In the project-driven environments of today’s workforce, there are typically three major stages that a product or service can fall into. These are (in my terms, not the industry): Conceptualization, Realization, and Sustenance. Subsequently, job descriptions tend to be divided to support one of these three major stages. As a worker, you’re either brainstorming the concept, bringing that concept into reality or sustaining that reality for an undetermined amount of time. While new ideas are always exciting (and tend to get the lion’s share of attention by the higher ups), more time and resources will be spent on maintaining and supporting the product/service during its life cycle than on either conceptualizing or implementing it.
I’ve been fortunate enough to work within all three stages over my nearly 20 years in the workforce. While my earliest years were spent in service support, I now find myself gravitating towards conceptualization and realization. This is true of my hobbies, as well. I’ve written previously about how I enjoy learning the systems and mechanics of a new video game, but can quickly tire of the same game once it becomes repetitive or predictable. In other words, I love visualizing and building, but “maintaining” is not something that particularly interests me. It often requires the highest level of expertise and most amount of dedicated time.
The truth is, like many bloggers, my personality contains a fairly good blend of creative drive and technical aptitude. Even without the technical challenges of hosting a website, writers tend to have a distinct gift for encasing flowery language within a familiar, almost mathematical, framework that can easily be recognized and understood by a mainstream audience. Is it art? Is it analysis? Is it communication? Yes! Knowing this, you might be thinking that I’d be a good candidate to tackle the challenges of self-hosting alongside the more artistic part of actually putting words together. If so, you’d be 66% correct.
I actually do love the idea of conceptualizing and creating my own self-hosted blog. But I don’t love the idea of maintaining it. The mere thought of having to deal with plugin updates, plugins not being updated, denial of service, templates (and the updates, lack of updates), patches, fallout from patches, and the various months of tweaking things which don’t quite work together precisely, is enough to make one shy away from blogging altogether! I know myself well enough to know that these are the types of things that could sap enthusiasm from a hobby that I once enjoyed. Believe it or not, I actually did some planning prior to deciding what this blog should be, and with an eye toward sustainability I chose to use wordpress.com as my host. It also helped that I had already played around, and was familiar with, the platform. As an added bonus, if I ever do opt for the agony of self-hosting, I am able to export my current blog to a self-hosted WordPress content management system and point my existing braxwolf.com hostname (which WordPress.com allows me to use for a small fee) towards it without skipping a beat. In essence, I’ve chosen the best fit for today while allowing for future flexibility.
As it turns out, I’ve adopted a real-world business strategy for blog hosting. What do you do when the expense of supporting and maintaining your product becomes unwieldy? You outsource it! This can be especially effective when those you outsource to are experts in the field. The way I see it, WordPress.com are experts in hosting websites, while I am not. They can absorb a denial of service attempt better than I can. They get volume discounts for data center hosting, I do not. They are monitoring their servers 24*7 because it’s in their best interest to do so. I, on the other hand, will possibly check on my blog once a week. Maybe less, depending on recent activity.
I admit, there are times when the existing templates on WordPress.com seem annoyingly similar. There are times when I wish I could do something that is not allowed by the platform, or when I thought I’ve found the perfect template – except for that one little showstopper, but by and large, the decision has turned out to be a good one. It allows me to focus on the real point of the blog: communicating with all of you!