Tracy S. Morris

Quirky Mysteries, Screwball Fantasy and Sassy History

Monday Musing: Blogging for Fun and Profit Part 3: A Look At Blogging Platforms

Written By: Tracy - May• 09•11

Now that you’ve decided on a theme and schedule for your blog and determined whether you will self host or let the blogging platform host for you, it’s time to choose a blogging platform. Here are some of the most popular blogging platforms you can choose from:

WordPress

This is one of the most popular platforms for writers who blog because it allows the widest degree of flexibility. Bloggers can use WordPress’s self-hosting option through WordPress.org, or host through WordPress at WordPress.com. WordPress is also widely regarded as an industry standard for blogs, which means that your blog will look more professional if you use the WordPress platform (compared to a blog hosted by blogger or Typepad).

WordPress is open source, which means that the code is available to anyone, and many people modify it to create widgets, plug-ins and themes. This means that there are many free and inexpensive programs that you can implement on your blog. (I currently run plug-ins that filter out spam comments, widgets that post this to my Facebook fan page and my old Livejournal blog, and even a plug in that places my twitter feed in the sidebar.

Blogspot (Blogger)

Blogger is run by Google and has the advantage of being a free blogging platform. This is a good platform to start with if you are just dipping your toe into the blogging pool (especially if you aren’t sure whether you will stick with blogging or not).

Because Blogger is run by Google, it integrates well with Google’s other services, including feedburner and Google Analytics (More on these services in a later post). Blogger also has a setup wizard that will allow you to have your blog up and running in just a few minutes. If you are versed in CSS and HTML, you can tweak your custom template so that your blog does not look cookie cutter. This will also help your blog to look more professional (another great way to look more professional when using blogger is to get rid of the blogger navigation bar).

One of the biggest downsides to using blogger is that some universities and public schools block the platform. If you write YA or middle reader books, this can keep you from reaching your potential audience.

Typepad

Typepad is the third biggest blogging platform used for blogging. The platform offers several tiers of paid and hosted blogs, including plus, unlimited and premium. The blogs offer a professional look and an easy-to-use interface. Unlimted and premium accounts allow customization of your blog using CSS. Although Typepad offers users the ability to use widgets, the widgets are not integrated, so the user must find the widgets themselves and install them.

Livejournal (and various clones including Dead journal, Undead journal, Dreamwidth, etc.)

Livejournal has the distinction of being the first free journal software (there is a paid version, which you can get if you don’t want to see advertizing when you log into your journal). Livejournal pioneered social networking in the days before Facebook. Users can follow other blogs, which are compiled into one spot so that the blogger or visitors to the user’s site can read the posts.  This is a convenient way to meet friends and make fans. It makes for a less professional-looking blog than the big three. Despite this, many authors, editors, big publishing houses and agents have a Livejournal account that they feed their blog posts into from another account so that their Livejournal community fans can find them easily. Put this one in a “go where your fans are” category.

Tumblr

Think of Tumblr as the lovechild of Twitter and Blogger. Tumblr allows you to upload pictures and images, text, video and more to the site in a type of short-form blogging (or short-attention-span blogging) known as “Microblogging.” Tumblr is a growing favorite among comic book fans for the ability to upload images. This is a great platform for people who aren’t ready to commit to full-form blogging, but don’t want to be limited by Twitter’s 140 character length.

Also worth mentioning:

SquareSpace – A for-fee blogging platform. This one is notable because the fee is volume based instead of having the services tiered. This means that all blogs through this site, from the newest to the most popular have a consistent quality.

Posterous – Posterous stands out because it aims to be a no-stress way to blog. Users don’t pay a fee or sign up. Simply e-mail post@posterous.com from any e-mail account and posterous creates a domain and blog for you. All blogs are e-mail based. To create a post, simply compose your post.

 

One final thing to remember about choosing a blogging platform: if you find that one platform does not work for you, feel free to switch platforms. Many platforms include a feature that will let you “Migrate” your posts from one blog to another. This will make it easier for you to change blogs. You can even keep your old blog and crosspost your posts between blogs to make it easier for fans to find you.

 

The obligatory mention of my work: As Lee Martindale said: information wants to be free, entertainment wants to see me well-fed and sleeping indoors. I’ve made the above information available to you free of charge. If you want to show your gratitude, consider purchasing one of my books fromYard Dog Press or Baen Books.

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2 Comments

  1. I agree that WordPress is the most professional and flexible platform … IF you are fluent with computer coding. If you’re not, disaster is likely to ensue; I’ve seen this happen repeatedly.

    Choose a blog platform that matches your skill level. They range from extremely simple to sophisticated, and the above descriptions give a pretty good idea of which is which.

    • Tracy says:

      I know just enough HTML to be dangerous. I know none of the other computer languages, but my husband is a programmer. When we launched the new blog, he basically set me up with the hosting and the template. I did everything else with no problem. Of course, I haven’t tried anything more challenging than changing the image on the top of the page, and this particular template is built for that.

      I’m a WordPress convert because it met every need I had. But not everything is for everyone. I started with Livejournal and a Geocities page. Then I moved to Livejournal and a self hosted page that hubby maintained before switching to this. It has very much been a trial and error process.