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Choosing the Best Blogging Platform: Wading Pool or Deep End?

Photo courtesy of Álvaro Felipe on Flickr.

Blogging has grown in both popularity and importance. Blogging platforms are the software packages used to create, post, edit, and maintain a web log or blog. When trying to choose the blogging platform or software you want to use, a few simple steps can often help narrow down what might best suit your needs.

Purpose

Your purpose behind wanting a blog will immediately steer you toward the type of blogging platform that won’t frustrate you, overwhelm you, or tangle you up in plug-ins if you probably won’t use them. If you have a commercial or business website, you may want a more in-depth platform with a few more bells and whistles. To determine which fits best, ask yourself why you want to start a blog. Generally, blogs are for personal or professional use.

The platform that suits best may differ according to the Intent behind it. Some questions that might help narrow down your choices may include:

  1. Are you wanting an online journal for random or themed thoughts?
  2. Will it be a casual, occasional activity?
  3. Is it a way to keep in touch with family and friends?
  4. Will it be private or public?
  5. Do you think you will be uploading a lot of photos, videos, or music?

If the answer to any of those questions is affirmative, you will probably be satisfied with a basic blogging platform without a lot of technical mechanics. However, if you want your blog to be private—not crawled by search engines or viewed by casual audiences, you may want to find an adjustable platform that may have lots of features that you don’t have to use.

Additional questions might identify a professional or commercial blog, such as:

  1. Do you have a commercial website that your blog will help promote?
  2. Are you trying to sell a product directly from a blog?
  3. Will it be a content-generator with posts and article posted on a set schedule?
  4. Do you want the option of scheduling posts in advance or retroactively to fill in gaps?
  5. Do you want a lot of versatility in the blog’s appearance and operation?
  6. Do you want it linked directly to your website as part of your domain?

If any those answers are affirmative, you probably want a step or two up the complexity level in a blogging platform. How complicated or technical may be determined by user skill, time, and experience. Knowing precisely what bells and whistles you want will further narrow down your choices.

Plug-Ins

Commonly used plugs-ins for both personal and professional blogging software are geared toward media uploads, back-link tracking—who is linking to your blog, one aspect noted by search engines, spam control, SEO features, and visitor tracking. RSS feeds, social media exposure, and linking capabilities, and several other possibilities, depending on your chosen platform, help heighten the blog profile.

Bottom Line

A good beginning blogging platform that offers several templates, themes, font type and color, and lots of possible add-ons is Blogger. All it takes is an email address and five minutes to start.

One of the best blogging platforms for experienced bloggers and the professional market is WordPress. It’s the leader for a reason: lots of options, SEO tracking, track-backs, and marvelous spam control allow valid reader input without demanding that you sort through bot posts. New users can opt for basic blogging and learn about WordPress options as their experience deepens. It might seem to overwhelm those who have little technical experience, though. Patience is the key.

Blogger’s platform does not allow insertion of a blogs into a domain name. The URL for the blog always displays the blogname.blogger.com format. WordPress, however, provides plug-in that permits you to set your own domain—always a plus for commercial or business blogs.

Summary

Regardless of which platform you use, always identify the primary purpose of your blog. Use the features that you like and maintain continuity in posting frequency. Match article tags to keywords within the posts, and you’ll have followers and comments from readers in very little time.

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