Today Medium announced that they will be laying off 50 people to refocus on their mission. That mission, they say, is to make publishing more accessible to everyone, and to allow the highest quality content to get noticed even if it comes from someone without many followers.
I can totally get behind that mission. But at the same time, this announcement demonstrates the importance of controlling your own platform and owning your content by actually publishing on your own website. Over the last year or so, some pretty big publishing outlets have migrated entirely over to publishing on Medium. Today’s announcement by Medium underscores why that is a bad idea.
Now, I won’t say that the sky is falling for Medium. As noted in the announcement, the last year has been the best for Medium so far as far as key metrics are concerned, and I see no reason to doubt that. Anecdotally, I have seen more people using it and I’ve noticed it appearing in search results more often. They will probably work out whatever problems they are having and move forward.
With that said, it does demonstrate the problem of relying on another platform. There was a time when the best publishing platform was Livejournal. Then there was Blogspot. And Tumblr. Now there is Medium. So while this is not the end for Medium, what happens when the next great publishing platform comes along? It is trivial for readers to leave and start reading somewhere else, but it is a much larger task for the publishers to migrate to the next great platform.
The solution is to maintain complete ownership of your content, on your own site, on your own domain name. Then use those publishing platforms to help promote your content. That’s the approach I am taking with my blog over on Lernabit. It works great, and I don’t worry about the next Medium coming along and ruining it.