Five years is a long time in the ephemeral zone that is the virtual world. Although I’ve been an Internet user since around 1997, it took me a while to make the transition from consumer to creator of content, but I’ve maintained a fairly strong on-line presence since 2007 – and it’s no coincidence that my first book, the short story collection Bad Houses was published that year.
The received wisdom is that if you want to succeed, you need to be on-line, and if you don’t have a website then you pretty much don’t exist. After all, without a website, how will anyone find you? It’s a fair enough question, and because my output is wildly disparate and flung to the infinite corners of the virtual world, it made particular sense for me to have my own domain as a means of providing a hub that linked to all of my various appearances in small press magazines and so on.
Not being much my way of an expert when it comes to the practical aspects of building a website, I went with Miscrosoft Office Live, which provided useful templates, customised domain names and email, was piss-easy to use and, best of all, it was cheap. In short, it suited my needs and my abilities.
And, by arrangement with Clinicality Press, I was able to set up a store through which to flog my work in print. In addition to the main titles, I put out a handful of limited-run pamphlets (many of which I have to admit are still sitting in a box in my office. Ah well. Serves me right for being so prolific and antagonistic toward all literary and publishing conventions).
However, while the website has its definite uses, I’m a strong believer that ubiquity is the key to global domination. As such, my quest has driven me to myriad social networking outlets and to try other means of getting my name – if not my face – known. My blogs and articles posted elsewhere have always received more hits than my website, which I would say validates my approach. What’s more pretty much all of my book sales are made through Clinicality or Amazon, and since most of my titles were published in Kindle, Kindle sales have accounted for around 95% of my sales. I’m cool with that, but it does mean that the website is simply one aspect of my broader on-line presence, and is by no means something that’s making me rich by its existence.
So when Microsoft announced they were discontinuing Office Live and ‘upgrading’ it to Office Live 365 I was less than enthused, not least of all because the ‘migration’ of existing websites entailed the users rebuilding them, from scratch. Custom domains – or ‘vanity domains’ as they began calling them – needed the owner to switch all of the registry information themselves, and reconfigure any ‘vanity’ email addresses (the term hardly makes it sound appealing, but then it’s still more appealing than having your name or business’ name with a Microsoft suffix by way of a domain name).
Still, for continuity’s sake, I ‘migrated’ christophernosnibor.co.uk to the new platform, taking advantage of the three month free trial on offer, and using the opportunity to redesign the site a little. I soon discovered that Windows Live 365 was nowhere near as user-friendly as its predecessor, and lacked some of the essential functionality. Particularly frustrating was the fact there were no reports, meaning it was no longer possible to determine the number of hits or the search terms used to bring traffic to the site. Then of course there was the pricing.
Whereas Office Live had been around a tenner a year, the new supposedly improved but actually inferior service costs that a month – with an additional charge of three quid per email address.
The plan had been to find a suitable alternative during the three month trial and shift everything over before the time was up, but in the event, being a writer – and a writer who also happens to have a full-time job and a life as well – it didn’t happen. So, in concentrating my efforts on producing content, which is ultimately what I’m about, and what the website’s purpose is to promote, I find myself with six days of my free trial left. The simplest thing to do would be to pay up and forget about it. It’s hardly a king’s ransom, after all. Besides, chuntering about the price won’t achieve anything. But because the revenue it generates is nowhere near the cost of the hosting, it makes no sense to cough up for the sake of maintaining the presence, especially when it costs more for less (which seems to be the way everything’s going these days, and that’s capitalism for ya, but that’s a whole other blog).
At some point, I shall convert the blog, hosted by WordPress, to christophernosnibor.com and redesign it so it not only has the content that was on the website, but so that it looks like a website. When that will be, I wouldn’t like to say. So from now on, if you’re loving my work, there’ll be more of the same (only different) here.
Microsoft Office 365: a load of crap and more than ten times the price of Office Live