Goodbye, Google Friend Connect–Now What?

by Jami Gold on February 28, 2012

in Random Musings

Image of Google Friend Connect badge widget

We’ve all seen the Google Friend Connect (GFC) widgets on websites and blogs we visit.  Some sites have asked us to join GFC to qualify for a contest or giveaway.  On our own blogs, we enjoy seeing the avatars of our readers (and the numbers of our “members” go up).

However, Google is retiring GFC for all non-Blogger blogs on March 1st. *cue gnashing of teeth*

(March 2013 Update: With the news of the shutdown of Google Reader on July 1, 2013, it looks like GFC might be going away for Blogger/Blogspot blogs as well.)

Some bloggers built their platform around the goal of increasing their GFC numbers.  Some bloggers let GFC handle their newsletter signup.  The loss of GFC is cutting out the heart of some blogs.

How Should We Build Our Platform?

This situation exposes a huge risk in our platform-building efforts.  We build networks on Twitter—which we don’t “own” or control.  Ditto for Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Triberr, Tumblr, Pinterest, Klout, etc.  Many of us blog on Google’s Blogger/Blogspot or WordPress.com, so we don’t even own our blogs or websites.

The changes Facebook imposes on its users make headlines: Timeline, changing security policies, etc.  Some people have been kicked off Facebook or Google+, losing all contacts and friends, because of false allegations about infractions to the terms of service.

Countless authors I know have a personal profile and a pen name profile on Facebook.  Every one of them could lose everything because multiple profiles are against Facebook’s rules.

I’m not trying to be alarmist.  Most social media platforms don’t want to upset their users, but things happen.

Klout made thousands of people feel like they were demoted when they restructured their Klout score algorithms several months ago.  Trunk.ly (which I loved) was bought by Delicious and is now non-functional.  Twitter oh-so-unhelpfully unfollows people for me all the time.

My point is there’s nothing preventing any social media platform from doing whatever they want, whether it hurts us, our network, or our platform.  So what can we do?

How Seriously Do You Take Your Platform?

Using free services (such as Blogger or WordPress.com) for our blog when we’re first starting out can make sense for many of us.  We want to see how this blogging thing works, and we want to make sure we’re committed before shelling out money.

However, once we’re serious about writing, becoming an author, and building a platform, ownership should be one of the considerations when we decide how to grow ourselves online.

Maybe that means going with a paid WordPress.org website/blog (.com is free, but .org requires an external hosting provider) for our home base.  Or maybe that means making sure our newsletter signup program creates the email list of our readers on our server so we never lose our core network.

I’ve gone the ownership route with some things.  This blog is a WordPress.org site, and my newsletter signup interfaces with a database on my site.  But for other things, I can’t justify the expenditure yet.

I have a free plugin that detects mobile readers and renders a mobile version of this site for them.  Great!  Except when the website of that plugin goes down, my entire site crashes.

I learned about that issue the hard way Sunday night.  *wry smile*  Luckily, my genius TechGuy figured out the problem after “just” a half hour of hair-pulling and was able to manually deactivate that plugin.

So in that case, I was burned by not having ownership of the mobile version of my site, and then I was saved by choosing to go with a real hosting provider who was able to help me fix it.  If I’d been with WordPress.com, I would have been clueless about how to resolve the issue myself, and my whole website would have been offline until my mobile provider came back up.

Every time we go with free, we give up control or ownership in some way.  Sometimes that trade off will be worth it, and sometimes it won’t.  But if we’re not thinking about this issue, we might lose our platform before we realize it.

The Loss of Google Friend Connect

This brings us back to GFC.  I’ve already removed the GFC widget from my sidebar, but there’s nothing I can do to “rebuild” that community.  I was never one who pushed GFC for the numbers or the newsletter functionality, and I’d debated over whether to even add it to my site way back when.  Even so, I don’t like the situation.

Google’s telling people upset about GFC to install a Google+ badge on their websites and blogs, but that’s a poor substitute.  Don’t get me wrong, I like Google+.  However, the badge just links to our Google+ profile (or page).  There’s no widget with pretty avatars, no way to see if our friends are on a site too, and no option for a newsletter.  Big whoop.  I have that link on my sidebar already.

All I can do is point out to those who joined this site via GFC where they can find me and follow my blog posts.  *sigh*  So if you view this blog through your GFC/Blogger Dashboard, now would be a great time to sign up for the feed directly.

(Technically, none of these are “direct,” as they’re all run by Feedburner or NetworkedBlogs—more services I don’t own or control.  *another sigh*  NetworkedBlogs in particular has been known to fail every so often.)

(October 2012 Update: Rumors are circulating that Google is also shutting down Feedburner, so I’ve now moved my feed in house.)

In addition to those methods of keeping up with me, you can also sign up for my newsletter in the sidebar of my non-mobile site under the heading: Sign up for Jami’s Newsletter.  (Clever, I know. *snicker*)

Or you can connect with me at:

There.  No one can accuse me of not being social enough.  *smile*

Do you have GFC on your blog?  How does the GFC retirement affect you?  Do you use a free blogging platform?  Does the ownership issue matter to you?  What free services or social platforms do you worry about, and how do you decide which to pay for?

