Build it right, and your blog can become the powerful centerpiece of your online content marketing strategy. But where do you begin if you’re starting from scratch?
Before you select the first blog service you come across, you need to think through your overall blogging strategy. Your content style, creation, curation, and frequency will all play a role in determining the best platform for effectively highlighting your message.
Here’s an overview of four of the top platforms businesses are currently using for blogging: WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr and Google+.
When you hear people talk about WordPress, they are talking about one of two options that share the same brand. WordPress.org is open-source web software that is free to use to build your own blog. WordPress.com is a blogging service that provides you with a WordPress software-based blog.
With WordPress.org, you download and install the software script, but you need to first have a web host. Because you are in control of the software, you have lots of flexibility with design, layout, plugins and widgets. And since the software is open-source, meaning that programmers from all over the world can work on it and develop unique add-on features, you have the ability to add cool functionality. (Check out the most popular WordPress plugins here.)
This flexibility can be both awesome and intimidating. There are so many options, and online tutorials and advice abound, so that if you’re not careful you can find yourself playing programmer … which usually doesn’t work out that well for us code-novices. Yet with careful selections and the patience to learn, you can use WordPress software to create anything from a personal blog to a corporate website. It pretty much rocks.
WordPress.com, on the other hand, is also free but doesn’t require a web host (although you can still purchase your own domain name if you want). However, because you are not using the software itself, it provides a less flexible and less customizable platform. It’s a decent choice for personal bloggers starting to explore the blogosphere.
Blogger.com is Google’s blog service. It’s also free and extremely simple to set up. You basically go to Blogger.com, enter minimal information, choose a template and voila! Start blogging.
Very similar to WordPress.com, Blogger allows you to customize your templates and layouts, but it doesn’t give you the flexibility of the WordPress.org software. It’s easy to integrate Google products, but if you want more customization, you need to break into the code. (Don’t). It’s a good platform for a first-time blogger.
Hey there, hipster, move your sassy gifs over because Tumblr is becoming more mainstream. Since Yahoo purchased the blogging/social media mashup platform for $1.1 billion, more personal bloggers and corporate communications are finding a home there.
A place to “follow the world’s creators”, Tumblr is a creative platform that skews to a younger demographic – 45% of its users are under 25 years old. Its brand positioning? Tumblr lets you effortlessly share anything.
And it does. It’s easy to customize your own blog, follow other blogs, reblog other users’ content and manage multiple blogs. Its social qualities make it more interactive than a standalone WordPress blog, making it a really strong option for those who do more curation than creation. And it has a very strong mobile interface.
Wait a moment, Google+ is a social network. Yes, I hear you. But because of this social network’s SEO power and ability to expand beyond its social walls, many ardent Google plussers are using it as their primary blogging platform (i.e., proficient blogger Mike Elgan who now exclusively blogs on Google+).
However, it’s definitely not a blog in the conventional sense that you have control over the layout and look (beyond your cover and user photos). With Google+, you are creating your content on a platform that does not belong to you. As Copyblogger’s Demian Farnworth wrote:
Instagram. Facebook. Twitter. Medium. LinkedIn. Tumblr. Google+. All of them — electronic plantations. Their users, the [digital] sharecroppers. It’s an attractive proposition. The social sites build the tools of production and give them away for free. You, the user, provide the content, do all the work while the company reaps the benefits.
By only blogging on Google+, you are at the mercy of the platform and its choices on changes, updates and advertising. But who knows, with the way Google is changing its search parameters, that may not be a bad thing in the future …
Bottom line: Do your research, but don’t let indecision kill your blog before it starts.
While there are many more options available, these four are a good place to begin your research if you’re just starting out. But the most important takeaway here is this: YOU SHOULD BE BLOGGING. If you want to strengthen your online presence, position yourself as a credible resource in your area of expertise, and keep up with the rapidly changing SEO landscape, you need to put your thoughts to screen NOW.
Yay, you're on the list! Now, be sure to check your email to confirm your subscription.