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How to Shut Down A Blog

In this post Michael Gray looks at how to shut down a blog.

While there are numerous articles and blog posts with best practices on how to start and grow a blog, there are very few on how to properly shut down a blog. There are many reasons why you’d want to shut down a blog, perhaps the topic cooled down, maybe you’ve lost interest, or maybe you simply don’t have the time to devote to it any longer. In this article I’m going to walk you through some best practices for how to shut down your blog. I’m going to be using some WordPress specific plugins or tools. If you’re on a platform other than WordPress look for ways to adapt the process to suit your needs.

Shutting Down or Just Pausing

The first issue you need to address is are you shutting down the blog “permanently” or are you just putting it on pause for a little while? If you are pausing it leaving the door open to start it up again, you probably don’t want to stop the posts cold turkey. One option is to dramatically slow down the post frequency, instead of your normal posting routine, go to a one or two blog posts per month schedule. This keeps you blog alive in the eyes of a search engine, and avoids those awkward blank spots in your blog. Don’t have the time to do it yourself, outsource the content creation. With short blog posts of 200-400 words costing $7-10 each the expense is fairly minimal.

Letting Your Readers Know

If you have a significant number of readers it’s just polite to let them know you won’t be posting as much or are stopping posting entirely. The danger is of course they will probably delete you from their feed readers, making it harder to start the blog back up again. An alternative would be asking them to join a mailing list so you have a way to let them know if you do decide to start things back up again.

Authors and Contributors

If your blog has multiple authors or editors, you should reduce their level of access. Lower everyone except yourself to contributor or subscriber status. This removes the potential loop hole someone else might post to your blog. Next you want to turn off the ability for new users to register, keeping unauthorized people out of your WordPress back-end is just good security. As of WordPress 2.7 this option is in the admin panel > settings > general settings screen, you want to make sure the “anyone can register” box isn’t checked. While you’re here it’s also a good idea to make sure that the default new user role is set to subscriber, just in case a vulnerability is discovered that allows people to still register as a new user.

Comments and Spam

If you’ve been blogging for more than 90 seconds chances are you’ve had the privilege of dealing with blogspam. Hopefully you’ve installed a plugin to help you manage spam comments such as akismet or bad behavior, to help you block spam comments. You’ll also have to worry about trackback spam you can use a simple trackback spam plugin or disable trackbacks completely. To completely lock things down you want to use the close old posts plugin which allows you to prevent comments on any posts older than a specified number of days you define.

Backups

There are a number of backup plugins for wordpress I’m a fan of simple wordpress backups, which allows you to backup the entire database to a file or to email it to yourself. I’m also a big fan of off-site backups so I’ll mail myself a copy and keep it in a gmail account. You should also backup your template folder, and uploads folder (you should do this even if you aren’t shutting down your blog). If something goes wrong with your hosting account this provides you with a bit of insurance.

Monetization

Since your new posts will have stopped or slowed to a trickle, you can afford to be a little bit more aggressive with your monetization strategy. If you are using AdSense place it more “aggressively” within your template, you’ll probably get the highest CTR in the beginning of your posts. Also consider sponsored banners, advertisers are willing to pay more if they can get prime above the fold real estate. Negotiate a long term deal if possible.

Maintenance and Upkeep

In another article I wrote The Downside of Using WordPress maintenance and upkeep was one of the key issues I brought up as being a negative aspect of WordPress. If you aren’t writing for a blog chances are you aren’t going to be too motivated to keeping it up to date, and this presents a huge opportunity for hackers. Try to remove or disable as many non essential plugins as possible. Before you turn off the lights make sure everything is up to date. Eventually though you will need to come back in and perform some upgrades, just to keep your blog from being hacked. If you are absolutely 110% sure you will never come back to the blog, you can you can use a site ripper like HTTracks to make a flat file HTML copy of the site and upload it in place of wordpress, freeing you from the update cycle. Just make sure you have a backup of the DB first in case you weren’t 110% sure :-).

Long Term

If you’ve got a monetization strategy in place and it’s covering your hosting and registration costs you could keep things running indefinitely. If it’s been over a year you might want to use the flat file solution, just to keep you from spending any time on the site site at all. If your blog isn’t covering costs, or you simply don’t want the loose end, you may want to consider selling the domain. Contact other bloggers who are in your vertical market about buying your domain. Potential buyers will be much more interested if your domain has traffic, has links, and you are willing to give them copyright to the content.