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84 Comments below - Time to Add your own.

Christy February 28, 2012 at 6:53 am

I don’t believe wordpress users are allowed to install GFC on their wordpress.com blogs (as far as I know. Could be wrong though!) Still, even before I started a blog, I never found GFC useful even back in the days when I just read and interacted with other blogs! That’s just my opinion though.

Free blogs are great in the beginning. However if we see ourselves committed to doing this long term, and our blogs consistently show steady growth, there does come a point where we do need to consider some sort of self-hosting. As you said, we would own all content. I would love to learn more about how to make that transition and what kind of costs are associated with it too. Great post, Jami! 🙂

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Jami Gold February 28, 2012 at 8:19 am

Hi Christy,

For WordPress.com users, whether you can install or modify certain things depends on the theme you choose to some extent. (Some things aren’t allowed at all and some are theme-dependent.)

As I mentioned above, I debated whether to install GFC. I don’t pay attention to my numbers much, and I don’t like the number flaunting GFC encourages. And I’ve posted before about how I hate the thought of agents or publishers judging people by their numbers even more.

Before I installed it, I asked around, “Yes, but what does it do?” (for the reader). If it didn’t connect in to Google Reader (and it didn’t), I wasn’t sure what the point was other than the number flaunting. The only reason I installed GFC was because I heard from some people that they used their GFC/Blogger Dashboard in place of something like Google Reader. In other words, I installed it to provide a service to those readers who wanted it.

I asked the same question about the NetworkedBlogs badge. Most people use the default NetworkedBlogs badge/widget, which shows numbers/avatars. I wanted to provide the service without the number flaunting, and the NetworkedBlogs badge was more customizable than GFC’s, so I have the link in my sidebar without the fluff. Of course, that means most people don’t notice it and don’t sign up (my NetworkedBlogs numbers are a tenth of GFC’s, and I doubt that properly reflects the Facebook/GFC Dashboard user numbers), but again, I didn’t install either of them for me, so the numbers don’t matter. I did it to provide a service to my readers. 🙂

As for the transition questions, I can’t help you there. I’ve heard from my TechGuy that it’s trivially easy to import a WordPress.com into a .org site, but I don’t know the details. As for cost, that depends on the provider. I know my TechGuy isn’t the cheapest, but he offers domain registration, email hosting, free use of one of the best premium themes out there, real support for these big issues, etc. So I think he’s worth it, but everyone will have different priorities. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!

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Christy February 28, 2012 at 11:32 am

I remember that post, Jami! If I’m not mistaken that might have been the first or one of the first posts I ever read on your blog 🙂

I know where you are coming from about number flaunting, though. I have similar feelings.

What I love about your reply though is that you are providing a service for readers. That is so important! 🙂

Sorry to hear those affected are losing GFC though.

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Jami Gold February 28, 2012 at 1:29 pm

Hi Christy,

Yes, I feel for those who put so much energy into their GFC numbers, and I especially feel bad for those who used them for newsletter subscriptions. I’ve seen the XML data dump Google is providing with the email addresses of the subscribers and it’s not pretty. Figuring out what to do with it and how to rebuild their subscriber base won’t be easy. I considered going on that path because I guessed I’d get more newsletter subscribers that way, but thank goodness I listened to my instincts. 🙂 Thanks again for the comment!

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Jordan McCollum February 29, 2012 at 7:47 pm

While they can customize some things and add some widgets, from what I understand, Wordpress.com users can’t add JavaScript, the basis for GFC. I hesitated to add GFC to my (wp.org) blog and only did it because I was participating in a blog hop. Within weeks, Google deprecated the service.

(Sorry for breaking the Internetz, folks.) I’m mildly annoyed to be losing it, and very glad I didn’t try to build up my numbers!

WP.org hosting can run as cheap as $6-7/mo, btw. WordPress has some recommended hosts. I use one and while I consider myself reasonably tech savvy, I don’t know a lot about the “Under the hood” workings of a web server, and it’s still been pretty easy.

For some people (like my sisters), GFC did connect with Google Reader. In fact, I thought I was a freak because Following on GFC didn’t add a blog to Google Reader for me. So glad I’m not alone 😉 .

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Jami Gold March 1, 2012 at 9:50 am

Hi Jordan,

Yes, that probably explains the .com issue. Thanks for chiming in! 🙂

And you’re right that someone else in the comments here mentioned about how their GFC connected with Google Reader, but from what I’ve heard, that was the exception. Thanks for the information about hosting options and thanks for the comment!

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Ava Jae February 28, 2012 at 7:03 am

Wait…so it’s going to delete all of those feeds? Surely it’ll still at least send the ones that are already connected to the Google Feedreader…right?

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Jami Gold February 28, 2012 at 8:29 am

Hi Ava,

Honestly, I don’t know whether the GFC/Blogger Dashboard will still pick up those feeds. Google hasn’t been very clear on what will or won’t happen, and their “solution” of switching to Google+ shows zero understanding of how people actually use GFC. I don’t know enough about how their programming works to guess at whether once GFC goes away for non-Blogger sites, the Dashboard will still maintain the “follow” flag for those sites.

