There have never been so many good options for the prospective blogger. As a practical matter, I think it’s hard to go very wrong.
There are self-hosted platforms like WordPress and Hibari. Although the software is free, you’ll need a web host on which you can install the software and manage a database. This is likely to cost a yearly subscription fee. These platforms provide flexibility and capability. They also require some technical ability to setup and administer. They have active, helpful communities that provide volunteer support.
There are platforms like Blogger and WordPress.com. Just sign up and start blogging. Neither require complicated setup or configuration and both offer attractive themes. Blogger’s capabilities have increased substantially over the last few years. Blogger is a Google company, so what you write will be searched and stored for eternity. WordPress.com has much of the power of a self-hosted WordPress installation. Neither site requires you to worry about software maintenance. They just work. And it’s hard to overstate the value of free.
There are also feed aggregating sites like Tumblr that can be used for blogging. Although I’m not sure I’d recommend it, I’ve seen some interesting blogs using Tumblr.
I chose a self-hosted WordPress blog for Impolite Company for a number of reasons:
- I already have significant experience with WordPress. I started blogan.net on WordPress in December, 2004. This cuts both directions. I like to experiment, so choosing another platform would have provided that opportunity. I did consider Hibari, but felt the available plugins and themes were lacking for what I wanted.
- I already have a web host where adding another blog would not be additional cost.
- I like the flexibility and “customizablity” of a self-hosted WordPress blog. There are so many themes and plugins that it is difficult to keep track of them. If that isn’t sufficient, you can edit the core files to add capabilities (I never expect to need this.)
- I own the database that contains my blog. I can automate backups and can restore it whenever and wherever I need to. I can move to another platform later if I choose.
- I like the active community of WordPress users.
I don’t expect (or even attempt) to make money from my blogs. If you do, choose your blogging platform with care. For example, some platforms don’t allow you to place ads on your blog.
What factors do you consider important in choosing a blogging platform? Would you choose a different platform than I did?
Next up, choosing a WordPress theme.