When you decide to start your own blog, you have many choices to make -- and the very first choice is which platform to use. The most popular blog platforms are Blogger, Typepad, and WordPress. This article will explain the basic differences of these platforms, and the pros and cons of each.
When choosing your blog platform, you'll need to determine whether you would prefer it to be hosted or non-hosted. A hosted platform is housed on the platform’s server -- in other words, if you have a Blogger blog, your blog is usually hosted on the Blogger server; if you have a TypePad blog, it’s hosted on the TypePad server. A self-hosted blog is hosted on your own server or web host, usually a third party you pay to host your site. You can use WordPress, or Moveable Type, as a self-hosted blogging platform if you set up an account with a web hosting company. Or, optionally, you can use WordPress.com as a hosted platform like Blogger or Typepad.
There are pros and cons to each solution.
The pros of having a hosted site (like Blogger or TypePad) are
- A hosted site makes it extremely easy for you to start a blog and see if you like it without spending a lot of money up front. In fact, Blogger is free. TypePad offers tiered pricing depending on your needs.
- Hosted sites are generally extremely user-friendly and fairly intuitive (meaning it's easy to figure out which link to click to do certain tasks, like linking or italicizing text).
The cons of having a hosted site are:
- Blogger blogs can appear to be less professional. This is a bias in the blogging community, but it is being disproved by several blogs (for example, Scribbit and Oh, The Joys are successful blogs that are both hosted on Blogger).
- There are platform limitations. For example, archiving can be less user friendly; TypePad can have issues with comment spam and trackback spam; and search engine optimization -- the way search engines find you -- can be difficult because post addresses are generated by the platform and are not intuitive.
- You will generally have less control of your HTML or CSS. Blogger allows you to change various parts of your HTML, but not everything. TypePad allows you to buy an option that gives you access to your CSS, but it is very hard to work with unless you are well-versed in CSS.
- WordPress.com does not allow advertising on your blog.
The pros of having a non-hosted site (via WordPress.org, for example) are
- You have control over how your archives are managed.
- You have control over all of your HTML and CSS.
- You have control over permalinks. This means that instead of the platform choosing the name of a post, you choose a name. This will help not only with managing permalinks, but with managing your SEO (or search engine optimization).
- There are many plug-ins for the WordPress.org platform that allow you to do everything from managing advertising to managing and responding to comments more efficiently.
The cons of having a non-hosted site are
- WordPress.org only supports one blog per installation. However, Moveable Type (TypePad's comparable platform) supports multiple blogs per installation.
- Moveable Type is not as malleable as WordPress.org
It is widely held in the professional or semi-professional blogosphere that if you have a WordPress or Moveable Type blog, you are more serious about your blogging. TypePad or WordPress.com are the next tier, and Blogger blogs are low man on the totem pole. However, as I mentioned, many bloggers do very well with Blogger blogs. Blogger is also an excellent choice for beginning bloggers, because it is free and easy to use. I recommend it for those of you just starting out, who aren’t sure if you want to stick with it or not.
In the coming weeks I will delve more deeply into the different platforms and explain their functionality:
- Choosing Blogger (Blogspot) as Your Blogging Platform
- Choosing TypePad as Your Blogging Platform
- Choosing WordPress as Your Blogging Platfrom
- Choosing Moveable Type as Your Blogging Platform
- How to Blog on a (Very Small) Budget by Amanda Fazani via Blogging Tips.
- Direct Sales Blogging: Choosing the Right or Wrong Platform by Kelly McCausey via Sparkplugging.
- Blog Tune Up Series: Back to the Basics in Wordpress by WebSuccesssDiva.
Melanie Nelson writes tips and instructions for beginning bloggers at Blogging Basics 101.
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