Are you looking to build your online presence by publishing content? If so, there are two ways to go about it. You can be traditional and start your website, or publish your posts on an established platform. Or in other words, use either WordPress or something like Medium.
Now, this comparison is a bit awkward because these platforms are inherently different. The features they offer users are only similar on a surface level. That said, they are both great tools for beginners, and you can find success with either tool.
Let’s take a look at what’s best for you, Medium or WordPress.
Overview: Medium Vs WordPress
At their core, both of these platforms are completely different. They are so different, many might even be wondering why they should be compared. But when you consider they are both beginner-friendly tools that help you publish content on the internet, it’s pretty simple.
Now before we start looking at individual categories, let me explain what each one is.
Medium is a publishing platform that allows users to create their profiles and post content. If this sounds similar to a social media platform, that’s because it is. Or to be more precise, it is a social journalism platform.
Medium takes the content you submit to be published and then displays it to users that will find it interesting based on the topic you choose. For instance, if you write a post about fishing, Medium will try to display it to people interested in that topic.
Of course, you can display your Medium stories on other social media platforms like Facebook. This can help promote your content with friends, family, and co-workers. All it takes is for you to create a free online account and you are good to go.
WordPress is open-source software that allows you to build websites without any limitations. And you don’t need to write a single line of code to build a stunning website. That’s why it powers over 40% of the internet.
Or to say it another way, 40% of websites are built using WordPress. You can build elaborate websites without code due to the large library of plugins and themes at your disposal.
Plugins add specific features that would normally need code to implement, such as embedding an Instagram widget. Whereas themes deal with the appearance of your website.
In just a few clicks of the mouse, a theme will transform the appearance of your entire website, which makes it simple for beginners.
Note: There are two types of WordPress: WordPress.com, and WordPress.org. This comparison will look at a self-hosted WordPress.org website.
So What’s the Difference Between Medium and WordPress?
Medium is a publishing platform with blogging tools, whereas WordPress is a website builder that excels at blogging and building other types of websites. When using Medium, you do not own the content you create, the platform does.
In WordPress, you own the website, thus, you own all of the content that you publish. The appeal of Medium is that you can create content and build your reputation on a larger platform.
In comparison, you need to build an audience, and reputation at the same time with WordPress.
Ultimately, these tools are completely different from one another, so let’s see how they compare in specific categories.
Ease of Use
The platform you choose to use needs to be easy to learn. After all, in 2023, most people trying to build a website or online presence have little to no coding experience whatsoever.
Instead, modern improvements allow them to produce similar content to veterans.
Let’s see where each platform stands when it comes to accessibility.
Medium Accessibility: Winner
Medium is much closer to the difficulty of learning a social media platform than building a website. And that, of course, makes it extremely easy to use. All you need to do is sign up for an account, customize your homepage, and start writing.
And just to be clear, your homepage is the equivalent of your profile. You choose the topics you are interested in and other simple pieces of information, but the real focus is on the writing.
Content in Medium is called a Story, which is the equivalent of a blog on any other platform.
The editor you have access to is extremely basic, some might even say limited, which makes creating content easy. There are no advanced settings for things like SEO or sharing on social platforms, which just adds to the simplicity.
WordPress allows you to build full websites in under an hour. It is extremely easy to use, which might sound like an exaggeration. But anyone can build a website using WordPress.
It does most of the heavy lifting for you.
In reality, all you need to do is install it, which just takes one click, choose a theme, select a few plugins, and create content.
While WordPress is easy, it is worth pointing out that it has a lot of features and it can overwhelm beginners. Thus there is a slight learning curve.
Even with all of that said, the popularity of WordPress speaks for itself on this matter. If it’s good enough for almost half of the internet, it’s good enough for just about anything.
There are not many options that are easier when building a website.
We are comparing apples and oranges here. Building a website is going to involve more work than signing up to a platform. Thus there’s no way around it, Medium is much easier to use.
Just keep in mind that a big part of this is because WordPress offers way more features and flexibility. Generally speaking, the more features available, the harder the platform is to use.
The quality users expect from the content they consume on the internet has changed dramatically over the years.
In the early days of the internet, very basic websites and content could succeed. Unfortunately, that’s not the case today. Your content needs to have its flair to stand out.
And adding that flair all depends on the design options available to you.
In the last section, I described how easy Medium is to use because it doesn’t have a lot of features. As you might guess, that is going to limit your design choices.
To put it simply, your design options are similar to what you can achieve with a word processor.
This means you can control the font you select, the color of the background or accent, add headers or tag lines, and most of the basic features you’d expect.
In terms of layout options, you can freely move elements around on the page.
