Rethinking how I manage my sites

I’ve been pretty busy with client work and my own sites recently – and managed to commit a cardinal sin in forgetting to renew the hosting package on one of my oldest projects, 140char.com.

I still own the domain, which I registered back in 2008 to give me a place to write about Twitter and Microblogging as it started to gain interest from early adopters and a wider audience, and over time I included the likes of Tumblr, Posterous, Plurk, Yammer etc, with whatever insight and analysis I could provide, as well as covering the bigger news stories.

Over time it proved reasonably popular, and a few articles got some great links from prominent bloggers such as Stowe Boyd, and prominent tech sites such as Engadget – but I always saw it as a smaller side project alongside this blog and my day job at the time. Move onto the 2010 and having seen traffic level off, and given the launch of other projects which seemed more viable, I decided to effectively park it for a while, and operated it as just a link blog, reposting everything on the subject which came into my Google Reader via Diigo, while I considered what to do with it, and whether or not to keep it or sell it etc. At the same time, I saw the deserved success of virtual friend Shea Bennett when he launched the far more focused Twittercism, which has now become AllTwitter after acquisition by MediaBistro

Traffic obviously dropped due to the linkposting, to the point where it was steadyish at around 1000 uniques a month, but in terms of priority, it’s dropped below all my client work, this site, and 3 others I’m currently working on… So when the hosting account was coming up for renewal, I planned to transfer it over to my main reseller account, and at the same time, work out the best use of the domain for the future…

And whereas I always set-up all client and current projects with multiple reminders to ensure this never happens, as an older project from the days before I was so diligent, it didn’t have any of that in place.

Tactical Facepalm

So the question is what I do with the domain and content now?

And at the same time, it seems like a good chance to re-evaluate all of my websites, profiles and web activity to ensure that I’m practising what I preach when it comes to an effective, efficient and productive internet strategy.

So be prepared for a bit of soul searching over the next couple of days as I review everything I do. And at least I’m not alone in a hosting slip-up, considering Disney managed to forget to renew the Club Penguin domain and leave several million users without a site!

In the process of re-evaluating everything, I’ve also started to tidy up my old accounts on places like Tumblr and Posterous, and start using them with a bit of actual purpose, so if you’re interested in the somewhat esoteric interests I have in cult books, music, films and comics, then you can always see what I’ve been enjoying at http://badgergravling.tumblr.com/.

So the question is whether I pay to just renew my hosting with all the original links intact, and then start transferring everything over to another site with the appropriate 301 redirects to maintain most of the value of the original links, which would be time consuming, but would retain something from the 3 years of posting, and would be generally what I’d do with clients. Or in the interest of time, just nuke my past like Steve Rubel.

Do I set myself up to continue a half-hearted attempt at updating by linkposting for the sake of it, or is there a more valuable use for that domain?

I could probably sell it for a tiny amount, considering that although it has respectable page rank, I’ve never really monetised it effectively.

Or is there another way to utilise it which would mean that it’s providing value to people – considering that Twitter coverage in particular has spread to mainstream traditional news publications?

In the meantime, my current main sites are:

TheWayoftheWeb – you’re here, so should have an idea what I do. Hopefully. But it’s all around freelance digital content, marketing and running that business.

OnlineRaceDriver.com – online race games. Currently growing by over 20% every month, and getting to a good, solid traffic level.

FPSPrestige.com – FPS games – i.e. Call of Duty, Battlefield etc. Far newer, but growing faster than ORD, and again, getting to a decent traffic level already.

MyDpip.com – the site for Digital People in Peterborough. Slightly neglected due to the fact that both of the people originally involved have been a bit distracted recently, but getting a bit of a reboot in the near future.

Jodanma.com – and this is why we’ve both been a bit distracted. As the non-designer in the company, it’s been slightly frustrating to be waiting with a holding page whilst we’ve been working on client projects, but we’re building in some space soon to finish our own site, which will be a relief.

Not a bad tally, even without 140char.com, and without including a few smaller, more experimental ideas…

If you can see this message…

Then you’re one of the lucky ones.

Pic by delta407 on Flickr (CC Licence)

Pic by delta407 on Flickr (CC Licence)

At some point on Friday it appears something has caused a number of people to find this blog inaccessible.

And the same problem is also causing a tidal wave of spam to slip past Akismet and flood the pending comments section.

I’ve notified my hosting company, and I’m looking into the causes and solutions – meanwhile I’m marking every spam message as spam, but with one message every couple of minutes, it’s extremely frustrating.

As a result, I’m probably going to find it tricky to post until the problem has been resolved – however, you can still find my latest posts appearing at TheWayoftheWeb.net for social media marketing, digital publishing, journalism and other stuff.

Incidentally, if anyone is interested in partnering or collaborating with me here (once the access problem is solved!), let me know…

Moving blogs is worse than moving house…

At least when I move house, it’s just a lot of packing, lifting and unpacking again. But moving blogs is traumatic, particularly switching to WordPress after two years with Blogger.