However, the GFC/Blogger Dashboard is separate from Google Reader. In fact, that was one of the things I didn’t like about GFC–joining a site via GFC didn’t automatically add it to Google Reader. As far as I know, the feeds in your Google Reader are picking up posts via RSS and not GFC, so anything in Google Reader should be safe. 😉

I hope that explains things. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!

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Ava Jae February 28, 2012 at 7:11 pm

Ah, good to know. Hopefully there won’t be a problem once it disappears from non-Blogger blogs. And hopefully it won’t disappear from Blogger blogs for a while. Wishful thinking, I know. 🙂

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Jami Gold February 28, 2012 at 7:12 pm

Hi Ava,

We can always hope. 🙂

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Heather Day Gilbert February 28, 2012 at 8:54 am

Okay, I’m officially panicked. I was building those numbers slowly…working on that author platform…aghh! So how do agents/publishers know where you “stand” with blog appeal now? Should I focus all my efforts on twitter followers, which can be quantified (and yes, I have that problem of twitter “unfollowing” people, of its own accord). I need to switch my blog domain title anyway, but don’t want to shell out the big bucks to do a .org yet.

And it’s not legal to own two FB sites? WHAT!??? Sometimes, I want to revert back to the early 1900s around here.

Thanks for your ever-helpful posts, Jami. I WILL FIND YOU once the GFC goes down!

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Jami Gold February 28, 2012 at 12:46 pm

Hi Heather,

Sorry! Yes, it’s not an ideal situation. From what I’ve heard, an agent would ask you to provide numbers that they’d include in the package to the publisher when they try to “sell” you. The numbers might include Twitter followers, RSS subscribers, number of page views per month (off Google Analytics or something like that), etc. The GFC numbers were an easy snapshot of something, but not necessarily indicative of anything substantial.

As for the switch to .org, I understand. There are many expenditures that I can’t justify until my writing starts bringing in money. 🙂 In general, you could probably figure that a hosting provider would cost around $20/month. Some will be less and some will be more, and it all depends on the features you want and the service level you want.

On the Facebook thing, I could be wrong, but last I heard/knew, they didn’t allow multiple personal profiles. They want people who have a pen name to just start a Fan Page (or whatever they’re calling them now) rather than a profile.

And thank you for your support. LOL! *hugs*

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Jami's Tech Guy February 28, 2012 at 8:57 am

Awww thanks! *blush* I’m happy I was able to figure it out even that quickly.

You’ve built a great site by leveraging some very useful services. Unfortunately, each new one makes it tougher to troubleshoot site oddities. Especially when one of those services are lame and don’t consider what happens to their client sites when they are offline. *glares at your mobile site service*

Free “cloud” services are great if you remember you’re not the customer, you’re the product. These services earn their revenue from ad sales or upselling to a paid product with more goodies than the free version.

A related risk, beware of services which lock your data in to their sites. If you can’t easily get your data out, you’re at their whim. We make it easy for our clients to backup their data, it is our goal to provide such good service that they won’t use their backups to move it somewhere else.

*inserts gratuitous plug for our web hosting service*

-Jay
@jaytechdad

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Jami Gold February 28, 2012 at 12:51 pm

Hi TechGuy!

Thank you again for figuring out the issue. I’m right there with you in glaring at Wapple. I’m not a programmer, but it seems to me that there’s something funky in the programming of their plugin if a problem on their end brings down the NON-MOBILE version of my site. *ahem* But what do I know? 😉

Yes, cloud services are a whole ‘nother ball of issues. And don’t get me started with being a product and not a customer. *glares at Klout*

And you’re quite welcome to plug your service here. 🙂 I have multiple posts mentioning how much you’ve helped me with some issue or another. *sigh* I know… That means I’m the problem child of your clients, doesn’t it? LOL!

Thanks again for everything and thanks for the comment!

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Buffy Armstrong February 28, 2012 at 9:19 am

My blog is new and I’ve very proud of my 29 or so blog followers that show up on my GFC widget even though one of them is my husband and he doesn’t really count! I use Blogger so it shouldn’t erase mine (right?), but I would be so sad if I had built a sizable group of followers only to have it disappear because of the whim of some internet company. On the other hand, Google is a company. They have a responsibly to shareowners and employees alike. Their objective is to make money, not give stuff away for free. That be said, it’s still annoying.

I’m always at loss when it comes to stuff like this (Free vs. Paying, Ownership vs. Non-ownership.) It’s exhausting to keep it all straight. I always try to make the best decision for myself, but I just don’t know. How do we know?

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Jami Gold February 28, 2012 at 1:14 pm

Hi Buffy,

As far as I know, Google is maintaining GFC for Blogger/Blogspot sites…for now. Blogspot (which is owned by Google) bloggers are Google’s customers in some respect, so they have more interest in keeping those people happy.

However, the only reason they had for retiring GFC from non-Blogspot blogs was because they don’t want to support it anymore. So what’s to stop them from deciding they don’t want to support it for Blogspot blogs six months from now? Nothing, except having to deal with (i.e. ignore) the complaints of their customers. That’s just the way things work, and as you said, if they can’t monetize it in some way, it doesn’t make sense for them to pay someone to maintain it.