About the Author

You can find Michael Gray speaking at many search engine industry events such as SES, SMX and Pubcon. Michael has over 10 years experience with internet marketing projects. He consults on their website, marketing, and search engine optimization. You can read his blog at www.wolf-howl.com, companies looking to promote their products can use his new product review service at ViralConversations.com.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. I sure hope that I never have to use this information, but it is definitely useful for anyone stopping or pausing a blog. Pausing is the hardest because you want to loss as few readers as possible.

    Thanks,
    Nate

  2. I started a wordpress.com blog before moving over to wordpress.org. Do you recommend completely shutting down/closing out the wordpress.com site if I am no longer posting to it?

  3. tim says:

    Good advice and very thorough! I like the “Downside of Using WordPress” article even though that’s what a lot of us use!

  4. I like the idea of letting the readers know and asking them to join a mailing list to get notified when you’re up and going again.

    Could be something that could be done if you were going on vacation for 2 or 3 weeks.

    I think a good experiment of doing this on a 2 week vacation vs. keeping the blog going during that time needs to be done.

    I’d be interested in seeing the pros and cons of each.

    Is building that mailing list worth losing a few subscribers and visitors during that 2 week period? Hmm…

  5. Good advice, should I ever think of shutting mine down. What you say about the maintenance and backups should be standard practice for all of us, irrespective of how often we use our blogs, just to keep the unwanted out.

  6. jan says:

    I know the value of these tips, but I find this a little morbid. It’s like performing euthanasia.

    A post that addresses a problem like “snatching a blog from the jaws of death” or something along that thinking would appeal more to me.

    Of course, I can only speak for myself and my 3-month old blog. So much of blogging life ahead of me still! :)

  7. Thanks for the great read. I have a related problem. I’ve moved my site (finally) from a Blogger site to WordPress with a better domain name. I find myself competing against myself for SERPs – I am not ready to kill the Blogger site since it gets good traffic and is a good source of traffic to the new site. Ideas? Best practices?

  8. Great tips. Sometimes we do it because you have similar topic for 2 different blogs and you want to merge 2 of them into 1. So another thing we can consider is redirecting existing readers to another blog if you already have it.

  9. Rahul Jadhav says:

    Its a nice tip as there are many bloggers who have started a blog with great enthusiasm but then they stop posting and the blog dies a slow death. I guess almost everyone must have 1 or more dead blogs

  10. Boss says:

    Great article of what could possibly be a touchy subject. I’ve been to quite a few blogs where the posts just stopped or there is one post saying that they are done blogging.

    Another thing you could do if you are done with the site is sell it off, especially if it’s a popular one.

  11. Blog Expert says:

    If I was going to shut down a Blog I would probably just write a post thanking everyone that has read your Blog. Explain why you are shutting down your Blog also. I would then save everything somewhere on your computer so if you ever need to go back and look at something. Then you can properly shut down your Blog by deleting all the information on your server. Just make sure it is only for the one Blog you are shutting down.

  12. Lee Ka Hoong says:

    Good post Micheal! Between, I never think to shut down my blog and I won’t do that because it’s just like my kid. lol! If I’m busy to update it, I will probably do 1-2post in a week or so. Just not to let it die. Shut down a blog is a waste.

    Regards,
    Lee

  13. Sherry says:

    As someone who has been reading blogs for years, and prior to blogging days, online journals, I find it really important to let your readers know if you’re going to stop writing. More times than I can remember, a site has just stopped updating, and eventually disappeared as the domain expired, and you end up wondering what happened to the person behind it.

    You don’t have to go into deep detail, but at least a brief “I just don’t have time anymore // I don’t feel like having an in-depth online life anymore” message gives readers some sort of closure, especially if those readers have come to care about the person writing.

  14. k2 says:

    And here I thought this article would be about how to craft that perfect “Goodbye Post”. Great tips, almost all of which I never had even thought of.

  15. Damini says:

    Nice post. I had a blog that I just shut down because I started a new blog. Since I didn’t have a lot of readers, I didn’t direct them to my new blog.

  16. Jay says:

    While I find this article to be very well written and insightful, I hope I never need the information within. :-)

  17. I have always wondered what the exit strategy of a blog is. Fascinating article. Makes you wonder how many blogs have been abandoned out there in cyberspace.

  18. I hope I will not resort to doing the information above.hehe

  19. Ganesh says:

    oh woh!! Really made me see ghosts :) …. Most fearful article I have read…. :)

  20. I don’t think so anyone want to shut down his blog. Anyway nice tips thanks.

  21. Good ideas here. I love this blog. I need to do this on one of our old sites. But if you are ending a community that has a small following would you still recommend doing this?

