When starting a new blog, there is SO much to consider. In this post I will talk about the different options for platforms for blogging. The 3 most popular platforms for blogging are a Blogger blog, a WordPress.com blog or a WordPress self-hosted blog.
Platform is a personal choice. You will have to decide based upon the goals of your blog, your budget, and your technical ability. Each platform has its pros and cons.
Blogger (or Blogspot)
Blogger is via your Google account. There are some really awesome design features, but Blogger also has lots of limitations. Earlier this year Blogger users freaked out when ALL Blogger blogs were down for several days, and it took a week or more to get them straightened out when they came back on line. There are also lots of great plug-ins that you cannot use in Blogger.
You may have seen blogs that have the word “blogspot” in their URL. Those are Blogger blogs. You may also buy a your own domain name through Blogger for $10 and the “blogspot” would be removed. You then have to renew every 2 years.
People who are not on Blogger tend to have some difficulties commenting on a Blogger blog. This may be due to some of the settings for commenting. Captcha codes or moderating comments are common on Blogger to keep out spam.
WordPress.com Blog (not self-hosted)
A WordPress.com blog can be a totally FREE blog. There is no cost for setting it up. It is hosted on WordPress’s servers. When you set it up, you will have the word “wordpress” in your URL. For instance, my very first blog was http://bernicewood.wordpress.com (not very active now). I bought a domain name for that blog, ramblingsofawoman.com. What I didn’t realize is that in commenting on other blogs, etc, it would not recognize the redirect, or that it would always say the actual URL in the address bar. If you choose this route, consider what you want your username to be, as that will be your URL. Had I known ahead of time, I could have chosen RamblingsofaWoman as my user name.
WordPress.com has free themes which you can design your blog within. They are fairly simple, although it will take a little playing around and practicing til you get the look you are wanting. You can add widgets to the sidebars, as well as customize your header. There is a very helpful forum for answering questions.
A WP.com blog has its limitations as well. You cannot use plugins. This was a big factor in my changing from WP.com. Plugins give you MAJOR functionality with your blog, and I saw so many options on other blogs I wanted to implement on my blog but could not.
You “could” lose your blog
The other major thing with A WP.com AND a Blogger blog is that they are not owned by you. That doesn’t mean that your work and writing would be stolen, however, if Blogger crashed again or if WordPress sells or goes bankrupt, you may not have access to your blog. If you are trying to build something you want to keep, or especially if you want to monetize and turn your blog into a business, these two may not the best long-term options.
The third platform I want to explain is quickly becoming the most popular, especially for the serious blogger and business builder. This is a Worpdress self-hosted blog. It is built on the WordPress platform, however you host it yourself via a hosting account. This means that you DO own the blog and it cannot be taken away from you as long as you pay for your hosting.
There are many options for hosting. Many hosting companies are vying for your dollars. You want to make sure you choose a reputable host, and one that can provide customer service should you need it. Two of the more popular are GoDaddy and HostGator. My husband and I actually have sites hosted at both. There are many others. I encourage you to look closely at all you find. Cheapest is NOT always best if they do not have large enough servers to handle the traffic they receive, or if they do not have a good customer service program.
Once you choose where you are going to host, and your domain name, then you can go ahead and set-up your hosting account and install the WordPress platform. If you go through some of the major hosting companies, such as the two I listed above. all it takes is a few clicks and it is done!
When you install WP on your site, it will have a generic WP theme already installed. You also have access to many other free themes. You can access them through your WordPress Dashboard. Both of my blogs are currently using the free Atahualpa theme. I have been fairly happy with it. It has an active forum that will answer a lot of your questions.
I am a do-it-yourself type person, plus I wanted to stick with a free theme if I could, so I played and tweaked with this theme. I will admit there were many times I wanted to throw my laptop out the window! If you are nervous about using WordPress on your own and need just a little help, my friends over at Eli Rose Social Media have a great How to Use WordPress service. As of this writing, a 30 minute call was $25 and a 60 minute call only $45.
I am, however, considering switching to Thesis or Genesis theme (paid) in the near future, which will allow even more functionality and flexibility with design. I just have to be prepared for another learning curve!
Can you switch?
Many people wonder is it possible to switch your blog from one platform to another. Yes, it is. That would be something you would need to hire someone with experience to do. It is not for the novice. Joy at 5Js Design comes highly recommended! You can also switch from wordpress.com to a self-hosted, but again, it is best for a professional.
Hope this helps explain choosing a platform for you! I will share in an upcoming post about blog design!