As far as how we should decide which way to go, that’s a tough question. From a solid platform-building perspective, RSS/email subscribers–and especially newsletter subscribers–are considered the most dedicated followers. Bloggers like GFC because it was pretty and displayed numbers that went up (almost never down, as there wasn’t an obvious un-join function), but most agents/editors knew the numbers didn’t represent anything real. We could click join without ever intending to visit again. We can do the same with RSS/email feeds and newsletter subscriptions, but those typically have an “unsubscribe” button or link, so the numbers are considered more “real.”

So if you want to build something, make sure you have RSS and email feed subscriptions on your blog (almost every blog comes with RSS built-in, but email isn’t as default), and look into a newsletter option. I’ve been collecting emails for my newsletter for a year and a half and haven’t sent a single newsletter yet. 🙂 But I’ll be using it for book release announcements, links to freebies/extra content, etc. In other words, we can set it up before we have plans for what to do with it. However, you do want to make sure that whatever you use gives you ownership of the list of email subscribers and doesn’t just save them on their computers who-knows-where.

Hope that helps and thanks for the comment! 🙂

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Buffy Armstrong February 28, 2012 at 7:15 pm

Hi Jami,

Thanks so much for taking the time to write an extensive reply to my question and the valuable advice.

You are the best!

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Jami Gold February 28, 2012 at 7:59 pm

Hi Buffy,

Yes, today was “write long replies to comments” day apparently. 🙂

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Nancy S. Thompson February 28, 2012 at 9:56 am

Yes, this bums me out a bit. I’ve worked hard to gain my 300 followers & often use the GFC to link back to their profiles & blogs. I never use the feeder. But for my favorite blogs, like yours, I keep the shortcut directly on my iPhone home screen so I always have a reminder for who to visit since I pretty much know everyone’s schedule. But when I get a new follower, I make sure I visit & return the favor. I guess that might not be possible anymore which means I might be losing out on some great friendships. Very sad.

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Jami Gold February 28, 2012 at 1:16 pm

Hi Nancy,

Yes, leaving comments on each other’s blogs is the best way to make sure others know we’re visiting, but that’s hard to do and takes a lot of time. Sorry that this is affecting you too!

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Kait Nolan February 28, 2012 at 11:23 am

I never used google friend connect because, of course, I have a wordpress.com blog that doesn’t allow the code. I was never much of a fan because a) I prefer to follow the handful of blogs I follow via an email subscription (something many many people don’t offer) and b) it seemed like just another metric that was a popularity contest of some kind that was exclusive to some segments. It never seemed in any way a meaningful measure of your reach or impact because there is no real interaction required. You click a button and woo, you’re suddenly “following” someone. There is no way to measure that those people ever actually DO anything after that.

That being said, I think you should offer as many means as possible for folks to follow your blog (email, rss, a livejournal syndicated feed, Networked Blogs whatever), so for folks who will be missing GFC, I point you to Linky Followers. http://www.linkyfollowers.com/ Same concept as GFC, but not owned by one of the big companies that so like to change things. And it even works on Wordpress.com blogs.

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Jami Gold February 28, 2012 at 1:21 pm

Hi Kait,

Yes, I hated the popularity contest aspect of GFC. If I could have modified the badge code to remove the numbers, I would have. 🙂 You’re absolutely right that the numbers didn’t necessarily reflect any real interaction.

Thanks for the link to linkyfollowers! I’ll have to check that out. Of course, I’m not automatically going to “trust” them simply because they’re not Google or one of the other big companies. As I mentioned in the post, the little guys are more likely to be bought out by the big guys and then shut down. So they might be a GFC-like service, but it’s still building something that we have no control over. There are always pros and cons with everything. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!

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Amanda February 28, 2012 at 11:31 am

I’m not much for social networking in general. I have a Facebook page, and my own blog, of course. But so many people use technology as a replacement for actually spending time with people. You know, in person. Face to face. Sometimes I curse Mark Zuckerberg for creating Facebook.

I’m not yet at the point where I have to worry about fans or a reader base or anything of that nature, so I’m going to continue in my little social anti-media ways for the time being. 🙂

Although I did just send you a friend request on Goodreads. Because, you know, you can never have too many book recommendations.

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Jami Gold February 28, 2012 at 1:25 pm

Hi Amanda,

LOL! I understand. I have a general dislike of Facebook for many reasons, so you won’t hear me championing Mark Z. 🙂

And yes, I saw your Goodreads request and accepted. 🙂 You’re right, we can never have too many book recommendations. Thanks for the comment!

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Renee Schuls-Jacobson February 28, 2012 at 12:22 pm

So it’s not just me that Twitter messes with? 😉 *sigh* I could not figure out what was going on there.

And don’t get me started on Triberr. Grrrr.

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Jami Gold February 28, 2012 at 1:32 pm

Hi Renee,

No, it’s definitely not you. It drives me crazy when Twitter unfollows people. If anyone knows of an easy way to see who Twitter thinks you’ve unfollowed, let me know.

Ooo, trouble in Triberr paradise? I haven’t heard about that yet. I’ve received several invitations, but I don’t like the way it’s set up. And the whole idea of Bones and having to buy your way into a group? *shudder* Way too complicated and skeevy for me. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!

