This post is by Jenny Delasalle, a blogger and freelance blog manager for the Piirus blog, amongst many roles, past and present. Piirus is an online, research collaboration matching service that is provided to the international research community by the University of Warwick, UK, and it aims to support researchers through its blog as well as introducing you to each other. Here, Jenny looks into a theme which she confesses she’s got wrong herself sometimes: some ways to quit blogging!
There are lots of great reasons to blog, but are also sometimes reasons to stop. You might not be getting benefits from your blog any more, or your interests might change. Maybe you’ve ‘inherited’ a blog along with a new job, but blogging isn’t your style. Blogging is potentially an endless commitment, so choosing how and when to stop is difficult and there’s not much advice out there on the topic so I decided to share what I learned so far.
Closing your blog in the right way is important because it will affect your online identity, that is, how others see you and your work through the trail that you leave online. It may also help to give you a sense of completion, allowing you to move on from your blog.
In theory, it’s quite simple to “close” a blog: you just stop posting any more. If anyone stumbles across your blog, well they can see from the lack of activity that it’s dead. We did this with the RIU blog at Warwick, then we realised how bad it looked! (Thanks to blogger Roddy Macleod). Not saying goodbye seems a little uncaring of your readers. Instead, make a post to say:
- thanks for reading
- how, or indeed whether, readers can reach you in future
- where else readers might want to go to read about the topic.
If you have an “about” page you can use this space to explain why the blog is not live any more and redirect readers to where they can find out about what you are doing now. Closing a blog this way leaves you with the option of re-opening it.
If you want to invest a little more work, you could re-shape your blog as a website, using it to promote your activities and provide a route to your blog’s legacy content. For example, this WordPress blog uses the blog’s homepage to describe the blogger and her work, and allows you to read posts from the Archive.
Pass it on to others
If your blog is for professional purposes, but you simply can’t maintain it any more, consider offering it to others to manage and maintain.
You will need to let go and allow the new blogger(s) to make their own mark. I recommend setting a clear agreement at the handover. In this agreement you can set a level of activity that you expect the new owner(s) to maintain and a date at which you will review whether this has been achieved. You can also agree how the blog will be closed, if indeed closing it down is necessary. It helps to provide handover notes: my colleague Emma Cragg has blogged some tips on handovers in general.
As you handover on your blog, don’t forget to say goodbye in a blogpost and to introduce the new owners. This will help to protect your online identity, in case you don’t like what the new owners do…
It could be that you intend to continue blogging, but you want to change the theme of your blog. If it’s not a great leap from your original theme then you could continue at the same address, using the same blog, with a blogpost to explain the change of direction.
However, if your new theme is entirely different from where you started, then maybe it would be best to close one blog and start another.
A New Address
Perhaps you want to close a blog because you are moving to a new blogging platform, like the Student Minds team did. Simply make a post informing readers that you intend to carry on blogging at a new address and leave the old content where it is, or delete your content from the old address and transfer it to the new one.
Can you delete your entire blog?
Some blogging platforms allow you to delete all content before you close your blog. Think carefully before you delete all of your hard work. There may be some other options:
- Could an alternative be to make your site private, so visible only to you, or to your team?
- Can you download all of the material for your own records first?
- Could you leave some material live, and just remove a portion?
- If you want to free up the web address, perhaps move your blog somewhere else.
When you delete your content then you are potentially going to cause broken links in the Internet, so perhaps set up a redirect or a message for anyone who tries to click on a link to your blog. If you are deleting blogposts, then don’t forget to also delete images and other files.
Note that even if you do delete your entire blog, you may find that an archived version of parts of it still exist, for example on the Wayback machine, or a national web archive like Pandora in Australia, or that of the British Library.
Google may also retain a cached copy for a time, meaning that your blog could appear in search results until their web crawlers notice that your blog is not live any more.
Re-opening your blog
Nothing on the internet is forever! You can change your mind, like this archaeologist, who returned to blogging after a pause of 2 years.
A Golden Rule
Whatever you do with your blog, the golden rule is to keep in touch with your readers. Make it clear to regular readers, and to those who stumble upon your legacy content, whether or when they can expect more from you. Just like our Thesis Whisperer did, when she announced a December pause.
I, for one, hope that blogs like this one from the Thesis Whisperer, or the Piirus blog, don’t close any time soon!