As a small tech company, we don’t have a ton of news to share with the public regularly. Our website became very stale over the years. However, we realized that we do have a lot of relevant blog content ideas that we can share with the public. So, we considered creating a company blog within our website to keep it fresh. However, at the same time, we noticed that it was very straightforward to create a reasonably attractive publication on Medium.
So we decided to turn our site into a Medium publication instead! It worked great! We pointed our website evoknow.com to redirect to our medium publication https://medium.com/evoknow. Here is how it looks now on desktop/laptops:
And here is how it looks on the smartphones:
We love this layout. The ease of writing on the Medium platform is far superior to WordPress or similar blogging platforms. We have tried WordPress many times, but it never clicked the way a writing platform like Medium does. Since we are using a Medium publication format, we can bring in external writers to our publication as needed. This is a bonus. Our content development efforts have increased manifolds.
SEO — The Worry We Didn’t Have. But You Might!
Since we were not updating our site much, our SEO was very poor almost all the time. We didn’t care much as we were not directly dependent on the internet to get mid-enterprise customers. However, most typical companies do depend on the internet to acquire customers directly or indirectly. So handing over the website to a Medium publication might seem like an SEO suicide to many companies. So do consider this if you are worried about SEO for your company.
We would instead be found via one or more of our Medium articles than some sales pitch on our website. So SEO for our domain is not too important to us. We feel some companies obsess over SEO. We don’t. We want to obsess over our publication instead. The journey began this year, and we hope to hit our milestones of one hundred articles in 2020.
You Can Create Seven Publications!
Every Medium account can create up to seven publications. So you can easily use one or two for your custom website address. Here are the high-level steps:
- Create a publication on Medium. Take a note of the URL of your publication
- Get a custom domain from GoDaddy or any other domain register
- Get your domain registrar to forward the domain to your Medium publication URL. There is some issue with this step that I will discuss in a later section below.
Here I will show you how to create a publication on Medium and then connecting a custom domain registered with our favorite domain register, GoDaddy.
Step 1: Create a Publication on Medium
Creating a new publication on Medium is very simple. Follow these general steps on a desktop or laptop computer for best results:
- Click on your account avatar icon and select the “Publications” option
- On the Publications screen, click on the New Publication button on the top right.
- Now you will see a form. Enter the name of your publication. Choose a name that makes sense for your website
- Enter the description and upload an icon for your publication
- For example, the figure below shows a new publication called Unbootcamp that I am creating here.
- You can add other optional information, such as a banner, for your publication.
- Click on the Next button to continue.
Step 2: Set up Home Page Layout
In this screen, you can set up the layout of the home page of your publication. Your custom website will forward all traffic to this page, so design it as best as you can. You can add an optional tag line for your publication.
Play with the layout options shown on this screen and choose the one that suits your needs. You can always change it later.
Step 3: Create the Publication!
Now click on the Create button to create the publication! Your publication will show with the new URL. Show below is my empty, new publication called Unbootcamp.
Take note of your publication URL. My one is https://medium.com/unbootcamp
Step 4: Set up Navigation
Now that you have created a new publication with an icon, you will see it next to your profile image on the top-right corner of your screen. Click on the publication icon and select the Navigation option to configure your publication’s navigation schema.
Medium publications can have several tabs as navigation. You can create a tab with a custom name and assign it a type and point it to the content it should display. Here I will show you how to set up navigation for three different ways.
Show a List of Articles Grouped By a Single Tag
To show all the articles with a specific tag under a navigation tab, do the following:
- Click on the plus sign to create a navigation tab
- Enter an appropriate name for the tab. I named mine: Fundamental
- Click on the drop-down menu for tab type to show available options as shown below
Choose “Add a tab with many stories (using tag)” and then enter the tag in the text field. Here I am adding the “Fundamental” tag to the Fundamental tab.
Add other tabs that point to tags you plan to use in the publication.
Adding an External URL as a Tab
You can only add a single external URL in your publication’s navigation. So use it wisely. Here I added my other publication as an external link.
Step 5: Forward Domain to Medium Publication URL
Most domain registers, such as Godaddy has a straightforward forwarding option. They forward only HTTP traffic from your domain to a destination URL. So GoDaddy will, by default, forward http://yourdomain.tld to https://medium.com/your-publication. But it will not forward https://yourdomain.tld to your publication without purchasing their website services.
At least GoDaddy is trying to milk the customers for an SSL certificate and website hosting fees even when you want to forward the domain to a place like Medium. Your domain register might be more helpful, but we doubt it.
We have a free offer for you! We can forward your custom domain to your Medium post using both HTTP and HTTPS. We use Let’s Encrypt TLS/SSL certificates and our cloud-based web servers to provide this free service. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your website name and Medium publication URL and we will send you instructions.
Step 6: Add Existing Articles
Once you created a new publication, you should add existing or new articles to the publication, which is now your new website!
Step 7: Test on Desktop and Phone
Make sure that you browse your website using both a desktop/laptop and a smartphone. I noticed that adding a publication banner messes with the phone view, so I don’t recommend it at this time.
Using the Featured Page to Improve Look and Feel
You can make your website / Medium publication more beautiful looking by creating landing pages within your publications. I will dive into this in a later update or a new article. Please let me know in the comments if you are interested in learning about this feature.
A Few Limitations to Consider
Medium publication layouts only allow a single external link to be on the navigation, which can be very limiting for a real website.
Most websites want to capture email addresses or other contact information from visitors so that they send email blasts or contact prospective customers. Medium publications do not have any built-in email capture or embeddable forms to collect data from visitors.