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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.


This feature, which 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 rather than 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.


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

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Destination Infinity March 20, 2015 um 4:29 am

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

DaveZ March 21, 2015 um 7:48 pm

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?

Nate Hoffelder March 21, 2015 um 8:53 pm

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.

Nate Hoffelder March 22, 2015 um 11:29 am

Yep, they went for native advertising.

DaveZ March 22, 2015 um 11:37 am

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

Nate Hoffelder March 22, 2015 um 12:19 pm

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.

⋆ Ink, Bits, & Pixels March 22, 2015 um 12:46 am

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

Publishing Tales: Stories about Literature from across the Web (March 20-25) March 27, 2015 um 9:14 am

[…] 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. […]

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