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Julie Hedlund February 28, 2012 at 1:29 pm

This may be a dumb question, but if Google Friend Connect is going away, does that mean that every site that I followed through GFC I will no longer follow? I’ll have to go and RE-follow them?

I’m so glad I’m on wordpress and didn’t have this built into my own site.

You raise some very good issues about how much we rely on all of these websites/services over which we have NO control.

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Jami Gold February 28, 2012 at 2:03 pm

Hi Julie,

As I mentioned in my reply to Ava, I don’t know if the GFC “follow” flag will still exist for non-Blogger blogs after the 1st. Will Google maintain that data or will they clear out the databases? I don’t know, and I haven’t seen any official statement on that.

Best case scenario: The “follow” flag still exists in the GFC Dashboard database, but Google no long pulls content from non-Blogger blogs to populate the Dashboard. In this case, users would see a blog listed in their GFC Dashboard (meaning that they know they wanted to follow such-and-such blog), but see that nothing new has been posted. They could then hop over to the blog and follow via RSS and read the posts in their blog reader (such as Google Reader).

Worst case scenario: Google deletes all “follow” flags for non-Blogger sites from the GFC Dashboard database. Then the entire listing for the blog would disappear from the Dashboard, and the user would have to remember which blogs are now missing from their Dashboard.

There’s a slight chance that Google would still pull and update non-Blogger feeds to the GFC Dashboard, but I wouldn’t hold my breath on that. If they did that, they wouldn’t be retiring GFC so much as halting future signups. And if they’re doing this because they don’t want to maintain GFC anymore, that approach wouldn’t make sense. So I’d give that less than a 1% chance of being the direction Google takes. Every article I’ve seen assumes that any GFC-powered feeds (like to the GFC Dashboard) will no longer pull and post content from non-Blogger blogs.

I hope that helps and thanks for the comment!

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Carradee February 28, 2012 at 1:53 pm

I’ve used Blogger blogs—my own “Another Author’s 2 Pence” is one—but I back it up. I have copies of everything. I could easily move it over to my owned domain and server and Wordpress install—but I prefer Blogger’s blogging interface. For now, at least.

My comments are outsourced to another provider that I’ve found more reliable than the Blogger comments function. Widgets that are required for my site to work aren’t outsourced other than what’s inherent in my server and host—I’ll use free code, as long as I can copy and paste it, but generally, I write my own.

I’ve actually been considering wiping my Wordpress install on my site and going back to coding by hand. I mostly haven’t bothered because I never have gotten around to creating a mobile template, and I know a percentage of my site visitors are mobile users.

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Jami Gold February 28, 2012 at 2:52 pm

Hi Carradee,

Yes, backing up our information is always a good policy. 🙂

And I know what you mean, code I can see, understand, and copy and paste makes me feel better. But I’ve also been known to be a control freak. *ahem* On the other hand, I’m not a programmer in the slightest, and I don’t want to take writing time to do it. So I try to balance plugins and widgets that are helpful to my readers and/or me and my brand, and I leave off the fluff as much as possible. Thanks for the comment! 🙂

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Jemi Fraser February 28, 2012 at 3:40 pm

I’ve been refollowing a lot of blogs with the rss feature in my google reader. but I keep my blogs in folders and I can’t seem to add in the ‘new’ blogs that way. I’m a little frustrated with it all!

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Jami Gold February 28, 2012 at 6:48 pm

Hi Jemi,

I haven’t used my Google Reader much lately, but can’t you add a blog and then add it to the folder you want? I hope you figure it out. 🙁 Thanks for the comment!

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Roxanne Skelly February 28, 2012 at 4:47 pm

As my last day on my current job is Friday, I’ma get some good time soon to move my entire site from blogger.com. I’ll be hosting my own site.

I want to list events I’m taking part in, a wish list, books and stories I’ll hopefully publish, things I’m selling on e-bay, my art, etc.

You can hack many of those things into blogger or wordpress sites, but it’s cumbersome. I want full control of layout.

Fortunately, I am professional software developer, so I can manage building something like that, but yah, I totally sympathize with those who aren’t tech savvy.

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Jami's Tech Guy February 28, 2012 at 5:34 pm

Congrats Roxanne!

Good luck with the site. Be very aware of security issues. Hosted sites with good bandwidth are very attractive to pirates looking for new ways to distribute their “warez.”

It would be a sad irony if your site was hacked and used to distribute pirated ebooks. (Jami’s site gets around 150-200 hacking attempts per day.)

Feel free to message me on Twitter if you want to talk security. I’m certifiable…as an ethical hacker. 🙂

-Jay
@jaytechdad

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Roxanne Skelly February 28, 2012 at 5:51 pm

No problem with security. To brag, I worked on the Microsoft crypto team for 5 years 🙂

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Jami Gold February 28, 2012 at 6:52 pm

Very cool, Roxanne! 🙂

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Jami's Tech Guy February 28, 2012 at 7:59 pm

Yes, very cool.

