Should I switch back...again?
August 11, 2006 2:47 PM   Subscribe

Is switching blog services just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic, or can it get me more readers?

I used to blog on TypePad, where I developed a fairly dedicated readership, many of whom I can assume followed me to my current host at LiveJournal. I'd like to expand my readership further; as importantly, I'd like to see the change in readers through comments. LiveJournal's commenting system is pretty lame, and I am thinking that moving to TypePad will open up the commenting floodgates (at least allowing a steady trickle through).

The basic question, I guess, boils down to this: does one blog service lend itself to gathering more readers/commenters than another? Should I jump ship from LiveJournal if I want to grab readers, or should I try to drive more readers to my current site and encourage technically anonymous commenting, welcoming site linking to anyone who wishes to sign their comments that way?

This isn't a "how do I get more people to read my blog" content question, though those suggestions are welcome as well. But what I really want to know is whether my itch to switch is based on a real fact that more people frequent TypePad/Blogger type blogs than the oft-mistaken-for-online-diaries that land on LiveJournal.

Apologies for the massive amount of rambling.
posted by sjuhawk31 to Computers & Internet (17 answers total)
As a reader, my perception of LJ is indeed less "bloggy" than Typepad,, etc. Partially it seems that the topics tend to be more personal as the audience is assumed (rightly or not) to be more friends than strangers (chicken/egg issue of tone/topic vs. readership?).

Factoid: on my 140ish blogs blogroll, the only LJ-hosted one is my brother's.

Short answer: Move from LJ (trust your gut). Though, I am sure there will be as many who chime in the other way, and in the end it will come down to which way you are leaning anyway.
posted by misterbrandt at 3:04 PM on August 11, 2006

Many people perceive LJ blogs to be of a certain type. Some people even make further distinctions (the type of person who uses Blogger v. one who uses Moveable Type, etc.), though these are pretty meaningless from a reader standpoint.

The question does one blog service lend itself to gathering more readers/commenters than another? really depends on what your intended audience is. LJ, because its system is integrated into the service's social networking framework, makes it easy for many people to be your "friend," but only if they're already a part of the system or are willing to join. If most of your readers are LJ users, then LJ is the place to be.

If not, then you're probably better off moving your blog somewhere you like better -- not to mention will be indexed better by search engines and won't have the LJ stigma attached to it.

I think your best bet is to find software that you like and make sure it has syndication feeds. (In addition to Typepad, check out other free services like Blogger and Wordpress is my own preference, but I don't believe any of them is going to make much of a difference in terms of garnering readers, just pick what works for you.)
posted by camcgee at 3:43 PM on August 11, 2006

I don't think of livejournal as a "real" blogs. I might friend you if I know you personally and care about the details of your life, but I wouldn't otherwise include a livejournal in my blog roll. Not that I'm saying I'd be one of your readers regardless, but as a single datapoint, I'd be a probably 75% more likely to on typepad than on lj.
posted by jacquilynne at 3:44 PM on August 11, 2006

IMO Blogger and Typepad don't do anything special to bring you readers. LJ is probably out-of-fasion with MetaFilter people, but I don't know what you hope to gain by switching.
posted by scarabic at 3:55 PM on August 11, 2006

I've always found the requirement that you have to be a LJ member to comment on a LJ to be a big hindrance.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 4:33 PM on August 11, 2006

I've always found the requirement that you have to be a LJ member to comment on a LJ to be a big hindrance.

There is no such requirement, unless a user decides to disable anonymous and OpenID comments. LiveJournal supports anonymous comments, both moderated and unmoderated.

But more importantly, LiveJournal is just software. A paid account holder can use the domain-name feature and a custom style to make his LiveJournal blog look standalone. I'd show you on my own LJ, but I haven't really bothered to do that, but here's an example from someone who played with the idea of moving away from LJ and decided it was easier to stay and renovate.

And you're in good company there, with Warren Ellis, Jamie Zawinski, Poppy Z. Brite, Billy Corgan, and so on.

People who want to read you will read you wherever you are, people who read you via RSS don't care where you are, and people who wouldn't read you just because you're on LiveJournal would find some other reason to not read you anyhow. I wouldn't recommend starting out on LiveJournal if what you want is a standard blog, but if you're already there, it's not worth the trouble to start over.

(And I find that LiveJournal gives good Google. )
posted by mendel at 4:48 PM on August 11, 2006

Thirding the idea that LJs have a certain stigma to them.

