Content marketing, you may have heard about it. If not it is just what it sounds like. content marketing is creating content centered around your services and products. This includes video, podcasting, and blogging.
I wanted to focus on blogging for this post. Blogging is actually pivotal for a couple of reasons. The biggest reason is that the blog is on your site. This is a way to get people to arrive at your domain. You have the quest is halfway done. The people are at your site they are reading your material, and you are showing them what you know.
The other reason blogging is important is that your videos and podcasts have a place to be seen. You want to point them to a site so why not have a blog post that has your YouTube videos and podcast episodes together. So yeah in my books blogs are important.
Your Ward Words
When I was growing up I had an English teacher whose name was Ward Hanes and he would give definition tests. So each week he would hand out Ward Words. So here are the definitions you may need to know.
CMS – Content Management System or a fancy way to refer to your blogging platform.
Self-hosted – This is a blogging platform that you have on your website that you have to install and set up to use. This often requires you to do some extra setup on the backend like database setup. These are typically more customizable
Hosted – These are platforms that are hosted on a different domain. These are usually easier to get started.
Markdown – A post formatting style or markup language that uses plain text formatting For a more involved explanation you can refer to the Wikipedia entry for Markdown
Flat File – These are CMS’s that do not require a database
The Blogging Platforms
This is the most popular CMS online. Companies like the New Yorker to TechCrunch are using WordPress, WordPress is also one of the easiest to customize because of the over 51,000 different plugins in their repository.
There are two different types of WordPress blogs available. There is the Self Hosted version over at wordpress.org. Depending on your hosting platform you have chosen you your install of this version of can be pretty easy because hosts like Bluehost* have a way for you to install WordPress in just a few clicks.
The other type of WordPress is where WordPress hosts your blog at wordpress.com. This can be found at wordpress.com. There are a few drawbacks to this version of WordPress. You are limited to the number of plugins that are available you are also limited to the theme options.
You can link your domain to a wordpress.com site but you have to pay for premium service to do that. So if you are going to pay why not just sign up for a hosting service like Bluehost* or Site5 and have more flexibility.
Ghost is a hosted platform that prides itself on speed. Ghost started out as a Kickstarter 4 years ago. They have just recently released the official version 1.0 This platform is actually angled more towards journalists.
You are able to direct your domain to this hosted blog and enjoy the speed of a highly optimized website. Their service though is tiered and limits the number of page views you can get. So yeah they have been able to make money but if your blog gets popular you may have to shell out more money than you would like.
You can also download Ghost but you want to make sure your host supports Node.js and more. I am playing with the download right now, but setting it up on your own server you are going to want someone who knows what they are doing. There is a lot of JS files that will be off-putting to the average user.
This is a tried and true Self-hosted CMS system that has been around for a very long time. It has a vibrant and vocal community of developers who can help train and build a Drupal site for you. The learning curve on how to use Drupal, in my opinion, is a little on the steep side but it isn’t anything you can beat. Many people who start using Drupal don’t change and become advocates for the brand.
OK get your Switchblade combs out because if Drupal was to be viewed as the Jets then Joomla would be the Sharks. and Play I feel Pretty!
Ok, this isn’t West Side Story but there is a rivalry that would equal that tale. Joomla is also a Self-hosted CMS. That is more than just a blogging system. With the help of the plugins, Joomla can do just about anything you would like it too.
Joomla like Drupal also has a bit of a learning curve but when you get the process down it almost becomes second nature. If you want to have more functionality then you can access their plugins and their theme library is likely to have a style and feel that you love. So if you are up to a small challenge then you could give Joomla a try.
Medium is a hosted CMS that many people use as their blogging platform. Yeah, it works great in the traffic department. That is because you have a network of other blogs that are also drawing people in. The drawback that I have with Medium is that you are building your house on rented land. If Medium was too close for whatever reason one day you lose all of your traffic. So Many times I would say use the service if you want but find a way to direct the reader to your site.
Other than that Medium is a beautifully simple layout. that is there strictly for the story you are wanting to tell your readers. So there is no way to change the themes or how things are displayed. you just write and present to your audience.
If you are a new blogger then using medium may be a good way to start. You get the traffic and you can test out what may get the best interaction.
One of the grandfathers of the blogging world. I remember fighting TypePad for days trying to get it to work right. Trying to get the design to look somewhat ok and screaming late at night in frustration. Well, those days are over. Though I haven’t used TypePad since the early 2000’s it is still around and they have made it easier by becoming a hosted service. So the layouts are guaranteed to work and you can just sign up for subscriptions and go to town. So more late nights ranting on forums.
The examples that are showcased verify that TypePad is as flexible as always
Kirby is a Flat file system is by the looks of it simple but it isn’t free. If you are wanting to write for a commercial reason ie Content marketing then you will have to shell out almost $90 for this system but expect excellent customer support
This Blogging platform does have their own set of themes and plugins you can choose from to increase your functionality of your site.
Bet you didn’t think LinkedIn would wind up on the list? especially after the comments, I made about Medium. With that, the warning still stands. LinkedIn I recommend for the very same reasons as Medium. There is a network of information hungry people and they will find your work.
Find a way to direct your potential customers to your website. but if you are a B2B site then LinkedIn Pulse could be a good place to have a blog or a side blog. This could be where you post some of your higher performing blog posts. You can also write some original content for pulse too.
To write for Pulse you just click on Write an Article button on your LinkedIn Status update box. You can then go crazy with your images and text. when you publish that article it will go to LinkedIn’s Pulse for all the world to see.
The scariest thing about blogging is hitting that publish button. but the rewards are immeasurable as you start to build a network and community. So try it out. maybe start with a free WordPress.com site and talk about something random. There is a good chance you won’t bring the site down with readers but you will get comfortable with expressing your ideas in written format. So when you do start your blog on your business site you can take over the world.
Do you have a blog? what system do you use? why do you use it? tell us in the comments below.
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