The emacs functions mentioned in the docs don't seem to exist in my org version 7.9.3f.
Any idea how I can get org-mode to export to markdown for me without pulling my hair out?
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You should customize
org-export-backends and enable the markdown backend.
M-x customize-option and then org-export-backends and then arrow down to the checkbox to the left of 'md' and press enter to enable it (or just click on it, if running emacs graphically). Then arrow back up and over to 'Apply and Save' (or click on it).
I just ran into this package:
If you want specifically Github-Flavored Markdown, that should help.
It can be done using pandoc:
pandoc -s progress.org -o progress.md
Have you tried
(eval-after-load "org" '(require 'ox-md nil t))
as discussed in this answer? Once loaded you should see the export option in the normal org export list.