The Why of Where I Write

I’m in the process of moving my blog to WordPress after many years on Blogger’s platform. Josh Felser asked why I selected WordPress instead of Tumblr or Medium. Similarly, in late May, Mathew Ingram and I had a tweet chat re: the question of where to post (or crosspost) items? This is total inside baseball but here’s how I think of my personal publishing today:

HUNTERWALK.COM: My blog, the flagship of my media empire πŸ˜‰ Call me old-fashioned, but I like having my own dry piece of land, a URL to call my own that’s unlikely to experience changes in terms, UI, etc outside of my control. Blogger was my original software of choice because (a) I started on a Blogspot hosted domain years ago and (b) I worked at Google so it was easy to ask the Blogger team questions. Blogger has passed through the hands of many smart product managers but today isn’t moving fast enough for me, and much of its development seems focused on integration of G+, not remaining an open, neutral publishing platform. So I went looking for replacement software and settled on WordPress.

Why WordPress? Tried and true software built by a team I know and a company that has operated in a manner I respect. Under Matt, Toni and Raanan’s leadership they’ve been consistent and committed to their values – open source, distributed workforce. They’ve got a wide range of developers making 3rd party tools. I can look down the road and imagine them independent for many years to come. That’s important to me.

The major knock on WordPress is that it feels more like a CMS system than a beautiful, simple publishing platform, and that their mobile software still lags. Personally, I like being able to peer under the hood and see all the switches. Also, WordPress feels more suitable for longform, original creation, which is the majority of my blog posts (instead of just sharing someone else’s content with comment).

Finally, I should admit that because I know some folks on the team, I feel secure that if I encountered any troubles (especially with the migration from Blogger), I could get their attention, even given the relatively small size of my blog compared to their commercial partners.

What other publishing platforms did I consider?

  • Tumblr – Obviously great mobile product, simple toolset and upside of re-distribution ease via dashboard. We use Tumblr for a picture blog of my daughter to share with family. But overall didn’t feel like a place built around longform content creation. That’s not a knock, they’ve obviously been successful. Also, and this was before Yahoo acquisition, I knew their business would eventually need to mature and that felt unpredictable to me, so I was willing to sacrifice distribution and shine.
  • Svbtle – Never considered, nor invited. Although I’ve discovered many great writers on the Svbtle platform, I wasn’t interested in being locked into a single template. Plus their initial rollout rubbed me a bit the wrong way – felt very focused on tech velvet rope. Note, below I talk about my interest in Medium, which frankly could be called exclusive as well, since it’s invite only too. For whatever reason, and it might be as simple as I know Ev and don’t know Dustin, Medium didn’t have the same effect.

Ok, so hunterwalk.com exists, now powered by WordPress. Sometimes I crosspost (or even write original content elsewhere):

  • Medium – Ev invited me in pretty early (#humblebrag) so I posted once, but then stopped. The interface was certainly nice but the lack of comments/interaction left it feeling lonely. Recently though I’ve started crossposting ~1/3rd of my blog posts there based upon what I think the Medium audience would enjoy. Why? Because I’ve started to read a lot of great work on Medium so it feels like a community where I want to contribute back. I don’t promote my links there, so whatever readership I get, it’s organic or Medium putting their thumb on the scale. As a reader even more than a writer, I’m excited for the future of Medium.
  • LinkedIn – LinkedIn has really surprised me as a publishing platform and I crosspost when it’s a more business or professional development related piece. Somehow I’ve amassed 100,000+ followers so there’s usually good readership. Their commenting software is still horrible so I skip any interaction, which is a real shame. I hope they fix this, or maybe should just buy Disqus πŸ™‚

Where Have I Stopped Writing?

  • Quora – It’s a valuable resource but once they broadened away from straight Q&A, it lost some focus

And I’m still conflicted about Guest Posts on Tech Blogs. In the past I’ve enjoyed writing for TechCrunch (many times), GigaOm (once) and PandoDaily (once). Additionally, ATD Voices, Wired and Fortune Term Sheet have re-run items I wrote. And Business Insider “aggregates” me every once in a while. It’s fun to reach new audiences but the way I write often doesn’t work well for guest posts – that is, I tend not to “news blog” (cover something that happened this week) and once a post is done, I just want to hit publish. I’ve known Eric and Alexia at TechCrunch for a long time and they’re pretty cool about fitting me in last minute when appropriate.

Okay, that’s a way too long explanation of why I write where I do. What about you?

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