We now have chosen a solid topic that we are going to blog about it is time to choose what type of platform you are going to use. The choices are many but it is normally easy to choose the platform. Just in case you are wanting to have a look around, I would like to give you the chance to see what choices are out there.
Blogging platforms vary drastically. They can be limited template designs, or you may be able to make your own. The key is functionality though. If the platform is difficult or confusing to use then you will be less likely to want to blog. If you don’t find blogging fun then you won’t write. If you don’t write, then this is all for not. I want you to get the most out of blogging. I could not be happier than if your blogging adventure is a success.
What should you look for in a Blogging Platform?
The biggest is ease of use. As I said earlier if it isn’t easy you won’t want to use it. Also if it isn’t easy to use you will be scared that you may break something. That stems from you not understanding how the chosen blogging platform works.
Most people but not all, like to have the ability to extend the operability of their blog. This often comes in the form of plugins. Not always but normally. So if there is the option to easily add some code needed for Google Analytics. You want to go with that direction.
The last feature you want to search for is the ability to change the blog layout to your liking. Often these are called themes while others do call this a layout. Whatever way you call it, you want the ability to change how you bog looks. That way it will fit with your brand and not look like an afterthought that was just slapped up.
Blogging platform categories
All blogging platforms fall into two separate types, the Self-Hosted and non-Self-hosted. Honestly, I don’t know what to call the non-self-hosted section. It’s not a third party, or is it? If you have any thoughts on this please post in the comments below.
Each type of platform has their pros and cons
Advantages of Self-hosted platforms are that they are extremely customizable. You can change everything about the blog. If you want the title to be a giant 92px. Boom! Its 92px. If you want to have a weird transition, add the code where it needs to be and you have the Star Wars Wipe when people go to another page.
The disadvantage of Self-hosted is. You can break your site. Since you have full access to the blogging code you can break your platform. If you insert the code in the wrong place your site could easily become nothing but a white page.
You are also able to overdo it on plugins and customizations. The more plugins you have the more processing the server has to do so. Doing so will slow your site down. You could also have a conflict between different plugins. This could result in an undesired effect on performance or the layout of your blog. Again it can also break your site.
The big advantages of having someone else host and maintain your blogging platform is that it is optimized for speed. So, you will more than likely have a quick snappy site. They do this with their own customizations to the platform that you do not have access to.
Since you don’t have access to the code you are not able to edit your blog nearly as easily. You are often also limited on the number of plugins you can run on your site. This means you can’t do that beloved Star Wars Wipe. Unless there is a theme that uses it. Yet you are limited to certain themes. You run the chance that none of the templates or layouts fit your brand.
That also means the number of themes you can use is also limited. So you have to make the needed decision on whether you want to have more functionality or stability on the platform. You can often find a very good balance if you run your own tests
Non-Self Hosted Platforms or Subdomains
This list is of blogging platforms that have either their own hosting solution or a subdomain. The subdomain prevents you from being able to better tie your blog to your brand because you are doing some advertising for the hosting company. So free isn’t free. You are paying with a little bit of your credibility.
postach.io – This is a very simple very limited blogging solution. The hook here is that you blog through your Evernote account. This is neat in a way but not very useful. Your layout is very limited to a single minimalist design. So if you want to change coloring or anything like that, you can’t. All edits are done in an Evernote Notebook. I know people liked the Evernote system a few years back but I do believe popularity is in decline now.
Your account is a subdomain so the layout will be yourblog.postach.io No way that I can tell, to give it a custom domain. Other than you have a redirect to this site. Still not the most professional.
Weebly – This platform is great for customizations. The whole site is the popular drag and drops design. So you can create an original layout or use one of their predesigned templates. Now I didn’t spend a whole lot of time playing with Weebly before this post came out. Yet my first impression is that the blogging feature seems to be a little hidden. In Other words, I was not able to find a way to make a blog post without creating a whole new page. So I will keep playing with Weebly and update this post as I find out new features.
The biggest drawback I have against this and any other drag and drop designs is that it is very easy to make but it is also very easy to mess up. One accidental backspace and you will screw up your alignments and other settings. So if you use something like Weebly or Wax be mighty careful.
Ghost -Ghost is a relatively new blogging system. The system makes it easy to write in plain ASCII text and allow for the formatting to happen with markdown. This makes writing easier you don’t have to navigate your mouse up to the editor bar so you can make something a headline you just start the line with the hashtag. The scripting language behind the scenes makes all the changes you desire.
The prices for A Ghost site is $19 a month and that will allow for you to have 50,000 views in a month. SO nice and easy for when you start. Then you can ramp up your blogging all the way up to $199 a month yet for that amount you should have unlimited views. Yet with the ghost service, you are limited to only having 2 million views in a month. Now, what happens if you have a post that goes viral on May 5th? This causes you to eat through those views really quickly? Does your site go offline? Do they charge you extra? The answer is, I wouldn’t know. The possibility of you hitting more than a million views in a month would be a challenging achievement but is possible.
