Improving the Medium plugin for WordPress
Between Facebook's Instant Articles opening to all and the Medium posting API we are entering an age of distribution: post once, publish many. Publishers and bloggers can retain control over their own space but take advantage of the network effect inherent at other properties to gain traction.
The Medium plugin for WordPress is a good start for writers not wanting to migrate their blogs, but currently feels unfinished; there is more that can be done to make it a truly effective tool.
Here are a few ideas:
User configurable link text
When enabling the option to cross-link posts between your blog and Medium (and why wouldn't you?) the plugin inserts the line "Also published on Medium" at the end of your post.
As I don't have comments enabled on my blog I have edited the plugin so that the line reads "Leave a reply on Medium" - a subtle difference which also gives a reason to follow the link. The only problem is that any time the plugin gets updated I have to re-make this change.
By adding a custom field to WordPress to hold it, the plugin could even support per-post text allowing for contextual customisation rather than always using a default value.
Having the ability to change all this via a settings UI would be a very nice touch allowing bloggers to personalise or brand the text and really get creative.
Toggle using the featured image
If your blog post has a featured image the plugin appears to use that as the leading image for your Medium post. If the original WordPress post includes the same image at the top this leads to duplication when cross-posted.
Current options are to either publish your post without a featured image, avoid the duplication and add it later or edit the Medium version of the post to remove the extra image.
Adding a toggle to ignore or include the featured image would stop this and reduce the need for any follow-up action after posting.
The benefit of "post once, publish many" is that it reduces the friction associated with distributing your work across multiple platforms.
As with featured images, it is also frustrating that after hitting Publish you have to visit Medium to tidy up and add tags to your post.
It would be incredibly helpful if any tags applied to the WordPress post (or the first three if there are more) were passed to Medium and also applied there.
Currently, the plugin is a one time, post only affair where any changes made to the original version do not get replicated to the Medium version of the post. Syncing edits between versions of the post are high the wish list.
Obviously this is more of a technical challenge, and would involve more work, but I don't see why it wouldn't be possible. The Medium app allows editing so the API obviously supports it.
Any changes made within WordPress could then be synced to Medium so that readers would have access to the same version of the post regardless of where they see it.
The plugin is a pleasure to use And is incredibly stable and, beyond the annoyances above, I have never had an issue cross-posting. With a few tweaks, however, it could be completely frictionless.