Thinking of blogging, or, still trying to figure out if it’s even worth it? Your choice of a blogging platform (WordPress, Typepad, Blogger, etc.) has a lot to do with its success, along with your motivation and intent for blogging to begin with.
First things first, let’s narrow down exactly WHY you have or want to have a blog in the first place and what your goal for the blog is. Here is a rundown of some of the reasons people start blogs:
For personal use:
Perhaps you want to start a personal blog, your own little corner of the Internet world where you can post content and pictures about you, your family, your pets, your hobbies, your nosy neighbors, whatever you want!
If you are starting a personal blog, some of the things you probably want in a blogging platform are:
- Easy to set up
- Easy to use
- Offers privacy options – so you have the ability to decide who does and does not get to see your content
- Integrates easily with your social networks
Making money online:
Maybe you want (or wanted) to start a blog as a way to make money online. There are many ways to do this – take a moment to read the article Make Money Blogging (http://www.problogger.net/Make-Money-Blogging) at ProBlogger.net for a great explanation of some different ways to make money with your blog.
For bloggers who intend to make money through their blogs, the things to look for in a
- The platform and themes or templates are already set up and ready to integrate with various forms of advertising.
- The platform has excellent built-in search engine optimization.
- It integrates easily with your social networks, which are a great way to send traffic to your site.
For search engine visibility:
I am a strong believer that having a regularly updated blog on your website can really help your website’s overall search engine visibility. I know that this a little different angle than those of you who are looking to start only a blog and not an addition to your website, but for those of us who already have websites – a blog can and probably will help your website’s search engine visibility.
If you are starting a blog for this reason, here are some things you will probably want in a platform:
- Excellent, built-in SEO (this is a no-brainer, but I thought I’d mention it anyways!)
- The ability to organize your content (through categories, tags, etc.) and to easily build internal links (one way to do this automatically is with plug ins which automatically pull up related posts, etc.)
- The ability to use your own domain name. This is better (in my opinion) for search engine optimization than having your blog on a sub-domain of the platform’s domain (for example: www.myownblog.com is preferable to www.myownblog.wordpress.com)
For your business:
A business blog is an excellent way to post current information about your business, your products, your sales, and such. Business blogs can also be a great way to convey the business’s expertise and to connect with potential customers or clients. And – blogging may be a cheaper way to keep your clients and website up to date than hiring a web designer to manage and update the website for you.
If you are starting a blog for your business, some of the things you will probably want in a blogging platform are:
- Clean, professional-looking templates and themes.
- The ability to quickly and easily write and publish new posts.
- The ability to add actual web pages within your blogging platform – this is important
if your blog is essentially going to be your website.
- The ability to use your own domain name. This looks more professional than having your blog on a sub-domain of the platform’s domain.
As your website:
This one might surprise some of you, but a huge number of websites are built on or around a blogging platform. The reason for this is that many blogging platforms are very user-friendly and easy to work with from both a web designer’s perspective and the website owner’s perspective. Once the website is designed, the website owner is usually able to easily update and maintain the website themselves, which gives them more control over the site and saves them having to hire a designer for every little change.
If you are looking for a blogging platform that can also serve as your website, here are some things you want to look for:
- A platform which is both easy for you to use and also very easy for your web designer to customize.
- A platform which is highly functional and capable of growing and expanding to fit your needs and wants over time.
- The ability to use your own domain name. Again, this looks more professional than having your blog on a sub-domain of the platform’s domain.
My friend Arnold Arnan, a web and graphic designer over at www.PoleStarNorthwest.com, shared his thoughts on this subject:
“As an earlier adopter of web development and blogging technology, Blogger was my original resource. It didn’t take long to realize that the platform was limited and lacked firepower to meet my needs or the needs of my customers. When I discovered WordPress, it quickly became my primary web development platform for a number of reasons, including:
1. It is user-friendly – WordPress is easy to install and set up which affords me more time to develop the website, rather than spending half my time fighting with the platform
2. It is highly versatile – WordPress’ straightforward style allows me to create any theme I wish in a relatively short amount of time. I never have a problem finding the right one for the site I’m developing.
3. Extended Plugins – WordPress has a large library of open-source plugins that assist in making my sites customized for each client.
Overall, WordPress is a great platfrom that I frequently use to develop a new site. I would highly recommend it to anyone looking to make a website from platform.”
To share knowledge, articles and tutorials:
Many people start blogs as a way to share their expertise, experience, and advice on a certain subject or area of interest (for example: a hobby). A blog is an excellent way to do this and to allow other people (readers and guest posters, etc.) to get involved and to ask questions. Blogging is also a great way to network with people who have similar interests.
If you are starting a blog for this reason, the things you will probably want in a platform are:
- Excellent and easy to use organization (categories, tags, navigation, etc.)
- A user-friendly interface so that you can post videos and photos as well as content quickly and easily.
- The ability to add other users, if you anticipate having guest posters eventually.
Another friend of mine, Peter J, the mastermind behind www.IdeasBubble.com, told me about his experience with different blogging platforms:
“Blogger has been good up to a point because it’s provided me with a service that has been free and reliable, I’ve never had any major headaches with it. The reason I made the move away from Blogger was because of a few reasons.
1. Blogger has heaps in the way of customization, but it’s a trouble having to re-code everything just when I want to change a template. I’ve always used Blogger to its true potential, making every single possible hack the platform could cope with; I just had so many problems with changing designs etc; which did leave me with a headache. Forgetting to install scripts such as google analytics were all part of whenever I made a move to a new template. Unlike wordpress which uses plugins, so you never will lose all your modifications when you change something.
2. I had a turn around period from blogger to wordpress when I started reading more and more about how Blogger was closing down all the blogs that didn’t properly fit into their terms. As I researched more; I found out that blogger basically own everything you’ve ever written and can do what they like with it. Basically using blogger, your just throwing away everything you’ve worked on.
3. I moved to wordpress because I wanted to have the expansion that blogger didn’t offer. I wanted to be able set up my blog my way and have more functionality than what blogger has to offer.
Aside from this, there are not many other reasons as to why I made the move. I’ve always found that in making a move there are drawbacks that you have to overcome. The one thing I liked about blogger was how easy it was to use, there was a tiny bit of a learning curve in moving to wordpress and I faced a few problems. But all in all, I enjoyed it heaps, it was well worth the effort.”
This is not a comprehensive list of all the reasons someone may want to start a blog, but I am hoping that this post encourages anyone who has been considering blogging to jump in and give it a try.