The popularity of blogging (which originally derives from ‘personal web log’) continues, whether for profit, or just to have a voice on the web, since over a decade ago when it first captured the internet as the ‘next big thing’. Some blogs are standalone sites, but others are a more personal section that fits into a larger, corporate web site.
In order to blog, a blogging platform is required, which takes care of formatting the content in the form of text and images, and provides a framework for getting it onto a website. The blogging platform also makes it easier for a search engine to categorize the blog entries, and to be able to take advantage of marketing and advertising opportunities.
So before you start cranking out posts, and welcoming your virtual visitors from around the world, you need to choose the best blogging platform to suit your needs. Check out these great options.
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The old master of blogging soldiers on
Ask any old-time blogger about what platform they started their blog with, and chances are they'll answer that it was Blogger. To this day, Google’s offering in the blogging space still retains several advantages, including that your existing Google account already means you have a Blogger account.
A broke startup blog will appreciate that it is free to use, and it will even provide the blogspot.com domain name, as well as the option for a custom domain name. It is also one of the easier platforms to use, and provides a choice of templates that can be flexibly modified.
As it is a Google offering, it easily integrates with other Google products, including Google Analytics that can provide information about your website’s visitors that should be used to help grow traffic. Also, your blog can be integrated with Google’s Adsense, that will analyze your content, and display relevant ads to monetize your blog, so you can pay for the coffee as you sit in Starbucks and blog into the night.
With all that going for it, is there any reason not to use Blogger? Well, the problem is that as your blog grows, its simplicity means that you may outgrow Blogger at some point. In addition, it can be difficult to transition from Blogger to another platform.
Merging ease of use with flexibility and power
WordPress is a popular blogging platform which is used on a claimed 30% of web sites, that offers an excellent balance between ease of use, and more powerful options.
They can handle all the details, and take care of the domain name, the security and the hosting for a one stop shopping option. WordPress offers hundreds of themes, with flexibility in fonts and options for a custom look. They also offer expert support, and credit card payments can be accepted via an available plugin.
Pricing starts at the Personal plan for $4 (€3.6, £3.1) monthly billed annually, which removes all WordPress advertising. There is also a free tier available, which is suitable for a noncommercial blog as there is WordPress advertising and no way you can monetize it.
The Ruby-based blog generator with tons of advanced features
The latest version of Jekyll (4.1) is a “simple, blog-aware, static site generator.” Content gets created in TXT files, which get placed into folders. Then you build your site via Liquid language templates. Jekyll then merges the content and the template together, and voila, a website is generated that can be uploaded to a server. For those that need a host, there is integration with Jekyll to host the website for free on GitHub.
While there is a comprehensive ‘quick-start guide’ on the Jekyll website, it hardly offers the simplicity of some competing blogging platforms that can do this all from a web interface. However, the benefits that Jekyll offers are the advanced features, which include options for paginating posts, available plugins, excerpt rendering, templates, and community maintained themes. It also supports blog migration from other platforms.
The plus here is that there is no cost to the platform, but the downside is that there is only community support, and the work takes place in the Ruby development environment, so many newbies will be put off.
Microblogging meets simplicity
While some blogs are well developed, and blur the line between a blog, and a full fledged website, at the other end of things we have Tumblr. It seems to be doing something right as it claims a staggering 450+ million different blogs.
It focuses on the more concise end of the spectrum, with an emphasis on shorter content, like just an image, or link, that can appear as more of an alternate social media platform. Content is definitely more short-form, with posts consisting of a variety of material, for example, pics, jokes, quips, Spotify tracks, and video (just remember that adult content is no longer welcome). Like a social media platform, you can also follow other blogs, and republish posts you like to your own blog.
The pro is that Tumblr is quite simple to use, costs nothing, and is ideal for use on a mobile device. However, this is not ideal for a more developed blog, as the content remains in the Tumblr ecosystem, and there is no way to monetize it.
The professional blogging platform
Typepad is a fully developed blogging platform, designed for the professional blogger. It offers a ton of flexibility, including the ability to publish from email, a web browser, or mobile. It also easily integrates with Google Analytics, and has its own affiliate plan.
Typepad supports design customization with a Theme Builder for a custom look, and the option for creating your own custom template or modifying a theme with custom CSS. Typepad is also fully hosted, and has support available.
After the initial 14-day trial, plans start at $8.95 (£8) per month for up to four blogs with unlimited storage.
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