Why using free web services for your union campaign website is a bad move

December 19, 2010

It is a bad idea for your union campaign to use a free website service like Blogspot, WordPress or Typepad, for four reasons. Unfortunately, I see a lot of union campaign websites using WordPress.com or Blogspot.com websites for small campaigns (and not just unions, but other non-profits, like environment groups).

Avoid using the free web services Blogger and WordPress for your union campaign website.

Firstly, the website doesn’t belong to you

Most free services like Blogspot or WordPress are owned by for-profit companies. Even if they are run by non-profit organisations, they are not necessarily friends of unions. You are effectively handing the online infrastructure and data of your union campaign to a third party.

Secondly, the SEO doesn’t benefit you

Similarly, on the technical side, you don’t own the URLs and search engine optimisation (SEO) – a developed website is an important asset. Not just the hyperlinks you have created, but all of the links that others have created to point to your site, are owned by the service you are using. None of this benefits your main union website, or you in the long run.

Thirdly, they have limited feature-sets

Services like WordPress and Blogger are limited in their features, so as to maintain their consistency across millions of blogs. There are many fantastic pieces of software that integrate into websites using Joomla, WordPress or other fully-featured content management systems. By using a hosted third-party service, you are campaigning online with one hand behind your back.

Fourthly, transferring or moving the site is difficult

While both Blogger and WordPress have export data features, if you decide at a later date to transfer your site to one you host yourself, it can be time consuming and technically difficult. Similarly, all those links to your site from other peoples’ sites won’t necessarily follow you to your new site (for example, Blogger won’t let you use a 301 redirect to your new site), meaning that your SEO will be compromised.

Just because it’s free, doesn’t mean it’s good

In the case of your union campaign website, free can be bad. Building your own union campaign site is inexpensive and easy – and can be done without a great deal of technical knowledge or design skills (having those skills will of course make your “good enough” site much, much better).

Buying your own domain name, or creating a subdomain on your existing site (such as http://campaignname.yourunion.org) is inexpensive (around $30 for 2 years) or free (in the case of a subdomain). Hosting can cost (from Digital Pacific for example) costs around $150 for a year. The self-hosted WordPress software is free, and high quality web design templates cost less than $100.

In summary, though Blogger and WordPress are free – they’re not really free.  The value of your time is much more important.  If you’re looking to build a successful union campaign site that will help you contact as many supporters and members and achieve your online campaign goals, you should use a professional blogging or CMS platform that is designed for your needs.

[box type=”info”]Read about good content management systems for union campaign sites here.[/box]

(This is not to suggest that WordPress or Blogger aren’t good blogging software services – they are. They are just not suitable for your union’s campaign websites.)


Comments

  1. Jason - March 16, 2011 at 4:37 pm -

    It`s probably worth differentiating the use of the free WordPress hosting services, as opposed to running WordPress yourself.

    Using the free and open source software “WordPress“ on your own site is an excellent idea, because it’s free and open source. You own and control everything you do. WordPress is excellent software, easy and quick to set up and can do a lot of useful things out of the box.

    • admin - March 16, 2011 at 4:42 pm -

      Hi Jason,

      You’re exactly right. When I’m talking about the “service”, I’m referring to WordPress.com, as opposed to the self-hosted version that can be downloaded from WordPress.org.

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