The Difference Between Writing a Blog Post and Writing an Article For Medium

Published on 6/23/2020

You would think that people running their own blog and those focusing solely on Medium might separate into their specific categories, look over at one another from afar, stumble across each other's articles from time to time but never mix. But the truth of the matter is that you can’t differentiate between these two groups, as there is a huge midsection of people who do both.

But the mistake that many make is thinking that you’re doing both because they’re the same thing. That you can apply what makes a good blog post to a Medium article and make hundreds of dollars, hassle-free, a completely passive income. And that’s where you fail, because whatever works on one platform may not succeed on the other, and often the success of one highlights the inability of the other.

But by approaching each aspect of writing for these different sources, we can see what you can keep and remove from an article before sharing it on Medium or your blog.

1. Earning

As a beginner, you’ll start earning quicker through Medium than your own blog. Particularly since you won’t have to invest into Medium the way you might with your own domain. It will likely be small amounts to begin with, I earned an impressive $2.74 during my first two weeks on Medium. It will take a while to earn off your own blog, as you need to build a following, a domain authority, trust flow and more. But in the long run, you’ll probably earn more off that blog, and consistently. Medium earnings are often down to luck, based on your subjective topic and how it is received at that point in time. But blog earnings are more predictable, based on ad space and sponsored content. You can earn $100 for a link placement within an existing blog post. They will pay you at least that much to enter a link to their website. But you have to reach that place, through countless unpaid hours. You can also earn on a blog through ebooks or webinars, building your passive income.

Both platforms will require a while to earn a proper income, as you’ll need to build your following. This will be easier on Medium, but more financially rewarding on your own blog.

2. Getting readers

As mentioned previously, both platforms require you to build your readers. On Medium, this is through people finding your articles, enjoying them, and following your profile. It’s boosted through signing up for publications and getting curated. But getting people to actually click, and not scroll past, is down to your heading, subtitle and photo. It needs to be eye-catching, controversial, fascinating. On your own blog, you’re often trying to get people to click on your blog from a list on Google. This is based off a title and meta-title, which may sound similar, but it really isn’t. Your title and meta-title need to be SEO focused, and are intended for the search engine as much as the human reader. They can’t be witty or sarcastic like a Medium one would benefit from, they need to be to the point.

But people often make the mistake of thinking that you just end up in a search engine automatically, that you’ll write a blog post, share it and magically appear on page one. Nope! You need to work hard and long to even be recognised by Google and slip into its results, which will often be at page five or six if you’re lucky at the start. Of course this can differ, based on how niche your theme and topic are, but for many that is the reality. And be honest, have you ever carried on to page five of the search results and clicked on a link?

3. SEO

As someone who has worked in content marketing for several years and runs a blog, I think this is one of the habits I initially struggled to break on Medium. I was so used to SEO writing. And yes, that includes specific keywords to trigger a search engine. But it’s also more than that, it’s a tone, a format, a way of thinking. But Medium isn’t looking for that, it is likely to be ill-fitting with the readers I’d get on Medium. Perhaps do more harm than good.

But on your own blog, you need SEO. You cannot run a successful blog with zero SEO input. Like I said, you need to fight from the back pages of Google to a place where you can be found. And there are many ways to help this, but you have to know them to do them. In a way it’s easier than Medium, as you know exactly what is required to be found. You can look up which topics are being searched for and the amount of competition, you can guess quite well if an article will do well. But on Medium? It’s shooting blind. It’s thinking that you have something incredible, and getting five minutes of reading time. It’s sharing something you just liked, and getting a phenomenal wave of interest, claps and comments galore. It’s far less predictable to write on Medium.

4. Your audience

And on that note, your audience will likely differ between your own blog and those finding you on Medium. This can be influenced several factors, including:

  • Your topic/theme
  • If you publish to a publication on Medium
  • If you promote yourself on social media

But personally, I’ve found writing on Medium to be slightly more daunting, as I’m aware that I am likely writing for writers to read. It feels like a huge majority of people on Medium write as well, and so my tone and style aims to be more eloquent and thought out. On a blog you’re anchored slightly by SEO keywords, which can simplify your text, as you wish to be found easier. Also those reading blog posts often skim through, so I stick to the basics more often. You’re writing to a wider audience on your own blog.

