Business Writing 2019-11-29 00:00

Choosing the Best Content Platforms for Your Writing

Content Platform

I sat down at the kitchen table and poured myself a bowl of Frosted Flakes.

The year? Not sure. Mid-2000s, maybe. I know it was a long time ago because I didn’t have a phone in my hand. I wasn’t scrolling through Facebook or reading blog posts on my phone. I was doing what we cavemen used to do when we ate cereal at the kitchen table: I was reading the back of the cereal box.

Yes, this was a thing. Unless I had a comic book nearby (in paper format, no less!), I was at the mercy of whatever weird puzzles or games Tony the Tiger presented me with on the flip side.

As I slipped another spoonful of sugary goodness into my mouth, my eyes drifted down toward the bottom of the box, where I saw something along the lines of, “Find us on the World Wide Web!” with a URL to the Kellogg’s website. And yes, it had the “http://” printed there, too.

Note to anyone under the age of 30 reading this: the Internet used to be called “the World Wide Web”.

The thought of visiting a website devoted to a breakfast cereal company amused me. What possible information could the Kellogg’s website have on it that would be useful to me? Why would I spend any time interacting with little cartoon versions of Snap, Crackle, and Pop – or whatever?

It seemed ridiculous in that moment. But looking back, I now realize that Kellogg’s was ahead of their time.

  1. We’re All Media Companies Now
  2. Before We Get Started…
  3. Your Own Blog/Website
  4. Facebook
  5. Medium
  6. Guest Posting on Other Sites
  7. Wrapping It Up

We’re All Media Companies Now

No, in 2000-whatever, a breakfast cereal website probably wasn’t going to move the needle. And I’m betting it didn’t. But it spoke to a greater trend that has accelerated in the last five years.

It’s the Age of Content.

If you want to be a brand in the twenty-first century, you better be pumping out content regularly. As Gary Vaynerchuk says, "We’re all media companies now."

It doesn’t matter if you create games, cartoons, drawings, videos, blog posts, songs… whatever you make, you need to be making and publishing often.

The Internet has introduced and developed new avenues for creating and distributing your content. The question now becomes, “Where do I publish my content to help my business the most?”

That’s what we’re going to talk about today. Creating awesome content doesn’t matter if people don’t see it, or hear it, or watch it. I’m going to run down some of the major avenues for content distribution on the Internet today, why you want to consider them, and the issues you could face when publishing on them.

Before We Get Started…

I need to cover a few caveats.

First, I’m going to go ahead and assume that you’re a writer. This is the blog of a writing app. I don’t think I’m making too big of a leap here.

Second, more is almost always better. If you narrow this list down to two or three places that you think would benefit your brand, use them all – as long as you can do it well. The farther out you can cast your net, the better.

Finally, the channels you choose will largely depend on your goals. Are you looking to build a strong foundation that will serve you best in the long term? Do you want to quickly get the word out about your brand now? How about a mix of both? There are some channels and approaches that offer speed, and others that offer more control and more benefits down the line. I can’t tell you which is best for your purposes, but keep that point in mind.

With those caveats out of the way, let’s look at each major distribution channel for your writing and how they compare to one another.

And let’s start with the oldest channel available to you – it’s been here since the dawn of the Internet…


Your Own Blog/Website

What is it?

Seems pretty straightforward, but just to be clear – this is a site that you own and operate running on your own URL, probably with a content management system in place, like Wordpress.

Why you might want to use it

When I first started blogging and writing online way back in the Stone Age of 2007, there was a hard and fast rule – publish content on a space you own!

The reason for this was simple: control. Whenever you publish on a third-party site (which is basically the rest of this list), you are at the mercy of whoever runs the site. You could craft beautiful, perfect blog posts with excellent formatting and eye-catching images… and then the site changes its design. Suddenly, all that beautiful content looks terrible.

Or they could stop showing your content to its readers.

Or they could delete your content entirely.

With your own site, you’re in control of the whole doggone thing. You can write what you want, publish it how you want, and make sure it looks exactly the way you want it to. It’s your little corner of the Internet.

Why you might NOT want to use it

If the above sounds like a lot of work, well, it is.

Even if you’re technologically inclined, you could waste a lot of your time just managing the website itself. I’m pretty well-versed in the technical side of websites, but I’ve still spent two… three… even four hours searching for the perfect Wordpress template, installing it, and setting it up.

That’s not even the worst of it. The distribution can be the least effective of any other option in this post. Unless you have a really popular site, you’re going to be spending time trying to convince people to come check out what you’ve written. There is no built-in audience. If speed is at all a concern for you and you want to do this on your own site, then get ready to spend money on advertising, because that’s going to be the fastest way to get where you want to go.

Great for:

Long-term thinkers who have lots of patience, brands with advertising budgets, control freaks.



What is it?

Only the third-biggest website in the world (behind YouTube and Wikipedia). You know what Facebook is, give me a break.

Why you might want to use it

There are 2.45 billion reasons why you should probably publish content on Facebook.

Its user base.

You’re just not going to find that built-in audience anywhere else online. For free, you can set up your own Facebook Page or Group, and you have easy-to-use tools to publish all sorts of content directly to your audience. Write stuff that’s good enough, and it’ll get shared by others on Facebook. Suddenly, you’ve built up an audience of thousands of engaged readers.

Facebook gets eyeballs onto your brand. Period.

Besides that, you can get a lot of great engagement from posting full-on blog posts directly onto Facebook as a “Facebook Post.” Blogging within Facebook has become incredibly effective for a lot of writers.

