As many people no doubt are aware: LiveJournal laid off over half their staff. 20 out of 28 people were let go. Consequently, I have read a lot of people’s LJ blog entries that are hysterical freakouts. I’m not sure it’s time for people to freak out yet, but it probably is time to think about a possible Plan B. The LiveJournal situation isn’t like JournalSpace’s sudden and instant closure because they forgot to keep backups. If anything, it will be a slow spiral toward death. They’re likely to cut features to minimize bandwidth and resource utilization. They’ll likely increase the visibility and invasiveness of ads to increase revenue. They may get bought by someone who can figure out how they can make a profit (though it didn’t happen with Six Apart nor the Russian company.) It won’t be a sudden closure, but a slow transition to being less and less usable.
It used to be that only people who are a little more techie could get a domain name and install a blog such as WordPress. These days, most hosts (I know of Dreamhost and GoDaddy for sure) have one-click installs that do all the techie work for you. I might also add that, once installed, WordPress has an option to import all your posts from LiveJournal. This makes a good backup of your content (if not the comments themselves.) The comments take a bit more techie work to import.
Once you’re situated on your WordPress blog, there is a great little plugin that lets you cross-post new blog entries on your WordPress site over to LiveJournal. It is quite configurable and lets you enable comments on LJ or disable comments (forcing people to follow the comment links back to your home journal for posting.) I ran this plugin for a little while, but gave up on it for esthetic reasons.
Migrating from LiveJournal to WordPress is quite easy. I did it back in April of 2007 when everyone was hysterical over LiveJournal for political (as opposed to the current financial) reasons and haven’t looked back. I’ll gladly answer any migration or general WordPress questions folks might have.
Alternately, I’ve seen people start blogging over on social-networking sites like Facebook and MySpace because they have the privacy and friend-lock functionality similar to LJ, but these are platforms that are even less open than LiveJournal. With your own blog, you have ownership of the data and can use and export it however you want. LiveJournal has generously added an export function that lets you grab your entries and comments. Facebook and MySpace, on the other hand, leave your content trapped on their servers. There is no easy way to extract it. Caveat emptor.