Bloggers love to argue about what is the best blogging platform. Whether they’re backers of WordPress, BlogSpot, Tumblr, Posterous, MovableType or a custom solution, there are very good bloggers who are strong believers in all of the major tools.
The simple truth is that every blogging platform is a perfectly fine way to run your blog. They all succeed in doing the major task of putting your words, images, etc. online. While they have different features, strengths and weaknesses, you can easily run a good blog with just about any platform you choose.
Unfortunately though, blogging platforms tend to become flavors of the week. As one company or platform draws a lot of attention, many bloggers are tempted to try and ride the wave and move their site to new platforms in a bid to stay on the bleeding edge.
However, this can be catastrophic for a site. Because, while your blogging platform doesn’t determine how good your site is, it does impact your site in other ways. As such, changing platforms, especially doing so routinely, can create serious problems that even a good blog will struggle to overcome.
So, before you chase the latest blogging platform fad, you may want to understand the implications of moving your site and why you might want to think twice before jumping ship.
Changing a blogging platform is a lot like moving to a new house. Though a new house won’t necessarily make you any more or less happy, it will change the way you live your life, often in subtle ways.
Considering the following changes that you may have to make when you move to a new platform.
- New Address: If you don’t use your own domain, which you should always do, you’ll likely have to move your site to a new address and deal with the SEO and user headaches that come with it. Even if you don’t lose your domain, its very likely your individual posts will now have URLs, meaning nearly every page of your site has moved to a new address.
- Conversion Problems: Every switch between blogging platforms requires some level of conversion to import your posts, comments, etc. from the old system to the new. The problem is that such systems are rarely perfect and often damage or destroy data. In some cases, the damage isn’t evident until some time later.
- Writing Style Changes: Your platform inevitably affects your writing style to some degree as different platforms are structured for different kinds of blogging. A Tumblr blog, for example, will read differently than a Blogger one. The blogging you’ve done before may not work well in the new platform and your posting style will inevitably change at least some with the transition.
- Missing Features: Every platform or blogging application has features others don’t and, while you’ll gain some by switching, you’re also surrendering some as well, often times ones you’ve used for some time and ones your visitors are used to.
- New Theme: Finally, your theme and the look of your site is almost certainly going to have to change with the port. WordPress themes don’t work on Posterous and their themes don’t work on Blogger. Though you may be able to recreate a theme pretty closely, there will always be differences due to different features and different theme development processes.
However, perhaps the biggest challenge that comes with any platform shift is that you’re surrendering your built up expertise and experience with the old system to switch to a platform where you are a relative newcomer.
If you’ve been with a platform for longer than a few months, you probably know how to do basic tasks instinctively and can also do some moderate to advanced tasks quickly as well. With a new platform, you lose that.
Going back to the “new house” analogy, this is similar to how you know where everything is in your current place but would have to relearn where everything from the dishes to the lightswitches are in the new one.
You don’t want to give up on your expertise if you can at all avoid it.
How to Avoid it
Avoiding this pitfall is very simple, find a blogging platform that works well for your site and stick with it as long as possible.
However, this means you need to be at least somewhat knowledgeable about the various systems out there, their strengths, their weaknesses and how they might fit in with your plans. This means you will probably want to play around with the various platforms, likely through test accounts, and see how they operate and what feel best for you.
The idea is that, when the time comes to choose a platform for a new site, you can pick the system that works best for that particular project, not try to cram your vision into a poorly-fitting framework.
But even with that precaution, the temptation to switch can often times grow as one goes on. Whether it’s the allure of new or improved systems elsewhere or just general boredom, it’s important to keep in mind the headache and problems that come with such a switch and why you can’t simply jump ship with ease.
If you still feel compelled to chase fads, you can always set up a presence at other sites without moving all of your content there. Many bloggers keep a Posterous or Tumblr blog, for example, that compliments their existing efforts with different content. In that regard, these new blogs become part of a social networking strategy and a more robust online presence, without giving up or moving one’s “home” online.
None of this is to say that you should never move to another blogging platform, just that you shouldn’t do it without a very good reason.
As with moving to a new home, there’s not much point in moving to a new house of a similar size in a similar neighborhood. It’s a lot of headache and work for little reward. But if your current system clearly isn’t meeting your needs or the “neighborhood” truly has gone downhill you might want to consider moving.
For example, I wouldn’t tell anyone still blogging on Myspace to stick to their guns. More robust platforms in better communities for blogging are easily found. But switching from a WordPress.com site to a Blogger one isn’t likely to gain you much.
In short, like all fads and trends, this isn’t one that you want to chase.
Doing so may not necessarily kill your blog, but it could easily prevent it from ever finding a stable home and building upon its past work.