Kirsten from All About Me – And Then Some asked many interesting questions yesterday in her post Am I A Good Blogger? and it’s such an important topic that I felt a comment would not do justice to it. So today I am going to take on two of the important questions we bloggers should ask ourselves. Do I buy my own domain? What about social networking?
Do I Buy My Own Domain?
Absofreakinglutely! Kirsten is on Blogger, which makes it easy to use your own domain yet continue to enjoy all the benefits of using Blogger. There are many reasons why you need your own domain and here are some of the important ones –
– Wherever you go, there you are. People will always know exactly where to find you.
– You build links back to your blogspot domain – you could be building them to your domain name.
– You have absolutely no control over what the people at Blogger do.- If Blogger went haywire – would any of the people who read you regularly know how to find you again? If you have your own domain they can easily find you.
– If someone hacked into your blog, you would be able to redirect your domain to the new blog (this happens a lot more than people realise, don’t think it’s impossible) and people could still find you.
– You may decide later to change your blogging platform to WordPress, or create a portal instead of a blog (tinyportal is my favourite and one I have looked at using in the past) or do one of a million things, and by having links to your domain rather than a blogspot URL, you get a jumpstart on page rank, on links to you, etc..
– It gives you flexibility – you can decide to move, or not
– either way you’re *able* to make these decisions yourself.
– If you decide to take your blog down for whatever reasons you can leave a simple page with instructions on how to contact you.
– You cannot get your own Alexa ranking on a blogspot domain. You automatically get Blogger’s ranking. For the bloggers who do want to earn some money from blogging, an Alexa rank is a bit important. ;) It is one of the things advertisers look at. (Update – check the comments, you can have an alexa ranking on blogspot but you have to have a large-ish amount of traffic to get it, Thanks Meg!)
The only time you should not use your own domain is if you have been blogging for a very long time on the one you have now and have high rankings on that blog. Even then I would STILL consider it.
Now a few quick myths we need to get out of the way re owning your own domain name.
No, it’s not. You can buy a .com domain for as little as $8.95USD a year – and some domains are even cheaper. I do recommend that you also purchase the privacy protection for $6.99USD per year – that means nobody knows your real name, address, phone number, just by looking up your whois information – worth a little extra money! For less than $16 you’re all set. We use Go Daddy for all our domains – all five of them. Meg from Dipping Into The Blogpond also wrote a great post about getting your own domain name and debunking the myths of .au domain names.
You Need Hosting.
No, you don’t. With Blogger all you need is the domain name. Blogger is going to do all the hosting for you. Later down the track, if you wanted to go to WordPress you may need to consider hosting – but Go Daddy provides hosting for as little as $2.99 a month and there are many excellent hosting packages out there on the internet.
It’s Not Worth Doing Now.
Any blogger who has moved from a blogspot domain to their own domain will tell you – the sooner you do it, the better. Even if you’re just blogging as a hobby you may change your mind about that later – and then have to go to all the effort of re-establishing page rank (which you may well have built to 6 or even higher) and Alexa rankings and backlinks and blogrolls etc.
When I changed from the blogspot domain, Sephy had just done it weeks before me, and he already had a list of the sites I needed to change my URL on. The list was long but it was a fast job and only took me an hour or so. However all the backlinks I lost.. whoa. I had the old domain on a 101 rating with Technorati. My new site was a 0. I had a google page rank of 4. My new site was (and still is) a 0. It was painful. I made the change on the 17th of July and my new domain name is up to a 78 on Technorati – without me having the time to devote to letting people know I’d moved by visiting their blogs personally. It’s still on my to do list. ;) The longer you leave it, the more painful it will be.
Blogging Is Just A Hobby.
Can you name one other hobby of yours that you can do completely for free? All my hobbies cost something. I can’t think of one hobby I do that I haven’t had to put some cash towards.
I’m Not Blogging For Money.
I’m not painting for money. I’m not reading for money. I’m not playing computer games for money. I’m not gardening for money. I’m not watching DVD’s for money. I’ve easily spent 3 times what I’ve spent on buying my own domain on all of the above – sometimes 30 times.
What About Social Networking?
Kirsten said – I don’t have time to dedicate to heavy social networking… If I did I’m sure I’d have more readers than I do now.
