How To Choose Your Publishing Platform
Jun 8, 2022
When starting to write online, writers have to decide where to publish.
This post will walk you through the major options that you can consider when choosing a platform.
A few notes before starting:
Do not put too much weight on this decision. Ultimately, the most important thing is to start publishing.
If you are already publishing on a platform, this isn’t a case to switch. Switching platforms probably isn’t worth your time unless you’re very unhappy with your current experience.
Email is king. While platforms will come and go, email is here to stay. Building email subscribers should be a priority over building followers on a platform that could lose relevance.
While email is king, platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn are great for exposure. Regardless of where you publish, posting to Twitter or LinkedIn will help. Think of it this way - your publishing platform is where you “host” all of your long-form writing. On Twitter or LinkedIn, you can post smaller versions of your writing to interact with others and get feedback.
With that, let’s get into the major platforms.
Substack is where I write, and where I point anyone who wants to start publishing. I am biased towards Substack.
Substack focuses on the most important things and doesn’t try to do too much. If you’re looking to start writing, this is the best place to start.
It’s easy to get started.
It focuses on gaining email subscribers. And, you can export these emails with you to other platforms if you want to leave Substack (that being said, this is becoming more common).
It has a simple and easy-to-use interface.
It works well for both long-form writing and newsletters.
Discoverability on Substack’s platform isn’t great. However, I’ve noticed that the team is working on this.
Medium was one of the first long-form publishing platforms. It’s widely used and recognized. It’s a safe option, and you can’t go wrong with Medium.
Its existing user base makes discoverability possible.
It’s widely used and recognized. You can have confidence that Medium will be around for years to come.
The user experience is worse than Substack. There are many features and options that make getting started more difficult. Navigating the platform is not as intuitive.
There is less of an emphasis on gaining email subscribers. Medium gives an option to “follow” people on Medium while Substack’s entire focus is email subscriptions.
Mirror is a new, web3-focused publishing platform. It has some cool features, but writing isn’t the focus.
It’s web3 forward. You can connect your wallet, drop tokens, and crowdfund projects on the platform.
The user experience is okay. I find the platform to be slow and buggy.
The platform is less focused on individual writers and more focused on web3 features (which are very cool don’t get me wrong).
If you’re looking to raise money for a project, Mirror is the place to go. You can write a post describing the project and then raise funds from that post. Otherwise, sticking to something more simple like Substack makes more sense.
LinkedIn gives you the option to publish your writing directly on LinkedIn. If your network is primarily on LinkedIn, this could be a good option.
The LinkedIn algorithm prefers LinkedIn Articles.
The writing experience is easy to use and streamlined.
You can also create a newsletter within LinkedIn that notifies your LinkedIn subscribers with a push notification once you publish.
While the pros for LinkedIn are strong, the one con is significant. LinkedIn wants to keep you in its ecosystem. This means they do not ask readers for their emails. If you ever want to stop publishing on LinkedIn and switch to a new platform, you’re out of luck.
Creating a blog via Wix, WordPress, Squarespace, etc.
The final option: buy your own domain, create a custom website, and host it. For the internet purist, this is the way to go. But, it’s really not worth the time, money, and effort.
You own your domain, and you’ll never be shut down.
You’ll have a lot more flexibility with the design and feel of the website.
Having your own domain is cool (although platforms like Substack are starting to allow you to connect your custom domain)
Getting started setting takes effort you could be using to write.
The design flexibility means it could end up looking worse than using a platform.
You have to purchase the domain and pay to host it every year.
In conclusion, there are many options if you want to start publishing your writing. Substack and Medium are safe bets.
Some reminders as you’re getting started:
Don’t overthink the decision - it’s best to get started writing
Email is king - focus on gaining email subscribers
While email is king, social media platforms help to get exposure