I’ve been thinking about blogging on Medium—it seems to be the cool new thing for “thought leaders” to do. It may be the most common topic for articles written on Medium (both about the site and literally on Medium). It seems every other article on Medium is about Medium—why you should move your blog there, why the editor is so great or, ironically, why you shouldn’t write for Medium.
I rarely write blog posts anymore, which makes switching to Medium attractive for some of the reasons mentioned in this article posted by one of Medium’s co-founders. (such as having a place to publish infrequently, that I can then point to from Twitter, without the need to pay for a domain and web hosting). There’s just one problem: when you publish on Medium you give them royalty-free access to your content.
You keep your copyright, but they can do whatever they want with what you write. They can sell a blog post, use it in an ad, or anything else, without paying you for your work.
Maybe that doesn’t matter. I don’t make money directly from any of my blogs, and Medium doesn’t appear to ever sell anyone’s content—it seems they only have the “non-exclusive license” clause in their Terms of Service because they can’t publish your content on their site without it—but the fact that they could makes me uneasy.
This concern also seems silly because I’m fine with posting to Twitter and Facebook, despite them having effectively the same clause in their Terms of Service. The reason I’m more bothered by Medium than these other services has more to do with the length of content I’d be posting there. I don’t necessarily care if someone “steals” a tweet, because tweets are usually fleeting, ephemeral thoughts. I do care if someone makes money from an essay I’ve written for free.
I also wonder about the whole “personal brand” thing. If I reduce my online presence to things owned by other people (LinkedIn, my Twitter and Facebook accounts, and a few articles on Medium), does that weaken my personal brand? Does it hurt me in future job hunting, as the type of PR I tend to do becomes more and more tied to social media and online activity? Or is it actually a smart move, showing I use the right tools for the job (which may not be a personal website that I own and pay for)?
There’s a lot to think about.
What I may do, in the short term, is keep this blog, but cross-post the occasional article to Medium, since it gives me a way to reach new readers. If it makes sense to do so — like if I’m writing about a topic that doesn’t “fit” on my own sites — I may even make some posts exclusive to Medium.