Without a doubt, this is probably one of the most awkward blog posts I’ve had to write. It’s just plain embarrassing. But oh well, here we go.

Earlier this year my old blog got turned into an ‘adult’ website. You see, I’m avoiding the ‘p’ word. It looks a bit like this p*** or *o** or ***n. You know what I mean. (I really don’t want Google to get the wrong idea about this website)

Man holding unhappy face

They’re Czech, apparently. And whatever they’re doing, it looks a lot more interesting than a blog about public relations.

It happened after something no self-respecting blog owner should do, I let my domain name expire. It was deliberate. After wrestling with the SEO behemoth Google, the dream of just moving content across to Medium and relying on their own creator’s network seemed like such a good idea.

Then Medium started to play around with its business model. Uncertainty drew quite a few content creators away from the platform. Even in 2018, hosting your own content is still best practice. Why give all that link equity and traffic to another website?

Eventually my old domain name expired after about a year of redirecting to Medium. At this point, after a grace period, the domain name could be purchased by anyone.

Naturally the owner would need to be called Michael White, which might narrow things down a bit. Of course, well-known personalities Michael White or Michael White could have chosen to purchase. But no.

Let’s reflect over my last 10 years. Building a blog is genuinely hard work. It takes time and patience, the occasional good idea; it really is a marathon and not a sprint. Over time, your online personality gets tied to a website address – today that address is michaelwhite.blog.

Much of my life has been printed on the internet. Sometimes through attempting to be an early adopter but mostly because of the blur between social media and my career; it’s all one personality, one person. That professional presence built up over years leaves a trail of footprints.

When your old domain name gets bought by a site offering p*** then things get a little sticky, so to speak. Everything online with a link to the old blog address gets pointed to the site, with my name associated to it. It’s a reputation nightmare.

It’s with a tedious sense of irony that someone’s job who is to manage the reputations of companies and individuals, finds himself in a reputational pickle.

In hindsight that old domain name should have just been renewed for the £10 it cost and none of this would have happened. The experience has taught me some very important lessons though.

Ready?

  1. Choosing a domain name to build your ‘brand’ on must be long-term, because once you own it, it’s difficult to separate from your name.
  2. A blog or website hits maturity once it’s got a good number of backlinking sites plugging into it, don’t take this for granted. It’s easy once you’re there, but much harder to start from scratch.
  3. It’s really embarrassing getting in touch with friends, colleagues and contacts to tell them to change your blog’s address in their links, feed readers, email subscriptions, etc. However, there is nothing like a good excuse to get in touch than by shouting ‘Don’t click on my old link!’

Could this have been a deliberate attempt to sabotage my online presence? I suppose, potentially.

Has it worked? No. All the major links have been updated now.

More likely that the old domain name was bought because of its already established status in search and for direct traffic.

After a little bit of a fight with Medium, it was possible to surgically split my content away from their service. They don’t make it easy though. In fact, they’ve proactively gone out of their way to stop their data being exported into self-hosted WordPress sites (which is what this site is).

This is now the right blog to be following. I won’t be changing the blog’s address anytime soon. Promise.

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