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UPDATED: Migrating from Medium.com to WordPress

UPDATED: Medium’s export no longer works with the standard import process for WordPress. As soon as we find another solution we’ll update the post immediately.

Writers and bloggers love readers like fish love water. So when platforms like Medium.com and Svbtle launched, it was an easy way for them to publish articles, blog posts, and art-directed stories that had the immediate potential for thousands of reads just by being posted to one of those sites.

With a good story, striking images, and a little bit of luck, a single article can be catapulted into Internet fame, but at what cost? Who is actually benefitting from your content? Is it you, the original author? Or is it the owners of these third-party platforms? I’d like to take a deeper look at the impact sites like Medium have on your personal brand and whether it is best to self-publish or build your Internet writing career on top of a third-party website.

The Pros and Cons of Medium.com

There are definite pros and cons when placing your content on a publishing platform you do not own. Here’s a list of the cons we’ve seen:

  1. The site could close down tomorrow.
  2. No control over how your posts are featured/surfaced.
  3. What if they start running ads next to your content? Especially for products you don’t want to endorse.
  4. Publishing on Medium then your own site will have negative affects on SEO for BOTH URLs.
  5. Little design control. You’re at the mercy of their design department to decide how your content is displayed.
  6. Their platform gains an audience instead of building your personal brand. Your content may gain more exposure but are people remembering you or “that one post on Medium about soldiers and PTSD?”

In terms of pros, you get a built-in audience, attachment to Medium as a brand (which can elevate your own brand when you’re an up-and-comer), and some really nice publishing tools and features.

However, there’s nothing like being your own boss and taking charge of your destiny. Just ask iOS developer Marco Arment:

Check out this post on FastCoLabs.com also making some valid points. Or follow this photographer’s decision on “Why I left Medium.” The bottom line is, if you want to build a personal brand, control the look and feel of your site, and maintain ownership of the content you create, a self-hosted site may be your best bet. Now that you’ve been educated, let’s get into the process of getting you set up with a self-hosted WordPress website that has similar features to Medium.com.

Setting Up WordPress

Step 1. Buy a domain and WordPress hosting

Sign up for a WordPress hosting account from Pagely, Siteground, or Site5 hosting. They will configure your WordPress installation for you. All you have to do is point your domain name’s DNS at your new host’s DNS servers and your site will be functional within 24-48 hours.

Once that is complete, you will want to find WordPress themes and plugins that give you all the features and clean design offered by Medium.com.

Step 2. Pick up the Largo Theme

Largo has similar features and design to Medium with inline commenting, the option of having a full-browser-height article image and a focus on beautiful typography with built-in Typekit fonts (the same sans-serif font as used on Medium.com).

largo-feature

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largo-screenshot-04

Step 3. Install Aesop Story Engine

Aesop Story Engine is a free WordPress plugin built to add unique storytelling features to WordPress found on sites like Medium.com. You can now create art-directed articles/stories like the ones you’ve seen on the New York Times and other media outlets. With the ability to post virtually any type of media (video, audio, PDFs, chapters, timelines, maps), Aesop brings a new level of interactivity and depth to your articles never before seen on any publishing platform (including Medium).

The Largo theme is built to work beautifully with Aesop Story Engine and provides unique styling for its components, making it easy to transition your posts to WordPress and still display content beautifully.

Step 4. Export your Medium.com posts

First get your posts from Medium.com so that you can import them to your new WordPress site:

  1. Login to Medium.com and open the main menu.
  2. Click the gear next to your name to view Settings.Medium.com WordPress - Gear
  3. Scroll down to find Export Content and click Download .ZIP.Medium.com WordPress - Export
  4. Click the button and your posts will download in a .zip format. You do not need to unzip the file.

Step 5. Import posts into WordPress

  1. Log in to your WordPress admin.
  2. Click Tools → Import
    Medium.com WordPress - Import
  3. Click Import.
  4. Select the WordPress option.Medium.com WordPress - Import
  5. Then select the .zip file downloaded from Medium.com.Medium.com WordPress - Upload
  6. After you select the file, click Upload File and Import.
  7. Success! Your posts are all imported into WordPress.

It really is that easy! With a self-hosted WordPress site and our Largo theme you can transfer your Medium.com content and be up-and-running in minutes.

4 Comments

  1. jon says:

    This doesn’t seem to work anymore

    Medium exports a Zip of HTML files whilst the WordPress importer seems to be looking for a .WXR file?

    • Ryan says:

      Same here. Doesn’t work. Error: “This does not appear to be a WXR file, missing/invalid WXR version number”

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