-Jay
@jaytechdad

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Jami Gold February 28, 2012 at 6:52 pm

Hi TechGuy,

Wow. 150-200 hacking attempts a day? And I thought the 50-100 spam comments a day was a lot to deal with. 🙂 Um…thanks!

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Jami Gold February 28, 2012 at 6:50 pm

Hi Roxanne,

I understand. There are things I’ll want to do with this site once I’m published that I know will be a pain. Good luck moving your site and getting everything set up. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!

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Sabrina Garie February 28, 2012 at 7:16 pm

Jami,
This was really useful, really points out issues we need to think about. My goal is simplicity–focus on a few (twitter and wordpress blog) to keep it under control. Thanks from a newbie.

Sabrina

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Jami Gold February 28, 2012 at 8:03 pm

Hi Sabrina,

Yes, there are so many networks we could plug into, but we just can’t do it all. I blog because this is my online home, I’m on Twitter because I love it, I do Facebook because I “have” to 🙂 , and I do Google+ because I wish it’d replace Facebook (LOL!). Even so, I’m barely active on FB or G+. People have invited me to Triberr or Tumblr or LinkedIn or whatnot, but I don’t want to start from scratch on something I don’t have to.

“Under control” is good. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!

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Adriana Ryan February 28, 2012 at 7:57 pm

Hey Jami!
Yeah, the whole GFC thing is annoying. At first I was annoyed because I couldn’t have it on my Wordpress blog. Now I’m annoyed because they’re going away. LOL I have a paid Wordpress place, but it’s through their $17/year thingy. I don’t know what that service is called–I just know it’s not their .org site. Like Kait, I’ve heard a lot of good things about Linky Followers. They’ve been around for a while for people doing blog hops. I’m not sure I’ll have that option for people to follow me. I feel like Twitter, FB, and a blog subscription button are pretty good in and of themselves.

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Jami Gold February 28, 2012 at 8:06 pm

Hi Adriana,

Yes, I’m with you. A blog, Twitter, and FB should be enough. 🙂

I’d add Linky Followers to my site if I heard from my readers that they wanted to follow me there because that was their main blog reading hub. But if it’s not needed by my readers, I’m not going to add it just for the pretty avatar pictures. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!

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Roni Loren February 28, 2012 at 8:36 pm

Great post with some food for thought. The ownership thing is the main reason I moved everything over to my website and gave up my Fiction Groupie blog even though it’d taken 3 yrs to build that following. It was such a hard decision, but I didn’t want to keep building something on someone else’s “property”. I use Squarespace now, which is an alternative to wordpress.org and I’m very happy with it.

As for GFC, I wouldn’t have had to give mine up because I think it can stay on blogger blogs for now, but can I say how NICE it is NOT to have some number glaring in the corner anymore. I felt way too attached to that number once it got nice and fat. But it really means nothing. Some people sign up and never come back. Number of hits, comments, retweets, etc. are a much better gauge. So it’s actually kind of freeing not to have the GFC staring at me. 🙂

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Jami Gold February 29, 2012 at 11:36 am

Hi Roni,

Thanks for sharing your experience and reasons for moving! And yes, I agree with you that the GFC number doesn’t reflect anything real. My numbers weren’t going to be close to those who used GFC following as a requirement for contests or giveaways, so I tried not to compare my numbers to anyone else’s. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!

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Marcy Kennedy February 28, 2012 at 8:54 pm

I’ve never used GFC, so in that way it doesn’t effect me at all, but I feel bad for all the bloggers who used it to build their fan base. I was extremely fortunate in that my sister-in-law is a web designer, and she set up my website on a Wordpress.org site. I had no idea at the time that this would be better than going with a free Wordpress.com site, but just having someone to call when something goes wrong makes it well worth the additional cost for me.

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Jami Gold February 29, 2012 at 11:37 am

Hi Marcy,

Yes, lucky you! 🙂 I really didn’t think about it all that much either. I set up this website before I even knew about all the free options. LOL! Thanks for the comment!

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shah wharton February 29, 2012 at 8:22 am

I’m not going to be losing it, but I’m not sure I’d mind losing it on my newer author blog. But on WordsinSync I would as I have over 600 (I think) followers now. But like you say, the numbers mean little in reality.

I had never thought about ownership of blogs before. I really think I have to now. You’ve given my the heebie-jeebies about losing all I’ve built up if Google so chose – I have three free blogs with blogspot. Scary. I’m going to look into it (although I tried to last year and it flew right over my little head).

Really valuable post. My first time here and I think you may be entering my blog-roll! Great to find you. 🙂 (found you on Shah Wharton Author New – paper.li btw) X

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Jami's Tech Guy February 29, 2012 at 12:16 pm

Hi Shah, if you’re on Twitter, feel free to bounce any questions you have off me. I’m happy to help translate geek speak to English.

-Jay
@jaytechdad

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Jami Gold February 29, 2012 at 1:04 pm

Hi Shah,

Like I said, I’m not trying to be alarmist. 🙂

Google is a major player in the blogging arena and they have no reason to cancel Blogspot altogether. However, they can–and have–forced changes on their users, and they don’t necessarily think about what’s best for their users before making those changes. Thanks for the comment! 🙂

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Barbara McDowell February 29, 2012 at 8:48 am

Fantastic post, Jami! Since I have a WP .com blog, I’ve never done anything with GFC. What hits me is what you talked about in terms of ownership. We put all this work in on our blogs, but what happens if WP goes away? Would we be able to migrate info or have to start over?

