If I could do it again, there’s no way that I would have started this blog on Blogger. While I really like and appreciate the powerful toolset that Google makes available to the user with Blogger, and although I generally appreciate their (since Beta Blogger in 2006) reliable service and low (free, actually) cost, there are many things that I would love to do on this site that are extremely cumbersome with Blogger.
Why don’t I simply move this site? I do happen to already own quite a few domain names, and I have some other blogs hosted at their own URLs, using the excellent WordPress content management system in the background. Why not just export my content to a new domain name and go from there?
I’ve thought about it—I actually did move this to doublebassblog.com in January of 2007, with disastrous results. Google has started providing a service they call ‘custom domains’, a service which allows Blogger users to move their blog to a new URL and keep all of their links intact. For me, at least, the service was not exactly ready for prime-time. You can read all about that debacle here. While I would like to try this again (and hopefully not torpedo my blog in the process like I did before), I’m not planning on making any change in the URL for quite a while.
The biggest reason why I’m staying put at this URL is that if I move (in any way other than with the ‘custom domains’ feature), all of my links will break. Anyone who has linked to me in the past (and I have hundreds of sites with inbound links to this blog) will find themselves with dead links.
This, to put it mildly, stinks.
I am always annoyed when sites I visit change their URL, and I know that I have stopped visiting several such sites simply because they dropped off my radar when they moved. Sending out e-mails or making posts announcing the change doesn’t work. People find a link, bookmark it, and often quit visiting the site if that link suddenly becomes inactive.
Many blog fans would likely still come to the new site, and in six month’s time my traffic would probably be back to what it was pre-domain move. But that is just too much of a pain and too excruciatingly long for me to wait.
When I started this site, I had no plans to turn it into a double bass hub. It was just the place where I would tell my students to visit and get their lesson assignments. The day I found out how to link to a PDF file so students could download material from the blog was a hugely exciting moment for me.
As I kept working on the site, I started to get more into it. As I got more into it, I started to actually WRITE on it rather than just put student material on it. (If you want a laugh, go check out the January 2006 blog archives). As I started to write, people started to find the site (thanks to Google), and things just kind of grew from there.
Since it was all an organic process (like much development on the web), there was not a point where I clearly thought,
“Hey, I’d better move this site over to my own domain name, so that I can pay for only slightly more functionality than I get for free!”
But now, I wish I had.
As I expand into some different commercial endeavors on this blog, the fact that it is on Blogspot becomes a little problematic, and I will at some point have to deal with that issue. If one is inclined to hack and alter their blog (as I am), one can really do a lot with the toolset that Blogger provides, and I have found ways around many challenges that Blogspot hosting presents.
The lesson I have learned is this—if you are planning on growing something into a business or a professional site, you’re better off just paying for hosting and getting the increased flexibility that this provides.
On the other hand, I am certain that I would not have started this site if it weren’t for Blogger. It was easy (and free) to begin, and I had to actually start it to realize that I had a taste for it.
In the end, I will probably just move this blog to doublebassblog.com using the Google custom domains feature (and thus preserving all of my inbound links and Google juice) and add any additional needed functionality at a parallel site on one of my other domains.
I have found that, while these are issues that vex me, most readers couldn’t care less what the URL of a site is or the method in which it is hosted. If you are one of those readers, you have my apologies for going on and on about this subject. I do think, however, that those who are considering starting a blog should consider these issues.
In the end, I do recommend Blogger for people interested in starting a blog. Their tools are much more powerful (if a touch blander) than what is offered at a freely hosted WordPress.com blog, and either of these options is much more preferable than blogging through MySpace, Vox, Xanga, or other such social networking services.
One can make a Blogger blog very functional—one just has to work a little harder at it than when using a system such as WordPress. InstaBloke and the D’bassists blogs are two examples that readily come to mind. I have worked a lot on this blog to ‘de-Bloggerize’ it. I just wish that I had started with WordPress in the first place.
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