In part one of this series, I looked at the important questions you need to address from a strategy perspective.
Part two focuses on the technological options at your disposal, specifically around the selection of the blogging platform most appropriate for you.
(The rest of the series will include posts on blog optimisation, content planning and refinement, promotion, and a few others things that will give you the momentum you need)
At the risk of sound like a broken record, the technological choices you'll make will really depend on the purpose of your blog and the niche area you want to play in.
Your blogging platform choice also depends on things like your own technical proficiencies, the types of content you're most likely to produce, how many authors will have access to the blog and many other factors.
So, let's take a look at the options you have and which option is right for you.
Blogging platforms: The most popular options
In my opinion, the three most obvious options include WordPress, Blogger and Tumblr.
Other options include Typepad, LiveJournal, Squarespace and many more.
Danny Brown wrote a really useful post on the choices at your disposal and the rationale behind each on a really useful site call By Bloggers For Bloggers.
He makes a very good good point in that there are really no hard and fast rules as to how you should blog, but an awful lot is determined by the time you have available and the goals you'd like to set for yourself.
You are then faced with two choices:
1. Use a free platform
2. Use a self-hosted platform
Free platforms (like Blogger.com and WordPress.com) are great if you plan to start and maintain a hobby blog - something that gives you a simple way to share your thoughts, opinions and advice.
Self-hosted platforms (like WordPress.org and Typepad.com) which carry some additional associated costs but give you complete control over the look and feel of your blog. These blog platforms are especially popular with professional bloggers.
Blogging platforms: Making your choice
Instead of giving you chapter and verse on each platform, here's my own mini-guide:
If you consider yourself a technophobe, pick blogger as your platform. It is easy to use and you can get up and running in a matter of minutes.
The only down side is that as you get more proficient as a blogger and want to get a bit more fancy, you'll outgrow blogger.
The free version of Wordpress is also an easy platform to tackle if you are nervous about getting your head around sophisticated technological solutions.
The added benefit of the free version of Wordpress is that it allows you to upgrade to the fancier self-hosted version of Wordpress if you wish to do so down the track.
Tumblr is a very image-powered platform so if you want to blog about fashion or food, this might be one for you to consider.
It is also an easy one to get your head around but may feel a little more complicated than Wordpress and Blogger to begin with.
In my opinion, this is where you'd ideally start if you have the ability to navigate the self-hosting requirements (or if you have a friend who knows what they're doing and can do this for you).
This will allow you to customise your blog to an almost limitless level, making it genuinely unique to you.
The themes (templates) you can buy from places like ThemeTrust.com and ElegantThemes.com can give you a very professional and slick looking interface for somewhere between $20 - $50.
If you're still a bit confused by the difference between the two types of Wordpress options, check out this useful infographic.
Also, if you'de like some guidance on setting up a self-hosted Wordpress blog, check out this post and screencast from MichaelHyatt.com.
Typepad and Squarespace
If you'd like to achieve the premium look and feel from a platform outside of Wordpress, then Typepad and Squarespace are worth consideration.
Blogging platforms: Why choosing wisely is critical
If you are just starting out on your blogging journey, you may not see this decision as a critical one.
To some extent, I tend to agree. Starting a blog is often more about learning as you go than knowing exactly where you want to go and getting there.
But, the change from just starting out, to being an active and relied upon resource can happen very quickly and making changes after this point can be painful.
So, think carefully about what you are trying to achieve and and how much time (and money) you have at your disposal as this will shape your decision more than you'll realise.
The next post is this series will look at the plugin, gadgets, tools and services that will optimise your blog for engagement and sharing.
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