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Bill Bennett

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Why you need your own domain name

“Some storytellers and influencers are also migrating from personal sites toward individual channels on Medium, Blogger, Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube. But there’s a risk here — those creating and sharing unique content on these channels can lose ownership of that content. And in a world where content is king, brands need to protect their identity.”

As you might expect, Morrison is keen on changing the downward trajectory for domain name registration, but he has a valid point – why would you put the fate of your business in the hands of a platform owned by someone else? Sure, use Facebook etc to engage with your customers, but why not maintain control over your own brand? It baffles me, especially as creating a website is so much easier than it used to be.

Source: Why businesses aren’t picking domain names | ITP Techblog

At ITP Techblog Sarah Putt sees the issue of using Facebook or another social media site as a matter of branding.

She is right. Branding is important.

Yet the issue doesn’t stop there.

A site of your own

Not owning your own domain name, your own website, means you are not master or mistress of your online destiny. It’s that simple.

If you place your trust in the big tech companies, they can pull the rug at any moment.

This isn’t scaremongering. It has happened time and again. In many cases companies have been left high and dry. Some have gone under as a result.

The big tech companies care no more about the small businesses who piggyback off their services than you care about the individual microscopic bugs living in your gut.

Media companies learned this lesson the hard way. A decade or so ago Facebook and Google have made huge efforts to woo media companies. They promised all kinds of deals.

Many of those companies that went in boots and all are now out of business. Gone. Kaput.

Pulling the plug

Google pulled the plug on services like Wave and Google+ almost overnight after persuading media companies to sign up.

Big tech companies change their rules on a whim. Some of those whims meant cutting off the ways media companies could earn revenue.

Few media companies ever made any much money from the online giants. Those who managed to survive in a fierce and hostile landscape had nowhere to go when the services eventually closed. Many sank without a trace.

Sure, you may have heard stories about people who have made money from having an online business presence on one of the tech giants’ sites. You may also have heard stories about people winning big lottery prizes. The odds are about the same.

Yes, it can be cheap, even free in some cases, to hang out your shingle on Facebook or Google. But it is never really your shingle. It’s theirs.

The case for your own domain name

On the flip side, starting your own web site is not expensive. You can buy a domain name and have a simple presence for the price of a good lunch.

It doesn’t have to be hard work. You don’t need something fancy. And let’s face it, most Facebook companies pages are nothing to write home about either.

Use WordPress. It is not expensive. There’s plenty of help around to get you started.

The important thing is the site is entirely your property.

I often hear one argument in favour of working with Facebook. It goes somewhere along the lines of ‘fishing where the fish swim’. It’s true, your customers probably are on Facebook. There’s nothing to stop you from going there to engage with with them… just make sure you direct them to your independent web site.

How WordPress Gutenberg upsets writer’s flow

…he might also figure out how to dovetail them all together to make something more interesting and useful than Gutenberg, which has taken hundreds of developers and a magnitude larger amount of time to create.

Perhaps some additional competition against Gutenberg would help speed WordPress (and everyone else for that matter) toward making a simpler and more direct publishing interface?

Source: Chris Aldrich

“…he might also figure out how to dovetail them all together to make something more interesting and useful than Gutenberg, which has taken hundreds of developers and a magnitude larger amount of time to create.”

Gutenberg. Where can I start? This has done so much to disrupt my writing flow and my workflow.

Ironically it is all about blocks. I say ironic because when I teach people how to write, one of things I tell them is to remove all the roadblocks in front of readers. Gutenberg puts roadblocks in front of writers.

One roadblock is that it is now harder to export a post from my favourite Markdown editor (iA Writer) to WordPress. It works, but it’s not as smooth and seamless. The barrier may be small, but tiny barriers can disrupt flow.

At the same time, Gutenberg makes it hard for me to syndicate material to publisher sites with their own CMSs. In the past I could write a post, then pick it up as simple HTML and post that into the other CMS. Gutenberg allows you to copy HTML, but it’s badly broken and needs extensive editing.

