05 Apr 2005
Master of Your Domain
Warwick Blogs is an effort by nearby Warwick University to get students and staff blogging by offering support and free software/hosting. It all looks pretty slick, with a wealth of publicity materials and even a last-ditch source of inspiration.
However, people need to be careful about locking themselves into a domain name they have no control over, whether it’s by using all-in-one systems like Warwick Blogs or free hosting such as Blogspot (offered via Blogger). What happens to your university blogging account when you graduate? What if the free hosting service shuts down or you need new features? Much of a site’s audience can get lost in a move to a new address, especially as you’re unlikely to be able to set up permanent redirects to smoothly divert traffic and keep accumulated PageRank. The more established your site becomes, the more tightly you’re locked-in.
It costs little to get a domain name (3 quid for a .co.uk; a tenner for .com) and proper hosting (couple of quid upwards per month) nowadays, you just need to get your head round setting it all up or know someone kind enough to help out. Alternatively, pay for the excellent TypePad and use its domain mapping feature.
It might seem silly to bother if you’re just dabbling, but dabbling is how most sites start. Owning your URLs keeps your options open.