Choosing the Right Blogging Platform for You
Are you looking to start a blog or get back into blogging? Perhaps you’re getting bored of the platform you’re currently using, but you’re scared to deviate from what you know. Not to worry – our guide focuses on some of the top blogging platforms on the web – we’ll do the grunt work for you. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the read.
Hands down, the heaviest hitter on the market is WordPress. There are two versions available WordPress.com and WordPress.org, both of which have different features. WordPress.com is basically a cookie-cutter blog that users can create. The pros are that you can start a blog in no time and WordPress will host it for you, along with spam protection, automatic updates and backup, security, and a great selection of plugins. In terms of design, you won’t be able to make many design changes, but there are a lot themes you can choose from. Which brings us to the cons – obviously lack of design freedom as mentioned. Plus, since there are so many users, your domain name will be something like “yourfifthdomainchoice.WordPress.com”; however, you can pay extra to get rid of the “.WordPress.com” suffix. Other limitations include a strict upload limit on pictures and you will have to pay extra to upload video directly (you can embed video, though). With all this being said, WordPress.com is still a great option for the blogger just looking to get started.
WordPress.org is for those looking for more customization out of their blogging platform. You can upload your own themes, install your own plugins (or choose from their 19,000+). While the application is free to download, you will have to find a host for your site. Backups and maintenance are other aspects of your blog you will need to do yourself. Basically, hosting a blog on WordPress.org is similar to hosting your own website. While .org is free, there can be some trickiness and if you’re inexperienced you might be on the help forums for a long time before you’re up and running.
Bought out by Yahoo! for over a billion dollars, Tumblr is a media-focused blogging site with a very strong following. The design and layout is different from WordPress; users post their own content, usually in the form of a photo or video with a caption, as well as like other content from other tumblrs and share or reblog them on their own page. Themes are easy to install and there are many free ones, as well as themes you can purchase. Finding content on tumblr is very much the same as Twitter as it also uses hashtags (#). To be a tumblr you simply have to find something you like, and post about it – it’s that simple.
Blogger is a Google-based blogging platform which requires you to have a Google account to get started – that’s it. The platform is easy to use and simplistic; layouts can be arranged, rearranged and applied at the click of a button. The Advanced design features enable users to change the fonts, backgrounds, columns, size of columns and more, but the layout can look a bit old-fashioned compared to other blogging platforms. Bloggers will have two options when hosting their blog – automatically hosting the blog on Google’s Blogspot, or users can move the blog to a custom domain, removing the “.blogspot.com” suffix. Google no longer offers the option of purchasing the URL, so you will need to purchase a custom domain from a domain registrar first if you wish to choose this option.
An old veteran, Typepad has been around since the beginning. While you will need to pay for an account, there are some great features like unlimited storage, customer service, and a great design set. The main draw to Typepad is that it’s easy to set up. In order to get the most out of Typepad, however, you will want to invest in the “Unlimited” package as it jumps the monthly uploads from 150MB per month to 1000MB per month and increases the number of blogs you can post from 4 to unlimited. The “Premium” account includes everything the “Unlimited” account does except doubles your monthly upload limit and includes priority support, but it comes at a cost of double the price. For $30/month you might want to find a hosting provider that may give you more freedom.
For those looking to focus more on writing and less on fancy design, Medium, created by the same guys who created Twitter and Blogger, is a great place to start. The easy to use interface and simplistic layout allows bloggers to make words the main focus. Recently they have added the function to embed various types of media like tweets, YouTube and Vimeo clips, vines, and more. They use Embedly as the embedding service which supports most media types. In terms of feedback on your posts, there isn’t the traditional “comments” section at the end of the post. Instead, users have the ability to comment on each paragraph by using “notes”. The idea behind this is that everyone can share ideas and collaborate on a blog – the author always gets creative control on what is seen, though. The community isn’t open directly to the public yet, but they appear to be sending invites to those who follow and tweet them.
While this list isn’t meant to be exhaustive, it is meant to give you a bit of a taste of the big platforms out there, as well as a hint of the newer trends hitting the scene. Blogging is about getting your voice heard, and all of these platforms provide an outlet for that. The key is to find your platform, pick something you're passionate about, and start writing.