Tumblr – Yes it is spelled without the e because in Web2.0 “E”‘s are evil or something like that. If you are looking for a blogging platform that is fun and has a built-in sharing system that can help your posts achieve some virality. Then you can definitely look at Tumblr.
Now Tumblr has its drawbacks. One of the themes is a bit limited. And there are only a few post types you can use. If you want any customizations then you will have to find a better platform. But for new folks, Tumblr isn’t a bad place to start.
Tumblr is easy to start, Easy to set up. Sharing other people’s posts to your blog is a snap. You are also able to have a custom domain pointed to your Tumblr blog. Then again if you want a test run you can sign up and get a subdomain on Tumblr and get into the habit of posting each week.
Blogger – Blogger is one of the first sites dedicated to allowing people to get into blogging. It was incredibly popular for a long time. It became so popular that Google bought it and they use it for their different blogs.
Set up and posting is easy on Blogger. After a short set up you are ready to go with your own subdomain. If you want to have your own custom domain pointed to this account you are able to do that also. The controls and editor are pretty straightforward but lacking lots in the customization field. So you will not be overwhelmed with options.
Medium – has over the last few years become the darling of media, for good reason too. If you are wanting a blog post to go viral medium is a good place to do so. Their sharing and mentioning of other users on Medium make it a great platform for discussions and sharing of ideas.
For a while, many newspapers would use Medium for their blogs. Yet they quickly realized that they are not able to monetize as easily using Medium as you can say your own self-hosted WordPress blog. Yet with the built-in audience, it is still easy to get eyes on your material and garner some comments about your thoughts.
Medium is pretty much free. They do have a paid service that allows for a few more features for the wallet-crushing $5.00 a month.
WordPress.com – Now if you want to have your site powered by the most popular CMS online then you can go to WOrdpress.com and set up an account and get your very own subdomain and get to blogging in little to no time.
WordPress.com is easy to use and my favorite Blogging platform for the self-hosted side of the discussion. It is powerful in the Non Self hosted category too. Automatic the company behind WordPress.com has limited its functionality so that you are not able to break your site.
WordPress.com recently allowed for more themes and plugins into the ecosystem but you are still not allowed access to all 50,000+ plugins and themes. So you are limited but you also won’t break your site.
They do have a good tiered service so if you want to have a custom domain name then you will have to pay a monthly fee. Yet if you want to practice blogging I recommend wordpress.com that way you are ready to use the self-Hosted WordPress later on down the road.
These blogging platforms are ones that you have to have your own hosting site. Most of them require PHP and MySQL access while two others require Node.JS Framework and the other is Ruby language
WordPress – What we just talked about them. Yep but this is the Full beast that is WordPress. If you want to fully customize this platform you can make any changes you want. You can add and remove code as you see fit. Now, this does mean that you run the risk of breaking your site. So if you don’t have someone that knows a thing or two about WordPress You can contact me and I can help you out.
WordPress runs the majority of the sites online. So you can get a theme that fits what you are after for just about any price. You just have to look. You also have full access to all of the 55,000 different plugins in the Plugin Repository.
The big drawback is that it is targeted by hackers. You can secure your site but make sure that you always have a good and current backup of your site. You never know when a bad guy might find a way into your digital land. So be ever vigilant on updating your plugins and the core WordPress installation.
Jekyll – You ever wanted to run a blog like what is on GitHub? Well, you can because that blog is using the Jekyll blogging platform. I haven’t used this platform much other than as a mean of reading articles that are powered by it. But his platform isn’t a PHP scripted blog but instead, it uses Ruby. So there is a different install environment and files involved. From what I can garner from screenshots of the setup you want to be a little bit experienced in using Ruby so if there are any problems you will be able to get them worked out.
Jekyll gives you the ability to use markdown for your editing. Liquid is the Template engine for Jekyll. That gives you the ability to easily configure your site to your specifications.
Drupal – This platform more than just blogging. This is called a CMS or Content Management System. Often Drupal is used as a complete website system but it has a blogging element that is fairly simple to use. If you do run into issues there are people who specialize in Drupal and would like to help you out.
Joomla -Joomla is the arch nemesis of Drupal. It does what Drupal does but in slightly different formats. The creation of the site can be challenging and overwhelming at times but when you get it up and running the site is pretty stable.
Ghost -Now we mentioned Ghost earlier in that this platform has a non-self-hosted option but if you want to host the blog yourself then you can do so. You will need a special host for Ghost. That hosting service needs to have Node.JS. Which is a type of scripting language.
When it comes to blogging platforms there are more than enough choices to go around. If you want my 2 cents then I will be happy to tell you that I am a WordPress fan. I find it to be easy and pretty intuitive to use. If I break it or a plugin suddenly becomes incompatible I know how to troubleshoot the problem. So take a good look at a self-host WordPress site. The install is very easy. Most hosts have a script that you can run and it will install and setup the database for you. Even the setup is that easy.
Whatever platform you choose a good job you have made it closer to another step towards having your own blog.
Other Blogging Series Posts
You Are Here -> Choosing a Blogging platform.
Bringing it all together
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