Establishing an online presence has never been easier for individuals and businesses with different levels of technical experience and budgets. But with so many website building tools and platforms available, picking the right solution for your unique goals and needs can be overwhelming.

Evaluating every solution on the market would require a lot of research and time that you might not have. To help you narrow down your search, we’re comparing two of the most popular platforms: Medium and WordPress.

Both these platforms make it easy to start publishing content online, but they offer very different approaches. Before you can decide which to publish on, you need to understand the ease of use, flexibility, and ownership that each offers.

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Each of these platforms aligns with different growth stages of a business. Let’s say you’re hoping to establish yourself as a thought leader in a particular niche like workforce training. Rather than pay for a platform with a ton of customization options and functionality you won’t use, you can create a free account on Medium and focus on publishing content to attract readers and grow your brand.

If you’re already a big brand name in the workforce training industry and have hundreds or thousands of customers and prospects, then you’ll need a platform that provides the advanced features and customization options required to manage a large and complex site. In that case, you’ll need a CMS like WordPress.

Medium vs. WordPress Price

When deciding on a platform to publish your content, you’ll want to consider not only the amount of time and money you’ll have to invest but also the potential return on investment. While Medium is free to use, the costs associated with building a site on WordPress may be outweighed by the monetization opportunities, user satisfaction, and seamless visitor experiences it can provide.

Let’s take a closer look at the costs associated with building and managing a site on each platform below.

Medium Price

It is completely free to publish on Medium. All you have to do is sign up for a Medium account and start publishing using Medium’s intuitive editor.

You don’t have to pay for hosting, domain registration, or any other site elements. This is great for your budget, but not necessarily for your brand. Because you can’t install a theme or even purchase a custom domain, every blog has the same layout. There’s a cover photo followed by a profile photo, a brief bio, and a list of posts. And very URL looks something like this: https://medium.com/yourname.

Taking a look at The Startup site below, you’ll notice that only the logo in the cover photo sets this apart from other sites on Medium.

The Startup site looks like many other sites on Medium

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That’s why Medium will appeal to users who are willing to give up most ownership over their site in exchange for not having to worry about site maintenance, performance, fees, or anything but writing.

WordPress Price

WordPress is free to download and use, but creating and launching a site on this self-hosted platform is not. To start, you’ll have to pay a monthly fee for hosting and an annual fee for a custom domain name. You might also purchase a premium theme and plugins to customize the appearance and functionality of your dream site.

Like hosting and domain registration, premium themes and plugins vary in price. That’s why the costs of building and managing a WordPress site can range from hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars.

Data from Website Builder Expert suggests that average costs are much more moderate than that range implies though. On average, building a WordPress site costs around $200 and managing it costs $11 to $40 per month.

Medium vs. WordPress for Blogging

Medium and WordPress were both designed with blogging in mind. While WordPress has since evolved into a multi-purpose CMS, Medium has kept its singular focus on writing. Let’s take a look at the different features and customization options that each offers below so you can pick the one that will most effectively help you and your blogging goals.

Medium for Blogging

Medium makes it simple to publish multi-media blog posts quickly. Using the Medium editor, you can add headings, block quotes, images, GIFs, and videos to make your posts more engaging. Because the editor is WYSIWYG, you can see how your posts will look on the front end before you publish.

aligning an image in the Medium Editor

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You are much more limited in blogging options on this platform than on WordPress. As mentioned above, you can’t install a theme or purchase a custom domain. You also can’t pick a third-party hosting provider. You can’t install plugins. You can’t edit the underlying source code.

You can’t even publish whatever content you want because you’re bound to Medium Rules. If you’re found in violation of these rules, Medium can suspend your site. For more blogging features (and freedom), you might want to try WordPress.

WordPress for Blogging

In addition to the standard blogging options that Medium offers, including a drag-and-drop block editor, native commenting system, tags, and categories, WordPress provides more advanced options so you can publish a complex blog.

For starters, you have a lot more blocks available in the Gutenberg editor. With Medium, you only have blocks for images, videos, embeds, and separators. With WordPress, you have those plus call-to-action buttons, column layouts, quotes, tables, and more.

A look at the different blocks available in the WordPress Gutenberg editor

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You can also choose from thousands of themes that are specifically designed for blogging to customize the appearance of your blog. Let’s say you look through the almost 3,000 blog themes available in the official WordPress directory and don’t find one you like. In that case, you can create a custom theme that sets your site apart from any competitor.

Why stop there? If you’d like to display a list of recent posts in your sidebar or add any additional functionality to your blog, then you can install a plugin or edit your source code. These advanced customization options set WordPress apart from Medium and other publishing platforms.

Medium vs. WordPress for SEO

When deciding where to publish your content, you want to choose a platform that can help you create quality content and optimize it for search. Below we’ll compare the SEO features of Medium and WordPress to see which is better for you.

Medium for SEO

Medium allows you to customize the title, subheadings, meta description, image alt text, and URL of your posts so you can optimize your on-page SEO. This will help improve your chances of ranking in major search engines and getting curated on Medium.

A look at some featured stories curated my Medium editorial team

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Beyond these standard settings, there are no advanced settings, tools, or extensions for SEO. That’s why Medium is ideal only for users who are already familiar with SEO best practices.

WordPress for SEO

WordPress is a much more versatile platform for creating an SEO-friendly site. In addition to being able to optimize your on-page SEO and choose from responsive themes and templates to design your site, you can also download or purchase WordPress plugins to help maximize your SEO efforts.

Yoast SEO, WP Rocket, Google XML Sitemaps, and Redirection are just a few plugins that can simplify or automate the process of optimizing your content, images, page speed, XML sitemaps, and redirects. You’ll have to invest time and possibly money into using and managing these tools but they can help you improve your site’s on-page and technical SEO, no matter what level of SEO experience you have.

The Key Differences between Medium and WordPress

To help you decide whether a free but limited blog on a platform like Medium will best meet your needs, or a more customizable self-hosted blog on WordPress will, we’ve summarized the key differences between the two platforms below.

  Medium WordPress
Software Proprietary publishing platform Open-source content management system
Price Free Free to use the software. Costs associated with domain registration, hosting, and premium plugins and themes range, but an average site costs a one-time fee of $200 and a monthly fee of $11 to $40.
Blogging Simple to create multi-media posts with WYSIWYG editor, but lacks any other blogging features or templates. Offers standard blogging functionality plus a more versatile block editor, a larger selection of blogging themes, and virtually unlimited customization options via plugins and coding.
SEO Standard features for optimizing your on-page SEO, but will require you to know or have the time to learn SEO best practices. In addition to standard features, you can select from hundreds of plugins to simplify the process of optimizing your on-page and technical SEO.

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Originally published Mar 10, 2020 7:00:00 AM, updated March 11 2020

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