This guest post is by Gere Jordan of Holony Media.
At first glance, Joomla isn’t the best platform for blogging. Actually, it’s probably not even in your top five. But that doesn’t negate all the strengths Joomla brings to the table as a content management system.
In fact, with the help of a few free extensions, it can rival some of the best blog platforms out there.
Why even give Joomla a chance?
I know what you’re thinking: why on earth would you even consider blogging with Joomla? It lacks core functionality that comes standard with WordPress, so why not use WP in the first place?
Well, without turning this post into a debate over the merits of Joomla versus WordPress, or any platform for that matter, let me just say this: Joomla is a powerful, mature content management system utilized by millions of websites worldwide. Millions of sites that would otherwise lack the ability to effectively run a blog.
Knowing the revenue and marketing potential of blogging, I think we can at least agree that Joomla users deserve the chance to make a go of it using their platform of choice. And that’s what this post is all about.
Not everything is missing
When you first set about creating a blog in Joomla, it takes a moment before you realize you’re in trouble. Adding posts (called “articles” in Joomla), organizing them by category, setting up multiple users, adding a blog area, sharing your RSS feed—all of this stuff is easy.
Once your first post is up, however, you start to notice things. Where’s the comment form? Why isn’t your profile information attached to your posts? How do users share your content?
A few Google searches later and you realize the truth: Joomla lacks some very important blog functionality.
Extensions to the rescue
Thankfully, like WordPress, Joomla has a vibrant community of developers creating plugins to expand upon its standard capabilities. These plugins are collectively known as extensions, and they’re easily accessible through the Joomla Extension Directory (JED).
Let’s dive into the JED and find the extensions we need to power our blog.
The most obvious blogging feature that Joomla lacks is the ability for visitors to comment on your posts. At present, several dozen comment extensions are available, spread across two categories in the extension directory.
Two of the top-rated comment extensions that you can get for free are JComments and Komento. Both are compatible with Joomla 2.5 and have received the illustrious “community choice” designation given by the Joomla Magazine team.
Another standard blog function that Joomla lacks is the ability to display author information within articles. All that you can show by default is the author’s name. This capability is built into WordPress, but whether it shows or not is dependent on your theme.
To add this capability in Joomla, check out the Author Info Box plugin. It’s free and compatible with Joomla 2.5. With this plugin, you can display a name, email address, image, and description for each author.
A final piece that’s important for a successful blog is social sharing, which allows readers to easily share your articles via social media. This is something that a standard WordPress install lacks as well.
As of this writing, two of the highest rated social sharing extensions in the JED are AddThis for Joomla and Facebook-Twitter-Google+1. Both are compatible with Joomla 2.5 and bring in the ability to share your articles via the most popular social channels.
Joomla all-in-one blogging extensions
If you’re looking to turn Joomla into a blog without installing multiple extensions, there are a few products that will do the job. You can find most of them in the blog category in the Joomla Extensions Directory, but the best ones will cost you some cash.
The best free all-in-one extension for blogging with Joomla is K2, which is an extremely powerful content construction component that gives you absolute control over your Joomla content. Not only does it do everything discussed in this post, it adds even more functionality like tags, item images, image galleries, user pages, and more.
The only downside to K2 is that there’s slightly more work involved to configure everything (nothing too difficult, just more time-intensive). However, if you’re looking to do a lot of publishing on your site and need more flexibility with your content, K2 is definitely worth the extra effort.
Just like WordPress and other platforms, a lot of Joomla’s power is derived from third-party extensions. By utilizing these extensions to add missing functionality, it’s relatively easy to turn Joomla into a blogging powerhouse.
Are there any noteworthy extensions that I am missing? Functionality that I left out? Please share in the comments!
Gere Jordan is a web designer, SEO, and internet marketing professional at Holony Media, a digital consulting company he founded in 2006.