One of the most prominent tones running through the indie web is being able to own your content. To publish it online and be able to do whatever you want with it. Some people publish to WordPress, some to Medium, others may build their own static sites, but the real problem with most of these approaches is being able to move your content to somewhere else easily.
I first ran into this pain when closing down my very first WordPress website. I’d been working hard on building a Jekyll based static site because hosting was becoming expensive, and it was the best place to put everything. When it comes to all blog posts and images, it proved a nightmare. Sure there are ways to do it, kind of. However, none of the options work very well, or even at all. So you’re left to slog through all of your posts and copy them over.
Pretty easy to do if you’re only a few in, but a mammoth task if you’re as post happy as I am or been witting for several years. Several times during the process, I considered giving up, and a lesser person may have done so, begging the question of if this is intentional? If you own your content, then it should be easy to move from place to place, and platforms really should think about this as a selling point to their hosting.
Jeff Perry, the master of moving his blog to different providers, feels this more than anyone. He found WordPress to be a massive pain, and only Blot creator David Murfiled goes out of his way to help.
I will say moving to Blot was easy because the creator, Dave, is probably the most helpful and responsive person I’ve ever worked with. When I was using http://micro.blog I felt that the back end was needlessly complicated, and for Wordpress, my worst experience was with Wordpress themselves because they charge up the ass for little support - Jeff Perry
Manton Reece creator of micro.blog talked about this quite a while ago, and proposed that providers implement a standard. Whenever I hear these calls for a standard to be implemented, I am always reminded of the XDCD comic.
But clearly, something needs to be done. Each platform offers the ability to import and export options, but very few of these work together, or much fo the time even work very well. Indeed micro.blog is the only platform I have seen that goes so far as to make your import go as smoothly as possible. Creating bespoke options for Instagram, Medium, WordPress, Jekyll and many others. I can’t speak for getting your content out again, but the transparency of this service should help at least a little.
During a recent round trip to Ghost Pro, and back again, I imported and exported all of my posts 3 or 4 times. Even though I was doing this on the same platform, this still didn’t work fully. Leaving me to trawl through all of my posts and add in missing images and move data to the correct place. So even the self-proclaimed home of independent publishing suffers from the same old issues as everyone else. Platforms want your data, but don’t want you to take it again without some pain.