ways for you to make money using them.
Since you own the website you can make money however you want. The most common are affiliate links, selling products / services, and ads.
You do you have to spend the time to find the right ones that fit your website and your audience. The amount you earn can vary wildly, but some people report great success.
Medium has a partner program that’s free for you (the writer) to join, the way you earn money from that is by putting your post behind the paywall (which readers will pay $5/month to have a Medium membership). Over the years Medium has changed what gets you the paid the most.
As of the time of writing, Medium pays based on how long someone spends reading your content and membership referrals.
Medium in the future may change how someone earns money from them, which means you rely on them more.
Are there other ways to earn money on Medium? According to Medium’s rules at the time of writing there is. You can promote your own company and you can include affiliate links (you must include a disclosure somewhere).
This does limit how you can make money but some writers swear by Medium and continue to enjoy the money they make from it.
How do people find your blog? The easier it is, the more likely someone is to find it and read it. While you can always post a link on social media, what other platforms can someone use to find your blog?
The primary way WordPress sites get discovered is through SEO, it won’t come quickly but you can rank certain posts of yours to number one on search engines.
Other than promoting your site on social media, you can also promote it using backlinks. Backlinks are getting another website to link to your website (either the homepage or a specific page). The best way we have found is to use Help A Reporter Out.
All your posts on Medium not only have a chance to get up on Medium’s front page, you can also use SEO to get search engines to find your content.
What if your site is down
What happens when your website goes down? It means your readers can’t read your blog anymore. Do you want to be notified when it happens, so you try and get it back up?
There are many ways you can be notified when your site is down, your hosting company could tell you (as part of their features), you could have a service let you know when it’s down, or there are any number of other ways.
The most popular one is to use a separate service that let’s you know when your site is down, and for how long. They vary in price, with some being free and there are some you can pay for. Some of the most well known ones are UptimeRobot, HetrixTools (affiliate link), or Pingdom.
Medium Support on Twitter (@MediumSupport) may post about the post being down and you will have to wait and see if they give any progress updates.
Using a service like HetrixTools won’t be helpful as you can’t work to get Medium back up, you have to wait for the company to do so.
Some people may love that they don’t have to spend their time to try and get a website back up, but you also don’t have control when the site goes down.
Analytics or any other tracking
Maybe you want to know how many people are reading your posts, or you want to do any sort of other tracking that allows you more details on your readers and gaining readers.
You can use any analytics plugin or company out there.
What about any other tracking? If you there isn’t a WordPress plugin for it, you can add it to the site manually (as many sites would call it). One of the easiest ways to do this is by using a plugin that allows you to add something to the header or footer. Each plugin and analytics company has their own way of doing this so you may need to do some research.
Why does WordPress do this? It give you more flexible and control to add anything you want or don’t want.
Medium provides a page of analytics for you, but it only shows you only the past 30 days for the number of views, number of reads, and number of fans. That’s it. You can’t add your own tracking of any sort.
Medium does provide more details on what each statistic means in their help documents but they don’t give you too much detail that you may want.
Why do they do this? There is no official reason why, but if we have had to speculate it’s because Medium wants to focus on blogging and the writers on Medium don’t have a need for more (or longer) as most of them want to write and make money.
Moving your site somewhere else
Let’s say you aren’t happy with the platform, or want to move to another host. Are you able to move your website or are you stuck with it?
You can export your WordPress site to an XML file which can be used to import into any other WordPress site.
There are also a number of WordPress backup plugin that can backup everything and you can use that same plugin to restore the backup. Some of these plugins can give you just the text and images in the posts so you can take them to another platform.
If you have some technical skills then there are a bunch of ways to get your posts. If you aren’t technical then you can download a zip file from Medium. Inside of the zip file will be your posts as HTML files, some platforms may be able to import them.
If a platform doesn’t allow you to import the HTML files then you may want to copy and paste the words and pictures from Medium to the other platform before shutting down your Medium account.
So which is better, WordPress or Medium? It depends on what you need, how much time or money your willing to spend, and much more. Try out one than the other and see which one you like more and want to use for your blog. There isn’t a right or wrong answer, that is why both of them exist.