The news that one of the most widely read blogs in the design, development, and digital publishing business, if not the net as a whole, is leaving Medium as its publishing platform should serve as a wakeup call to lawyers and law firms that blogging on Medium may not be in their best interests.
Medium made good sense for Basecamp when they first moved there.
Three years ago we embraced an exciting new publishing platform called Medium. It felt like a new start for a writing community, and we benefited immensely from the boost in reach and readership those early days brought. But alas it was not to last.
When we moved over, Medium was all about attracting big blogs and other publishers. This was going to be a new space for a new time where publishers could find a home. And it was. For a while.
These days Medium is focused on their membership offering, though. Trying to aggregate writing from many sources and sell a broad subscription on top of that. And it’s a neat model, and it’s wonderful to see Medium try something different. But it’s not for us, and it’s not for Signal v Noise.
I blogged eighteen months ago that blog publishers were leaving Medium for WordPress in growing numbers. The reason being that Medium’s business model was not in alignment with that of most bloggers.
What began with a focus on the individual publisher, after deep financial losses, Medium turned to a tip jar and selling subscriptions to premier content. Rather than a focus on the individual publisher and the platform used by them, development monies were being focused elsewhere – especially with the company layoffs.
What’s interesting is that Basecamp views the purpose of its blogging much the way lawyers and law firms do – writing is not the end game.
Writing for us is not a business, in any direct sense of the word. We write because we have something to say, not to make money off page views, advertisements, or subscriptions. If some readers end up signing up for Basecamp, that’s great. But if they just like to read and not buy, that’s also great.
Publishing platform business models focused on advertising, subscription revenues and building the domain influence of the publishing platform don’t jive with a publisher building their own name and domain influence.
And like good lawyers, Basecamp sees the need for writing beyond that which social media offers – the reason that blogging is on the rise.
…[W]e’ve grown ever more aware of the problems with centralizing the internet. Traditional blogs might have swung out of favor, as we all discovered the benefits of social media and aggregating platforms, but we think they’re about to swing back in style, as we all discover the real costs and problems brought by such centralization.
I have all the respect in the world for Ev Williams, the founder of Medium, a co-founder of Twitter and a co-founder of Blogger. He’s one of the visionaries in publishing and media that I’ve followed for years.
Rightfully being paranoid as an entrepreneur and founder, I wondered how Medium would effect LexBlog in our role as a managed WordPress platform for legal publishing.
But it turns out Medium poses a lot of risks for lawyers and law firms – as opposed to using WordPress.
Beyond not having the control of your content and using a platform that is not focused on you, bigger than ever for lawyers is owning a their own domain for the life of their blogging career.
Medium does not enable a lawyer to use their own domain any longer. When a lawyer’s reputation and influence is measured objectively by citations and shares, you never want to lose those links to your domain.
As enticing as Medium may look as a free or low cost platform and giving you some exposure to an unknown audience, Medium is probably not the right fit for lawyers looking to build a reputation and influence through blogging.