Posthaven: The Next Posterous

Posterous is getting shut down in just a couple weeks, so if your blog is still on Posterous, it’s time to find it a new home. The good thing is, there’s lots of options today. WordPress is one obvious solution, since you can import Posterous sites directly into both WordPress.com blogs or WordPress on your own server. Many other blogging tools have import tools, too, including Tumblr, Squarespace, and my personal favorite, Kirby.

The most Posterous-like option, though, might be Posthaven, a brand new blogging service started by Posterous co-founder Garry Tan. We interviewed Garry about Posthaven last month, and now that the service is open to the public, let’s take it for a spin and see if it’s the perfect new home for your old Posterous blog — or perhaps for a brand-new blog.

Blogging on a Promise

The Posthaven Promise: to keep your blog around forever

Most apps try to dazzle us with shiny new features, more settings (or less) than their competitors, and most of all, more for free than the other apps offer. That never ending race to the bottom on price and race to the top on features has left countless web apps dead. Their teams run out of venture capital, and the apps get shut down, or perhaps bought out by a larger company who then usually either kills the app or changes it so much that it might as well have gotten killed. And all of us users are left with the apps we invested time into taken away from us.

That’s frustrating when it’s a tool we use, but when it’s a blogging or site-building tool — our soapbox on the web — it’s even worse. You’re given a notice, then the audience you built up and the articles you worked to write are pulled from the web.

So instead of shiny new interfaces or more free features, Posthaven — an app built by a team burnt by the effects of an app that got bought out and shut down — starts with a promise and a price tag. For $5/month, they’ll give you a blog that they promise will never get acquired or shut down. You’ll also get top-notch import for your old Posterous blogs, as former Posterous users are their first focus. So far, so good.

A new Posthaven blog, getting born

A New Home

You could start a new site with Posthaven in only a couple seconds, which is very nice in itself, but if you’ve already been blogging on Posterous for some time and need a new home for your site, you’ll want to import your Posterous site very soon before it’s too late. Posthaven makes that simple: just click the Import your Posterous blog link, then enter your Posterous account info. After a few seconds, you’ll have an Import button in Posthaven, as well as a count of how many posts you’ll need to import. Click that, and you can monitor the import progress from that page or switch away and wait for the email that’ll let you know that your site’s imported.

Pulling in your Posterous blog takes 2 clicks

The very best thing about Posthaven is that it imports Posterous blogs perfectly. It’s imported over 800,000 Posterous posts so far, and their team is confident that it’ll bring over everything: your links, files, pictures, videos, audio, full articles, comments, and even your page views. Its the most exhaustive Posterous import out there, and it worked very good in my (admittedly limited test). The Posthaven team stands behind it enough that they’re offering a money-back guarantee, so if you need to move away from Posterous quickly, it really is an option you should consider.

An old Posterous site I’d made, pulled into Posthaven (yeah, old blogs can be embarrassing)

A Clean Slate

The most important thing about a blogging tool is how easily it lets you write, and Posthaven does a good job there. The post editor is simple, giving you a spacious area to write with simple WYSIWYG formatting along with HTML support. No Markdown support here; it’s far more traditional, with an editor that feels like a stripped-down version of WordPress’ edit screen. It works good, though, produces clean code, and works with keyboard shortcuts.

If you want to add more to your post than just words, there’s an Upload Media button that’ll let you add pictures to your posts (individually only, though; there’s no Posterous-style image galleries right now, even though imported Posterous galleries work in Posthaven). You can also add audio and video files, which will play with an in-post player as well as offering download links, and can add random files (say PDFs) for download. That’s a nice extra.

Then, on the bottom, you’ll find options to add tags to your posts, as well as set a publish date or save a post as private. The publish date box understands plain English dates (say, Tomorrow), which is also nice.

Simple rich text or HTML posting

Then, there’s the dashboard, which is where you’ll start out whenever you login to your site. Here you’ll see all of your posts, along with a simple count of each post’s views (including those imported from Posterous if you imported your site). You can quickly edit your posts, add a new post, or switch over to one of your other Posthaven blogs.

There’s one really, really nice point here: everything in Posthaven is very responsive. You won’t see a full page refresh between, say, the dashboard and starting a new post; the post editor will just load right there in a second. That’s very nice in comparison to, say, WordPress.

Stats and quick editing

And that’s it. There’s really not much more to Posthaven right now. You can add your own URL to your blog, add your name and a HTML-formatted bio to the left sidebar, and create a new Posthaven blog in a click (and apparently, you can create more than one blog for your one $5/month fee). That’s it. No themes or anything else to mess with, no social media or commenting tools (though there is built-in RSS support enabled).

That’s not all bad: the default theme is nice enough, reminiscent of the default Posterous theme, and if you just want a simple way to blog, you might not want to change anything. Right now, though, the theme uses Typekit fonts, so hopefully we’ll see support for changing fonts in the future, at least, along with, say, image galleries and other Posterous-style features. The team has already promised publishing via email support, and more, so we can only hope that the service will continue to improve.

The few settings in Posthaven

Conclusion

Posthaven is far from the most polished place to start a blog today if you’re looking for shiny themes and options, but it might be a draw between Posthaven and Tumblr as to the simplest place to start a blog. And if you just want a simple blogging experience, and could care less about theming and tweaking, then it’s very nice.

There’s two things that really make Posthaven interesting, though: its Posterous connections and the way it seamlessly imports from Posterous right now, and its promise of keeping your blog around forever. Today, that’s all it is. We’re hopeful, though, that it’ll be more going forward, and that perhaps it’d be the place those of us who weren’t faithful Posterous users would consider first when wanting to start a new site.

It’ll need a lot of work to get there, but the Posthaven team seems excited by the challenge, and we’ll be watching eagerly to see how they fulfill their dream with it.


Summary

A new hosted blogging service from Posterous co-founder Garry Tan, Posthaven guarantees your blog will never be shut down, and gives you a simple way to move from Posterous.

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