I just migrated two of my personal domains: AllanTepper.com and AllanTépper.soy from self-hosted WordPress installations to Medium.com. (My other domains remain with WordPress or Sparkle.) This article explains why I migrated these two particular domains (the major benefits for those two cases, not for the others); to alleviate the the doubts and objections that many people have about this idea, and to share some details about the migration process.
In this article
- A short comparison with other platforms
- Advantages of bringing your domain (or subdomain) to Medium.com for blogging
- Advantages of eliminating the old-fashioned www prefix
- Relief to many people’s concerns about “not being on your own turf” & integration with the rest of your website
- Medium.com’s partial support for non-English websites
- Some observations regarding the migration from WordPress (self hosted) blog to Medium.com
A short comparison with other platforms
Every website platform has its unique advantages and disadvantages. Here is a brief summary of a few:
- WordPress (self hosted) is free, but you need to host it somewhere. WordPress (self hosted) has the advantage of being one of the most popular and most flexible CMS (Content Management Systems) for a website or blog. Being a CMS means that it’s great for collaborating with multiple contributors (content, design or technical) who may be located throughout the world. WordPress also has the advantage of being open source, so even if Automattic (intentionally spelled with a double t) closed its doors for any reason, the WordPress project could continue via community efforts. There is a countless number of plugins (free and paid) to do all sorts of specialized applications, including e-commerce, a unique and sophisticated database with special automatic customized PDF generation after a visitor inputs information (as I recently implemented for a client), and even for creating an iTunes compliant RSS podcast feed. (Podcasting is just one important piece of the puzzle for the new radio, but not the only one.) However, the more plugins you use with WordPress, the more high-maintenance the website becomes. That’s why, if a site doesn’t really need any of those special benefits, you may be better served by another type of platform. I want to clarify that several of my websites and that of my clients are still with WordPress (self hosted) because those websites really need those special capabilities.
- Sparkle is either free or paid for Mac. The free version works with a single website only, while the paid version allows use with multiple websites. Just to clarify: even with a single website, you can have multiple web pages within the site. Sparkle reminds me of Apple’s now defunct iWeb software, since Sparkle is so simple to use and so WYSIWYG (What you see is what you get). Given the fact that Medium.com (to be described in the rest of this article) is really just for blogs (sequential posts in order) and not appropriate for a static website, I actually created certain elements using Sparkle together with subdomains to accommodate web pages not offered by Medium.com. For example, I created contact.AllanTepper.com and payments.AllanTepper.com, which are both subdomains and I created them both using Sparkle to be free of WordPress’s maintenance. Both are on the server I use at DreamHost, and both have the free SSL certificate I have described in prior articles, for HTTPS and a green padlock in most browsers, in addition to being a Google SEO factor since 2014. Once you create and publish a website with a program like Sparkle, unless you have any content changes to make, it becomes maintenance-free, other than any future web standard changes. That is a major advantage for people with a static website who don’t require any special functionality via a plugin.
- Medium.com is a complex platform to describe. According to its Wikipedia entry: “Medium is an online publishing platform developed by Twitter co-founder Evan Williams, and launched in August 2012. It is legally owned by A Medium Corporation. The platform is an example of evolved social journalism, having a hybrid collection of amateur and professional people and publications, or exclusive blogs or publishers on Medium and is regularly regarded as a blog host.” Although I don’t have official statistics, to my knowledge, most writers who publish on Medium.com do not do so with their own domain or subdomain on the Medium.com site as I do now with two of my websites. However, this article is all about using it with your own domain or subdomain, which is a fairly recent option.
Advantages of bringing your domain (or subdomain) to Medium.com for blogging
Here are some advantages I like about having my sites AllanTepper.com (a standard domain) and AllanTépper.soy (an IDN, or International Domain Name, with an accent mark) on Medium.com, rather than on a WordPress (self-hosted) as I did before:
- Much greater potential exposure and sharing.
- Zero maintenance, other than my own content.
- When you follow the instructions to migrate your old blog from WordPress to Medium.com, all permalinks of your old posts are retained, whether or not they were previously at the root of the YourDomain.com, or at a location like YourDomain.com/blog.
- No need to repost the same content between your own site and Medium.com, because they are one and the same. (I have always re-posted the first paragraph on my own site to promote full articles that are in ProVideo Coalition magazine, but that is a special case.)
- Once you have successfully set up your own domain to work with Medium.com, you can upload your own favicon image to be displayed in place of the Medium icon in the browser bar, or when saving a bookmark to a smartphone’s desktop. I did it immediately after the migration of my domains.
- No problem to include my or your own advertising on Medium.com. (I do.)
- No problem to link to any other external websites.
- Forced SSL for HTTPS is standard.
- Clean look and branding without the old-fashioned www prefix. (See the next section for details.)
Advantages of eliminating the old-fashioned www prefix.
Here are some branding advantages of removing the old-fashioned www prefix, which is really an unnecessary subdomain (while retaining compatibility for those people who still enter www by habit, or have an old permalink somewhere):
- It saves time when saying the URL aloud.
- It’s cleaner looking in the browser window.
- It’s cleaner looking and takes less space when printed anywhere.
- Not having the www prefix allows the naked or “apex” domain to make even more sense when some other subdomain is used, when it exists for a true purpose. For example, it is clear to people what’s going on when they go to AllanTepper.com as opposed to when they go to books.AllanTepper.com, contact.AllanTepper.com or payments.AllanTepper.com.
