Starting a Blog: Selecting the Right Blog Platform

In my previous post, I spoke briefly about the 7 basic steps on starting a blog. This time, I’ll go into more detail on finding the right blog platform for you.There are a lot of blog platform choices out there! Before pulling your hair out, keep in mind that most of the major blog platforms allow you to export your content and have import programs that will let you transfer to most other blog platforms.


Blogger

Blogger is a fine candidate for just about any kind of blogger.

Pros:

  • Very simple to setup and use
  • Can blog from a mobile device, email, audio blogging (call and leave a message), group blogs
  • Dashboard lets you manage multiple Blogger blogs from one screen
  • Can register with an existing Google Account
  • Google AdSense is supported, so you can monetize your blog

Cons:

  • Google owns your blog, don’t they own enough of you already?
  • You don’t have your own domain, thus all traffic ultimately goes to Google.

My rating: 7 out of 10
7 out of 10


LiveJournal

LiveJournal has many of the same features as does Blogger, but has a few interesting, unique features. You can review a list of newly available usernames from a list of people that are no longer using it for various reasons. Six Apart owns LiveJournal, as well as TypePad (paid service), and Movable Type (paid service that you need to host yourself). Typepad is the home of the Kathy Sierra’s ever popular Creating Passionate Users blog (note: blog is no longer active, but I hope Kathy continues again – very inspiring!).

Pros:

  • Ease of use
  • Good social community
  • can blog from a mobile device, email, audioblogging
  • Dashboard lets you manage multiple blogs from one screen

Cons:

  • blog administration could be more user friendly
  • user interface seems outdated (your avatar on every post, obtrusive bar at the top of blog)

my rating: 6 out of 10
6 out of 10


Wordpress

WordPress
As you see by how it looks around here, you’ll notice that I run my blog on WordPress. Keep in mind that there is a difference between a WordPress hosted blog and using the WordPress blog platform (we’ll call it a wordpress.com blog) on your own system (we’ll call it a wordpress.org blog, which I’m doing here).I love the ease of use and flexibility of WordPress. They also feature Akismet spam protection against spam comments and have great administration of this and many other plugins. The biggest criticism that I have of WordPress is that I wish that they had better support on transferring between a WordPress.com and WordPress.org blog.

Pros:

  • Extremely easy to use and publish
  • Good social community, great forums
  • Active community in plugin and template development
  • Probably the best stats package in the group (can be used on both WordPress.com and WordPress.org)
  • Dashboard lets you manage multiple blogs from one screen

Cons:

  • no Javascript or AdSense support on WordPress.com (well, that’s why you go to WordPress.org)
  • some issues on migrating from WordPress.com to WordPress.org

my rating: 9 out of 10
9 out of 10.


Squarespace
Squarespace
This is probably the least well known out of the bunch that I’m reviewing. Jan van Iperen does a good job reviewing Squarespace in further detail. It’s a nice looking platform, but my major criticism of it is that there is no free version – only a 30 day free trial. They also have 7 different pricing structures, which would probably confuse a new user (really should have 2 pricing models at most).Here is a popular squarespace blog out there.

Pros:

  • clean design
  • good content management system (CMS) tools

Cons:

  • Not as well known as the rest, smaler community
  • Paid versions only
  • Too many paid versions to choose from

my rating: 4 out of 10
4 out of 10.


So there you have it. Again, let me stress that there are many more blog platforms to choose from, and that you are able to move your blog content (usually with little difficulty) to another platform. Happy blogging!

22 Comments

  1. hi there .. coolblog .. have been reading quite a few latest blogs of urs… but that promting urself thing … just doesnt get me…. i mean.. i have been blogging for wordpress.. since last month or so… basically without much success… sojust thinking … whats wrong..?

    but anywayz.. ur blg were of much help..tx dude…

  2. “You don’t have your own domain, thus all traffic ultimately goes to Google.”

    This isn’t completely true, I think: I see a “Switch to Custom Domain” option in my Blogger Publishing Settings.

    If I’m considering getting a domain, would the ease of moving the Blogger blog be enough reason to stay with Blogger? Also, do you know if there’s a way to move the posts of a Blogger post to a WordPress one? I’m guessing no…

  3. @sauvik: thanks for reading, and you are welcome! There could be a whole host of reasons that your blog is not successful. You may message me privately if you’re like to discuss further.