And I’m torn on moving to .org in big part because of the tech learning curve. Would I need to know some code stuff to be able to customize? Then there is selecting a hosting service. Okay…I’m stressing already.

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Jami Gold February 29, 2012 at 11:52 am

Hi Barbara,

My TechGuy handles my backups, but there might be a plugin or some option to run a backup on your .com site. As long as you have a backup, you should be able to recreate your site if everything disappeared (for whatever reason). And if it’s not a catastrophic event, you’d have the opportunity to export your data into a .org site or something like it.

As far as the learning curve, if you’re familiar with .com, the .org Dashboard is very similar. Some options would change based on the theme you chose, just as what happens with .com. I had to learn code because I wanted to customize some very specific things (banner, background, static home page with teasers, etc.). However, I didn’t so much learn the coding from scratch as found someone else online who’d already done it, and then figured out how their coding worked so I could copy, modify, and paste. 🙂

The theme I use (Thesis) makes it easy to customize column set up and colors. Normally, Thesis is a premium theme, but my TechGuy includes use of it with his hosting package. And you don’t have to do coding-level customizing to get most things the way you want.

Hope that helps and thanks for the comment! 🙂

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Angela Ackerman February 29, 2012 at 10:11 am

This really does suck, and I don’t really understand why blogger is doing it. Forcing people into Google+ is a stupid move, because it’s already growing quite well. Whenever you force someone, it pisses everyone off.

I had tripped on a site that could work like friend connect, and I saved the bookmark, but do you think now I can find it? #ugh. If I do, I’ll send it your way. 🙂

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Jami Gold February 29, 2012 at 11:54 am

Hi Angela,

Kait Nolan mentioned Linky Followers above, was that what you were thinking? As I replied to Adriana, I wouldn’t install it unless my readers asked me to–for their convenience. I won’t do it just for the pretty pictures. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!

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Mercedes March 6, 2012 at 5:23 am

Im kinda confused about this who Google Connect thing. I’ve got a website via Wordpress.org that does allow the codes and platforms for this. I’ve had GFC on my side bar for over a year. Yet yesterday it’s not loading correctly. Does that mean the widget had retired and is no longer functionable for my website? As I see that people with blogger websites still have there GFC up and running. Is this just a stab at us Wordpress.org users? Or will it work out its glitches in a few days?

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Jami Gold March 6, 2012 at 8:30 am

Hi Mercedes,

Yes, that’s correct. Google Friend Connect is retired from all non-Blogger blogs. That means GFC is gone and not coming back for all WordPress blogs. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. 🙁 Thanks for the comment!

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Veljko March 9, 2012 at 7:18 am

Do you know are we going to able to migrate data in some straightforward manner? What happens to comments API?

I’m not a blogger, but I’ve implemented GFC on my website (helping people with bureaucratic issues in my country), and there were plenty of useful comments now stuck somewhere in Google vaults. I used the toolbar too, but that’s now my primary problem now.

Strangest thing is that I cannot find any useful info on the web, as if GFC was used by bloggers solely to get followers.

Kind regards from Serbia!

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Jami Gold March 9, 2012 at 9:59 am

Hi Veljko,

I just did a quick Google search for you, and you’re right–there’s nothing out there explaining what this shutdown does to the GFC comment module. I’d suggest asking that question on Google forums and/or technical forums.

I’m sorry that I couldn’t find an easy answer for you Good luck!

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Julia Tomiak March 12, 2012 at 11:45 am

Jami,
Thanks for all of this great technical information. I just started blogging a few months ago and I’m trying to absorb as much information as I can. I have subscribed directly to your RSS feed – it’s in my Google Reader account and shouldn’t disappear, right? I’ve learned quickly that everything changes and that we writers need to help each other stay on top of things. Thanks so much!

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Jami Gold March 12, 2012 at 11:48 am

Hi Julia,

Short of Feedburner up and dying, my RSS feed should be safe. 🙂 Let me know if you have any questions, and I’d be happy to help. Thanks for the comment!

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thomassonjeanmicl November 30, 2012 at 6:36 am

For my blog on blogspot for now, I can’t update the blogs I follow. Some links are broken, and I would like unfollow some others blogs. I Don’t know now How I can do.
Now I’ve subscribed your feeds, twitter, facebook, goodreads, google.
Sorry for my bad english.

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Jami Gold December 2, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Hi Jean-michel,

Yes, unfortunately, I’m not an expert on Blogger by any means (I don’t use it), but this article might help explain how to “unsubscribe” from some blogs. (In the top left of that page is the link to the Blogger home page for you, where you can see that gear icon they describe in the instructions.) Hope that helps and thanks for the comment!