You can even utilize two columns to increase the options available. However, outside of the tools Medium provides, you have no other options. This means if the feature is not already inside of Medium, you can’t add it.
WordPress Design: Winner
WordPress allows you to build any type of website from a blog to an online store. So, the level and range of design options are simply unmatched. Every website built in WordPress can look unique from one another.
This is all thanks to how themes are implemented. In the simplest form, you choose between thousands of free and premium themes and just install the one you like.
WordPress does the rest.
However, if you peel back the veil, you can customize every aspect of that theme. Thus, two websites with the same theme can look completely different.
Most importantly, you are not limited to the tools WordPress provides. You can install multiple plugins that allow you to add more customization options to your content.
This even includes full-page builders like Elementor.
There’s no competition between Medium and WordPress in terms of design, WordPress wins. It gives you more options to design your content, and you can add as many additional features as you want.
Whereas, with Medium, you are limited to the tools the platform provides.
Again, due to the differences between these two tools and how they operate, WordPress is going to offer more because it is a website builder.
Let’s face it, most people start a website or create content on the internet to make money. It may start as a fun hobby, but eventually, it can turn into a business…and a lucrative one at that.
In this regard, these platforms differ completely, and it’s important everyone is aware of that.
Let’s take a look at how each monetization system works.
Medium is among the more popular places on the internet where you can sign up for an account and start earning money for whatever you write. It’s what most people think blogging is. And in its simplest form, they are right.
Medium pays writers based on a few factors that include the number of time members spend reading your content, how much a member’s monthly reading time is spent reading your material, and the read-time of new members spent on your pages.
The amount you earn will vary wildly with top writers earning thousands and others only earning a few dollars.
You can also utilize affiliate links in medium to boost your earnings, however, you must make it clear when affiliate links are included. Otherwise, you could be removed from the platform.
WordPress Monitization: Winner
Even trying to provide a brief glimpse at the number of monetization methods available within WordPress is difficult because there are so many.
You can use the most traditional option of running ads on your website with Google Ads.
Yet, most bloggers will immediately realize it can take over a year to start earning money from their blog. That’s where the other options come in. You can create a Patreon account or add a “Buy Me a Coffee” Button to the website.
You can even set up a storefront to sell products. This can be something simple like a T-shirt with your logo on it or linking out to an Amazon affiliate store.
You could write product reviews and promote affiliate links to earn commissions. If it exists, it can probably be monetized in WordPress.
While Medium allows writers to earn money quicker, the sheer number of options available in WordPress makes it the clear winner. And for reference, you cannot sell items in Medium in any capacity, so no online stores are possible.
Of course, some may argue that the time it takes to build an audience on your website is too high. But the final result is a website where you collect 100% of the profits, whereas Medium takes its cut, similar to YouTube.
For most businesses, the price of a service is the deciding factor, and this is no exception. However, in this case, it’s a bit awkward to compare the prices of Medium and WordPress.
That’s because they are both free.
Yet, as it turns out, one is freer than the other. Let’s take a look at the costs you may run into when using each.
Medium Price: Winner
Medium is similar to a social media website in structure, and like all of those other platforms, it’s completely free to use. You can create an account, create content, and get paid without ever spending a penny on the platform.
Now even with that said, most Medium experts highly recommend purchasing a Medium membership. However, this will only set you back $5.
The reason you want to buy it is that you will be able to read other content on the platform and you will have access to additional analytical information.
The good news is that this is the only form of payment you will need to make.
As open-source software, WordPress does not cost a penny to use, but that’s just the software. Without web hosting and a domain name, the software is completely useless.
Thus, hosting is the real cost of using WordPress.
The good news is that it’s not that expensive, at least when you break it down monthly. In most cases, you will end up spending more money on a cup of coffee than your web hosting service.
That said, the amount of money you can make in return will easily outweigh the cost in the long run.
This is a tough one to decide a winner because they are both completely free, but Medium is technically “freer” than WordPress. However, you are also at the mercy of Medium as a host, whereas you can freely choose and switch web hosting companies with WordPress.
Thus, while it is cheaper, it is at the same time a limiting factor.
Final Results: Medium vs WordPress
On the surface from our head-to-head comparison, it may look like a tie, but it’s just because we are comparing vastly different tools. WordPress offers users far more in terms of customizations, flexibility, and scalability.
Building a presence on Medium is great, but you are locked to the platform. If you want to branch out and start your own website, you’re building from scratch. Not to mention you are limited to what Medium allows you to use and create.
And to be perfectly honest, the wins Medium did take, were more of a technicality.
Instead, WordPress is the superior option between the two. If you plan on building an online presence, building your website is the better choice. But just like a regular business, it can take some time before you see results.
Which do you prefer Medium or a self-hosted blog in WordPress?