B is for Blogging Platforms: The Good, The Bad, and The Awesome
Welcome back for Part 2 of my Blogging Basics Series! Today I’m going to spend a little time on a few different blogging platforms used by bloggers, and the pros and cons of using each platform. Whether you’re a current blogger looking to change platforms or simply a newbie looking to start a blog, this post will answer many of your basic questions.
Rather than give you details on every single platform–there are more than 40 free platforms after all, not to mention countless other paid blogging platforms–I’m simply going to focus on the ones I have personal experience with. Why is this good? Because I’ve utilized the crappiest blogging platforms in my earliest days, and now I’m on the best, so this will save you valuable mental resources.
Before we move on, make sure you’ve subscribed to my blog (top right above my shiny, happy face) or look to your left and subscribe via email. After this post, there are 28 more posts covering everything conceivable about blogging, and you won’t want to miss all that valuable information. I wish I’d had an Amberr when I started this whole blogging thing, so take advantage of these relatively useful nuggets.
Alright, now for the big 3:
Hands-down, the very best blogging platform is WordPress.org, which allows you to harness the power of WordPress’ software to build your website and blog. There are feature available for WordPress you won’t find anywhere else.
The Good: Terrific free and premium themes available to increase your blog’s visual appeal, and you have the freedom to do whatever you want–as long as it’s legal–with your blog.
The Bad: Does require some technical know-how of blogging platforms, and it is NOT free to use. You will have to pay for a domain name and inexpensive monthly hosting. If you pick a crappy host and run into technical problems you can’t fix by yourself, you are pretty much screwed. I use Bluehost, because it works seamlessly with WordPress, and the only problems I’ve experienced thus far is a bit of speed throttling when my traffic is heaviest. They also have good support.
The Awesome: If you’re a serious blogger, you are showing potential advertisers you are in it for the long-term and are serious about blogging as a business. You truly own your blog, and you don’t have to worry about your blog being censored or removed or wiped out with a glitch. Your blog is your own virtual real estate, and that feels pretty damn good.
Second in awesomeness is WordPress.com. You get all the pros of the WordPress software with only a few cons.
The Good: FREE blogging platform, and there are tons of great features and plugins to experiment with. Once you delve into the world of plugins, you will never go back. Plus, you can open an account and be blogging in less than 10 minutes.
The Bad: Unless you purchase a domain and yearly domain mapping , you get stuck with rather lengthy, ugly URL’s. For example, this was mine previously: http://amberr-ivyam.wordpress.com (see what I mean, not so pretty and very long). Also, a little bit of technical know-how is needed.
The Worst: if you decide to violate WordPress Terms of Service, they can arbitrarily remove your entire blog, and that would be a nightmare, especially if you had worked on that blog for months, or even years. Oh, and there are limits to the types of widgets and customizing features you can enjoy. There are pretty strict limitations, actually, and this does not appeal to my inner rebel.
The Awesome: Freshly Pressed potential and a HUGE blogging network. If you write an amazing post or pretty much just get lucky, your blog might be featured on the Freshly Pressed page, which will give you a ton of exposure for several days. Plus, on WordPress.com, you can network with 40 million other bloggers. As you may or may not know, the only way to be a successful blogger is by being too sexy for your shirt, or by networking with other bloggers. (I’ll give you a hint: very few of you are that sexy).
I will always hold a special fondness in my heart for Blogger, because that was where I “cut my teeth” on the blogging thing. I wrote roughly 140 posts with Blogger until I knew it was time to upgrade and move on. Blogger is great for many things, but it is without doubt a step lower than WordPress. Plus, migrating my blog to WordPress kinda sucked.
The Good: Sign up and you can have a blog post up in literally five minutes. Hosted by Big Daddy Google, you can have all of your Google services nicely integrated, and there are some nice themes to choose from.
The Bad: Even the very best blogger theme will never trump a really good WordPress theme in terms of look and functionality. Also, blogger blogs are most heavily associated with those quirky mommy bloggers, many of whom will blog for breast pad coupons and organic diaper rash creme, and call it “income”.
Also, if you opt not to purchase your own doman, you will be stuck with an unattractive URL. For example: http://mommybloggerloco.blogspot.com (see what I mean by ugly?)
The Worst: If you violate Google’s Terms of Service, your whole blog can disappear forever. I wouldn’t be overly concerned about this, however, because I’ve seen some pretty shameless, controversial blogs in the blogosphere, but it is scary to think of losing months or years of hard work.
The Awesome: You can do whatever you want in terms of adding badges, widgets, etc. to your Blogger blog, and customize it as much as your little heart desires. It’s also easy to add Google Adsense ads (a crappy but viable option for making a few pennies).
That wraps up my last segment, which is already longer than anticipated. Make sure to subscribe to my blog for the rest of the series, and if you missed it, check out A is for (Google) Analytics.
How about you? Other than Tumblr, which IS pretty cool for creative media posts, which blogging platform do you prefer? Tell me in the comments!