The End of Custom Domains on Medium

Is there a fence?

Once upon a time, Medium allowed you to have a custom domain. That feature is no more available, and it may have reasons beyond what it seems at first glance.

Custom domains are available on most blogging platforms. They help the author or publication identity and let you not to depend on the platform, at least in part.

What is true for authors, is even more true for publications, which usually gather more authors around their brand, and have to deal with more traffic.

Letting users have a custom domain is not a tech problem, especially for a company like Medium. Just an extra fee for extra work.

But the reason why custom domains are no more available on Medium is especially clear seen the changes of the last year.

The Google juice

Without a custom domain, the Google juice stay in the Medium domain, growing its authority.

They sell you that this is good for you. The truth is that Medium grows, also fed by your stories, and your profile sinks even deeper. The Google juice is redistributed on what Medium pushes.

The fence

Once your stories are on Medium, moving them has drawbacks.

Suppose you have a successful story on Medium, with several referrals. Export it to another platform and you’ll break the url (the web address). The moment you migrate the story, you break all the links. The moment you copy your story, you piss Google.

Your good story is locked in. Maybe successful on Medium because of Medium. But while Medium can forget you, you can’t forget them.

Having your custom domain could just mask the switch of the platform behind.

And Medium obviously doesn’t want that.

Identities. What are they?

It’s hard to have an identity on Medium.

You don’t have a customizable profile. On the contrary, you have a useless list of latest.

Your reputation counts nothing for their algorithms. You may have dozens of successful and appreciated stories on your back, and your next one gets ten views.

Publications have very limited tools and layout options. They cannot even decently newsletter you, on the contrary of what Medium likes to do on an hourly basis.

The lack of custom domains just fits well in the strategy. Getting stories from you, and growing Medium. Stories, not authors.

Reasonable. Medium is a company. Not a non-profit.

They’re interested in the Medium identity, which is now already quite clear and strong. They’re interested in some of your stories, not your identity. They don’t prevent your growth. They’re just not interested in it. They’ll polish the font of Medium collections ten times, but will never let you have a custom profile nor will spend a second on it.

Medium growth and strong identity may seem good for publications and authors too but this is just the case of popular names. For the others is just the contrary.

What’s this “Medium” thing?

Badri Sunderarajan expressed it so well that I’ll leave his words intact:

“One can’t really say “Here, look at my website” if it’s medium.com/something; the perception will be more like “Here, look at this publication that I have on Medium”. And people end up asking “What’s this Medium? How does it work?” rather than asking about your publication itself.”

Also,

“nowadays, when I tell people about my Medium publication, their reaction is “oh — but don’t they ask you to pay?””

Medium identity is transferred to your identity.

You’re not an author.com and your publication is not a publication.com. Just medium.com/something.

So?

Medium is still the best “platform” (I’d say community) around. No doubts about that.

Just don’t be fooled. They’re minding their business. Only their business and their editorial ambitions, despite any other word you may hear from them. They give you a community and maybe a little audience, and that’s a big deal. But be aware that they ask you a toll beyond the subscription fee, and your identity as a writer or publication won’t be supported. Sooner or later you’ll need something outside.


Originally published at www.insideblogging.net on March 15, 2019.