Choosing a Blogging Platform

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Credit: Capt Kodak

This is the third in a series of posts about how to blog well. If you’ve missed the others, you can find them here:

Blog Well Files – Part 3: Choosing a Blogging Platform

Once you’ve made the decision to blog and created a blog plan, the next question you need to consider is:

Do you want to host it yourself, or do you want someone to host it for you?

Self Hosted Blog Platforms/Blog Software

With a self hosted blog, you’ll need to download the software and host it yourself.

The two most popular blog software products are WordPress and Movable Type.

Both require some technical ability. It is essential that you are familiar with FTP and databases. You will be in charge of installing updates, making backups, and ensuring anti-spam plugins/add-ons are kept up to date. A basic understanding of CSS and PHP is useful too.

Although more technical skill is required, self hosting your blog gives you complete flexibility and control.

Hosted Blog Platforms

With a hosted blog there is nothing to download, and you don’t have to worry about any of the backend stuff because it is all done for you by the host. The most popular blog hosts are WordPress, Blogger and TypePad.

However, by not fully controlling the back end, you’ll find each platform has its own limitations. For instance, Blogger won’t let you have pages, so no about page or services page; TypePad offers no free service, and WordPress won’t let you run advertisements.

Blog Platform Comparisons

I’ve created two tables to help you figure out what is best for you. The first compares WordPress, Blogger, and Typepad, and the other details the differences between WordPress and Movable Type software products.

If you decide you want to go with a hosted platform, my only recommendation is to buy your domain name through the host, or pay to redirect it to your own domain. That way, if you choose to host it yourself in the future, you will keep all the links you amass, and from the outside, it will look exactly the same.

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Download Blog Platform Comparisons (PDF)

The decision on which blogging platform to use should be made now. Not because you can’t change your mind later on – you can – but changing brings other problems down the track.

I started blogging with WordPress.com, and then decided to use WordPress software on my own domain. All of my rankings tanked and I had to start building them back up. I’m not saying it can’t be done; I just want to warn you that it does take a lot of time and effort to do. If I had known then what I know now, I would have seen no effect on my rankings when I moved to hosting it myself.

This post is in no way the definitive guide on blogging platforms, and while no one can help you determine what is best for you, I can tell you that I’ve tried WordPress (both self hosted and hosted), Blogger, and TypePad and still lean heavily toward WordPress. I find that it is easier and simpler to use, offers more options for customization, has a huge community that welcomes any newcomer, and is amazingly quick to help when you get stuck.

I invite you to share your own experiences in the comments below so that we can all continue to learn and hopefully help others avoid making the same mistakes that we did.

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35 Responses to “Choosing a Blogging Platform”

  1. [...] Blog Well Files – Part 2: The Blog Plan Blog Well Files – Part 3: Choosing a Blogging Platform [...]

  2. [...] Blog Well Files – Part 3: Choosing a Blogging Platform [...]

  3. I have never used anything but WordPress, so I can really say is that I am VERY impressed with how easy it is to install and how quickly you can have a site up and running.

  4. D. Harris says:

    See i have tried to use wordpress but always run into problems, i have a pr 7 blogger blog and even though they lost a few before i am sticking with them. They seem to get indexed faster also.

  5. Lid:

    Where did you get the number of pages that Google indexed for WordPress.com, blogger?

    Personally, I think Blogger got indexed by Google faster. I can get a new blog up and running and get the first blog post indexed in less than 2 days.

    Posting to blogger from Windows Live Writer is easier than any other platoform and you don’t have to worry bout the custom meta tag. As long as you follow the webmaster guideline, your blogger blog can be a fast start for your realy business blog.

    With just two blogger blogs and one hosted domain blog. You can get PR3 in less
    than 3 months.

    I like your series posts! Nice job!

  6. Schwabe says:

    Big Drupal fan here.

  7. Lid says:

    @ Mark – Thanks for the kind words, good to hear on occasion ;)

    @ D Harris – If it’s working – keep it. I favor WordPress because it offers more options, but if your PR is 7, you don’t want to lose that

    @ Terence – Thanks. I got the numbers from Google on the day I posted, so I understand they are current. Interesting huh?

  8. [...] If you are uncertain of the major differences offered by the various blogging platforms, take a look at part three of our BlogWell series: Choosing a blogging platform. [...]

  9. Jason Frederich says:

    I love WordPress (hosted on goDaddy, which will install the software for you in a single button press – who knew). I can’t imagine hosting a business blog on a “free” site like blogger or even wordpress.com – it’s as tacky as using GeoCities for your business website back in the day or using an AOL email address on your business card.

    The forums and codex are incredible resources, as is the international community of bloggers on WordPress accessible via Google. Even if you have to hire someone to set up your blog / website initially, WordPress will let you post and update everything without touching much (any?) code, which cuts site maintenance costs to almost nothing.

    WordPress will let me get in under the hood and tinker with the code, customize the design, and tweak – but you don’t have to play with it if you don’t want to. As long as you can handle FTP, you can get a full website up with no outside help.

    That kind of simplicity for the people who need it, combined with full-blown code-hogging power for the people who can use it, is what prompted me to try WordPress out, and is what convinced me that it was the tool to build my whole business website in, not just the blog (as originally intended).

  10. [...] you start blogging, you first need to address which blogging software to use.  In my case, I use WordPress, (the software and wordpress.com) and [...]

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