Often when a newbie blogger approaches me about blog design, her first question is, What platform do you recommend?
It sounds like a simple question, doesn’t it? I wish the answer were cut and dried, but unfortunately it is not. There are many factors to consider. For example, do you plan to blog professionally or for fun? Do you need a lot of fancy features? Do you want the ability to customize your template? Do you know CSS code? Do you plan to host ads on your blog? What is your budget?
In this post, I will outline the three most popular blogging platforms and some of their pros and cons:
Blogger’s biggest selling point is that it is entirely FREE! Blogger is a great platform for hobbyists and beginners who aren’t sure how long they will be blogging. It’s simple to set up an account, and you can have a blog up and running on Blogger in a matter of mere seconds; all you need is a gmail account.
Blogger provides an assortment of free design templates to choose from, but it also allows you a great deal of freedom if you know CSS code (or a good designer.) The free templates are easy to customize, or you can start from scratch and build your own design in the CSS.
Blogger is fairly reliable and has a great Help forum, although there is no personal support. However, there is a wealth of information available if you know where to look. There are whole blogs dedicated to explaining how to customize Blogger and how to troubleshoot when problems arise.
Probably the least popular of the three, but still worth mentioning, is Typepad. Like Blogger, Typepad is easy to use and easy to set up. However, Typepad is not free. You will pay anywhere from $8.95 to $29.95 a month for Typepad’s service. They offer a free 14-day trial so you can take it for a test drive if you wish.
Typepad has extensive Help forums and fabulous personal support if you need it.
Design-wise, I don’t find Typepad quite as easy to customize as I do Blogger, and your options are a bit more limited unless you switch to full CSS. But Typepad is great for people who want a sleek, simple blogging platform and are willing to pay for the personal support that comes along with it.
There is a version of WordPress that is a free hosted platform similar to Blogger (and Mandi has a tutorial for setting up a free blog with WordPress here), but for the purpose of this post, when I use the term WordPress, I am referring to the self-hosted platform supported by WordPress.org.
WordPress is generally viewed as the most professional option. You will have to secure your own hosting service, and you will need to have a basic understanding of CSS and PHP, but of course there are plenty of online tutorials available to help you along. WordPress allows you total control over your blog, and there are a plethora of widgets and plugins and themes available for self-hosted WordPress blogs. The possibilities for customability are virtually endless.
As you can see, the choice of blogging platform depends largely on your personal preferences and ambitions for your blog, but hopefully this article has helped you figure out which one is right for you!
What blogging platform(s) do you use? Which do you recommend?
|Jo-Lynne Shane is a happily married mom to three lively school-aged children. When she’s not buried under piles of laundry or a kneading a mound of bread dough, she writes at Musings of a Housewife about faith, family, food and fashion, as well as blogging and design tips. As if that’s not enough, you can also find her beautifying the blogosphere at DCR Design.|