21 February 2018

Selecting The Right Blog Platform For You

How To Choose The Best Blogging Platform For You
Let me start by saying this - I love WordPress CMS platform, and the freedom of having my own self-hosted websites. I won’t necessarily defend that point of view, because I believe that favoring one mode over another would violate the spirit of this article, but I will present the pros and cons of the various blogging platforms in this article.

So, let's begin by addressing the needs of the very casual, rarely engaged, barely regular bloggers who wish to create their own content either to serve as an outlet for their own voice, opinions, and emotions which run amok in daily life, or to test the blogging waters by dipping their toes in the audience pool and testing the feedback response.

There's nothing wrong with fulfilling such needs through a beginner's casual blogging experience - the World Wide Web is filled to capacity with millions of blogs, and roughly 75% of all of them fall within this category.
Such people often don't have a lot of time to spare, and just wish for a simple space on the internet to showcase their works or vent their emotions. Many fine teachers, writers, literary photographers, etc., started their journeys in a similar fashion - by building up confidence in themselves through casual blogging before they were ready to delve into it with regularity.

The option is using free blogging platforms such as Blogger.com, WordPress.org, Tumblr, etc. These platforms allow you to create a blog for yourself within their own directory and network, in which you get simple thematic options for visuals that allow you to focus on your content.

The problem with these options is that they are patently useless if you wish for your blog to have a long-term future of its own, and if you want to use it to create and enhance your own brand.

These platforms give you little control over your own domain name, with URLs often being clunky and rather ugly.

Names are the first aspect of a brand, and they stick with your blogging creation for life.
Although you could technically move to other blogs later on, and transfer your audience there, it would almost certainly lose you quite a significant portion of your daily visitors - not to mention your old search engine rank.

So, while it can be done, I would strongly avoid planning in this manner if you do aim to have a long-term blog. It's far more efficient to lay the proper groundwork into your own website from the get-go.

Another problem with blogging platforms is that their offerings in terms of themes, added services, and other features which would allow you to add your own glorious touches are horrendously limited. 

You'll more likely than not end up with rather amateurish looking blogs which scream “I don't know what I'm doing, so don't waste your time on me.” In such cases, it's almost better to just use social media platforms as a sort-of blog ‘til you're ready to invest more effort into it.

The last problem with these platforms is ownership. While you own your content, you do not actually own your blog - that vital power still resting firmly in the hands of the platform itself. 
This means that if you intend to push the envelope and tackle serious problems in manners which may either raise controversy, or indulge in content which may not strictly-speaking be legal or conform to the ethical practices of the platform, you'll wake up one day to find all of your work deleted, and your blog having vanished from the face of the web in a silent poof. 

Even if you weren't planning on dealing in controversy within your content, that aspect of censorship would still raise the hackles of many artistic or literary folk on principle alone.

The next set of options deal with people who wish to try out blogging quite seriously, but either don't have the finances to invest in a paid hosting service or don't wish to do so just yet.

For such people, who still wish to own their own domain name and website, one valid option is to use hosting sites such as BlueHost[RECOMMENDED], etc. What these sites allow you to do is to register with them and receive a domain name which would be hosted by them on the internet for nominal charge whatsoever, for a year.

They also offer extra services such as easy one-click installation of WordPress packages to serve as the basic interface of your website, and offer different options such as market retailer, forums, blogs, and other templates - depending on your chosen purpose.

However, while it's sinfully easy to use and launch a website through such services; the downsides crop up from the second year onward.

Once the year is up, you will probably be faced with a continuation fee which is significantly higher than the average marker payment per year for the hosting service.

At this point, it usually becomes quite clear that the economically sensible thing to do is to start a new website using other paid services if you don't wish to pay larger sums of money to continue with your old domain name - and so again, you stand to lose all the effort you put into it for the past year and getting it up through the search engine ranks.

Moreover, while they offer a wide range of domain names, and don't insist on uplifting the URLs by adding their own name in the middle, the choice of good names with respectable domain suffixes are in severely short supply which make it harder for you to pick a good name with the “.com” suffix in tow.
Instead, chances are that you'll have to end up with second-rate suffixes like .org, .net, .me, and so on and so forth - which is enough to turn off many prospective visitors and clients for the perceived lack of professionalism.

Understand this: “.com”s rule the domain name world for a good reason. Without any significant evidence or rationale behind this, dot com’s carry extra weight of perceived quality control, even though no such controls exist in reality.

So, if you're a business wishing to launch your own blog, or a blogger hoping to create your own blog brand, a dot com is a must-have for you.

And this brings us to the last set of options - paid hosting services such as BlueHost[RECOMMENDED], etc. Now, the first illusion that I must dispel is that good hosting sites charge you a kidney and a leg for their product. 

In fact, many great services barely charge over $2-$3/month. And this cost falls significantly if you directly opt for 12 month packages or more right from the get-go. In addition, they provide you with greater range of domain names, and even offer to buy ones which you may like but may not be available within their registry by contacting the current owners with price bids.
Once you've chosen the domain name, they complete registration processes with registrars for you, and even provide you with customer service options, webinars and other features to increase the core brand value of your website, etc.

Moreover, they offer the same WordPress interfaces with gigantic libraries of themes to choose from - and this is in addition to the monstrously huge databases of free and paid WordPress themes makers, plug-ins, and other apps which are openly accessible for download through the internet.

Lastly, they also provide greater security, and have no form of censorship exerted upon the people choosing to opt for their services, which severely reduce chances of frivolous deletion or censorship - unless you break the laws of the country in which they reside, and a formal court order is issued against your name.

All in all, though there are plenty of blogging options available - none of which take longer than an hour at the most to set up and launch - the best options for people with long-term plans or brand aspirations are the paid ones.

After all, even when you need to renew your hosting plans - though the prices may go up since the first year - they will be far more stringently controlled, and much cheaper than the “free hosts”.

In the end, the only factor which affects your choice of platform is your short- and long-term plans regarding your future with your blog. Also, if you plan ahead and aim to sell your branded blog in the future, these small payments will be worth hundred-fold in the long run. 

If you don't believe me, just Google the richest bloggers in the world.

Let me hear your thoughts in the comments below!

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P.P.S. Why have you not subscribed to my Awesome YouTube Channel for bloggers yet???
Founder, BlogTechy

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