  22. Carla says:

    Great article. I always wonder what I should do if I had my pause my blog for a bit. This is really great information for the future. The monetizing tips are really helpful.

  23. Robin says:

    I hope the day never comes.

  24. Song Lyrics says:

    I see a lot of people just abandoning their blogs since the economy is bad and now tis article. Looks like the blogosphere is in for a rough year.

  25. Herry Parker says:

    why anybody will choose shutdown the blog, but u wrote nice article.

  26. I just started getting some readers to my blog and I hope I will never ever have to shut down my blog.

    I am just 15 years old and a high school junior and I don’t work so I have a lot of time and economy or anything else does not concern me a lot but I think that closing down you blogs due to bad economy (as song lyrics said in the last comment) is just foolishness. I think that getting your blog up and running is the best thing to do for bad economy.
    ——————————————————–
    Mohammad Afaq
    Free Website Traffic

  27. Mark Madsen says:

    Thanks for this post. I’m considering doing a 301 re-direct from one of my established blogs to new one that I would rather spend all of my time on. The links and traffic would be beneficial for my new project, but I also run the risk of losing trust with my readers if they sense that I’m not committed to seeing things through. My main challenge is time, and I would rather invest everything that I have in the blogs that I know have a proven revenue model.

  28. very unique topic :), i never want to shutdown any of my blogs, just keep em running until the domain is expired :)

  29. My company just shut down one of our blogs and the aggressive ad placement took our CTR from 1.5% to around 3.8%.

  30. Tumblemoose says:

    I agree about notifying folks if you’re going away.

    Recently I’ve had a couple of people who I considered strong members of my community just up and disappear off the radar. As a doting dad, I always think maybe they got in a car crash or something.

    It’s kind of akin to leaving a party without saying goodbye to anyone.

    George

  31. Well you have opened layer by layer and when I was finishing one point and shifting to another one it was like I have complete a chapter and learn the things.

    Simple and beautiful article. Easy to understand … really appreciate this.

  32. Mekk says:

    Yet another post here which advises posting rubbish just to avoid being silent.

    I never deleted interesting feed from my reader because of author inactivity. Never. It does not cost anything to have it hidden in my reader.

    I deleted plenty of feeds which started to post rubbish-quality posts, rewrite news etc (maybe those $5-$10 investments). They waste my time, sir.

    If you have nothing interesting to say, it’s better to shut up than to prove you have nothing to say.

  33. PCStuffBlog says:

    Useful topic. Although I’m just starting with blogging, this informations might be handy in the future.

  34. Dave says:

    A logical follow up or corollary to this topic would also be what happens to the blog when its blogger passes away?

    Shut it down? Have an “heir” blogger? Maintenance and bills? etc. all applies.

    There was a recent article in the SF Chronicle — or SFGate.com — on a World of Warcraft player who passed away, and then the next of kin trying to reach the player’s online friends…

    I know, a morbid topic, yes, but we’ll all get to that point…at some point.

  35. Unionhawk says:

    Does anybody know how I can control spam comments on a Blogger blog? I have been forced to password protect my blog due to a lot of spam and flame comments.

  36. appleblogger says:

    might be i choose to pause. not to shut down.

  37. venkat says:

    I hope today bloggers take rest by pausing posts not by stopping at all ,pausing posts can decrease traffic to blog and readers also consider remove the feeds of the blog.

  38. Shutting down a blog is anyblogger’s nightmare.We all love our blogs and never wish to shut them down..it’s like commiting suicide.But keeping it running when it really doesn’t answer the reasons why you started blogging won’t really help you..
    All of us started blogging for a reason best known to our ownselves,but if that very reason hasnt been met for a long long time..then there is all the reasons to shut it down..Keeping it past that period is like sleeping with your worst devil!!!
    but shutting it down could mean a turninging point to your next blog that is if you planning to start a new Niche..you could post a very attractive article why you shutting it down and post a link to your new site so that you move with your traffic..

    Matutu Nyabange

    http://www.frogblogger.com

  39. Wait! Dont shut a blog! But anyways i can offer you mine! id been writing blogs and i focus on writing about businesses. I assure help, come and see some!

  40. imoDOTcom says:

    Insightful and relevant because it is easy to start blogs but very difficult to keep-up. Good advice on Good Practices!

  41. Better still flip the site for some cash.