Blogging software provides you with the tools you need to blog. Choosing the right platform for your blog can be quite confusing. Blogging software can vary tremendously, but if you understand what you want from your blog, it can help you decide which is best for you.
Blogging platforms are software programs that enable you to create and manage a blog. Sometimes called blogware, these programs are specialized Content Management Systems (CMS), which enable the writing and publishing of blog posts, as well providing tools to stylize and manage a blog.
Design and Layout
Few people that go into blogging are experienced web designers, but with blogging software, you do not need to be. Most platforms provide a simple way to personalize and lay out a blog, enabling you to make it different to the millions of other blogs in the Blogosphere. The amount of freedom you have to get creative with your blog layout will depend on the platform you use and your technical experience.
Scheduling and Posting
The main function of blogging software is to enable you to publish what you write. Most blogging software provides the facilities to draft and edit blog posts, schedule them to appear on a certain date, as well as insert images and other multimedia. Nearly all blogging CMS work to the principle that the newest blog posts will appear at the top of a blog, while older posts appear below.
Hot Tip: You can write blog posts on word processing software and paste them into the blog platform. This enables you to take advantage of the advanced proofing tools offered by programs such as Microsoft Word.
Blog platforms also allow you to categorize blog posts, insert links and tag posts. You can also set up blogs to accept comments from readers, with the software allowing you to moderate what people post. Furthermore, many blog platforms allow you to keep track of the number of visitors you get on your blog and find out which are your most popular posts.
Hosted Or Self-hosted
The first decision you have to make when choosing your blogging software is whether to opt for a hosted or self-hosted platform. Hosting is simply the term used to describe where your blog will be located. All websites need to be hosted somewhere. A hosting company will store your blog on their servers and ensure it is visible on the internet.
Hosted Blog Platforms
Hosted blog platforms are the simplest way to get blogging. These online services provide everything you need to get started: a domain name, a location for your blog, and the software and tools to upload your posts. Some of these platforms are free too. However, what you gain in simplicity, you lose in control. With a hosted system, you may be tied to the platform’s subdomain (such as www.myblog.wordpress.com). In addition, some hosted blogs do not permit advertising on their blogs and have strict rules as to the type of content they permit. Furthermore the customization features are often limited.
Hot Tip: You can start on a hosted platform to see if blogging is for you, and then transfer your content to a self-hosted system later on, as it is possible to export all your blog posts.
Self-hosted blogs offer far more freedom. With these platforms, you may have to pay for the blogging software (although some do offer it free) and may also have to pay a third-party website to host your blog. The big advantage of these platforms is their flexibility. You are not tied to a particular domain name, so can purchase your own, and there are no restrictions on advertising or content. Furthermore, the customization features are far more advanced. However, you do need some technical knowledge to get the most out of them.
Choosing Your Blogging Software
Understanding what you want from your blog is key in deciding your software platform. If you have specific goals and requirements, you may find self-hosted software your best option, but if you are lacking in technical skills, you may struggle with the added complexity.
Establish Your Goals
If you are starting a corporate blog or wish to make money out of blogging, a self-hosted platform will be the best option. A corporate blog should really be tied to a business’ website with the same domain name. Your customers may regard a hosted domain as unprofessional or amateurish.
With any type of blog, it is important to stand out from the crowd. While most blog software allows you to change the layout, background colours, fonts and other elements on your blog, you may want something more bespoke. If this is the case, a self-hosted platform will be better for your needs.
Hosted blogs allow you to blog for free. Unless you can afford licence costs and subscription charges for the software, domain and hosting service, you are better off opting for a hosted service.
Unless you have a basic understanding of blog software, you may find a self-hosted solution a little daunting.
Paying For Third-party Services
If you opt for a self-hosted blogging platform, there will be things you will need besides the blogging software.
A domain name: The website address for your blog.
A web-hosting service: The third-party company that hosts your blog on their servers.
Domain names, also known as URLs, have to be both purchased and registered. There are numerous companies that make it easy to buy and register domain names, such as www.123-reg.co.uk and www.godaddy.com, but because of demand, you may find your chosen domain name has already been taken.
Hot Tip: For a corporate blog, upload your blog to a subdomain of your company website using the suffix ‘blog’, for example, www.mybusiness/blog.com. This will save you having to pay for a new domain name and incurring hosting fees.
Web hosting does not have to be expensive. Many hosting companies, such as www.gatorhost.com and www.1and1.com, offer hosting for less than £5 ($7) a month, although business users pay extra.
This post is based on an extract from our bestselling book, How To Blog Made Easy by Richard N. Williams (ISBN: 9781783612314) – where you can find more on the above and further help and advice on blogging. Have a look on Amazon by clicking here.
Avoid common blogging mistakes by checking out this article.
Read 5 tips for starting a niche blog here.
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