As a beginning blogger, knowing every detail is helpful but not vital. One of those details you should think about, however, is how big you think your blog might get. If you were simply blogging for yourself and didn’t care about things like visitors and selling your services or products, you could very easily go ahead and get a blog up and running for free on Blogger.
On the other hand, if you plan on building a thriving community around your blog, you are going to want to look into one of the other platforms out there, many of which cost the same as Blogger…nothing.
Who are the major players in the blogging platform field – In my opinion, there are four main options when deciding on a blogging platform.
- WordPress – The easiest to use of the four out of the box, and also has the largest library of themes and plugins. This blog was created with WordPress and I’ve enjoyed every second of it. You have the option of having your site hosted on WordPress or on your own web hosting plan, which is by far the better way to go.
- TypePad – Possibly the most professional looking of the four, TypePad is widely regarded as a great choice for small businesses. There is a fee to use their software, so be sure to check the pricing.
- Joomla – A versatile open source website creation platform. Beginners will face a steep learning curve, but it’s worth the time and effort to learn its many features.
- Drupal – Quite possibly my favorite of the bunch, my first two blogs were built on this platform and I have had very few problems over the years. Also has a huge library of themes and modules for added functionality.
What are the advantages of each? – Depending on your skill level, each offers its own unique attributes. These include:
- WordPress is by far the easiest to use and many people swear by it. It’s not always the most professional looking, but with a little template editing, you can do pretty much anything you want. It’s free, it’s light weight and it has a huge community of rabid supporters willing to help you through just about any issue you might face.
- TypePad is the most professional looking of the bunch out of the box, and since there is a fee, it is likely there are fewer people using the various templates. I personally have the least experience with this platform, but its users always have great things to say about it.
- Joomla is open source and has the best back end dashboard in my opinion. The administration area is clean and easy to use, though the database directories are more complex than the other options.
- Drupal is also open source and has most of the features that WordPress flaunts. The main difference is the flexibility in setting up areas of the page for whatever needs you may have, whereas WordPress is pretty rigid in this matter.
Which one should you choose? – I nearly always recommend WordPress to our clients, but depending on your specific needs, one of the others may be the better choice:
- Choose WordPress if you want to spend very little time working on your site and you want as many features as possible.
- Choose TypePad if you want a secure alternative to WordPress with more professional themes and no need for any coding knowledge.
- Choose Joomla if you are interested in open source software and have some technical experience or want to be able to move sections of the page around.
- Choose Drupal if you have some technical experience and look forward to tinkering with your site often in order to make it look and feel exactly as you like.
I currently have blogs on three of the four platforms and enjoy them all in their own ways. If you are mainly concerned with ease of use, go with WordPress. If you page flexibility is more important to you than a huge array of plugins, go with one of the open source choices. If you are still unsure of which platform to choose, feel free to drop me a line with the goals you expect to meet with your blog and I’ll give you my honest recommendation.
Have fun and remember, once you decide and start blogging it will be very difficult to change so make sure you are aware of the differences and how you must interact with each. While setting up a blog isn’t terribly difficult, maintaining it can be. Put the time into learning each before you decide. As always, our blog and website setup fees are very attractive if you’d rather not deal with it at all. We can have you up and blogging in just a few hours without all the homework.