Read on Medium.
Medium finally resurrected custom domains. They’ve been kept in the closet for so long that we despaired of having them back. Honestly, I thought that they’d never come back. Instead, after years, voila: custom domains are there.
The problem is that wounds don’t heal easily. Medium abandoned independent writers for years. They needed a blog, and all they got was a flat and useless profile page. Nothing more. Publications as blogs are a stretch, and anyway without real tools, especially given the broken newsletter feature and the impossibility of republishing to other Medium publications.
So, bloggers willing to spend hours on an external website had to do it. Happily or not, they needed publishing land outside a platform that has many advantages but can’t be considered home. At least, not own home. Many bloggers, like me, had to settle their writing home outside, even if still active on Medium.
Now that custom domains are back (for members only, and free for them), they alone may not be a good idea to switch back to Medium as only ground. Remember that too many expected features are still not there. Just look at the “customizable” profile, where nothing is customizable except fonts and colors, and you’ll understand that settling your writing home on Medium may be an excess of trust. Good for many, but not good if you can handle an external website. Remember that you can republish anywhere, from Medium. An external website doesn’t hurt (see my republishing strategy to get the best of the two worlds).
So, if your domain is already in use on your external blog, or you don’t want to spend it on Medium, what to do?
Well, in my case, I decided that a third-level domain is a great idea.
“com” is a top-level domain. “yoursite.com” is a second-level domain, or subdomain, or just… “domain.” “something.yoursite.com” is a third-level domain (or subdomain itself…). Some confusion between labels can be there, but the core concept remains: top-level, second-level, third-level.
Let’s be more specific.
You can set a custom domain for both a user profile or a publication.
In my case, I decided to open a publication that will be the Medium cousin of the official blog, addressed to the Medium community, while the official one is addressed to Google and my external audience. That’s not a good idea if you’re a freak of submitting to Medium publications. But I stopped submitting to publications long ago, since they don’t make a real difference in your exposure – giant publications included, especially the “all in.” So, a lonely publication is enough for me. Strengthening my brand and gathering my portfolio is preferable to a few more views.
If you prefer to use your profile page, you can do it. You can have a mywebsite.com and also a medium.mywebsite.com pointing at your Medium profile page.
It’s all here in the Medium help, in detail.
In short, you need to:
- Own a domain.
- Access your DNS configuration by the setting panel of your domain.
- Add two A records, as indicated in the Medium instructions, but replacing “@” with “medium”. That does the trick for the third-level domain.
That’s it. You may have to wait a couple of days to see it working.
In my case, I had a minor technical problem, but it’s possible that I mismatched between my profile and all the publications that I was juggling here. Promptly solved with the help of Medium support (surprisingly helpful, in this case).
You may now wonder about SEO. What about your domain in place of “medium.com”? What calamity will befall your writing land?
None. You can sleep peacefully. Google didn’t give a shit of the “medium.com” and will still do.
How comes? Well, Medium ranking doesn’t flow down to your articles. Too many articles are there. And too much variety. Your own domain could even please Google much more, even with a negligible ranking.
When I switched some of my most viewed public articles from Medium to my external websites (pointing the canonical link to there from Medium, but keeping them on Medium, now in a members-only fashion), they inherited Google traffic in a few days. With just one subtle difference: that I could monetize the members-only version of the Medium copy.
I’m so happy with my domains now.
And it also gives hope.
Maybe, in two or three years, we’ll have truly customizable profiles too, with categories, real newsletters, and everything. Who knows.