Do you have an opinion that needs to be shared with others? Perhaps you own a small business and would like to boost your web presence and give your site a more personal touch. Blogging provides an inexpensive (and fun) means of sharing your content with millions of people, and can also be an excellent way to make new friends, build a rapport with customers, and direct more traffic to your website.
Choosing the right blogging platform for your needs, however, can be a confusing process since new ones appear each year, but there are a few that continue to garner praise from millions of fans because they are easy to use, offer a range of customizable features and provide content hosting for little to no cost.
1. WordPress – Best for Self-Hosting
Originally intended for blogging, WordPress has grown over the years into a full-fledged Content Management Suite that remains suitable for both personal and professional use. This open source platform contains thousands of free plug-ins and themes developed by a robust community of users, giving you the power to design the blog of your dreams. Best of all, WordPress gets a lot of traffic that makes it ideal for SEO.
WordPress comes in two flavors – .com and .org. WordPress.com hosts your blog for free with some limitations. Those who want to monetize their blogs should look elsewhere because no ads are allowed, and WordPress will also display its own ads unless you pay a yearly fee to remove them. Secondly, users cannot upload their own plug-ins or themes and instead must choose from a selection. Would-be bloggers who already have a web host provider will prefer WordPress.org, which enables them to freely shape the platform into any look they please.
2. Blogger – Easy Business Blogging
Blogger.com remains a strong contender for best blogging platform since it offers a number of powerful features for free within a format that inexperienced users can understand. Although Blogger offers less customization than WordPress, its interface is intuitive enough that you can get blogging within minutes after installation. Moreover, Blogger is owned by Google, which means that users will receive strong support for SEO and Google-affiliated advertising.
Blogger has its weak points, however, especially in terms of content control. Although the legalese in Google’s Terms of Service states that it doesn’t own your content, it has the power to delete your blog at any time. This is mainly intended to reduce the amount of spam from hijacked blogs, but users unfortunate enough to experience a security breach could lose years of content. Lastly, you are tied strongly to the Blogger interface, which means that designing a unique look for your blog presents a challenge.
3. Tumblr – Ideal for Visual Blogs
Tumblr occupies the middle ground between Twitter and WordPress in that it combines micro-blogging with some of the custom features that more robust platforms provide. Visual bloggers especially enjoy Tumblr because it enables them to post multiple photos as easily as sending a tweet, and fans of social media will enjoy how smoothly it integrates with Facebook and other social networks. Tumblr, then, provides an easy and attractive way to share information speedily.
Although many professional firms, especially those in visual arts, use Tumblr to spread bite-sized pieces of information quickly, it has fewer business-oriented features than WordPress. For instance, it doesn’t offer much integration with small business shopping cart software, though it does allow merchants to add checkout buttons from Paypal or Google to their posts. Tumblr also has fewer options than WordPress when it comes to SEO, though users with experience in growing large social networks might prefer Tumblr.
4. LiveJournal – For Digital Diarists
LiveJournal tends to get less traffic these days from professional bloggers since it doesn’t offer much in the way of customization, but those who want to blog for more personal reasons may find its large, close-knit community refreshing. More importantly, LiveJournal is free, though users can also pay for additional services such as extra storage space.
Although LiveJournal is primarily used for personal blogging, business owners can take advantage of the fact that its community has been growing for thirteen years. LiveJournal, then, is still useful as a social networking tool to spread the word about your business. Unfortunately, a lack of plug-ins and themes makes LiveJournal look unprofessional when compared to a custom WordPress blog, but it can be a fun way to share thoughts too lengthy to fit on Facebook with your friends.
Other blogging platforms may also suit your needs, but these represent some of the basic differences you will encounter when making a comparison.
Brandi Tolleson is a prolific writer from the Los Angeles area.