As the interest in ‘passive income’ and the writing profession continues to skyrocket, those who seek to monetize their skills must determine the best platform for achieving their goals.
Medium, WordPress, Substack, Beehiv, Ghost, SquareSpace, and Wix are the most popular options, but there certainly are a lot more.
It can be overwhelming trying to figure it out where to write, and with so many choices available, this painful process of choosing the right platform can keep even the most motivated writers from ever publishing their work.
So how do you choose?
Having blogged since 2005 and worked on many of the legacy platforms since those days, I can tell you what the best options are based on my professional experience — but your decision will need to be based on your needs.
- Do you desire more creative control over the design of your website?
- Do you prefer better SEO features or does it matter?
- Do you want to spend more time writing instead of learning the platform?
- Do you expect to build an audience quickly or more organically?
- Do you hope to spend less money upfront to get started?
- Do you know what your desired goals look like?
These are just some of the questions you have to be able to answer to get started on the right path.
And believe me, it’s worth asking all the hard questions from the very beginning! Nothing sucks more than growing an audience and getting paid members and then having to switch platforms later. You will definitely lose people in the process.
From a professional perspective, Wix and Weebly, are certainly out for me. These platforms suck and are only good for hobbyists.
So I want to focus on publishing platforms that actually benefit anyone who desires to make money from their craft.
Today I only want to talk about two options, WordPress and Medium, because they are popular legacy platforms who have been in the game for a very long time.
My Thoughts on WordPress
Note: Most of my online experience has been with WordPress. I helped build one of the very first theme and plugin companies in the industry and have earned a ton of money from my expertise with this platform. But I won’t let this bias affect my recommendations.
WordPress is the best website publishing platforms on the planet.
No other option will give you complete control over every aspect of your website like WP does. It’s an open sourced software designed to give you total power whether you want to blog, create a membership website, or sell eCommerce goods.
The sheer amount of themes, plugins, and training is endless.
And you have a very large community of experts who are willing to help you should you get stuck. This is valuable!
If you’re a content creator wanting to build your brand while offering a variety of services or products while keeping your audience in one place — WordPress should be your choice.
You can invest in a great theme with templates, pair it with excellent website hosting and some essential plugins, and be ready to make money online within hours. If you ever need any advice, I’m glad to help.
But WordPress isn’t for everyone either and it’s definitely not perfect.
The costs for premium themes, plugins, and hosting can be expensive. You can expect to spend $500-$1,000 per year. If you’re serious about your business and look at it as an investment, it’s not a big deal. If you’re just trying to experiment with your craft, then other options will be better.
There is also a steeper learning curve. You will have to set up your domain name, your website hosting, and your products of choice. Some are very easy while others are more complex. Of course you can always pay someone to help you to make it faster.
Plus you have to actually learn WordPress. And it’s a lot different from the free version online.
All of this needs to be considered before getting started.
My Thoughts on Medium
I signed up for Medium when it first launched but I abandoned it soon after due to my interest in WordPress. It wasn’t until the last few months I’ve really started to dive in and begin to fall in love with it.
Medium is fantastic for staring quickly with no upfront expense.
Unless you join the Partner Program or become a Friend of Medium, the only investment is your time.
There is virtually no learning curve unless you want to dig more into your SEO and the platform’s UI is so easy to use. It’s pure, unadulterated writing from the very beginning. You can simply focus on writing and publishing.
Medium also has a large, diverse community base that’s to be appreciated!
Not only can you read amazing stories from authors from all walks of life in one place, you can quickly grow an audience if you write and comment with consistency. This is way more difficult with WordPress.
Additionally if you do decide to invest $5 per month on the Partner Program, you might actually earn money with their built in monetization platform and algorithm. It’s a nice dopamine hit to get ‘the claps’ and some extra jingle.
One aspect I’ve liked as well is because Medium is a powerhouse with website ranking authority, you can get your articles at the top of Google with some practice and the right content. This is very beneficial.
But Medium has it’s limitations and problems too.
It’s a closed proprietary system which means you will never own your content or audience. So you should always make backups of your content and keep it somewhere else AND you need to find a way to build an email list outside of this platform.
There are other limitations too like no customizations, no Google tracking code, and no ability to add extra tools to make your blog better.
Plus you have to worry about pissing people off and getting flagged by other members. Medium can delete your comments or account with no warning.
So ultimately you give up a lot of power for free.
What should you choose for building your writing or content business?
Honestly I’d start with Medium to develop your audience and hone in on your craft because it’s so easy and you get faster results. This can help you stay motivated and consistent.
But I’d also be copying your work to Google Docs, Word, or Substack in case of a problem. At least you will have something for your hard work.
If you’re really dedicated to building a business around your talents, then I’d definitely invest in self-hosted WordPress (not the free version) from the very beginning because you will always own everything.
It will take longer to build and may not have the instant dopamine hits, but long term you will be protected from any bullshit with closed platforms.
Have questions? Feel free to ask! I’m happy to share my expertise so you can make the best decision for your needs.
FYI — This post includes a couple affiliate links for WordPress products I have used and believe in 100%.