Substack vs Medium vs WordPress – Which One is Better for Content Creators?

substack vs medium vs wordpress

As the world continues to shift towards digital media, writers are turning to online platforms to share their work and knowledge.

While many options are available, 3 platforms seem to stand out: Substack, Medium, and WordPress.

Each platform offers unique features and benefits for writers, but which one is better? In this article I will compare them to help you make an informed decision.

Note: when I talk about WordPress, I mean the open-source software available on Learn the difference between and

Main differences

While all three are dedicated to writers, there are a set of elements that make them fundamentally different from each other. Starting from the experience they provide and ending with the way you can monetize your content.

Substack, Medium and WordPress have different features when it comes to content creation, publishing, distribution and monetization: 

PriceFree to use, you charge subscribers min $5 / month, Substack takes 10% of the revenueFree to use, $5 / month for membership, to earn money via views and engagementFree to use, with a variety of premium themes and plugins
Number of usersOver 1 Million usersOver 64 Million usersOver 455 Million users
Connect your own domainYesYesYes
Price to connect your domain$50 one timeFree if you have the membership ($5 / month)Free
Best forWriters who have an existing audienceWriters who want to reach a broad audienceContent creators who want full control over their site and monetization
Newsletter featuresYesYes (limited)Yes
Rich media post types: image, video, podcastYesYes (limited)Yes
Social featuresLimited social featuresRobust social featuresLots of social features
CustomizationLimited options for design and brandingLimited options for design and brandingHighly customizable, add various plugins & themes for design and functionality
OwnershipWriters retain ownership of their contentWriters retain ownership of their contentWriters retain ownership of their content
MonetizationSubscription-based, writers earn via paid newslettersRevenue share (Partner Program), writers earn via engagement and viewsVarious options: ads, affiliate marketing, sponsored content, etc.
DiscoverabilityReliant on external marketing and audience-building effortsVarious channels, with a focus on quality and engagementDepends on SEO and external marketing efforts
Ease of useNo technical knowledge requiredNo technical knowledge requiredSome technical knowledge required
ScalabilityGrowth and retention of subscribersViews and engagement, can fluctuate over timeTraffic, audience expansion, content, etc.
SupportLimited support options, email or documentationResponsive support team and extensive documentationHuge variety of online resources, communities, tutorials, videos, etc.

Pros and cons

Substack Pros 

  • Easy to use and set up, no technical background required
  • Built-in subscription and payment features make it easy for writers to monetize their content
  • Email newsletters can help build a dedicated audience and community
  • A dedicated platform for users who want to build a following around a specific niche or topic
  • Retain ownership and control of your content
  • Multiple post types supported: email thread, podcast, video. 
  • Use your custom domain

Substack Cons

  • Limited customization options, most of the substacks look similar
  • Reliant on subscribers for revenue, which can be difficult in the long term
  • No built-in social features, which can make it harder to engage with your audience
  • Limited support options
  • Limited SEO features
  • Hosted platform, which means that you depend on their updates

Medium Pros

  • A large audience of readers
  • Built-in social features make it easy to engage with readers
  • Free to use, with the potential to earn money from content
  • Simple and user-friendly platform, no technical background required
  • Access to Medium’s established publishing brand can help build credibility and readership
  • Allows you to use your custom domain
  • Good reach initially, but limited SEO functionality

Medium Cons

  • Limited control over design and branding
  • Revenue is based on views and engagement, which can fluctuate and be unpredictable
  • No built-in support for email newsletters
  • Content may not be as easily discoverable for niche topics or audiences
  • Limited support options
  • Partner program only available in specific countries
  • Hosted platform, which means that you depend on their updates

WordPress Pros

  • Highly customizable and flexible, but some technical background required
  • Full control over design, branding, and monetization options
  • Full control over the content and website (open source)
  • A wide variety of plugins and themes to enhance functionality and design
  • No revenue-sharing or subscription fees
  • Access to extensive documentation, resources, tutorials and guides
  • Use your own domain name

WordPress Cons

  • Steeper learning curve
  • No reach initially, you must rely on external marketing efforts
  • No built-in monetization features, you need to find your own revenue streams
  • You have to maintain, manage and update the website by yourself

Now that we went through all pros and cons and compared the platforms, let’s take a closer look at how Substack, Medium and WordPress feel individually.



Substack’s idea is pretty simple – you have email subscribers but don’t have the tools to monetize your audience. The platform provides you with all the options to start earning.

With Substack, you basically sent newsletters to paid subscribers or offer premium content to them.

Substack editor & features

Substack is quite basic when it comes to design. You have the text editor with basic styling options, you can edit the header/footer of your email newsletter and that’s pretty much it.

Substack is missing customization features like changing colors or fonts – which from a writing point of view could make a difference and help you stand out from the crowd. 

On the other hand, the editor is easy to use, fast and supports drag-and-drop functionality.

It offers multiple built-in monetization/newsletter features like subscribe buttons, paywall content sections, polls, etc.

The preview feature is nice and looks minimalist and neat.

substack preview feature

As for features, most of them are newsletter and audience related: you can import your emails, choose to send the newsletter to free or paid subscribers, see stats and share your substack on social media.

Substack monetization

Substack is free to use but it takes a commission. Open an account and connect it to Stripe to be able to receive payments. You get 90% of the revenue (minus credit card fees) and Substack gets 10%.


Growing your audience and providing useful content is the most difficult part though.

