Medium Decides It’s a Platform, Adopts Custom Domains

Medium has spent the nearly 3 years since it launched trying to decide whether it was a platform for writers or a publisher in its own right (this is why it was snarkily nicknamed a platisher).  After last week, I would say that it has finally decided that it is a platform.

This minimalist blogging platform has taken a step to emphasize those who publish on the platform over the platform itself. Last week it started testing custom domain names, enabling publications to put their brand or name in the URL.

Medium Decides It's a Platform, Adopts Custom Domains Web Publishing

This feature, which WordPress.com and other blog platforms have offered for years, is being tested by four lucky launch partners: New America, Midcentury Modern, Substance, and The Nib. Those 4 publishers can now enjoy all the benefits of using Medium to host their articles while also using a custom domain to express their brand identity.

While this doesn't sound like much, having the option of pointing visitors to aRealSite.com rather than www.medium.com/@SomeUser/publications changes the way a reader perceives the legitimacy and seriousness of the source. One is a publication, while the other is just a hobby.

I don't have any information yet on when the beta group will expand, but I'd  expect other well known sites to be added soon. Unfortunately, the feature won't be extended to include user profiles.

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Do you know what I find most interesting about this?

This is the second change in as many months where Medium has put the users' interests ahead of the features it wants and needs in a platform. Medium doesn't need or want custom domains, but publishers do. Similarly, Medium redesigned its site last month in order to make it friendlier to short off-the-cuff posts favored by some bloggers - the type of posts which Medium (as a publisher) generally avoids.

What do you think they'll do next?

Medium via TNW

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: He's here to chew bubble gum and fix broken websites, and he is all out of bubble gum. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills at the drop of a hat. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.

8 Comments

  1. Destination Infinity20 March, 2015

    I thought they were doing well as a long-form content curator, but now, I am not sure what they are trying to do.

    Reply
  2. DaveZ21 March, 2015

    If they want to compete with WordPress, this is a start. But how to monetize and customize? A primary selling point is that minimalist appearance – what happens if/when ad units arrive?

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder21 March, 2015

      They could go for native advertising. Example: letting companies pay to post stories, or inserting outbound links into your feed. They could also build platforms under license to 3rd parties.

      But yes, money is going to be a problem.

      Reply
        1. DaveZ22 March, 2015

          But how do we, as potential Medium publishers, get compensated? I’m egocentric when thinking about publishing platforms like this.

          Reply
          1. Nate Hoffelder22 March, 2015

            Medium uses the “Huffington Post” approach. Some writers are paid. The rest get nothing.

            That’s a problem for those of us who want to make a living on our writing, but not everyone needs to put food on the table.

            And not to nitpick, but given how little control Medium gives to writers, I’m not sure that you can really call them publishers.

            Reply
  3. ⋆ Ink, Bits, & Pixels22 March, 2015

    […] couple days ago I posited that Medium had decided to become a platform and not a publisher, and they've just proven me […]

    Reply
  4. Publishing Tales: Stories about Literature from across the Web (March 20-25)27 March, 2015

    […] Medium Decides It’s a Platform, Adopts Custom Domains: Medium is a minimalist blogging platform that is now hosting beta group publishers’ articles on custom domains. It’s working to put the focus more on its publishers who use its platform, instead of the platform itself. […]

    Reply

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