Medium for Publishers Takes Aim at Wordpress and Other WCM Systems

Apr 06, 2016

You probably read Medium, but you may not know it. The blogging platform (of sorts) is the brainchild of Twitter co-founder Ev Williams. Up until now, it has focused on giving anyone the free and easy-to-use tools needed to publish to the web--only without the pressure of maintaining and regularly posting to a blog. It also promotes interactivity from readers-letting them highlight passages, and become a part of the conversation in the comments. Now, though, Medium is taking aim at Wordpress-and other WCM systems--and trying to entice publishers to its service.

Medium announced Medium for Publishers as "designed to give more tools and horsepower to publishers and bloggers across the web. We want to make it even easier for publications to do what they do best." In other words, Medium wants you to kick your old CMS to the curb and host your content directly on its site. It is rolling out new tools that allow publishers to customize layout, color, and design-and allows for custom URLs. It has even built a custom tool to help you migrate your content to its platform. According to the announcement, "Right now on the web, publishers are forced to spend time and money maintaining their aging content management systems. Expensive redesigns inevitably fail to keep up with the rapid pace of technological innovation."

If you're wondering how you're supposed to make money that way, Medium has got you covered-though it may not be what you're used to. First, Medium offers publishers the ability to host stories from brand partners on their sites-otherwise known as branded content. The second way to make money on Medium is a bit old fashioned: subscribers. Still in beta, the announcement says, "We are launching with a limited number of publications on Medium who will offer members-only content and other perks to readers, in exchange for a monthly membership fee paid directly to the publication."

Some publishing brands are already on board with Medium's new experiment, including The AwlPacific StandardElectric LiteratureNewCo Shift, and The Kicker.

For many, many publishers that WCM system they might be abandoning is the wildly popular Wordpress-another free, simple, easy to use tool that brings publishing to the masses. Increasingly, though, publishers are reaching audiences through intermediaries like Facebook or Twitter. Social media sites have been trying to capitalize on this with platforms like Facebook Instant Articles. Medium knows this, and  wants to get in the game-helping publishers by bringing the Medium audience to them, but also with "write-once, publish-anywhere" by launching support for Facebook Instant Articles and Google Accelerated Mobile Pages.

But Medium is also, in essence, a competitor to publishers-which will now get a cut of the sales of publishers who choose to use its platform. It may, in the end, be hard to convince established publishers to hand over even a sliver of its revenue over to the competition-no matter how many free blogging tools they provide.