ActiveRain’s Recent Troubles
Recently ActiveRain has been plagued by server trouble. Anyone who uses or visits the site should know the verbiage of the “bad gateway” and “proxy error” messages by heart. It’s been annoying, frustrating, and down right excruciating. There is nothing worse then heading over there and not being able to get on the site – even worse, to get on the site, then two or three links in, find out that it’s not working.
I’ve been on ActiveRain since somewhere around November 2008 and despite the fact that I have had my own doubts and dislikes about their system, overall I’d give them a good grade. I used the site to “cut my blogging teeth” so to speak and think that it’s a good way for agents who aren’t blogging yet to get their feet wet. In light of the recent troubles though, I had some thoughts that I wanted to get off my chest.
Fix me please.
While the server issues have been going on, the folks from ActiveRain have been saying “it’s coming soon” and “we’re almost there” (not direct quotes). ActiveRain has quite a hardcore following, so most members have shrugged and hung in there. In the past few weeks though, I’ve heard a lot more personal stories of how agents aren’t so sure they can hang in there any longer. Why? When a site goes down a lot and you’re trying to run a business, where do you send people to?
Is it wise to tell a client to check out your “outside blog” or your ActiveRain profile if you can’t guarantee the site will be up and running when they visit? How does that reflect on you when the get the “proxy error?” I know if I was a consumer my opinion of my agent would go down quite a lot if I went to their blog on a daily basis and couldn’t get it working. What about links? Have you ever linked to your ActiveRain blog somewhere out there on the internet? I know I reference my ActiveRain posts quite a bit on my site (self-hosted WordPress site) through related links and links within posts. So when Google is crawling through my site and sees those links, it follows them, only to find a dead end. Good way to make Google unhappy with you. And of course, there’s my readers…perhaps they want a little more info than what I provided in my RErockstar.com article and see a link to my ActiveRain blog…click, dead end. Once again, bad for business.
I should note, I do not pay for my ActiveRain service. When they switched to the pay system, I was grandfathered in and kept as a free member (a Rainmaker as they call it). I also receive a free “outside blog” thanks to my status as an ActiveRain Ambassador.
That’s great, now what?
First off, I think ActiveRain will get everything sorted and get back to doing what they do. I know they’re working hard based on conversations with them and I wish them the best at getting things up and running and stable. Like many businesses, ActiveRain has experienced some growing pains (this isn’t the first time) and although I wish they had handled them quicker, I hope they’ll learn a lot from this last round of server upgrades to know how and when to do it in the future.
How should you handle it? What should you do? My first bit of advice is simple – make backups. ActiveRain provides a system to export your blog posts and I recommend you do it frequently if you post there often. Keep a backup just in case you decide to call it quits. This applies to any site that isn’t in your direct control that you post to frequently (it applies to your own self-run site as well, but you should be backing that up regularly anyway). If you never use the backup to port the posts to another site, at least you’ll have a continuous history of your writings that you can reference when you need to.
I sound like my mom, but don’t put all your eggs in one basket. I blog in several places for a reason. If ActiveRain were my only outlet, I would be pulling my hair out right now. By keeping multiple blogs you can always find a workaround if one of them goes down. Might take a lot of work, but imagine what it would be like if one of your paid sites went bankrupt and disappeared tomorrow. Would you still have web presence? Or would you be found crying and shaking in a corner repeating “I lost it all” over and over again?
Don’t fear self-hosted solutions such as WordPress. Spend a few minutes searching through AgentGenius and you’ll find all sorts of how-to and step-by-step help on maintaining your own blogs. It’s not nearly as hard as you think it is. Yes, it does take more time and it will take longer to get Google recognition (it doesn’t take nearly as long as you might think), but the reward is great. Even when I found myself blogging everyday at ActiveRain, my WordPress site got more traffic. It continues to grow each and everyday and has far exceeded my expectations for a website from the new guy in town.
Know when to cut and run or show your loyalty to a company. I have clung to some companies as they went under and have jumped ship while others were sinking. I have also been highly rewarded for sticking by a growing company during tough times. It’s never an easy decision and each case needs to be viewed separately, but sometimes it’s best to suffer a bit and root for the little guy.
CC Licensed photo courtesy of muha via Flickr.com.