In 2010, the makers of the ultrasimple blogging service Posterous went on an aggressive recruiting campaign to snatch users from "dying platforms." The startup released 15 importers that made it easy for users to migrate their blogs and photos from services like Ning, Twitpic, and Blogger. "Whatever the reason, whatever the site, we want you to switch to Posterous," the company said.
Anyone who was compelled by that campaign probably regrets it now. After growing quickly for three years, Posterous started struggling and pivoted to become Posterous Spaces, a Google Groups-like discussion app. When Twitter bought Posterous in the spring of last year, it was widely understood to be an "aquihire," a way for Twitter to absorb the Posterous team. In February of this year, Posterous announced it would be shutting down all blogs after ten weeks.
The site shut down this morning and blogs are no longer accessible
That day is here. The site will shut down sometime today, after which time blogs will no longer be accessible. If you haven’t moved your blog off Posterous yet, you’ll have an additional 30 days to access your data after the shutdown. After that, all blogs will be permanently erased.
More than 60,000 people were logging into Posterous every day, judging by public data from those who use the site with Facebook, and the site was hosting more than 52 million pages. People liked Posterous because it was incredibly easy to use. It also had a killer feature: post by email.
When it launched in 2008, Posterous was the only blogging service that let users publish posts by emailing the content — including tags, formatting, and images — to a customized address. If you attached a number of images to an email, Posterous would automatically assemble them into a gallery.
Posthaven: the full package (eventually)
Rarely is there a perfect alternative when a service like Posterous shuts down, but Posthaven is actually Posterous redux. Posterous cofounder Garry Tan decamped when the startup pivoted, disappointed with the direction it was headed in. He and another Posterous cofounder, Brett Gibson, decided to recreate the blogging platform when they heard Twitter planned to shut it down. The pair has built what they say is a "perfect importer" for Posterous refugees, which transfers URLs, comments, and all types of content intact.
Posthaven already offers autopost and is working on building post by email and adding more of the original features. Even more compelling is that Tan is pledging to keep users’ data "forever" for $5 a month. Tan knows he can’t guarantee that anything will be on the internet forever, but he promises Posthaven will be around at least for his lifetime.
"We really believe that something like this should exist."
"Both Brett and I have pledged to do this because we really believe that something like this should exist," Tan told The Verge. "Honestly, writing Posterous was the happiest moment of my life and I’m having a blast actually writing it again. I want to work on this over the long term."
WordPress: old faithful
The only free option on the list, WordPress is also a popular choice for Posterous refugees. WordPress also offers a paid service, which includes a custom domain and greater customization for $99 a year.
Chris Nadeau, formerly one of Posterous’s featured bloggers, went the WordPress route and reported no problems with the data transfer. "It brought all my data (and I mean all of it) with a few clicks. Even the comments," he wrote in a blog post about the transition. Current Posterous CEO Sachin Agarwal also migrated all his data intact. However, Tan said the WordPress importer failed to transfer document files and audio files, and downsized large images to 1,000 pixels wide. Update: Agarwal said he worked with WordPress to resolve the issues, and now the importer works perfectly except for documents.
Admittedly, it’s not the prettiest
WordPress is the most popular blogging platform in the world. Admittedly, it’s not the prettiest. But if you’re looking for a free space to park your thoughts, it’s pretty hard to beat; and, unlike Blogger, WordPress rolls out updates pretty frequently. Its database of plugins, contributed by independent developers, is also growing all the time.
WordPress is not as intuitive or easy to use as many of the other options. Posting by email, for example, requires the user to configure the WordPress installation or use plug-ins. However, it’s a very sturdy platform. "It’s what you want if your posting needs don’t go beyond just having a blog and some pages and you want the best-priced solution," Nadeau wrote.
Squarespace: more than a blog
Posterous was built for the traditional reverse-chronological blogger. However, maybe your needs have evolved. If you’re looking for an easy-to-use WYSIWYG website builder that includes a slick blog, Squarespace is the way to go.
Squarespace manages to be super simple and yet very feature-rich. The gallery tool includes an image editor, the store feature includes a powerful inventory manager, and every site comes optimized for mobile. Squarespace also offers real-time traffic analytics and 24 / 7 customer phone support. The templates and layout options are modern and look high-end.
Squarespace’s blogging tool allows for auto-posting to other services and mapping posts with geolocation. There is also a Squarespace bookmarklet for reblogging content from elsewhere on the web.
Squarespace manages to be super simple and yet very feature-rich
The service has three price tiers, all of which include a custom domain name. For $8 a month, you can get 20 pages, which includes a blog with as many posts as you want. For $16 a month, you get unlimited bandwidth, storage, and contributors. For $24 a month, you get e-commerce features.
Squarespace offers an importer for Posterous users, but users reported some pains with the importer so you may have to add some data manually. In Tan’s test, text, audio, and video files were lost in the transfer. Squarespace also generates new URLs for every page, which may cause some damage to a site’s SEO. However, Squarespace does allow users to post by email.
Fortunately for Posterous users, there are several good alternatives. Unlike Posterous, two out of three of the best are paid-only services. Paying for data allows for some peace of mind, however: it means that the company hosting the blog is motivated to continue doing so.
Paying for data allows for peace of mind
The free blogging service Tumblr was considered Posterous’s biggest competitor before the latter fell behind, but Tumblr is notoriously unprofitable. Other trendy competitors Medium and Svbtle are startups that are too new to bet on. Google’s Blogger, also free, gives the impression of a forgotten product that could be buried in the Google graveyard alongside Buzz and Reader at any moment.
If you’re a serious blogger and you don’t want to have to move platforms every few years, you should be prepared to pay up.
Correction: An earlier version of this post said Blogger hasn't been updated in years; that is incorrect. Blogger has received updates especially related to integration with Google+.