Medium has been great for us

More readers, wider distribution, new audiences. An enjoyable place to write. Win, win, win. Win.

Just about a year ago we switched this blog, Signal vs. Noise, to Medium. Here’s the post announcing the switch.

We hosted Signal vs. Noise on our own site for nearly 15 years. We started with something else home-spun, and then switched to Greymatter (old timers will remember this one). Then we moved to Movable Type. Then Typepad. Then to Blog Cabin, our own homegrown blog software. And now we’re on Medium.

People often ask me why we switched to Medium. There were a variety of reasons, but one was reaching a new audience, and another was aiming for wider distribution. But maybe the top one was curiosity — let’s see if we can learn something new.

We couldn’t be happier and the results couldn’t be better.

Results

Check this out… In just a year, here are the stats for our eight most popular stories, ranked by views:

I’ve linked up all these stories at the bottom of the article

Comparing before and after Medium

Between 2014 and 2015, which was the year prior to switching to Medium, we only had three posts with more than 50k views on our old blog. And while the chart above only shows our top 8 posts, it turns out we had 18 posts exceed 50k views on Medium in the last year.

I know that’s not an apples to apples analogy since the articles were different, but here’s something even more interesting: RECONSIDER, our top post ever on Medium with 431,000 views, was also published on our old blog prior to switching to Medium. Views of the same post on the old blog? 56,000. Medium’s traffic to the same article is nearly 7x more than on the old blog.

And here’s another. PRESS RELEASE: BASECAMP VALUATION TOPS $100 BILLION AFTER BOLD VC INVESTMENT, which was posted on both Medium and our own blog, had a similar story. On our old blog, that post was viewed 57,000 times since 2013. On Medium, that same post (re-post, really!) has been viewed over 250,000 times in less than a year.

The hits keep coming.

We’re also writing a lot more on Medium than we did in the past few years on our old blog. There are a variety of reasons for that as well, but one key reason: It’s such a delight to write on Medium. They’ve nailed the writing environment. Great text editor — the best way to write anywhere on the web. Fun to add images. Nice straightforward styling options that make it easy to make something look good, and hard to make something look bad. Gold standard, I’d say.

Social sharing is also significantly easier on Medium. Embedding highlights as images in tweets is also such a wonderful, inventive way to help share bits of stories. Great work.

Quality of the comments have been quite high as well. Comment quality on our own site had really taken a dive near the end.

One feature request

Figured I’d end this with one feature request. There’s something I’ve wanted for ages, but have never found it in any mainstream text editor. We should really add it to Basecamp 3, but I’d be fine with Medium beating us to it.

Here it is: I’d love to have version control at the word/sentence/paragraph level. I’d love to write 3 or 4 headlines, and be able to quickly toggle through them in-place so I could see how they look/feel/read right next to the rest of the story.

Same goes for any word or sentence or paragraph in my story. Sometimes I’ll go back and forth on a specific word when I’m writing something out. Do I want to use “fast” or “quick” or “rapid” or “swift”? I bounce between them in my head, but there’s no way to write them all out and toggle through them quickly, in-place, mid-sentence, so I can see how the sentence flows with the different words. I end up pasting the sentence three times with three different versions to compare, but that’s not the same thing.

Same idea for a paragraph. I’d love to write a few different paragraphs and toggle between them. Does the longer one work here? Or should I aim for brevity in this one? The more poetic analogy? Or the straightforward explanation? Let me write them all and then see them once at a time, in-place, by hovering over and hitting the arrow key on my keyboard (or something).

So anyway… Just an idea!

Do it

So if you’re thinking of making the switch to Medium, I’d recommend it. It’s a wonderful place to write, more people seem to be exposed to your writing, and ideas spread further, wider, and more quickly. At least that’s been our experience.

Do you lose some of the personality that comes with self-styling everything? Yes. Do you potentially lose long-term control if a service goes under or changes their rules? Yes. Andy Baio wrote up his take on these downsides recently. It’s worth a read.

But for us I think it’s unequivocally been worth it. No looking back. No pining for the way things were. It’s great over here.


Direct links to the top eight posts listed above in the chart:

Signal v. Noise moves to Medium


When Jason Fried a few months ago suggested that we should start posting articles on Medium, I was skeptical. What possible gain could we have from sharing our stories on someone else’s platform rather than our 15 year-old blog? Turns out, quite a lot!

First of all, the writing and formatting experience on Medium is just excellent. I’ve yet to find another web editor that makes it as easy to produce great looking articles. It’s just the right mix of flexibility and constraint. Writing on Medium is just beautiful.

Second, Medium has a wonderful community and readership that reaches far beyond our natural sphere of influence. Between just RECONSIDER and The day I became a millionaire, I’ve had more than 500,000 people see those articles. We just weren’t getting those numbers hosting Signal v Noise on our own island.

Third, running our own blog system is a classic case of the cobbler’s shoe syndrome. Yes, we’re well capable of technically making a great blog system, keeping it updated, and keeping the design fresh, but it falls to the bottom of the list of priorities against making Basecamp better. So we don’t, and it languishes. Why not just use something off-the-shelve that others have as their sole mission to make the best?

Fourth, Medium has listened to the concerns of publishers. By offering custom domains, we’re ensured that no permalink ever has to break, even if we leave the platform. By committing to never showing advertisement, unless the publisher consents, we can remain with Basecamp as the sole commercial sponsor of Signal v. Noise. Between these two facts, we feel confident about owning our content and our legacy, regardless of where Medium-The-$82M-VC-Funded-Company goes.

So here we are. Signal v. Noise has been around since 1999. That’s more than 15 years! We’re going for at least another 15. Please follow our publication if you care to be notified when new stories are posted (or subscribe via RSS). And if you want to follow along on Twitter, where we’ll move the shorter-form quotes, insights, and video pointers, then follow @37svn.