  4. @sutocu:
    Looks like you have a point.
    Bloggerbuster makes mention of how to change DNS to have an external domain while still staying on Blogger. Still makes me nervous though:

    1 – Google is in control of your blog
    2 – You’re still bound by Google’s terms of service
    3 – You can only use http://www.domain.com or domain.com, not both

  5. Its very easy to add adsense into wordpress. Just cut and paste really.

  6. @adam: this is correct. Adsense is very easy to cut and paste in anywhere. The issue for a WordPress.com domain is that:

    1 – WordPress doesn’t allow Javascript
    2 – WordPress doesn’t allow Adsense on hosting on their side

  7. One little critique is that you seemed to bundle together LiveJournal, TypePad, and MovableType just because SIxApart owns them all. TypePad uses MovableType so you can perhaps link them together but LiveJournal is a very different bird altogether and probably should be separated from the other two.

    As for the other two, TypePad is a paid service, while MovableType is actually free to the common user and paid only for larger needs (aka more than one blog on same website).

    MovableType is also quite similar in many ways to WordPress, although it is certainly its own entity. Probably a larger writeup on MovableType is in order to make this full list complete though.

  8. @HT: you’re right – I can re-examine that in a future post. Come back again soon!

  9. Greets:

    Javascript on wp.com – Just for reference, that’s a security issue. Yes, blogger allows it but, since they allow it, you have to deal with cookie stealing, splog forwarding and redirects and the like. And it’s rumored that the adsense is coming for wp.com. No one really know though since Matt is only talking to the media about it and non of the end users, not even the volunteers who deal with all of the support issues in their support forums.

    As to “some issues on migrating from WordPress.com to WordPress.org,” would love to know what issues you had were. Kind of an empty and unclear statement there.

    Regards,
    -drmike

  10. Having used all of these blogs except for squarespace, I agree with your post amd rating. For WordPress.org (which I use) and WordPress.com I’d actually split the review. WordPress.org allows an additional pro for it’s ease of customization, satisfying for the inner geek in us all. It’s extremely well organized for an open source project, easy to tweak the code (even for me who has no formal PHP experience). It’s even easy to update (as long as you’re a bit careful) after you tweak the code.

  11. @drmike: thanks for the comment.

    In regard to your points:

    “Javascript on wp.com” – yes it is partially a security issue – users sometimes don’t realize how hairy JavaScript can get. Part of it I had suspected was that WP didn’t want users to monetize their blogs – might be against their TOS.

    “some issues on migrating from WordPress.com to WordPress.org,” – it’s been a bit of a pain moving posts, categories, and comments from .com to .org. I’ve used the export tool in .com and used import on .org. It only brought in some of the posts. Yes, I could always bring it in using RSS, but I don’t want to lose the categories and comments.

    @Jeremy: yes, agree with you on WordPress.com and WordPress.org points. Talking about the difference between the two is worthy of an entire post – hope to get to it soon!

  12. I guess yahoo’s 360 and msn’s live spaces don’t make the cut?

  13. @jdr: I guess I could review more, and may add these 2 in the future. Thanks for the suggestion!

  14. Another great post. Learned a lot. Thanks.

    Admittdly, I am newer at this than most of your commenters, but I have tried yahoo 360 and was apalled at the lack of continuity.

    Their blogs offer many wonderful options, but they do not always work all the time. (Visitors counter for one. Editing for two. Friends List for three strikes, you’re out!) It’s confusing and quite frankly, annoying. Then there is the constant and consistant prompt to sign in – even after you have asked to be remembered… I dumped them fast and moved to LiveJournal. For the time being, I am pretty comfortable over there.

    I am not familiar with Live Space.

    Can’t wait to read what you have to say about these.

    Also enthusiatically looking forward to the posts on promoting your blog!

    Thanks again!
    Carol

  15. @Carol: welcome back! Thanks for chipping in on reviewing Yahoo 360, and glad to hear that you’re feeling more comfortable at LiveJournal.

    Yes, promoting your blog is coming…all in due time – stay tuned!

  16. I have to say, that I could not agree with you in 100% regarding o.us poetry, but it’s just my opinion, which could be wrong 🙂

  17. Excellent analysis. I love WordPress, I just wish they would allow me to ad Google Adsense to my blog. My wife would do back flips if I could make money blogging. lol.

  18. @John: thanks for the words of praise! If you go with self-hosted (aka WordPress.org), you are able to use Google Adsense on your blog.

  19. Hi,

    Thanks for answering my question on yahoo answers. Your answer led mo this post. Infact u would be glad to know that i moved to wordpress.org for another hosted blog. Thanks for your suggestion..

  20. @raj: thanks for coming over to my blog! I’m glad that you found my advice useful, hope you continue to read my blog for helpful tips.

  21. I’ve been really pleased with WordPress – great post!

  22. @Pete: same here, and thanks for the kind words! Thank you for commenting on several posts here as well!

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