How to Blog: Part II

October 25th, 2011

Tools of the Trade – Setting Up Your Blog

There are a number of different tools out there to set up a blog, but rather than try to highlight a little about each of them, I’m going to focus on three main options that are probably the most highly acclaimed and user friendly tools – and your best bets if you’re starting from scratch.

Blogger

There are a lot of people that don’t like Blogger for various reasons – the main one being the lack of freedom to design and set up your blog – but for a beginner with little to no tech savviness, I still maintain that this is one of your best bets. And I say this from experience.

I first started using Blogger in 2006 when I began my adventure in blogging. At the time, I knew virtually no code, had very little idea that there were more than a few blogs out there, and mostly just wanted a way to chronicle my life and get some additional writing experience. This was a great beginner’s tool for me, and since then, they have added a number of different layout options and widgets that can make your blog look rather professional. (Terminology note: For those who don’t know, “widgets” or “plugins” are a variety of tools you can install on your blog to increase interactivity or user-friendliness or enhance design. For example, the Twitter feed on the left hand side of my blog is a plugin. Get it?)

Blogger Advantages

  • Super user-friendly
  • Doesn’t require coding knowledge
  • Easy to add plugins/widgets without tech knowledge or experience
  • Don’t need your own domain name
  • It’s free!

Blogger Disadvantages

  • You can’t use your own domain name (your domain will be whateveryoupick.blogspot.com)
  • There’s less freedom with layout – they have a few decent layout options, but that’s it

That may look like the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages, but if you are looking to build your brand, the disadvantages are pretty big in that you can’t use your own domain name – one of the big differences between a “pro” blogger and someone who’s just trying to get started.

WordPress.com

WordPress.com is a good in-between tool – as in in-between Blogger and WordPress.org. WordPress.com doesn’t require installing anything, and doesn’t require your own domain name, but it gives you a lot more freedom as a designer, and a lot more choice in plugins. It also, however, requires a little more knowledge on the coding side of things to make it work as seamlessly as possible.

WP.com Advantages

  • More design freedom than Blogger
  • More plugin options
  • No domain needed
  • It’s free!

WP.com Disadvantages

  • You can’t use your own domain name (your domain will be whateveryoupick.wordpress.com)
  • There are still limits on the themes available to you for use on your blog, as well as your ability to design freely
  • It requires more knowledge of code if you really want a good-looking blog

WordPress.org

If you have money to spend, and even a tiny bit of coding knowledge (or someone who can code for you) this is easily the best blogging tool available. Using your own domain name and a host, you can do a WordPress installation in minutes, and you have a ton of freedom with design and plugins. I transitioned over to WordPress.org from Blogger almost a year ago now, and I’ll never go back.

WP.org Advantages

  • Ultimate freedom in design
  • Your own domain name
  • Largest variety of plugins
  • Most professional-looking blogs use WordPress.org

WP.org Disadvantages

  • Costs money – to register your domain name and use a hosting service
  • Requires more tech-savviness, especially with coding (even for a tech-savvy person like myself, it took me a bit to get used to when I first switched over)

So take your pick – depending on how you anticipate using your blog and your level of skill with computers, any one of these three will probably work for you.

Happy blogging!

(How to Blog: Part I – Is Blogging for You?)