image by moriza
To tell the truth, I don’t believe there is a unilaterally great blog platform. And there is nothing that says that whatever blog platform you use, you’ll be stuck with forever. They all have their good points and bad points, and I don’t believe that one blog platform will make your blog successful. I do however know there are a lot of great options out there, and it’s just a matter of finding the right one to suit your needs.
Welcome to my domain
The first thing I recommend, is if you are planning on starting a blog buy a domain name. I have been using GoDaddy forever. Most domains are about $10 per year. If you have a domain, you can point it to any blog platform you use. For $10 you can start small then grow into what ever blog format you want without having to do what I did, and move blog platforms… which meant I had to move domains which caused a loss of traffic (for a while, it came back, and then some). Learn from my mistake, and buy your own domain name.
What do I want?
Once you figured out what you really want out of blogging. Oh dear. For me, it was deciding that I really wanted to blog, and I wasn’t going to stop in the near future. Deciding that I was going to keep blogging also meant that I would have to familiarize myself with a lot of other aspects of blogging, CSS, HTML, PHP along with deciding that I wanted to monetize and push my blog to the next level.
However, blogs I do for fun have different requirements, ease of use being number one over customization options.
Often someone will say, “oh I hear WordPress.org (self hosted) is the best, I should start on that.” And the first thing I ask, is how comfortable they are with HTML, CSS, if they even know about PHP, how much they like using support forums, etc. That usually scares them off. Sorry about that. The truth is, most people know more than they think they know, and if you can tag your images, you probabaly have enough skills to use WordPress. If you’re not interested in learning about the technical components of blogging (not interested is different simply not knowing) then WordPress is not going to be the platform for you. Having a good grasp of what you’re willing to learn will help your experience, as the point it to blog, not to spend a lot of time figuring out how to make the blog work.
High tech skills… almost
You might have heard WordPress is the best out there… and with good reason. If you do get excited about customization and have no problem checking forums when you’re stuck, then WordPress will provide you with an amazing array of plugins, themes, customization to no end it seems. Clutch22 recently design her own theme with Artisteer what you see is what you get (WYSIWYG) program. I’m continually amazed with what you can do with WordPress, and it’s really the best if you have big plans for your blog.
I’ve had a look at MovableType and it looks really impressive. Barak Obama’s and Britney Spears (good god) use this platform for their blogs. It also has social networking and community capabilities. It’s really impressive. However, I’ve heard that it’s not the easiest to use, even for programmers.
I know my way around…
Typepad has been around for a long time. As there are many veterans using the platform like StyleBubble (and my other favorite Cute Overload). You pay for hosting along with your blog service. The bonus for this is upgrades are automatic, you still get all the customization abilities all for a relatively good price. Honestly, I wasn’t wholly convinced by Typepad, because they don’t really offer anything free services like blogger don’t offer.
I’m just starting, and I don’t know anything…
My first blog was on Blogger. In fact IFB started on Blogger too. I always tell people, “If you can send an email, you can use Blogger.” It’s really easy to use. I learned a lot tinkering with the templates. The SEO is great (heck, it’s owned by Google). I just checked back in my Blogger account, and there is a lot of plugins that I wish I had on WordPress. Blogger’s also great because it connects seamlessly with AdSense so getting monetized is really easy. The bad part is, you really are limited with the themes. If you want a magazine style format for your blog.. or forums, well Blogger can’t do that. Also setting up pages and navigation is tricky, so if you want your blog to have more depth then things get difficult. All in all, I say Blogger is great for starting out.
A lot of people are happy with WordPress.com. It uses a similar back end to WordPress.org so if you are planning on working your way up to self-hosted WordPress.org then I would recommend going with WordPress.com. One word of caution… WordPress.com will not allow you to monetize, you’ll have to use a different platform if that is your intention.
Many bloggers have a separate Tumblr blog as a kind of notebook. Some use it as their main blog. Tumblr is really great to use, it’s a bared down bloggin platform. Unfortunately you have to use a plugin to enable comments and other.
Onsugar is a new blogging platform that sprung up sometime after Sugar purchased Coutorture, and it’s made especially for fashion blogs. They have lots of features like a drag and drop “spread maker”. Create your look with thousands of fashion images from hundreds of online retailers through ShopStyle, e.g. ShopBop, J. Crew, Net-a-Porter, and others. and ShopSense their affiliate linking helper. This should be interesting to see how fashion bloggers use this platform, and if they like it. So far I haven’t heard anything either way.
So what’s the right one to choose?
At the end of the day, it’s best that you go with what’s right for you. What do you plan to do with your blog? How committed to learning non-blog tech stuff are you? Keep in mind, nothing is set in stone, you can always change just be sure to buy a domain name to save your blog friends some work when you have to move.