I’ve learned a lot about this blogging game over the past three and half years but this year has been the biggest eye opener. For so many reasons.
I remember first hearing about the Blogger vs WordPress debate way back at the Aussie Bloggers Conference in March.
This interested me on lots of levels.
On one level, I thought, does it REALLY matter what blogging platform you use? Isn’t it about the content?
On another level, I thought, yes, I’m really happy I accidentally started on WordPress. Not because it’s easier or better but because I control the hosting. It’s mine. It’s not Google’s. This, of course, doesn’t mean you are immune from crashes, but it does mean I can get stuff fixed without delay.
Somewhat naively, I thought we could all play together nicely in one big bloggie playground.
Until this week.
The on-the-ball Ling from The Best Beauty Blog messaged me, asking if I’d heard that Google was taking away the Google Friends Connect widget from non-Blogger blogs.
No, I hadn’t. And I’m now not impressed. One bit.
Here’s what Google had to say on its blog this week:
We’re retiring the service for all non-Blogger sites on March 1, 2012. We encourage affected sites to create a Google+ page and place a Google+ badge on their site so they can bring their community of followers to Google+ and use new features like Circles and Hangouts to keep in touch.
For those who think GFC stands for the financial state of the world, the Google Friends Connect (GFC) widget is one way for bloggers to follow other bloggers. Joining a site is as easy as clicking Join this site on the widget and that blog’s feed will flow into your Google Reader. It looks something like this:
I didn’t have one on my blog for a long time but someone – another blogger – suggested I should. I followed through earlier this year because I believe you can’t dictate to your readers HOW they follow you. You just need to offer every possible way. And make it easy for them to do so.
Now, Google is taking that away from me.
But they’re going to leave it on their own Blogger blogs.
Their answer for us non-Blogger blogs is to embrace Google +, create a business page and get people to follow us there.
To me that reeks of blogging playground bullying, where the big, powerful protagonist coerces friendships and collaborations. My readers won’t buy it.
And, quite frankly, that’s not the spirit of blogging.
After chatting on Twitter with a number of bloggers about this, I thought I would share my plan to meet these forced changes head on:
1. Leave your GFC widget in place before you’ve done all of the below.
2. Write a blog post explaining to your GFC community that you will be taking down the widget on a certain date and if they still wanted to subscribe to your site via their reader, they would need to take your RSS feed and manually add it to their reader. (If you’re following this blog through GFC, please add my RSS feed to your reader today. I’ll be taking down the widget on December 23, 2011).
4. When you are letting your readers know about the changes, be clear on the many ways they can still follow your blog.
5. Set up a Google+ business page and add a widget to your blog. I’ve have (I also have a personal one) but I’m not convinced it’s going to change the social media world overnight. If you’re keen to give it a go have a read of this post on ProBlogger for ways on how you can make it work for you.
6. Look at your site’s analytics. Where are most of the visitors to your blog coming from? From a follower/social media point of view, wherever most of your visitors are coming from is where you need to hang out and talk to your followers.
7. Don’t get “stuck” on all of this at the expense of creating great, engaging content for your blog.
What do you think? Do you think Google’s being a blogging bully? If you have a non-Blogger blog have you already dropped your GFC widget? And a question for Blogger bloggers: how will you now follow non-Blogger blogs once the GFC widget has gone?
How to be an expert blogger
On Monday morning (10am Queensland time; 11am EDST), I’m chatting in the Digital Parents Chat Cafe about tips on how to blog like an expert and use your blog to build your brand’s credibility and expertise.
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then I’ll be there to offer you my two cents.
Is your blog aimed at marketing a business?
Is your blog aimed at highlighting a cause?
Are you blogging as an advocate for a particular group of people or organisation?
Is one of your blogging goals to increase your profile in the field in which you blog?
If you’d like to join in for the hour and pick my brain, you’ll find the details here.
The earlybird discount is still on the new ProBlogger 31 Days to Build a Better Blog. Have you bought it yet?