Archive for : February, 2015

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Choosing a Suitable Blogging Platform – Part-1

In one of the earlier posts, we told you about blogging. What is blogging, why would you want to blog, and other stuff like that. After you have finalised everything, we told you in earlier posts, a blog-publishing platform, an important need for going online, is what you need. In this post, we will take a look at some of the blog-publishing platforms (called blogging platforms in short).

Before we move forward telling you about the platforms, let us inform you in advance that this isn’t, by far, the most comprehensive list of blogging platforms available for one to use and start a blog, but, we have tried to include as many blogging platforms as was possible for us. Again, this list is in no particular order, and though some of these platforms discussed below are quite popular, it completely depends on the user – the to be blogger, which platform he or she is comfortable with.

While making a choice, bloggers or to-be-bloggers have a variety of options to choose from. Particularly, the features, each of these platforms provide become important in making or breaking a decision. After you have decided on the niche for your blog, you have started churning out compelling articles too, there are a few things you need to consider. To go online, you need two things, (a.) a domain name (even a sub-domain name will do), and (b.) a web hosting space. A number of the blogging platforms we are about to discuss below do provide both, while some others don’t provide any, and some others provide either of one. And then, there are a few more things worth considering, like what is the cost, you are getting that service for. If it is free, what are the restrictions you’ll be facing (you see, there’s literally nothing as a free lunch in this world. Oh, Really? Hmmmm…. Let’s see.

There are a number of services which are free, well almost, then there are some which are sort of Demo versions of premium applications, like, for example, wordpress.com, which provides you a great software, free web hosting space as well, and a domain name too, to start off your blog, but you lose on some functionality like adding custom scripts to your blog. Neither you are allowed to monetise while being a wordpress.com user. Then if you want to use a custom domain name like www.yourcustomdomain.com, then you are supposed to pay them an annual fees for it. This is not to say that wordpress is a paid software, it is free, however, when wordpress is giving you additional benefits like hosting space on their servers, a domain name for your blog, it sort of becomes extra burden on them, so, to level off things, they have different plans for each kind of user. Each of these platforms have their nitty gritties which, when explored in detail will help you make a better and informed choice. We will be taking a detailed look at most of these blogging platforms (yes, most because we might not have the budget to pay for a premium blogging platform, just to check out its functionalities :P). Later, if we have the budget, we might present to you detailed insights from these platforms.

Let us now take a look at a few of these blogging platforms:

  1. WordPress.com: Available as a free blogging platform using which someone can start a blog, for almost free. WordPress.com is the free web blogging platform that provides the user with one of the best and the most widely used Content Management System (CMS), that too Open Source, with a large group of Volunteer Software Developers that help out with the day-to-day development, security and enhancement of the platform. WordPress.com along with wordpress.org is considered as one of the largest used blogging platform in the use today on the internet. Thanks to the huge fan base and the volunteer developer network, WordPress boasts of thousands of plugins/widgets, both free and paid, and another thousands of themes to customize your blog’s look as you like.
  2. WordPress.org: Again, being the sibling of WordPress.com, WordPress.org enjoys almost all the features of wordpress.com, minus the fact that, wordpress.org is more of an online repository for users to download WordPress-The CMS software, plugins, and themes. At its core, wordpress.org is NOT a blogging platform, but IS actually a Website Content Management System, that powers a stunning 47.96% of websites (that is almost half of the entire web) – [Source CMS Usage Statistics @ http://trends.builtwith.com/cms], And, when it comes to powering blog, this number rises to 97.77% of all the blogs. That’s mind boggling, right? [Source Blog Usage @ http://trends.builtwith.com/cms/blog]. The reason it is here in this list is because of this staggering 97.77 percentage figure that encompasses both the flavours of WordPress (i.e. wordpress.com and wordpress.org), and using the software available to download on wordpress.org, you can have one of your own blog, with a web hosting space and a domain name.
  3. Blogger: One of the many free services among a host of free and paid services provided by the Internet giant, Google, Blogger.com hasn’t been the brainchild of Google. Infact, it was built up by a firm called PyraLabs. Blogger was taken over by Google in 2003, and since then, has been available in Google’s suite of free services. After a major makeover of Blogger’s core software in 2006, Blogger has been in a constant makeover, having teams of dedicated software professionals at Google for constant development and troubleshooting and a dedicated forum at Google’s Product Forums. Blogger is known for its amazing simplicity and ease of use. Though, not as diverse a platform as WordPress, when it comes to customization and value addition, blogger, nonetheless is a free blog hosting platform, with options for users to have their own sub-domain under blogspot.com. Users are also allowed to use a custom domain name where the blogspot.com sub-domain can easily be configured to be redirected to the user’s custom domain name.
  4. Tumblr: Though, not a full fledged blogging platform, in it’s essentiality, Tumblr, has been known for it’s microblogging platform, the one on the lines of one of the mostly used microblogging platform- twitter. Tumblr is known for its ease of use. You don’t really get a lot to tinker around, but, for sure, most of the non-code friendly people would love using it for the ease with which it does what it says. You can actually select a suitable content type you are about to share, namely, text, photo, quote, link, chat, audio or video, and tumblr suitably adapts and shares it. Besides giving you a easy to use microblogging platform, that is free to use and easy to understand, tumblr does provide you with a lot of options to select a template, called themes by tumblr. You can opt to use a free theme from a number of themes, as well as you can buy themes as well. You can easily customize your tumblr theme to your liking using the customize theme options available. This allows you to modify many aspects of your theme, including the layouts, backgrounds, colours, and fonts and headers as well. Besides these, tumblr allows you to create static pages as well. All these make tumblr quite good a blogging platform, for those who want a stable, no-fuss blogging platform.
  5. Twitter: Twitter, another social networking platform, among the most popular social networking platform, also manages to qualify itself as a micro blogging platform. Twitter, owing to its popularity has gained quite a lot of popularity as a micro blogging platform, because the people like interacting with other potential readers because of the widespread reach twitter is capable of providing. Owing to the millions of active users, and the ease of use that twitter boasts of, it is type of platform, anyone would like associating with, given that you are ready to shorten enough, your expression, thoughts, and whatever you’d like to tell your readers, in the 140 characters, that twitter allows for text. Apart from text, images, videos and links are the other ways you could get in touch with your readers. Also the widespread popularity of twitter as a social networking platform and its capability to skyrocket your content’s popularity and make it “viral” within minutes is what makes it quite popular.
  6. TypePad: Typepad, a premium blogging platform, is considered among the oldest blogging platforms. Being built upon the blogging platform – Movable Type, a blogging software originally conceived and developed by a couple, for their personal use, which, grew on to become a premium, fee based blogging platform that boasted of a blogging platform for users without any technical. Movable Type, the original blogging software was released in 2001, which served as a base for TypePad, which was to be released in 2003, by the company the couple started – Six Apart, in October, 2003. Even after more than 11 years of its first launch, TypePad, still continues to be a great, no-nonsense premium blogging platform for brands and celebrities. TypePad, being a premium blogging platform, has been built and maintained by dedicated teams of software professionals, thus promising a robust and stable blogging software, boasting of great security features, thousands of themes, templates and layout options. TypePad offers the users, option to publish on your blog using a variety of options including your good ol’ desktops/laptops and smartphones (cellphones/tablets) using dedicated applications for smartphones. A hosted blogging platform, TypePad allows the users to customize their blogs and themes, and create their own themes if they wish.
  7. Movable Type: Movable Type, being more of a Content Management System than a blogging platform, much like WordPress, has grown to become a full-fledged Content Management System, using which, entire websites can be created. Much like WordPress, Movable Type can also be used to create static and dynamic pages, much like ones available in professional and not-so-professional websites.
  8. Weebly: Weebly, a feature rich web-hosting service, that offers a bunch of great features through it’s simple, intuitive and feature rich drag and drop website/blog designer. A good thing about Weebly is, it lets you do a lot more with a free account. You can have a static website, a blog, and even a web store of your own, hosted and managed by Weebly, for free. This is too much to ask for, but as good as it gets, we did really go and check out Weebly using a free account. There has to be some differences in a paid-premium account and a free account, and it’s there in Weebly, as well. But a regular blogger, planning to go out and just blog, without caring much about the costs of hosting and domain names and getting their hands dirty with coding PHP, HTML, CSS, JavaScript and stuff, can easily sign-up at Weebly, and instantly go on to start a blog, choosing from a number of stunningly awesome looking themes and layouts for their blogs, websites and even an E-Store. More than that, savvy users, who are comfortable with coding/editing the HTML/CSS codes do have an option to do so, at will in their accounts. Weebly, appears to be a truly no-frills solution to starting a website, a blog or an e-store, with a 30 second signup process, for free account. You want more? You get more. Weebly allows you to publish using smartphone apps available for a number of platforms like Android, iOS, to name a few. Using these apps, you can publish on the go.

This is turning out to be quite a big post. Discussing a number of these blogging platforms, more importantly, when the numbers are quite large (as of now, we’ve got a list of 32 such platforms, free and paid). So, we will break down discussing these platforms, over a few posts, which we will be making live in the following weeks.

We sincerely hope that you will find the above description of the blogging platforms useful, and that you might find the one you will be using in this post itself. However, if you would like to take a know more, (infact, you should, who knows you find something exactly what you want) we would like to request you to please wait for the upcoming posts.