The only social networking tool that draws large amounts of traffic is probably StumbleUpon – Digg is not quite the same thing, that’s more a news and article network. The others are nice, and often leave pretty pictures in your sidebar but realistically don’t bring large amounts of traffic in the way StumbleUpon can. So in my opinion, StumbleUpon is an absolute MUST – I’ll talk more about StumbleUpon in a minute. I do still recommend you sign up to a couple of the networks, as follows.
Bumpzee is basically a series of blog communities. Each community has an RSS feed. That means whenever you post, your blog post goes out to a lot of people. If you can make your title and first 250 words eyecatching enough, you will get some traffic from it. However even better you will find that some absolutely legendary people within these communities – and you will build excellent relationships.
It does not require a lot of time to join Bumpzee, and once you have joined you can throw the community feeds into your reader. They do generate a fair bit of posting traffic but as time goes by you will figure out which blogs you can live without, and add your favourites into your reader on their own.
One thing I love about MyBlogLog is the fact that it autoadds you to a bloggers community once you have visited their site 10 times. So just by cruising around the blogs you love, you are social networking too. I log in there once a week and add any new friends to my friends list, this takes maybe 5 minutes. They also have some great stats which come for free when you’re a member – outclicks is really useful for me.
Very similar to MyBlogLog. I think if you have one you should have both, but maybe that’s just me. It doesn’t take much effort to sign up at these, and very little effort to maintain them unless you *want* to put more effort in. I wish BlogCatalog did the autoadding thing, too. (Jonathan, BlogCatalog’s new blogger liason team member, are you reading this?)
Make An Impression –
With all three of the above communities, you can put the little widgets in your sidebar and see when people have dropped by on sight. I personally love that. Make sure you get yourself a unique and eyecatching avatar – preferably an image you have taken yourself if possible because then it is less likely it will be copied. Use the same avatar on *all* social networking sites. People will click on your avatar to find out more about you, and they often end up at your blog. It’s not a huge amount of traffic but it is one way to find new readers.
The main thing you need to do for StumbleUpon is download a toolbar in order to use it. The toolbar is excellent. It contains everything you need in order to stumble. I’m not going to write a guide on how to stumble here, because Meg already did that much better than I can. ;) Beginners Guide To StumbleUpon – You do not need to absorb all the information in the guide at once. Bookmark the article, and go back to it once a week, learn something new. I still keep going back to it.
I stumble sometimes 5-10 minutes a week. If I find myself at an internet loose end, I tend to stumble rather than do anything else. Sometimes that happens – you’ve read everything in your feed reader, you’ve checked the news sites, youve done everything you wanted to do, and now you’re like.. hmm.. the internet is BORING. Then you see the toolbar, and you remember – no it isn’t! and you hit the stumble button.
The even better thing about stumbling is, you can give a blogger a bit of a traffic burst when they blog something you really enjoy – and you can do this with just ONE click. They deserve that – and they will appreciate it and thank you for it.
You *should* make sure to tag anything you stumble – take a couple of moments to do this and make sure to put it in all appropriate categories. A post like this for example would belong in blogs, internet, blogger. There’s a drop down box, adding tags is simple. Meg had to send me an email to let me know that one. ;) hehe thanks Meg!
You don’t have to want to be an “A list” blogger to make the most of your blogging by having your own domain name. You just have to want to be the best blogger you can be. A lot of people don’t read blogs about blogging and when they *do* read blogs about blogging they feel a bit offended – I haven’t done that, I don’t need to do that, etc. You have to take the best bits of what the blogs about blogging are saying, the bits you can use, the bits that apply to you, the tips you want to try, and let the rest go. ;) I’m not going to just follow one persons advice on something, I want to read a lot of opinions, that’s why those blogs are so popular.
Social networking can seem time consuming but tends to be a lot less time consuming than you’d think. ;) Have I convinced you of the benefits of both, Kirsten? As long as you don’t use Facebook, which I am told is the temporal vortex of the Internet. I don’t know for sure, I haven’t signed up! :)
When I get time, I’m going to add a “best blogs about blogging” list of blogs to the sidebar. If you’re reading this and you have any suggestions on blogs that should be in that list, leave a comment with a link to the blog please. ;)