Why you should have your own website

A persuasive look at the many reasons why you should have your own website, and some of the benefits it will bring you.

Source: Why I Have a Website and You Should Too · Jamie Tanna | Software (Quality) Engineer

Jamie Tanna’s post lists many good reasons to have a website. Tanna writes from a software engineer’s point of view. Many of the reasons he offers translate directly to other trades and professions.

Your own place online

A powerful reason is to own your own little patch of the online world, what people used to call cyberspace. As Tanna says it can be many things, a hub where people contact you, an outlet for your writing and other creative work, or a sophisticated curriculum vitae.

Now you may be thinking you can do all these things on Facebook, Twitter, Medium or Linkedin. That’s true up to a point.

Yet you don’t own those spaces. You are part of someone else’s business model. You don’t have control over how they look, you can’t even be sure they will be there in the long term.

After all, there were people who thought the same about  Geocities, Google+ or MySpace in the past.

Do it yourself

Creating your own site takes time, effort and maybe a little money. It doesn’t have to take a lot of any of these things.

You’ll need to pay for a domain name… that’s roughly $20 a year. If you are hard-pressed financially there are free options with companies like WordPress. You can get a basic WordPress site up in an hour or so.

You don’t need to be a writer to own your own website. If you post things to Facebook or Twitter, use your site instead (or as well as). It could be a place for photography.

One thing you will find is that a website gives you more of a voice than you’ll get on other people’s sites.

WordPress.com OS X app

The WordPress.com OS X app is beautiful. It’s also almost pointless.

The app is wrapped around the most recent browser version of the blogging software. That’s it.

It runs well enough, but it doesn’t do anything that can’t be done in the browser. Many of those tasks work better in the browser. Moreover, there are some things it doesn’t do, so you are sent back to the browser version anyway.

There are only three reasons to use the app:

  • To keep Safari or another browser set aside for non-WordPress tasks.
  • To go straight to WordPress.com from the Dock or Application launcher.
  • If you want to store data locally on your Mac.

None of these are compelling:

  • WordPress.com works well in Safari. But even if you hate working that way. like it or not, there will be times when the app sends you there.
  • If you keep WordPress in your Safari bookmarks you can get there in two clicks instead of one.
  • Local data may help if you have a poor internet connection, otherwise, it’s rarely an issue. When I feel the need to compose a post outside of the site, I use a Markdown editor like iA Writer or Byword. iA Writer integrates well with WordPress.

In short, there may be a  case for people who spend all day managing their sites to use the app, but for most people it’s just clutter.

Update: There is one flaw with the app I forgot to mention. It doesn’t appear to automatically update. If it does, then the updates are infrequent. And there’s no obvious refresh button to hurry updates along. This matters if, say, you want to watch the traffic roll in after a new post.

 

What I want from blogging tools

My blog set up is nicely tuned. It could be better with smarter blogging tools.

As the moment I write posts with Byword on the MacBook Air.

Sometimes I start a post using Byword on an iPad or iPhone while on the move.

Although Byword can post direct to WordPress.com, I publish posts as drafts. That way I can do a final tidy before adding categories, tags and featured images.

When I hit Publish, WordPress sends a link to Twitter, Google+, Linkedin and FaceBook.

In What I want from a blogging platform Dave Winer says he’d like:

The full text should be sent to Facebook or WordPress, including a link back to the original post. Revisions to the post flow to Facebook and WordPress.

Now that’s something I’m about to work on. I thought of using Mac’s automation tools to do this, but Rajeev Edmonds suggests I use an IFTTT recipe to meet the same goal. So that’s my next rainy day project. Adding Google+ to this would be good.

The tough part will be getting those revisions to flow back — somehow I don’t think that’s going to happen soon. If you know how I can manage this, please let me know.