Want to give it more juice? Facebook Ads offer incredible value. This might not be true in a year or two, but for now, you can still get a laser-focused advertising campaign for a few bucks a day. Sure, you can use those ads to drive traffic to your website too, but your money will go farther if you are keeping the reader on Facebook.

Why you might NOT want to use it

Outside of the “you don’t own this platform” argument, there are some specific reasons why Facebook might not be a good fit for you.

If you publish very opinionated and/or political content, you’re going to probably find yourself walking a very thin line with Facebook and its users. It’s not uncommon for Facebook to penalize a brand’s page, suspend it, or remove it entirely. Publishing on Facebook will always carry that risk.

Facebook is also notorious for changing its focus. For years, they pushed Pages. Now, Pages don’t seem to have the reach that they once did. Groups are the new flavor for Facebook, and they’re trying to push their users to get involved with Groups much more often now.

Another issue is monetization. There’s no real way to make money off of your Facebook Page directly. You can use the content on your Facebook Page to drive traffic and attention to your paid pursuits, like a book or a course. But that means you better be darn good at engaging your audience and driving them to take action. Otherwise, they’ll just read your stuff and then move on down their feed.

Great for:

Anyone who wants to build their audience FAST, people without an established audience yet.



What is it?

Another site with a very engaged, built-in audience, Medium is a blogging platform that offers its own social features and an algorithmic timeline to bring your content to a rather large audience.

Why you might want to use it

This site is made for blogging. If you want to write and publish long-form content, it’s hard to beat Medium as a platform. Unlike Facebook, the audience is already there for the written content. They’re readers, first and foremost.

Medium rewards quality content, so if it can tell that your content gets a lot of readers and a lot of engagement, Medium will start showing your content to more people. It’s the snowball effect, and it can mean huge exposure for your brand.

My favorite part about Medium? It couldn’t be easier to use, and you can use it so many different ways.

Just want to write blog posts? Use their built-in editor. Want to start your own publication with multiple authors? They already have the tools there for you. Want to syndicate content that you’ve already published to your own blog? Just pop the URL into their Import tool and let the site do the heavy lifting for you.

The main advantage Medium has over every other platform is just how pleasurable the publishing process is. Combine that with an engaged audience, and it might be the perfect place for a writer to hang out.

Note: Medium does have a monetization platform as well, but I can’t speak to its effectiveness. It might make you a few bucks, but you’re probably better off using it as a distribution channel that funnels into other things.

Why you might NOT want to use it

One criticism that I’ve seen repeatedly about Medium is that Medium cares about the content, not the author.

In other words, Medium is designed to get people reading articles, not necessarily connecting with the author. Nobody is reading author profiles or interacting with the author. They’re just reading and moving on.

Is this a bad thing? Depends on who you ask. If you structure your content to engage the reader and funnel them into your other content or to your website, then it doesn’t matter so much. But if you make Medium your bread-and-butter, it’s worth keeping in mind.

Great for:

Anyone who values the writing experience itself (because Medium is really a treat to use), writers who value publishing alongside really good writers, bloggers who want to syndicate their content for farther reach.


Guest Posting on Other Sites

What is it?

Creating original content and publishing it on somebody else’s website. Ideally, they’ve got a bigger audience than you, so you hope to get in front of them and show them what you can do, leading to more visitors to your own page/product.

Why you might want to use it

This is the oldest online marketing strategy in the book.

There was a time when a good post on sites like Lifehacker or Forbes would transform your life overnight. At its core, this is still a great concept, and plenty of writers use it to this day.

If you can execute it well enough, you’ll drive thousands of new readers to your site.

Plus, it’s free.

Why you might NOT want to use it

I’ll say something here that might be controversial, but it’s the unspoken reality of guest posting for a large swath of writers – it’s more work than it’s worth.

I know I said I won’t be making recommendations here, but this is one that I’m going to steer you away from for the most part.

Let me be clear about one thing: there are definitely paid guest blogging opportunities that can still be worth it. I don’t want to trash the whole concept.

But these days, everyone is producing so much content that the need for guest posts doesn’t support the supply. I cannot tell you how many times in the last ten years I’ve read a blog from some writer who said he “built his business on guest posting” and promised it was the “most effective way to build an audience.” When I would then email that writer offering to write a post for him, he would always – ALWAYS – say, “Sorry, I’m not accepting guest posts at this time.”

Guest posting is more than just writing a good post. It’s about finding sites to write for, crafting personal pitches for each of them, including three or four post ideas, and sending out emails and follow-up emails for weeks in hopes that maybe they’ll respond to you.

In my mind – and I’m perfectly willing to admit that I’m wrong about stuff, so don’t take this for gospel – the strength and power of the Internet has been the removal of gatekeepers. That’s especially true for content creators like you and me.

The guest posting strategy just turns the Internet back into the “begging for gatekeepers’ attention” that we all wanted to avoid.

Personally, I think if you take the time to create content consistently (yay, alliteration!) for the other channels listed here, you’re going to have much more success.

Great for:

Writers who still think social media is a fad, people with a lot of free time to write pitches.

Wrapping It Up

Yes, there are others I didn’t list here, like LinkedIn or Instagram. But they start getting into the same pros and cons as some of the others here.

At the end of the day, if you want your content to win, you just need to pick a channel or two and do it well – and consistently. Pick a publishing schedule and stick to it. Experiment with different formats and lengths. Spend a few bucks on advertising.

As long as you are constantly taking action, you’re going to find your way to success on any of these channels. It’s not so much where you publish your content, but how you do it that matters most.

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