Selecting a blog platform, is likely the most important decision you’ll make as you venture into blogging. Whether you’re a business blogger or “make money” blogger, it’s an important decision nonetheless because it affects your short-term and long-term online success.
Important Considerations When Selecting a Blog Platform
Goals. More precisely, what are you’re goals? What are the specific business objectives tied to your plan to develop a blog and include blogging in your marketing? How will your blog need to fit into your overall online presence?
Whatever your goals, they need to be a result of your business objectives. Then, you need to state your blog goals, clearly. How you build, maintain, and market your blog – will depend on your goals.
Money. Do you have a budget for development? Do you have a long-term maintenance budget? Do you have a marketing budget?
Be realistic about money and your entire online presence. Don’t plan a caviar plan with a kool-aid budget. Online marketing is not expensive, nor does it have to be for significant results.
Technology. Are you able? If not, who will manage the blog? Is the platform you’re looking at scalable on the technology side? Will it keep up with your long-term plans? From above, what will the maintenance costs be? Does the platform easily integrate into your current and future online presence?
Build a blog you can easily manage. Blogging can be time-consuming, the technology shouldn’t be for you to get the most return. And, think long-term too. It’s a heavy cost to realize and make changes later.
Your Blog Platform Choices
Free blogging services. If you’re serious about your blogging goals, this is only a good option for the not-so-sure-I-want-to-blog crowd. A business blog should not be on a free blogging service. Same goes if you’re planning to make money with your blog. Period. Colleagues don’t let colleagues use services like Blogger or Wordpress.com.
Paid blogging services. Yes and no. Again, if you’re serious about blogging, it’s not the best option. Yes, you can make them “look” and “feel” like a custom blog, but it’s never really the same on the technology side. Remember, you’re still locked into their platform, their rules, their technology capabilities. Services like Typepad are great if you’re making a short-term only decision for your blog, quick and easy. Long-term, I’m still not sure why other professionals recommend it.
Caveat to blogging services. There are plenty of top-notch blogs, with serious leverage and traffic online – hosted on a free or paid blogging service. A lot of factors play into if a blog platform plays into your blogging success. An example would be: http://scobleizer.wordpress.com/.
For Business services are not a viable, long-term blog platform solution.
The Self-Hosted Blog Platform for Serious Blogging
WordPress.Org I work exclusively with the Wordpress blog platform, including the standard version and WordPress MU. I made this choice two years ago, given WordPress’s technology, scalability, and flexibility. Cost is pretty good too (free).
Goals. The WordPress blog platform is well suited for just about any goal you can imagine in business blogging, and pretty much any other form. Because WordPress is a completely open-source platform with a huge, committed development community behind it – there’s pretty much no customization that is beyond it’s reach.
Money. The blog platform itself is free. This includes the powerful Wordpress-MU. Most plugins (which provide function expandability) are also free. Customization to the blog platform itself is typically inexpensive. You can leverage an entire community of WordPress professionals for design, customization, and programming – easily and with excellent results. Plus, if you’re the do-it-yourself-self-starter –- you can easily learn how to build your own blog with relative ease.
Technology. Wordpress blogs are hosted on Linux servers with standard databases and PHP. For the non-tech-savvy, that means the technology is pretty much open to do whatever you want it to. With a WordPress blog you could fully integrate forums using the forum plugin or bbPress (from the creators of WordPress). You can build a completely customizable, scalable social network community. You can even build a multi-author blog network that hosts hundreds of thousands of blogs. Or, you can simply launch a personal blog about your dog.