I recently answered a question on the pet photography network I belong to about which blogging platform to use and I also recently wrote about the importance of blogging for photographers looking to build a web presence. Here I’ll elaborate on popular blogging options and some decisions you’ll need to make when it comes to blogging.
There are several very popular blogging platforms that I hear about often including Blogger, WordPress, TypePad and Tumblr. This doesn’t not include micro-blogging (Twitter). All of these options are comparable, each has it’s strength and weaknesses, described below.
Self-hosted versus Hosted Blog Service
The first option one has for choosing a blog platform is to go with a self-hosted WordPress installation, or a blog hosted by one of these platforms. Here’s a quick run down of pros and cons of self-hosting versus a hosted service:
|self-hosted||Your blog can be very customizeable because you have complete control over the system. You can install your blog at www.yourdomain.com or www.yourdomain.com/blog/ and see a benefit of long-term SEO by building links to your domain.||This solution requires you pay the cost of domain name & hosting.|
|hosted blog service||It’s free or low-cost.||It’s not as customizeable as the self-hosted option.|
Typically, the more resources you put into paying a web developer, paying for WordPress themes or plugins, or learning how to code, the more you’ll be able to customize WordPress and impress clients with a unique website.
Hosted Blog Service: Domain Choice
If you choose to use a free or paid hosted blog platform, you’ll have to decide which URL to use. Usually, you’ll have the option to use a custom domain like blog.yourdomain.com or you can use the default of yourdomain.platform.com (yourdomain.blogspot.com, yourdomain.tumblr.com). There are more pros and cons to these two options:
|blog.yourdomain.com||You may realize long-term SEO benefit since your site is under your domain.||This requires you pay the cost of domain registration.|
|yourdomain.platform.com||You may realize SEO benefits if you link back and forth between your main site and a yourdomain.platform.com site since the platform may have strong domain authority.||If you ever move your blog from this setup, you can lose search engine rankings if links pointing to your site can’t be updated. Using the platform name (blogspot, wordpress, tumblr) in your blog URL may overshadow your brand or domain name.|
If you’ve made it this far in the post :), you are probably interested to find out what the best blogging platform is! As usual, there are some advantages and disadvantages to each:
|Blogger has a lot of plugins and widgets. You might see fast indexing of your blog articles.||Blogger’s label and template system is sub-par to the other platforms. Blogger isn’t a true CMS — it offers an acceptable blogging solution but not much more.|
|WordPress has a robust & customizeable template system. It has a decent feature set to cover CMS functionality, which includes the ability to run your entire website on WordPress with the use of “Pages”. The WordPress community is large with many plugins and themes available to enhance your website.||Because it has many features, WordPress can be more challenging to work with than the other platforms.|
|Tumblr is easy to use and has great integration with Twitter and Facebook. Tumblr values community and makes it easy to share and cross-post.||Tumblr is not as customizeable as WordPress. Tumblr comes with basic blogging functionality, but has minimal information architecture to organize posts (nothing beyond tagging).|
|TypePad is known to be an option that’s more simple to use than WordPress. TypePad also values community involvement and makes it easy to share and cross-post. Because it’s a paid hosted service, good reliability and support is provided.||TypePad is not free. TypePad doesn’t have the same number of plugins and themes that WordPress has.|
These popular blogging platforms will work well for different types of bloggers. I always recommend to people just starting a blog to go with one of the free options or try a trial option (such as with TypePad) to become familiar with the platform and the features it offers. WordPress is a great option for those looking for a CMS with more features, but some of the other options are great for those looking for basic blogging functionality without taking on the responsibility of hosting your own WordPress installation. Joomla and Drupal are two more options that can be self-hosted with decent community involvement, but they aren’t quite as popular as WordPress.