Choosing a Blog Platform: Blogger, Type Pad, Word Press, Drupal or A Social Network

Word Camp, a meeting of experienced and new Word Press users. Get help to understand each blogging platform before choosing / © 2008

A common question I am asked is: “Where should I put my blog?” My instinct tell me to ask back: “What are you going to do with your blog? (make money, create an image, pontificate on politics?) or What does your blog need? (promotion with advertisements? news or stock price feeds?) or What do you need from the blog? ( efficiency? simplicity? ease of use? freedom and features?) These and other requirements will determine where your blog is going to be “hosted”, what “platform” to choose, who will set up, design and even edit your blog.

Before all these questions, try to see and read blogs. If you need examples of popular blogs or ones in your specialty areas, go to blog indexes and tagging services. Technorati’s top 100 blogs [here] gives the popular blogs rated by the Technorati users. Stumble-Upon is a similar service that bloggers use with other blogs, here you search for key words[here]. Stumble-Upon is a good way to find blogs other bloggers like and it is strong in the technology field. Social tagging sites like Digg and Delicious are also a good place to find blog examples. Tagging is a concept bloggers use to help readers find specific topics within a blog. To some the idea and it’s use takes time to start using effectively.

While you are looking at blogs, take notes on what you like and what you don’t like. Look at the design and page layout and the content. Also look at all the “widgets”: elements with advertising, links and buttons to connect with outside services. At this point you are ready to try a platform or two and see how they “feel”. Blogger is a complete integrated platform. You do everything on the site. Blogger is a Google owned company and the basic use is free. You can add your own “domain name” and other features like a premium templates (design and structure files.) If your needs are simple blog and the built-in templates work for you, this could be a good solution. Word Press comes in two versions, the one hosted by the company (.COM) and the one you download and host on your own (.ORG). Most of the bigger blogs use Word Press. It has advantages in terms of available themes (design files) and in terms of flexibility of the structure. You can easily make Word Press into a “static” site with just pages in addition to a blog. To some people additional pages, like a business description or a personal note, is an important feature. Type Pad is a paid integrated service. Like Blogger you do everything on the site. I call Type Pad the “MAC” of blogging platforms because it offers clean and simple design with all the basic functions. Paying a monthly fee gives you better service and continuous updates which sometime come in clumps on Blogger.

There are many blogging “modules” or “functions” in sites like Facebook and MySpace. These usually give simpler designs and functions than dedicated blogging platforms. You can write directly in these sites if this is where your audience networks. In the music business, a friend who is an old Rock & Roll guitarist has 8,000 friends. To him blogging and uploading videos on his fan page is a better way to get to audience than a separate blog. Just like other things in blogging, seeing and trying is believing and understanding. Testing Blogger and Word Press should take you a few hours. Getting a demo from an experienced blogger can take an hour and may be the best way to loose the fear of starting. GO TO IT !

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