Possible move from WordPress.com?

There is something I have been thinking about lately, and I would love it if you, my readers, would express your opinion on the matter. πŸ™‚

As you may know, I recently celebrated four years on WordPress. This blog was some of my first real exposure to the Web. Though at times it has been hard for me to publish anything, I have blogged long enough that I feel guilty if I do not publish something on a consistent basis. I enjoy blogging and only wish I had more time to write out all my thoughts, observations, and experiences as primarily related to programming and website development.

However, lately I have been somewhat disappointed and discouraged with WordPress. Because I am using WordPress.com, I cannot make any site/theme changes I may desire. While that was not an issue early on, since becoming a Web developer there are certain things I would like (lately, decent syntax highlighting) but cannot get. I am also discouraged that I have been blogging (on a regular basis) for four years and yet I still feel like I get little traffic and zero community and interaction. I mean, I do get traffic. Just look at these yearly blog stats since I started the blog. I have gotten a lot of hits. The problem is… I think I can do better. Most of my traffic seems to come from the Google web crawler, and with no form of interaction, I have no idea how many people are actually reading my blog. Am I writing to an empty audience, hoping one day my blog will help attract a head hunter and land me a good job (as many people will tell you happened to them)?

I feel the reason for the lack of meaningful traffic and interaction is because I am on WordPress.com. The majority of programming blogs I see linked, tweeted, or shared are either hosted on Medium or self-hosted. When someone thinks of a programmer’s blog, they do not think about WordPress.com. I certainly do not. I think about the options I just listed. When I think of community, I also do not think about WP.com. After all, you must have a WordPress account or comment using your Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ account (which a lot of people will not do). A programmer blog on WP.com is like the lonely side of the internet where the dev will not get noticed. The WordPress followers widget reports I have 200 followers (although my site stats report only 63 followers. Hmm…), but where are they? I do not see them.

For these core reasons, I have been largely considering leaving WordPress and moving to Medium or a self-hosted blog. I have the resources to launch a self-hosted site on CodeTriangle.me powered by any blog platform I want, be it Jekyll, Ghost, or WordPress. I could switch to Medium and not worry about any sort of hosting since they handle it all for me. Yet I am reluctant to switch for two reasons:

  1. I have an established presence here. The people I interact with the most (and even those not so much) know how to find my blog. Why? I am established on WP.com. Everybody who interacts with me on a regular or semi-frequent schedule can quickly pull up my blog at any time because I have been here for four years. Moving to a different host means losing the domain ubiquity I possess. I would leave this site up, I would certainly not take it down, but no new content would be posted. I would need to put up messages saying I have moved to a different location. And despite my seemingly predominant robot traffic, I do know I get a good bit of human traffic through referral links. Moving to a different place and locking this one down would mean I lose what little traffic I have now for the risk of gaining much more than I currently have. Am I willing to accept that risk?
  2. I rely heavily on the WordPress Android app. I do not always have access to my laptop when I want to write or inspiration strikes. The fact is I do a lot of my writing on a little 4.55″ Sony Xperia TL with no cell service (only Wi-Fi) and unable to load many apps due to age and continual “insufficient storage space”. Yet being able to pop open the WordPress app, draft or write down anything I want, sync it as soon as I can then be able to access it on my laptop when needed to finish it up has become an every-other-day thing for me. Not having the app would put a serious dent in my already restricted writing time. If I move somewhere else, I likely lose this essential app unless I go with a self-hosted WP site or can find a different app to create a compatible workflow. The only platform that has a comparable app is Medium, which apparently now has writing support and will run on Android 4.1 (last time I checked into this, they were not long removed from v1.0). So that is one point for moving to Medium, but the first issue still stands (not to mention if the mobile app is actually not so great and I will end up regretting switching to it).

So the question to you, my human readers who do read my posts: what do you think I should do? All I know is WordPress.com is slowly not working out for me, and sooner or later a change will be necessary.

-Caleb

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7 thoughts on “Possible move from WordPress.com?

  1. Like everyone else, never heard of Medium.
    Whatever the decision is, I’m happy to move or stay. πŸ™‚
    (So long as I can get emails to read your blog. :P)

  2. Why not do both. Grab a managed WordPress hosting circumstance where you can push the envelope of the platform while keeping this “Automattic” site and cross post appropriate content. I found Medium, a Twitter founder spin off I believe, functional with some nice comment area touches, but in the main just riding the minimalist blogging trend. So if your deal is content management, I’d stay with WordPress, both here and self hosted.

    Good luck and
    Regards,
    Doug

  3. I, like the others, have never heard of Medium. I follow you for the interesting content, not the blog platform, so whatever you decide to move to (as long as it still emails me about new posts), I am sure I will keep reading. As far as external linking, does WordPress allow/make it possible to turn this site into an automatic redirect link to your new domain? Or perhaps it would be better to just leave it as a message with a link like you said.

    Either way, I think you have done an excellent job with the WordPress system so far, and I’m sure whatever you would move to could be even better. With that in mind, I’m in favor of you moving a new platform if that allows you to do more.

  4. You could just host your blog on your website, and use WordPress.org. Or you could use another blogging service and host it on your website. I’ve never heard of Medium before at all, and it looks like an over simplified blogging social network.

  5. While services like WP, Weebly, etc. are improving, and good to put something together quickly and easily to display content in a way that looks nice, it of course still lacks a number of features and flexibility. It has its place, and weighing what you want out of your site with the options is really important to consider. You mentioned some sort of community/interactivity piece, what were you thinking of there?

    I have looked at a number of CMSs, hosts, and such but haven’t heard of Medium before, will need to look at that.

    Different in follower numbers might be due to email subscriptions without a WP account, which was me till now.

    1. As far as community, as I said, I feel like being on WP.com is hampering it. I guess I want some honest, genuine indication people are reading (and hopefully enjoying) my posts, and moving to a different host might facilitate that.

      The number I cited counted both WP.com accounts and email followers, so I have no clue where the difference is coming in.

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