Even the people who now own LJ seem to think so. Mena Trott made some very unfortunate comments about teenagers who wear a lot of black in the middle of her "LJ and Movable Type are going to be one big happy family" blog post.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 5:05 PM on August 11, 2006

So, I have both a LJ account and a blog now. I started up the blog as a place to put posts that I wanted everyone to read, and kept my LJ for my friends. I think it was the right choice, and I'd give it a try. And actually, the reason I decided to get a blog was because my LJ was getting TOO good of a google rating, and I had forgotten to keep some sensitive posts private. Make your LJ friends only if you need to talk to friends, and set up a public blog somewhere else.

Then, go to LJ'ssyndication page and set up a syndication user for your feed. You may need to get a friend with a paid account to do this. Then, all your LJ friends can friend your blog feed, and everyone is more or less happy.
posted by JZig at 5:29 PM on August 11, 2006

Yeah, publishing a blog on LiveJournal is kinda like, five years ago, handing out business cards with an AOL e-mail address.
posted by cribcage at 6:06 PM on August 11, 2006

I work for the company that makes both LiveJournal and TypePad, and I can probably explain a bit more about what both services are for. LiveJournal has a fantastic community, but it is honestly more designed for sharing with friends and family, and having tight control over privacy while doing so. There's also built-in aggregation and the vibe in general is much more of a DIY/alternative crowd.

I love LiveJournal, but TypePad's probably a better tool if you want to reach a wide audience. Both services deliver your blog posts directly to search engines, but TypePad is really a tool for influencing larger groups of people, especially those who aren't already your friends and family. We do make decisions about both tools based on how most people use them, and while there are many, many exceptions (TypePad users with totally private, passworded blogs, or LiveJournal members with hundreds or even thousands of readers) what I'm talking about is the normal use case.

TypePad's tools are good enough for Time magazine or the Washington Post to use to reach a large audience. I'd guess that seems closer to what you want to be able to do. Feel free to get in touch if you want more information.

It's also probably worth mentioning that most MeFi members are disproportionately members of the part of the blogosphere that reads TypePad/Blogger/etc.-type blogs, and often looks down on blogs used for personal communication. That bias notwithstanding, personal LJ-style journals form the overwhelming majority of blogs overall. So take the perspectives here with that grain of salt.
posted by anildash at 6:32 PM on August 11, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks, all for the comments so far. For the record, I've been a TypePad blogger (JZig, I did the same as you) and moved back to LiveJournal for price/design feel - to the latter point, I felt more comfortable asking LJ communities how to design than forging out to the independent TypePad forums and basically designing something all on my own.

I consider myself a good enough blogger (I wrote my master's thesis on it) that I'm past the "trying it out" phase, and I've been happy with what LJ has been able to give me so far. What I'm afraid of is losing the readers I have who are LJ members and can just add me to their friends list...they seem to be the ones leaving the majority of my comments.

Follow-up: Staying on LJ (I can imagine three months from now not caring that I didn't make the jump back to TP), I know there's a way (or I can ask said communities to find one) to attach a permanent "how to comment" link right next to the comments in the linkbar of every would link to a post I'll write encouraging any and all comment, LJer or not. Would you be more likely to comment if I told you how, or still not comment because it's an unweildy process to sign up for OpenID or HTML code your own comments? More rambling...starting to sound like paranoia...I'm just a passionate blogger.
posted by sjuhawk31 at 8:29 PM on August 11, 2006

LJ is much more of a "closed" community. TypePad is more open, and it's a pretty nifty service.

But have you considered ditching the "hosted" option and instead going for your own domain?
posted by davidmsc at 9:24 PM on August 11, 2006

Both services deliver your blog posts directly to search engines

What on earth does that mean, anil?
posted by AmbroseChapel at 11:36 PM on August 11, 2006

Response by poster: David, when I was on TypePad, I had my own domain name, and wasn't too thrilled with the name I came up with. I don't mind being
posted by sjuhawk31 at 6:02 AM on August 12, 2006

I run my own Wordpress-based blog and I manage to deliver my content directly to search engines too.

BTW: It's your content that will bring people to your site, not where you host it.
posted by jeversol at 8:16 AM on August 12, 2006

I'm not sure it'll make much of a difference what service you use, but I think some people who read a lot of blogs have a perception of some blog services. LiveJournal has sort of a personal and angsty feel to it. I don't really like the design.

TypePad, Movable Type, and WordPress have a bit more of a professional feel to me.

Me, I have a professional-ish blog on WordPress, and a friends type thing on Vox.
posted by lackutrol at 9:43 AM on August 12, 2006

Both services deliver your blog posts directly to search engines

What on earth does that mean, anil?

Sorry to be oblique, I was talking about the update stream, which delivers all posts from TypePad and LiveJournal directly to search engines and blog aggregators like Technorati, Bloglines, and Google blog search. This is different from pinging, which jeversol refers to and both services do as well. Basically, it's a distinction between "here it is" and "come get this".
posted by anildash at 2:15 PM on August 12, 2006

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