If you’ve been following along, I’ve mainly been blogging around the philosophy of bootstrapping, and I’m finally ready to get a bit more tactical! My first order of business is deciding which platform I should use for my blog. So up ’til now, I’ve been typing out my blog articles locally on my Mac in Evernote…so I haven’t really published anything yet. Now that I have a handful of articles already written, it’s time to put them out into the world. There’s really only two platforms I’m deciding between: Medium versus WordPress.
Before making this decision, I first wanted to list out my three main goals for this blog…to write consistently, to build an audience, and to build an email list. I suppose secondarily, it would be nice to build a brand around Bootstrapology, but I’d much rather save the brand building efforts on the startups themselves…not particularly on this blog.
So, with that context in mind, Medium was the clear winner for the first 2 goals. Medium truly does make it mind-blowingly simple and enjoyable to write. It literally took me less than 1 minute to get my primary account setup to start blogging. Since I’m trying to organize my collection of articles around the brand “Bootstrapology”, I had to do one extra step of creating a “publication” called Bootstrapology…which took another 2 minutes. The Medium blog templates are super clean and readable…and the writing interface really tries to “get out of the way”, which helps authors focus on writing and less on futzing with design. Also, late last year, Medium released the option to use custom domains for your publication, which definitely helps for brand building. On the other hand, with a custom WordPress blog, it would probably take me an entire weekend to setup and customize the blog with the perfect theme, design, plugins, etc. I’ve been a long time user/developer of WordPress, so it’s not really the technical skills that makes it time consuming…it’s the infinite customizability of WordPress that ends up being a huge distraction to writing.
As for the goal of building an audience, Medium is the clear winner there as well. Since the whole concept behind Medium is to be a platform for great content with a built-in network of readers, your content is designed to be discovered, liked, and shared on Medium. With a custom install of WordPress, you basically start out with zero audience…and you’ll likely remain at zero until you put some non-trivial amount of effort into drawing in readers from external sources. With Medium, you get to leverage their huge existing network of readers who are already engaged with Medium content. The probability is much higher that your content on Medium can get found by their network of readers…and perhaps featured by the Medium staff.
As for the third goal of the blog, to build an email list, the winner goes to WordPress. In the world of content marketing, building an email list is critical to engaging an audience. Medium tries to accomplish this by letting you have followers and updating your followers of your new content. But this just isn’t as powerful or flexible as owning your audience emails and being able to reach out to them directly. With WordPress, you can customize your blog to do some pretty powerful things, including having pretty sophisticated lead capture and lead nurturing mechanisms. Looking into the future, I’d be able to setup “lead magnets” or premium content to really entice the audience to share their contact info and engage with Bootstrapology in a deeper way.
So there it is, the pros and cons for each platform. In the end, I decided that I just don’t know enough about the two platforms yet to determine which one to really double down on. So in the spirit blogging about experiments on Bootstrapology…I’m going to experiment and share my learnings here about the two platforms. This blogging platform retrospective will be great fodder for a future post. I think if I didn’t have any experience with WordPress, I’d just choose Mediums hands down. There’s literally no effort needed to start on Medium, it’s completely free, and there’s really no maintenance required. WordPress on the other hand, actually has quite a bit of a learning curve, costs money for hosting, and there’s actually quite a bit of maintenance involved with bugs, updates, plugins, etc. But since I actually rather enjoy tinkering with WordPress and fine-tuning the design, features, and lead capture functionality…I decided it’s definitely worth the weekend’s worth of work to just setup blogs on both platforms, blog on both, and see where it leads.
My blogging strategy will likely be as follows. I plan on posting all my writings on my WordPress blog…and keep the Boostrapology domain pointed at the WordPress blog. This will be my primary blog for Boostrapology. For some articles, I’ll redundantly post on both the WordPress blog and on Medium…perhaps with slight modifications on the content and the article titles. The type of posts I plan to redundantly publish on Medium would be posts that are more philosophical in thought or higher level concepts. Just from my shallow understanding of Medium, it feels like the Medium audience really gravitates more towards high level, essay-like posts. For instance, I don’t really think “how to” type articles get much love on Medium…but I could be wrong. So for my more tactical posts, which I hope will be the majority of my articles, I’ll just keep those posts exclusively on the WordPress blog.
Stay tuned. I’m hoping in a couple months, I can do a retrospective and write tangibly about the results and performance of each blogging platform.