The above mentioned advantages are true with any language (including English). There is also one additional advantage for Castilian-speakers, since the letter W in that language is even more problematic than the letter Z in English. Most people from the United States know and accept that the letter Z has a different pronounceable name outside of the US (“Zed” instead of “Zee”). However, in the Castilian language (commonly but imprecisely called “Spanish”), there are about 5 different names for the letter W, and many people are oblivious to the fact that the letter has other acceptable names. That becomes both distracting and causes conscious —or unconscious— disdain for the person speaking.
Approximately in 2014 (when I added SSL for HTTPS to most of my websites after the Google decree), I removed the www prefix.
Relief to many people’s concerns about “not being on your own turf” & integration with the rest of your website
Many people are concerned about what might happen if (in the future) Medium.com ever closed its doors, or changed its policy very negatively. If you do the following two steps, having your own domain on your own turf is essentially the same as having it with WordPress on any other contracted server, which could just as easily close its doors in the future.
- Have your domain on an independent registrar. (In fact, at least for now, Medium.com doesn’t sell domains anyway.) So you own your domain independently, regardless of what may happen to Medium.com in the future.
- Write your content offline with a writing tool that can publish directly to either Medium.com or to a WordPress site. I use one called Ulysses for Mac. There are probably others for Windows or even for the web.
I am very optimistic about Medium.com’s future, but I know that there is a way out if that ever changed, since I could re-point my domains anywhere and republish all of my articles by pressing a button. This doesn’t even depend upon Medium.com’s export feature, which may or may not be better. I am not concerned, since I have both options available, and I hope I’ll never have to use either of them.
The other concern is: how to handle other elements of a website. Since both are both blog-centric, I sent the “naked” or “apex” domains AllanTepper.com and AllanTépper.soy to Medium.com, and separately created the subdomains contact.AllanTepper.com and payments.AllanTepper.com. Both can be linked from the main sites at Medium.com, and vice versa. If your website is not blog-centric, you can do the opposite, and create the subdomain blog.YourDomain.com to Medium.com. For these two sites, I also wanted to eliminate the time investment in WordPress maintenance, although I still continue to do that for other sites like my radio show CapicúaFM and others.
Medium.com’s partial support for non-English websites
Fortunately, Medium.com now works 100% with IDN domains, i.e. those with accent marks, diacritical marks or other alphabets. However, if you see what appear to be “garbage characters”, you may be interested in reading the following subsection:
IDN domains, and some browsers’ attempt to prevent phishing
If instead of seeing allantépper.soy in your browser’s URL bar, you see the ugly xn--allantpper-g7a.soy, it’s because your browser (or version of your browser) is trying to prevent phishing attempts and isn’t currently set to include the Castilian language (sadly called “Spanish” or “español” in the majority of browsers). Some older browsers were designed to show IDNs in Punycode when the domain’s language isn’t currently included in your browser settings. This was done to avoid phishing attempts via what Wikipedia calls a homograph IDN attack(which is not to be confused with a Big Mac Attack from the 1970s era). For example, if a malicious individual purchased a domain like BankofAmerica.com using the Greek o instead of the standard one, to the naked eye, you could innocently believe that you reached the proper BankofAmerica.com website. Fortunately, I have observed that most newer browsers (with the notable exception of Microsoft Edge) now deal with this potential problem (at least with my IDN domains) via other means and fortunately no longer display IDNs in Punycode, even if the internaut hasn’t previously added Castilian to the list. Microsoft Edge now gives you an suggestion to add another language to the browser’s allowable list.
However, Medium.com fortunately still doesn’t allow translation/localization of several strings, including:
- The 12 months of the year (January, February, March, Abril, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December) when automatically dating posts.
- Latest stories
Fortunately, the last five strings mentioned appear only in the footer of the page by default. Medium.com has told me that the company will add localization capabilities in the future. I hope it happens sooner rather than later.
Some observations regarding the migration from WordPress (self hosted) blog to Medium.com
I am not going to attempt to cover all of the steps (as many other writers have). The reason for not covering all of the steps is because many have changed recently, and may change again. The most important thing is that it is quite simple to export all of your Posts from WordPress into an XML file and then import them into a new Publication you have created at Medium.com. It must be a Publication, not just your user name at Medium.com. As of publication time of this article, no payment is required to create a Publication at Medium.com. As long as you do this part before changing the pointing of your domain, all permalinks continue to work, and all images are also included and re-hosted by Medium.com, with the notable exception of WordPress’s Featured Images in Posts. Those are currently excluded. As a result, what I did was to re-add the Featured Images of the past five Posts manually, after importing the XML file at Medium.com, and before publishing them all via a single click.
Another important point is that in all of the articles I read on the topic, Medium.com was originally charging nothing to accept the domain. That has now changed: Medium.com now charges a one-time fee of US$75 per domain, which includes their internal adjustments and the SSL certificate. On the one hand, it hurt me to have to pay US$75 x 2 when others before me did not. However, on the other hand, the fact that Medium.com is now charging makes me realize that its financial future is probably much safer from here forward.
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As of publication date of this article, there is no commercial relationship between Allan Tépper or TecnoTur LLC and Medium.com, other than the fact that Allan Tépper/TecnoTur LLC paid a total of US$150 to have both domains there. No manufacturer is specifically paying Allan Tépper or TecnoTur LLC to write this article or the mentioned books. Some of the other manufacturers listed above have contracted Tépper and/or TecnoTur LLC to carry out consulting and/or translations/localizations/transcreations. Many of the manufacturers listed above have sent Allan Tépper review units. So far, none of the manufacturers listed above is/are sponsors of the TecnoTur programs, although they are welcome to do so, and some are, may be (or may have been) sponsors of ProVideo Coalition magazine. Some links to third parties listed in this article and/or on this web page may indirectly benefit TecnoTur LLC via affiliate programs. Allan Tépper’s opinions are his own.
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