So far I’ve mastered the arts of hosting, domains, adding themes and plug-ins, and adding a widget or two.

But even with the Feedburner plug-in, I can’t seem to redirect the stock RSS feeds, which is a pain in the backside. I don’t want to start really promoting this new location and trying to recover my Google PR and Technorati ranks etc, until I’ve got some way of tracking any and all RSS subscribers.

*sigh*

Having a proper domain seemed like such a good idea at the time. And at least I’m learning some more…

Another big change is on the way…

So far the last 12 months have seen me move house, start a new job, and within the next few days, become a father.

So it seemed the perfect time to make another couple of changes. The first is that I’m currently working on a new home for this blog, which will be at www.thewayoftheweb.net. It means I can finally type the url in seconds, rather than minutes.

I’m also switching to a hosted account with Godaddy, and building the new site with WordPress. I’ve got lots of praise for what Blogger has allowed me to do, but although it’s very easy to set up and use, and the free hosting allows advertising (Unlike the free hosting version of WordPress), it’s quite restrictive with regards to templates etc, and so many sites are instantly recognisable as Blogger creations. Plus, switching to three columns has given me enough space for all the widgets I want, but it’s made the main text space a little claustrophobic, so hopefully my new freedom will enable a bit more space… I’ll keep you posted how the new site is coming along, and make sure there’s plenty of warning, in case you’ve subscribed to my RSS feed etc. Rest assured if I do add the .com domain at some point, .net will remain the main place for RSS feeds etc, so no more changing.

I also invested in danthornton.net, and contacted the current owner of the dot.com version. I’m not too much of an egotist, but it’s just handier for anyone wanting background info, and I’m also conscious that one day, I could have been involved in a far more minor version of the current Shel Israel blogodrama.

So that’s my current position. I’ll still be updating here for a bit longer while I get a template etc I’m happy with, and move across my archives, and then it’ll be all systems go!

Why make excuses?

As much as I try to avoid the internet trap of constantly reciting buzzwords and cliches, I realised during my recent sabbatical that I’ve fallen into one of the most common habits of anyone working on the net…

Making excuses…

When I buy a new household gadget, like the vacuum cleaner and washing machine I recently purchased, I expect to just plug them in and go. And the vacuum cleaner, despite only costing £30, has actually been pretty enjoyable, and made cleaning up during my house move fun. It’s small, light, bagless, and has enough suction to pick up anything I need it to. Plus it makes a noise akin to a jet engine on take-off. Meanwhile the washing machine cleans clothes, and has a timer to let me know how long before it’s ended. They’re not the best, most expensive, or coolest gadgets, but they work.

Which is why it’s a shock to get back to explaining the reason a website doesn’t work properly is because of deadlines, or developer problems, or integrating technology, or the server caching, or one of the other 100 stock reasons why things don’t always run smoothly. Even the best sites experience niggles and occasional problems, and it seems to be accepted because ‘it’s the way the internet is’.

I’s probably a hang up from the days that installing even a game or small programme on your PC took days as everything conflicted, followed by the two hour wait for a page to download from a site in the glorious dial-up era. But every time an excuse is made, it makes it more acceptable for things to continue in the same way.

There’s no reason for a lot of problems. Adequate hosting and server space, proven software solutions, and good developers are all out there. You just have to use them, and not make excuses if things aren’t going so well.

On a brighter note, my Zen Broadband account has been transferred, and worked perfectly from the moment everything was plugged in again. That’s how it should be, even if the delay was double by BT not issuing a simultaneous move code which actually worked! I’ll have to check my speed tonight to see if moving to within 500 metres of the phone exchange (from 3.34km away!) has made a big difference.

Plans for 2007

I know that the time for New year resolutions has ended, so my attempts at planning may be a little late. Then again, who says you can only make plans on Jan 1?

So here are some of the things I’m aiming to get completed…

1. Finish the redesign and implementation of the new Disposable Media website.
2. Help inspire others by getting my copy in waaaay before deadline for DM issue 6.
3. Investigate web hosting, and moving my blog to a domain of it’s own.
4. Investigate commercial opportunities, to see if I can let the blog pay for itself.
5. Investigate the possibilities of getting free stuff…

Now I know that it’s terribly bad form to admit that I’d be happy to receive free things. And that it’s a path lined with the fallen blogs of those who failed to disclose the exact nature of their involvement with a project. But, it’s also nice to get new toys to play with and review for my elite group of readers.

And I’d be particularly interested in UK and European tech stuff. There’s already enough Americans embracing blogging and technology (God bless ’em!). It’s time us limeys got some free stuff!

Incidentally, a thought came to mind this morning. As more and more information sources become aggregated into the likes of Wikipedia, and video becomes aggregated by Youtube, Google and Flurl, are we losing part of the fun of searching 20 different websites before arriving at an opinion?

Lastly…with all the talk of web 2.0…how come no-one has mentioned the Internet Movie Database? it’s been around for years, offered lists, comments and comparisons, and does a good job… Does it not have enough rounded gradients? Maybe it should rename as IMDBer.com?