I know that talking about how to shut down your blog is not nearly as much fun as talking about launching one. However, sometimes we all have to face some changes in the direction of our careers … so priorities change, goals become no longer valid, new opportunities get born, new careers get started, an so on …
In the end, there are many possible scenarios why a blog owner would want to shut it down. Both resulting from positive as well as negative factors. No matter what your story is, simply deleting everything just like that might not be the best approach possible, so I want to show you other possibilities and side actions that are worth taking.
Is it a temporary halt?
This is the first question you should answer before doing anything. Do you really want to shut your blog down completely, or just put it on hold and then maybe get back to it after a while, once you’ve managed to take care of your other matters?
Consider the following fact. If you just don’t have time to blog on a regular basis right now, this doesn’t mean that you have to close everything down completely. I know that your readers are expecting a post every couple of days, so you don’t want to keep them waiting forever, but this time I really encourage you to look at your own business first.
If you want to stop blogging temporarily then first of all consider decreasing your posting frequency to one entry a month or so. This won’t consume much of your resources, but at the same time it will allow you to keep the blog alive.
Then after a while you can start getting back to your normal posting schedule like nothing ever happened. Yes, I really mean like nothing ever happened. No explanation is necessary. Some people will notice, that’s true, but there’s no point to inform your new readers that you were away for some reason.
However, if you really want to close down your blog completely, then I have some tips on how to do it the right way.
How about selling it?
This is the first possibility you have. Since you’re no longer interested in blogging, you can sell your whole site (the domain, the platform, the content) while it’s still hot. If you’re going to sell it then now really is the best time. The value of your blog will only decrease if you won’t post anything for a longer period of time.
You can go to a site like Flippa and create a listing of your blog pointing out all of its important characteristics. Things like traffic, revenue, the number of subscribers, pages, comments, and so on. Prospective investors look carefully into every metric to estimate how much money they can make from a site, that’s why it’s important to list everything you can.
If you manage to sell your blog on Flippa, in most cases you won’t have to do anything else with it other than transfer the domain to the new owner.
However, if selling is not an option then you still have other possibilities.
Do you want to keep the domain live?
Shutting down a blog doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to delete it completely. Your blog has probably achieved some search engine presence during its lifespan, so it would be a pitty to lose it all. If you’re willing to keep investing money in your domain and hosting then consider keeping the blog live.
There are two approaches you can take here. Either keep your blog as a complete WordPress blog (the functionality remains intact, except the comments, which should probably be closed), or create a full-site rip of your blog, and then republish it as a static HTML website.
The second approach doesn’t seem like a very sensible one at first, but it actually makes things easier in the future. If you’ve converted your blog into a static website then you don’t have to take care of updating it any more.
(Remember that WordPress needs to be updated constantly like any other piece of software if you want it to be secure and hacker-proof.)
Static HTML sites don’t share such problems. The only way of hacking them is to hack the hosting server itself, which is a lot more difficult to do (not that I know).
There are multiple apps available for creating a site rip, so I’ll just leave the research up to you.
Reusing your domain
In case you don’t know, domains are very valuable pieces of real estate on the Internet. If you have good search engine rankings and a constant stream of visitors coming to your site then you can use it to promote any other new site/project you have going on.
The best approach for this is to include some kind of message near the top of the homepage. Any link placed there will get the most search engine visibility as well as user visibility.
This actually reminds me of one very important point…
Your final message
If your site is going away for good, meaning that you won’t be publishing any content ever, then crafting some kind of final message would be a good idea.
Such message can point out some new projects of yours (as mentioned above), guide people towards other resources, list the most popular pieces of content on your old site, promote certain products, and last but not least, explain that the site is no longer updated and, if you want to, explain why.
Such a message should be visible to everyone coming to the homepage, so it might require some minor design tweaks or an additional plugin (if you’re keeping your WordPress live).
Back up everything!
I don’t even know how many times I mentioned backups as an important part of something. I simply can’t stress this enough.
In my opinion, regular backups are one of the most important things anyone working with computers can do. This goes especially for website owners and online business owners.
And now it’s more important than ever. I bet you’d like to have the final version of your site backed up somewhere … you know, just in case.
As always, I recommend Online Backup for WordPress, but feel free to go with whatever solution suits you best. You can even back up your blog through phpMyAdmin and FTP if you prefer it this way.
Deleting your blog completely
This is something I really advise you not to do. This simply is a step with no return. Once you delete your domain, your content, your whole site, there’s no turning back. Re-launching the site at some point would mean starting from scratch.
A new domain will take some time to build up a good value, plus getting new backlinks will also take a significant amount of time and effort. I guess what I’m trying to say is that a couple year old domain has some value in itself.
However, if you really want to get rid of it then there’s nothing much there to explain… Just a couple of clicks and your whole blog is gone.
You can direct your domain to another address before it dies out completely, like your personal site for example, so people won’t see a blank screen when they visit the blog after you’ve deleted it. You can also use a static HTML message explaining what happened (make sure to use your branding elements, otherwise people might think that your site just got hacked).
Inform your partners
In my opinion, informing your partners (your online friends) that you’re closing down your blog is a really nice practice. The thing is that some people will continue to link to you without checking if you’re still there. Letting them know saves a lot of trouble later on. Plus, you might get some interesting offers along the way.
As we can all see, there are not many purely technical tasks to do when you want to shut down your blog, but there’s a lot of side things to take care of. Of course, nothing is mandatory, but vanishing just like that overnight simply isn’t the most fortunate way out…
Have you ever had to shut down your blog, or any other site? How did you do it?