Personal Blog vs. Social Media Profiles
Having a personal website or relying on social media profiles has different advantages. I try to reflect on both.
Most people don't have their own website. My father designs web pages for a living, so naturally I was shown how it works early on. I experimented with web design and development since I was like 13 years old. Over time I have noticed how the design part isn't really for me, and I now only do the programming and content part. This blog wasn't designed by me, I just took a program that converts text files into a blog.
If I only cared about getting content out there, I wouldn't need to do so much work. I could have started writing it somewhere else, like on Medium or Facebook. My travel pictures wouldn't need to be part of a blog post, they could go on Flickr, Instagram or Facebook. My programming knowledge could also be on Stack Overflow. It isn't necessarily better or worse, it is just pretty different. In this post I want to share some experience with both.
The most important advantage of my own blog is the control over my content. My posts are just a directory full of Markdown files. I can do whatever I want. I could make a PDF and print it, import it into a Wordpress blog, upload them on Medium, create an e-book and sell it on Amazon as an indy publisher. My web host is replacable, I can just move the domain and the content to a different one; I have already done so twice.
When one posts on Medium, the content still belongs to the author. Yet I am not sure how easily one can export and adapt it for a different platform. If at some point Medium would change their terms of service, moving would not be so easy. This is even more the case with a platform like Facebook, where your content likely is scattered around various pages, groups and the like. On Reddit you cannot posts links until you have sufficient points in that given subreddit. That means that you cannot post what you want.
Additionally I can post whatever I want. There are no limitations to content, except for legal constraints and the 25 GB of space that I have in my current package. If I would choose to publish tasteful pornographic content, gambling tips or something else that was not safe for work, I would have a problem on various platforms. On my blog, I am the only one to decide what is on topic and what isn't.
I can also freely link to other profiles from my website. Some platforms don't like users going away from the platform, so outgoing links are sanctioned. This makes it harder to have a canonical place where people can find you on the internet.
The downside of that control is that one is outside of the feudal platforms. Everyone with an internet connection can visit my blog, but my blog isn't suggested to people. There are no algorithms that move people to my site. This means that I don't have the same reach that I would have on social media. There one just uses some hashtags and almost instantly will have people looking at the content.
Also people cannot easily start a discussion. When you share something on Facebook, people can react. They have a standard way of doing so, and they will make frequent use of that. The quality of the feedback might be questionable sometimes, but there are no hurdles. This is a bit harder with a blog. You can have a comment section, but you either force your users to register, or you will end up with a bunch of spam posts. This is why I don't have comments on my site and rather ask people to send me an e-email, Telegram or Threema message instead.
I found that a good compromise is posting links to blog articles on Twitter. This gives me some reach, but I can still control the content and write as much as I want.
Social media platforms do not cost anything to the user. One can just upload content and see some advertisements. This makes it really easy to publish some content and interact. My website costs like 2.50 EUR/month, so that is still manageable. And I get an e-mail service on top of that. Depending on what you want to do, that is already too much. So one can just start with a free service where one can export the content, if the need to move should arise.