You must have heard the story of the elephant and the four blind men. Four blind men touch different parts of an elephant and argue with each other what the elephant is like.
One of them likens it to a tree, the other one to a hose, yet another one to a sheet, and so on. It all depends on where they touch on.
In reality, the elephant has various body parts, and they all feel different. It doesn’t make sense to jump to a conclusion with partial data without having the big picture. Yet, we do it all the time.
The Algorithm Change in Medium
With a recent algorithm change in Medium, I saw a sharp drop in the stats of my posts published there. This made me doubt the future of my blog.
Was I wasting my time blogging daily if Medium didn’t distribute my posts to readers? Was all the work for the last nine months for nothing? More important, should I stop blogging daily and move on?
Questions like the ones above floated around in my mind. I had decent arguments to stop blogging daily. I also had solid arguments to keep doing that.
Then, I checked the stats of my blog on my own domain. I realized that the traffic to my blog was fairly stable. Only 22% of the traffic came from Medium. 37% was coming from Google, and 31% was direct traffic. The remaining 10% was coming from the so-called long tail.
Those numbers were soothing. Probably, only a nerd would be soothed by numbers, but that’s what their effect was on me.
Sure, I’d like to keep that 22%, but if I couldn’t, it wasn’t the end of the world for my blog. 78% was still a decent chunk of my existing traffic. There was no reason to get discouraged. That’s why the ability to find out the truth is the most critical skill that you can develop in life.
What Social Media Does and Does Not Provide
Medium does a lot of things right. It gives the readers the ability to highlight and bookmark the posts they read. It gives the writers the stats about the views, reads, claps, and highlights. There is a community that exchanges comments.
My blog doesn’t have interactive features as Medium has, and I’m fine with that. If someone wants to bookmark a post of my mine, they can do so in their own browser or using their favorite social channel. If they want to highlight a section, they can clip the post and highlight it with Evernote.
My blog provides me with something crucial that Medium doesn’t. That is control.
Bloggers who didn’t bother to set up their blogs on their own domains and only published on Medium are in serious trouble after Medium changed their algorithm.
If I solely relied on Medium as a blogging and distribution platform, I’d lose 99% of the traffic to my posts. That would be a death sentence to my blog. There’s no way, I’d keep writing and publishing for only 1% of the traffic my posts used to receive.
Since I kept 78% of the traffic to my posts, I’m fine with continuing. Sure, I’d like to see that number grow and not shrink, but a 22% hit doesn’t kill my enthusiasm.
In a way, I’m grateful for that 22% hit. It’s a sobering event, but I can reframe that challenge as an opportunity to stop and look at my blogging practice. It makes me think about how to change my practice so that I can overcome that 22% hit and create further growth.
What Does Your Blog on Your Own Domain Provide?
With all the social media channels available to us, it’s easy to fall in love with a channel and to avoid starting and maintaining a blog on your own domain. After all, it’s a lot of work to do that. And who reads blogs on independent domains nowadays?
The reality is some people do. What’s more important? It’s a matter of time that your favorite platform will change their algorithms, ban you from publishing there, or go belly up altogether.
What are you going to do if any one of those events happen if you don’t have your own platform? You’ll lose all of your traffic overnight. That’s why a blog on your own domain is the linchpin of your online marketing strategy. It’s the little piece that holds everything together.
A blog on a domain that you control might look like a small, irrelevant piece of an online marketing strategy, but when your presence on other social media channels takes a hit, it’s usually your blog that survives that hit.