You have made up your mind to start a blog but not quite sure of the best platform for blogging. But is your mind really made yet? This is worth considering because if your mind was really made up about starting your own blog, you should not find it tricky choosing the right blog platform for you! Ths article will help you decide rightly in no time.
You have made up your mind to start a blog but not quite sure of the best platform for blogging. But is your mind really made yet? This is worth considering because if your mind was really made up about starting your own blog, you should not find it tricky choosing the right blog platform for you! The best blog platform for you is simply the one that suits your blog plan, just like choosing a site based on your business plan in the real world!
You’re in the Best Position to Choose Your Best Option
Assuming you have a plan or definite idea for your blog in the short-term and long-term, deciding which bogging platform or tool to use would have been the easiest part. For this reason, you are in a better position to decide which blog platform is most suitable for you. In the blogging business, you will always have to fall back on your plan because that is where your goals are. Depending on what you want to achieve with your blog, either a free blog or self-hosted may be the best for you.
Don’t Limit Your Possibilities, Use Your Imagination!
If you look around, you will discover that that choosing a free blog does not limit your success as a blogger if it is right for you. Some of the most successful bloggers out there use free blogs! Unlike what you may have read somewhere, free blogs do not necessarily limit your possibilities if you can achieve your short and long term goals within a free blog platform. That is why having a blog plan helps – from the very start, you know what you need now and what you will need later. Learning how to maximise the tools available is the key here, rather than limiting your possibilities because you don’t have the tools you may never need anyway. On the other hand, not every self-hosted blog is successful, just like free blogs too. As a matter of fact, having limitless potentials and possibilities provided by premium tools on your self-hosted blog is not equivalent to success. It only means you can be very successful if you maximise the use of the platform. Again, there are many successful self-hosted blogs who have built empires with their blogs. It all depends on what you want to achieve with your blog.
To help you really make up your mind on choosing a blog platform, below are the top lists of what you need to consider or some of the most important questions you need to ask yourself:
- What are Your Goals?
What do you really need a blog for? What do you want to achieve with your blog? How long is your blog going to be running – short term or long-term? Is it a personal blog on your hobbies, interests and favourites or a business blog based on a niche market? Do you see your blog having a high traffic at a certain point in time? Will you consider putting ads on your blog? Is your blog for making money online or sharing information? Ultimately, by answering these and other relevant questions, it will enable you know whether your blog is hobby or interest-based (personal) or business-based (professional). Deciding on this greatly helps you make the right choice between a free blog and a self-hosted blog i.e. generally, free blogs are suitable for personal blogs, while self-hosted blogs are more suitable for professional blogs.
However, this is not to say that you cannot use a free blog platform for a professional blog, and a self-hosted blog for a personal blog. There are many professional bloggers that started out with a free blog to test their chosen niche market before investing into self-hosted blogs. And there are personal bloggers who also use self-hosted blogs to make their blogs have a professional look. Professional bloggers are usually advised to use self-hosted blogs to avoid coming across to people as unprofessional. Check your blog plan to be sure where you belong.
- How Much Money Are you Prepared to Invest in Your Blog?
Depending on your budget for your blog project, any of the blog platforms can be right for you. If you want to get started instantly without having to pay for the blog platform, a free blog is just for you. You won’t have to pay for the domain name, the hosting and the blog platform itself. Other free tools include templates, widgets and some other useful features depending on the blog site you choose. But be aware that there are certain limitations with free blogs. For example WordPress.com has limited ad options which make it a wrong choice for making money online with Google Adsense and other pay per click programs. While Blogger.com, which allows ads including an integrated Adsense monetisation tool sadly don’t have categories option. WordPress.com has category options that allow you have stand-alone pages on your header or sidebars like static website pages. Other blogging sites like TypePad provide premium services with a wide range of options.
On the other hand, with a self-hosted blog, you have to pay for the services offered on the platform. You have your own domain name (www.yourname.com), unlike being hosted as a subdomain on a free host (www.yourname.blogspot.com). Having your own domain name gives your blog a brand name, a professional feel, and easily memorable. And also, unlike having free customizable or non-customizable templates, you can design your website on your self-hosted blog with good web design skills just the way you want it. All these come at a cost. Usually, for your domain name, you will be required to pay a one-off registration and annual fee. Web hosting also attract fees on an annual basis. And if the traffic to your blog increases highly, the costs are reviewed upwards.
WordPress.org is the most popular self-hosted blogging platform. Majority of the biggest bloggers use WordPress.org, generally costing about $10 (1,600 naira) per month. Compared to the big potential of succeeding on your self-hosted blog, this cost is cheap. Many bloggers are monetizing their blogs with ads, some advertise their own products and services, and others build successful networks around it. There are quite a number of 1-click installation web hosting services for WordPress, taking just about 5 minutes to set up.
- Can You Handle Web Technology and HTML Jargons?
Are you new to web blog or website designing? At least, if not you should be prepared to learn some basics. While free hosted blogs make the job very easy for you, self-hosted blogs require some skills. While you can make your blog look as unique as you want it, you will be very limited without having some knowledge of web design. This applies to both free blogs and self-hosted blogs, but more advanced in the latter. For instance, to make changes to any of the free templates you choose on Blogger.com, you need to know CSS and HTML. Same applies to WordPress.com customisable blog themes. Because default templates are very common with many bloggers due to their inexperience with CSS and HTML, it is a great advantage to dare to be different.
Do not panic already! The good news is that you can easily learn the basics, and get things done yourself rather than acquiring avoidable costs at this stage. Of course, you have the option of getting an experienced web designer or any able person to help you get it started. The World Wide Web is filled with great blogs, community sites and forums where you can get help.
- Are Other Bloggers in Your Niche Using Free, Self-Hosted or Hybrid Blogs?
Sometimes, it makes absolute sense the follow the crowd, sometimes it doesn’t! The bandwagon effect is equally an important factor to consider when choosing a blog platform. There are successful bloggers who have been using the free blog platform – and some don’t intend packing! Do you wonder? On Blogger.com for instance, the blogging community using BlogSpot is quite massive. Bloggers can easily share their posts with other bloggers, make comments. This is terrific for getting targeted traffic to your blog! With great titles and content, they will keep visiting on a regular basis. This is also applicable to the popular WordPress.com, with even more social networking and sharing sites with click-and-drop widgets on your dashboard. On the other hand, there are also many professional bloggers who use self-hosted blogs, but with a budget for online marketing. You will discover that they work more on ranking high on the search engines to enable them get traffic. SE0 (search engine optimisation) is crucial to their success online. Self-hosted bloggers also make good use of links to other sites, referrals, click ads etc., to attract target audience.
However, between free blogs and self-ghosted blogs is the hybrid blog. This is a combination of free blog and self-hosted blogs. They are hosted by the blog platform but they stand alone. Some blog platforms like TypePad and Blogger.com allow hybrid blogs. In this way, you are allowed to use the system of the chosen blog site to publish your blog, but run your blog on your own domain (www.yourname.com) and remote hosting. The advantage of a hybrid blog is that it gives you more control than a free blog can afford, it is cheaper than a self-hosted blog and most importantly, if you choose to move your blog, there are no complications to deal with.