Blogging After Posterous: Hosted vs. Self-Hosting
On March 12th, popular blogging platform Posterous announced that it had been acquired by Twitter. While the press release promised “ample notice” before any service changes, the future of Posterous remains vague.
Twitter has in the past acquired small start-ups simply for the employees — only to leave the companies’ products abandoned after the acquisitions. As a result, you couldn’t be blamed if you’re skeptical of Posterous’ future. Owners of Posterous blogs seem skeptical as well. Only hours after the announcement, WordPress.com reported over a 250 percent increase of blog imports from Posterous.
Many of the site’s more prominent bloggers have found themselves needing to reassess their futures on the service. Some have taken to social media, musing whether they should move to other hosted services like Tumblr, SquareSpace or WordPress.com. Others appear to be abandoning the hosted blog solution altogether in favor of self-hosted platforms like MovableType and WordPress.org.
Alternatives to Posterous
Since its inception in 2009, the the3six5 blog has developed a close relationship with Posterous — it’s been featured prominently on the site and was even the subject of a popular case study. With the news of the Posterous acquisition, co-founder Daniel Honigman is looking for a new host — and he has a lot to consider.
For The3six5 blog there was a lot of value launching on a service like Posterous; it already had a built-in community willing to share and interact with its content. “I don’t think we would have been as visible without it,” says Honigman. He adds, “a lot of the initial buzz and writers were pulled in from the Posterous community.” If Posterous is discontinued, “we’re going to have to find other channels to grow our audience,” he says.
One alternative to Posterous is Tumblr. Tumblr makes setting up a blog very quick and very easy. The service offers a large community to connect with. Its re-blogging system and interactivity tools can be great ways to help get your project’s content noticed. However, much of the activity on Tumblr leans toward short-form content like punchy graphics and videos. Long-form content — common on blogs like Posterous — might not get the same kind of attention on a platform like Tumblr.
There’s also WordPress.com. While it lacks many of the community aspects of Posterous and Tumblr, WordPress offers a robust and highly customizable platform that’s well suited for most blogging needs. It’s also built on the same open source platform used by The New York Times, CNN, and many more.
You can also consider SquareSpace, which offers a completely hosted content management system (more than just a blog) with customer support options, tight integration with social media, and minimal setup required. However, unlike WordPress.com and Tumblr, SquareSpace is a paid service and may offer more features than some projects require.
There can be risks associated with hosted services. For example, you might be ceding a lot of control when it comes to customization; three of the aforementioned services limit access to your site’s source code, which might be troublesome for some. You are also dependent on that provider’s servers and not your own, which could be a problem if the service were to go down — as Tumblr did for a few days in December 2010.
It’s also worth considering your provider’s business model. SquareSpace and WordPress.com have solid advantages in that their revenue models are based around the services themselves (unlike WordPress which makes its money selling support packages). Tumblr, however, does not have a clearly stated business model. While it may seem stable now, until it has a solid income there’s an increased risk it could fold, be bought up suddenly as Posterous was, or change its terms of service in ways customers might not find agreeable.
You Can Go Your Own Way
Taking everything into consideration, Honigman says that he’s leaning toward another option for The3six5 blog — a self-hosted WordPress.org site.
The same backend that powers WordPress.com can be downloaded and installed to your own server for free. It’s fully customizable and provides a larger measure of control over your content’s future. A self-hosted blog requires significantly more technical skill and time to set up and maintain, so the process is not for everyone.
WordPress is not the only self-hosted game in town, though. Its direct competitor, MovableType, offers both free and paid versions of its platform. Movable Type is comparably powerful to WordPress. It also boasts high-profile corporate clients like The Washington Post and Major League Baseball.
Ultimately, there is no one right blogging tool for every business and project. Different services have different strengths and weaknesses. Migrating your content from one platform to another is relatively simple, so feel free to experiment until you find one that’s right for your needs. As Daniel Honigman puts it, “for the most part readers don’t necessarily care. The platform doesn’t define the community, the content and people do.”
What’s your blogging platform of choice? Let us know in the comments below.