How to get followers on Substack?

Substack gives you the tools, but you have to build your own audience if you don’t have one and promote your substack.

This means emailing, tweeting, chatting, linking, and sharing your content all over the web to get people to follow you.

In the end, what you build is more than just an audience, and by that, I mean more traffic, trust, and links to the platform. You can learn more about growing your audience on Substack here.

Is Substack worth trying?

Yes, especially if you already have lots of email subscribers and don’t want to bother setting up a website or managing different tools. It’s quite easy to use and straightforward.

On the other hand, if you’ve never used it, it’s hard to understand how exactly it works and how to monetize your subscribers.


medium home page

Medium was founded by Evan Williams who previously co-founded Twitter and Blogger.

Medium went through a lot of transformations in the past 10 years. From paying freelancers to selling e-books, Medium has tried it all and yet failed. There are multiple reasons behind this, but the main one – their focus shifted toward making more money.

Medium editor & features

Medium has a simple editor. It provides various formatting options, such as headings, bullet points, and numbered lists, that can be applied with a single click.

The Medium editor offers built-in options for adding images, videos, and other media to your content.

medium editor options

Additionally, the Unsplash integration makes it easier to include license-free images for your post.

It also has a collaboration feature that allows multiple users to work on the same document simultaneously – useful if you are a co-author of an article.

Medium monetization

If you want to earn with Medium, there are multiple requirements: 

  1. Pay Medium $5 / month for its membership
  2. Get 100 followers on Medium
  3. Make sure you live in a country that is supported
  4. Join the program by sending a request
  5. Connect Stripe
  6. Have a clean publishing record
medium membership price

If you fulfill all these requirements, you may have a chance to be accepted into their program. If you still want to enroll, check this page out

Overall, I find the pricing and monetization options very confusing. I’m not sure that you can make a fortune on Medium, to be honest.

How to get more followers on Medium?

Followers are essential if you want to monetize your content on Medium. That’s why getting the first 100 followers is the most challenging part. To get followers, you obviously need to write amazing content.

Besides that, Medium has a large audience which is based on interests, and attributing tags to your content may increase the chance to reach more readers.

You can choose up to 5 tags for each post, and if they match your topic – the chances to get new followers, claps, and comments are higher. 

You can use the newsletter feature if you have a publication, but to create one you have to get the Medium paid membership.

Is Medium worth trying?

It mostly depends on what you write, how often you write, and your goal. If you plan to publish on Medium regularly and are willing to invest in their membership – you could give it a try.

In any case, I don’t think it’s a viable solution in the long run. You should better create your own website or use other hosted solutions.

P.S. I hate that every time when you want to login, they send you a unique login link by email. It’s so annoying.

WordPress home page

WordPress is probably the most complete tool for content creators. WordPress was initially created as a blog-publishing platform and later evolved into a complete website builder.

While starting on WordPress is a bit more difficult and involves steps like getting a domain, hosting, and setting up the website, the end result is totally worth it as with WordPress you own both the content and the website where you publish it.

WordPress editor & features

The WordPress Classic editor was and is still one of the most popular WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editors. I still use it on a few occasions. It’s so familiar and easy to use.

wordpress classic editor example

WordPress later transitioned to a new block-based editor called Gutenberg. While I’m not a big fan of the new editor, it can be enhanced with block builders like Kadence Blocks, which provides a superior editing experience.

wordpress gutenberg editor features d

WordPress gives you the entire freedom to customize your content and articles due to its advanced and slightly more complex editor. Even so, it has a huge community of enthusiasts who can help you out. 

Paired with any Gutenberg blocks plugin, the editor allows you to:

  • Use predefined blocks
  • Adjust the size, color, font, spacing of the text
  • Add or embed rich media like images, videos, audio, etc.
  • Add HTML code
  • Use tags, categories
  • Create newsletters via plugins or 3rd party tools
  • Include contact forms
  • Use powerful SEO options

The editor allows you to preview the content for various devices in your existing browser tab or in a new tab. For this example I’ve used the Kadence theme.

wordpress post preview example

In short, the WordPress editor has everything you need to publish and adjust your content as you wish.

When it comes to features, WordPress is superior by default. And there are plugins. Lots of plugins. Almost any functionality can be achieved with the help of WordPress plugins.

You can replicate Substack’s newsletter functionality in WordPress without any problems. For that, you’ll need a membership plugin like MemberPress and an email marketing service like MailChimp.

WordPress monetization

With WordPress you get the whole revenue and don’t have to pay for any subscriptions.

You are fully responsible for building and monetizing your content. Success depends on your effort and commitment.

At the same time, the monetization options are not limited to newsletters, podcasts, subscriptions, etc. and you can explore multiple revenue models.

Building an audience with WordPress

Basically, creating quality content and following SEO best practices is the 1st toward building an audience. Also, you don’t have platform related audiences as you engage with users from all over the web. 

WordPress requires knowledge about who your target audience is, what interests they have and how they engage with your website. Having a content marketing plan is also good to have. 

Socializing, collaborating, and creating valuable content can also expand your audience, brand awareness and the chances to monetize your content. 

Is WordPress worth trying?

Yes, WordPress is definitely worth trying especially if you want a sustainable business in the long run. It will take a while to learn it and would require an initial investment, but it’s totally worth the effort.

If you like WordPress and consider using it for publishing your content, learn how to get started.

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