This might turn into a bit of a rant, but humor me. The other day, I was working on a hobby software project when I got hit with one of these:
Maybe it looks familiar? It’s a paywall for Medium, telling me that I need to become a subscriber if I want to read more articles. I’d been programming for several hours (I was in the zone), and because I was learning some new technologies, I was doing a lot of Googling along the way. A look at my search history reveals I ran about 50 separate searches! Often, my searches would lead me to programming or technology blogs – sometimes hosted on Medium. Although I clicked into a lot of blogs (both on Medium and elsewhere), I didn’t most of them very thoroughly – I was really just skimming for a quick solution to whatever I had just searched for while programming.
When I got hit with the paywall, I was momentarily annoyed… Then I simply opened the next search result in Google (which wasn’t on Medium), found my answer, and moved on. I started skipping over blogs hosted on Medium in my search results, knowing I could find the info I was looking for in other places too.
I’m not really interested in paying for content on Medium when I can get the same thing for free. Now look, Meduium hosts a lot of content, and the majority of it probably isn’t programmer blogs. I’m sure there are people out there who enjoy reading and paying for Medium like they enjoy reading and paying for a Magazine. But I’m not one of them, even though I acutally read a fair amount of blogs about programming. Most of them come from HackerNews, and most of them aren’t on Medium. One example that jumps to mind is Martin Fowler’s Blog.
So – if you write a blog about programming or tech and you’re hosting it on Medium, why? Is your primary goal to be paid for your work by putting it behind a paywall? If so, Medium’s probably right for you and that’s fine. Indeed, it seems like their model targets this type of content producer. But if that doesn’t seem like you, what is your primary goal? To share your knowledge? Document some technology you’re familiar with? Market yourself? Discuss technology with others? Most programmer bloggers I can think of aren’t primarily interested in monetizing their content.
So if your blog’s currently hosted on Medium and you’re not in it for the money, I think you should consider moving somewhere else. There are better options out there. Make it easier for people like me to find and read your blog when we’re stuck while writing some code. Here are some alternatives you might consider:
I know one of the appeals of Medium is the ease with which you can publish a blog and not have to worry about it. Options like Dev.to and Blogger will provide a similar easy-to-setup experience, but some of the other options like GitHub Pages or Hugo require a little more initial investment. Still, with something like a static site generator, the long-term maintenance and hosting costs can be exceptionally low. This blog (the one you’re reading now) is generated with Jekyll and hosted on NearlyFreeSpeech for a few dollars per year. All my posts are simple markdown text documents. I think the costs of maintaining this myself is small compared to the benefits of being completely in control of my own content and making it available for free on the internet are very low, so I don’t have any plans to change.
To be clear, I don’t hate Medium and I don’t think they’re doing anything inherently wrong. I’ve just seen a lot of programming blogs on Medium lately, and I think there are better options out there if you want to write a programming blog. </rant>
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