5. Call to action

On a blog, you’re highly focused on keeping people once you’ve found them, hoping they’ll bookmark you or sign up to your email list. So you include CTA’s, you try to get them onto your other posts, through numerous internal links. But this can be penalized/frowned upon within Medium, so you keep it to a minimum there.

For example, for my own blog post, I would include a reference to another post at the end, trying to urge the reader over to it. But on a Medium post, I’ll try to end by concluding, leaving the reader with something thoughtful, simply wrapping up without promotion. My aim is for them to follow me and to give claps. It’s all about authenticity.

This internal linking also has a secondary function on your own blog, as it works to build your trust flow and domain authority, kind of increasing the health of your website. But on Medium, if you link to another post, it’s because it’s relevant, and you hope they’ll read it and stay on your articles over someone else's. You don’t have to focus on the anchor text, merely the relevance and merging it subtly within the text.

6. What you write about

I feel like I have a lot more freedom with what I write about on Medium. I don’t have to worry about what people type into Google and look for, I merely consider what I find interesting and what someone else could. It isn’t about them finding my article, it’s clicking on it when they do. But that also means I have more of a focus on being original, standing out with my topic. I can’t write what's been written about too often, unless i have a brand new view of it. And I like that, I think it pushes us as writers, as if something has been written about with nothing new to add, why bother?

Writing for a blog is far more focused on ‘doing’. It’s ways to do X, the best Y and reasons why Z happens. It’s all purposeful, it’s something someone needs and you provide. But on Medium, it doesn’t need purpose, and I love that. It’s about thought. The thoughts that enter my mind, the ones that I can try to make you share. It’s about the beauty of writing, it’s about topics that matter.

Medium is also focused on the topics of right now. Something happens today, and tomorrow it’s on Medium, making money and reaching people. Often something will happen this morning and by this afternoon it could be making waves on Medium. Blogs work far slower than that, they’re planting the seed of a topic, and waiting weeks for Google to grow its stem, and even longer the flower of actual readers to bloom.

It’s like that saying you find splashed across tank tops in Vietnamese or Indonesian markets, “Same same, but different”. And so are individual blogs and Medium. The same in so many ways, but subtly differentiating without you realising at first. So don’t make the mistake of just uploading your blog post without any change, which is far too easy given the canonical links Medium offers. Make these changes to a blog post before sharing it on Medium:

1. Import your story, don’t copy and paste. This ensures no SEO competition for your blog, but still allows you to make plenty of changes to the new text.

2. Change your meta title and description into a new heading and subtitle, don’t just copy them. Aim for a witty/smart text. Hint to your story, grab their attention but don’t give it away. And no clickbait!

3. Remove SEO keywords, they’ll clutter it. You can reword it now to be more smooth and interest-focused.

4. Take a look at your language and audience.

5. Remove extra images. Readers at Medium don’t require as many photos as blog readers do, they prefer to focus on the words.

6. Ensure that it’s a Medium worthy topic and not a simple, overdone “how to”.

7. Remove excessive links or CTA’s.

8. Still focus on engagement, things for your reader to answer or discuss at the end.

It can be frustrating, as even with knowing these differences, you can’t predict what will make a good blog post or Medium article. Especially on Medium, where you’re mainly going off of assumptions or previous experiences, you still can’t know. I’ve written articles where I thought “Yep, this is the one. This is going to go viral and make those big bucks.” and it doesn’t, not at all. Whereas ones that I did spur of the moment, on a whim, end up gathering the most attention!

A lot of it depends on Medium curation, which is also so difficult to predict! As with everything when it comes to the reception of your writing, it’s about the subjective tastes of a huge number of individuals. You can’t predict it. But you can specialise your writing towards your medium, suit the audience you expect/intend to gather and write what you like. Writing to go viral will never work, so the rule of thumb to live by is:

Write what you would want to read.



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