Posts Tagged ‘blogging platforms’

Choosing a Blogging Platform

Thursday, March 27th, 2008

weighing-options.jpg

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.

blogging-platform-comparison.jpg

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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