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Miss drifted Snow White January 7, 2013 at 7:40 am

Hi there,

I’ve found a way to get GFC back onto WordPress and I’ve thought since you’ve blogged about this, I share this with you. I’ve written a tutorial here: http://missdriftedsnowwhite.com/2013/01/5-steps-to-get-keep-google-friend-connect-on-wordpress-2013-solution.html

Maybe you could include the link in your post?

xxx

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Jami Gold January 7, 2013 at 9:56 am

Hi Miss drifted Snow White,

I won’t be reincorporating GFC into my blog, but other readers might want to, so I’m happy to share your loophole link here. 🙂 Thanks for sharing and for the comment!

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Rebecca Rider February 4, 2013 at 10:13 pm

I just switched my blog over from blogger to wordpress.org/self-hosted. I haven’t found any way to switch over my GFC feed to my new blog, no matter which tutorial I follow – now I know why. Thanks for the info – I’ll definitely be subscribing!

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Jami Gold February 4, 2013 at 10:15 pm

Hi Rebecca,

Yes, sorry to be the bearer of bad news. 🙁 Thanks for the comment!

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Anne March 4, 2013 at 3:56 pm

The GFC button is still available on blogspot. When you go to gadgets just go to the More Gadgets button on the left, scroll down and you will see it. Also it has not been taken away from the people that already had it.

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Jami Gold March 4, 2013 at 4:01 pm

Hi Anne,

Yes, Blogspot is Blogger. So as I mentioned at the top of the post, Google kept GFC only for those on their Google blogging platform. However, all those on WordPress or other blogging platforms did lose GFC. Thanks for the comment!

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Suzy Soro (@HotComesToDie) March 13, 2013 at 5:09 pm

Now I know why I lost a few avatars in GFC. But I also gained a few so didn’t think too much about it. I left G+ because it was nothing but people posting photographs of professional photographers. Left Klout even longer ago because of the algorithm changes. Now only on Twitter, FB and my blog. I don’t use my Tumblr very much but have one nonetheless.

I see this as what happened to newsgroups back in the late 90s. We were informed they were going away. And the reason? Blogs! And now blogging is on its way out. Its been replaced by Tumblr as the preferred way to write online. Google probably knows that as they published a report that the word Blog is no longer the most searched. It’s now Tumblr! This whole numbers game is a nightmare.

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Jami Gold March 13, 2013 at 5:11 pm

Hi Suzy,

Yes, that’s why I try not to get too wrapped up in the numbers, especially ones I don’t control. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!

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isi June 16, 2013 at 12:15 pm

i love to install friendconnect but is like the page no longer exist on the internet. it always showing this page cannot be loaded. too bad

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Jami Gold June 17, 2013 at 10:41 am

Hi isi,

Yes, Google seems to have taken away most of their internal links to Google Friend Connect. I agree that it’s too bad that GFC is gone now. 🙁 Thanks for the comment!

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Tracy July 30, 2013 at 1:16 pm

OK well I am just curious here. I built a website using a site-building program and hosted it through hostmonster and just within the last month moved almost all my content over to a blogger site and am just going to forward my .com to my blogger site. Do you think I should move it elsewhere? I’m just trying to make it more user-friendly and the blog format has helped with navigation, plus I like that blogger is free and all I’ll be paying for is my .com which isn’t much. But I do use feedburner, is that not a great idea? Do you think I’m best off to quit using feedburner and email them directly? Or just leave them on feedburner? There are a good handful that didn’t click the confirm thing from feedburner so I don’t think they’re getting my updates anyway. AND I noticed that gmail has started automatically filtering promotions into one folder and social mail into one folder, outside the regular inbox. So my blog’s feedburner update didn’t come to my inbox, and it surprisingly went into promotions instead of social! That’s not cool w/ me b/c I’m not a store trying to sell something it should have at least gone into the social folder but it didn’t. UGH. I am just trying to figure out the best way to keep my site at low cost and how I should update my readers. Since i just have 140 right now I have wondered if I should just email them directly. What do you think??

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Jami Gold July 30, 2013 at 1:39 pm

Hi Tracy,

No one else can answer the question of what would be best for you because only you know your goals. If you can’t afford to pay a hosting company, I’d recommend WordPress.com over Blogger for the various reasons outlined in that post. WordPress.com–which is free–has a built-in newsletter function as well.

However, if you can afford a hosting company–and are serious about building an online platform for business reasons–then building your site on the WordPress.org platform will give you the most flexibility. Many web designers are now designing in WordPress, so if you want to pay for a professional design later, you can keep the same framework. If you pay for WordPress.org install at a hosting company, you’ll be able to use plugins that would give you complete control over your newsletter and subscribers.

It all depends on your goals and how important your platform is to you. Maybe check out some of my posts about websites to see whether a free or paid site would work best for you.

I hope that helps! 🙂 Thanks for the comment!

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Helen August 25, 2013 at 2:25 am

I don’t understand. I’m a Blogger and my GFC widget and all the icons disappeared from my sidebar. I am VERY disappointed.

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Jami Gold August 25, 2013 at 7:59 am

Hi Helen,

If you notice, I wrote this post a year and a half ago. As I warned in the post, it’s possible Google has since gotten rid of GFC for Blogger/Blogspot too. I’m not on Blogger, so I can’t confirm or deny that possibility or check into the technical options for you. I’m sorry that you’re running into this issue!

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