Extra Help with Custom Domains on Medium

Many people on Medium are thrilled to hear about the availability of custom domains for their Medium publication. I’m very happy about this option too.

Medium’s article (Move Your Domain to Medium) makes it sound so easy and that it only takes a few clicks.

Yes, it is only a few steps to get a domain name connected to one of your Medium publication, but it took more than a few clicks (I quit counting after a dozen), as we discovered when I was helping a friend out with setting up his custom domain eddiehpark.com.

This story (aka post) is written for the do-it-yourself self-serve kind of person; or, you can email Medium at yourfriends@medium.com for help.

1. Registering a Domain Name

First, register a domain name, if you don’t have one yet. Skip to step #2 if you do have one.

The Internet namespace has expanded to over 1,000 new domain extensions, some particularly useful for publications, like .NEWS, .PUB, .POST, .PRESS, .SPACE, .PLACE, .TIPS, .MEDIA, .ZONE, and many many more. You can get a great domain name that’s shorter, memorable, and meaningful at registrars like namecheap.com (recommended by Medium) or godaddy.com, name.com, etc.

2. Creating a New Publication

If you already have a publication with stories, you can skip to step #3.

You can create a publication at medium.com/me/publications by clicking on that “New publication” button. Fill out info about the publication. The name of the publication must be between 8 and 140 characters, and at least two words.

After the publication is created, you’ll have to add stories to that publication.

3. Configuring your Domain’s DNS Records

This is the hairiest part of the process. The steps at Move Your Domain to Medium are simply presented, but the email with details for adding like twelve A records and a CNAME record to your domain’s DNS settings is quite involved, since most of us only do this once in a lifetime (of a domain).

Every registrar has their own user interface and steps for adding or editing its domain’s DNS records.

And even though my friend registered his domain with the recommended namecheap.com, it took several back-and-forth emails to get everything to work.

One typo could throw everything off and break things. Where we got stuck was adding the CNAME record. The first email gave us this info to add:

Here is your CNAME “domain” (sometimes referred to as “host” or “name”): CC00DDEE1234567890.eddiehpark.com
Here is the CNAME “target” (sometimes referred to as “points to” or “value”): 2015C0DE4D03A14999888777.comodoca.com

But it turns out that the CNAME host value didn’t need the domain name added on the end — only needed to enter CC00DDEE1234567890, at least that was the case with namecheap.com.

And then after the scripts and robots do their thing on the hourly schedule, it detects the domain’s CNAME record, verifies it with something in the backend, generates a free SSL certificate, installs it for your domain, then automagically the domain name starts working! Voila!

That was our wonderful custom domain experience. Thank you Medium!!!

Get Extra Help with DNS Settings in cPanel

For More Behind-the-Scenes Technical Details

Alif Rachmawadi wrote up a lot more details for what goes on with a Medium-powered custom domain thingy, with sleuthing on the SSL certificate and impact on SEO (search engine optimization).

In a perfect world… if money didn’t matter…

Wouldn’t it be great if the recommended registrar namecheap.com could work with Medium to build a wizard interface, where you could login from namecheap.com from Medium (or vice versa) and the wizard would automatically point the domain to your publication in just a few clicks. This would take quite an engineering and development effort, being translated, that means time and money, but it sure would beat the back-and-forth emails, yes?

P.S. Using subdomains for Medium publications

Custom subdomains are also being pointed to the Medium platform, cf. the initial list of custom domains on Medium by Luke Esterkyn + the list Medium Publications (with Custom Domains) curated by Siv Ragav. One of the things this means is that a “brand” could keep its primary domain on its own CMS (content management system) and its news or publication or blog portion can be running as a Medium publication. Best of both worlds!