How to Choose Your First Blog Platform
By Hendry Lee
There is more than one way to start your own blog. In fact, with so many blog solutions out there, you can easily get lost. That’s why it’s important to pick the right solution for each business. There is nothing more annoying than having to handle countless of problems and decisions when you suddenly find you need to switch blog platforms after you already have a blog up and running.
Of the various blog hosting and services, they all have their own particular benefits and drawbacks. All of them share some basic characteristics that make blogging easy and fun, although some platforms may require more technical knowledge than others. That should not be the barrier though, because it actually is not as difficult as you may imagine.
There are basically three common blog platforms.
1) Hosted weblog platform
This type of blog is the easiest way to start. It’s actually similar to creating a free service account online, where you only need to enter your information into the sign up form and click submit. If you know how to create your own web mail account such as Yahoo! Mail, Gmail or Hotmail account, you know more than enough to get started.
This is the only blog solution that allows you to get up and running in a few minutes.
In this type of solution, you don’t need to install any type of software or script to get going. Some providers even allow you to use their hosting service for free. All you need to do is select the options you want and start posting to your blog.
The URL to your blog is usually in the following format:
As you have probably noticed, the biggest benefit of using this type of blog platform is you don’t have to take responsibility for anything more than writing and managing your posts. The host providers will organize everything so that no technical skills are required for it to operate properly.
Of course, to fully use one of these blogs, you still have to understand what to do to accomplish certain tasks from the back-end of the blog, or sometimes also called administration area or dashboard.
Still, these types of platform hosts will make sure their servers run smoothly and securely. And if they are proactive and customer centered, they will add features, upgrade new software and support you if you have problems.
Examples: Blogger, TypePad, Blogware, WordPress.com.
2) Standalone weblog software
Standalone weblog software platform requires you to install software or script into your web hosting account. Usually, these software need database and PHP or Perl support (scripting languages) in the web server. Most standard hosts already have support for those features out of the box.
What makes this type of platform so popular among businesses is the flexibility and control you get from owning one. You can host the blog on your own domain with your existing web site; customize the template to inherit the color and navigation (look and feel) from the rest of your website, and so on.
Additionally you can have the blog software modified to suit your needs, and maybe even install some plug-ins to expand functionalities that are not available on standard package. If the blog software includes source code and the term of use lets you modify it, you can even let a programmer fix something if you find a bug – and if you release the bug fix into the community, you have made a meaningful contribution back.
Obviously, this option involves more work than using a hosted solution. And unlike the first solution, if you need to add features then you have to upgrade it your own or hire people who know how to do it.
Like a hosted blog, standalone weblog software usually has a management screen where you can conduct various administrative tasks using relatively easy interfaces.
Examples: WordPress, Movable Type, GreyMatter, PMachine, ExpressionEngine, B2Evolution.
3) Remote hosted weblog platform
Current web and Internet technologies allow certain blog platforms to expand flexibility, creating a hybrid of some of the features of standalone weblog software and hosted weblog provider. It takes the best of two worlds and bundle them into an elegant solution.
This is generally how it works: you create an account, post and manage your entries through the blog solution website, but the results are transferred to your own chosen domain.
You have to enter your web hosting (or a separate FTP account) login details for it to work properly, i.e. uploading content pages to your hosting server.
Finally, if you are still confused, I would recommend going with either the second or third option. Having your own domain not only means you own it, but it also gives you more control, flexibility and credibility. Those are critical to your business that you don’t want to give away.
Copyright 2006 Hendry Lee
Hendry Lee helps business owners integrate technology into their marketing. He actively blogs about Small Business Blogging. Subscribe to Blog Tips for Business to receive short and practical tips to start and get the most out of your blog.
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