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Choosing a Blog Platform

This post talks readers through some of the issues that they need to think through regarding choosing a blog platform.

  • ‘Which Blog Platform Should I use?’
  • ‘Should I use a free Blogger.com blog or get my own hosted blog on my own Domain? Which Blog Platform is best?’
  • ‘What are the Pros and Cons of going with Typepad instead of WordPress as a blog platform?’
  • ‘Should I start out on a free Blogging Platform and Upgrade later?’

These are just some of the typical questions that I get asked each day from bloggers starting out and attempting to make a decision on which blogging platform or tool they should choose.

I’m not going to tell you which blog platform you should use because, as you will see, there are good reasons for choosing most of the available platforms depending upon the goals of your blog.

In fact as I look at some of the most successful blogs there are examples of most of the platforms mentioned in this post – that’s the great thing about blogging, success is not reliant upon the tool you use – it’s about how you use it!

What follows is my attempt to flesh out some of the factors a new bloggers might like to consider in deciding on a blog platform. It is probably impacted by own experience of blogging over the last three years and the preferences I’ve accumulated in this time. I invite readers to add to this post in comments below with their own ideas and experiences so we can have a more balanced and useful collection of tips for readers considering such a choice.

Some Questions to Ponder Before Deciding on a Blog Platform

As with making any important decision it is worthwhile to take your time with this decision. There are MANY competing blog platforms on the market (check out the results of a poll I did on the platforms ProBlogger readers use to see just some of them). While you can change your blog platform at a later time (many of them have ways of importing and exporting your content later) there are usually some costs associated with such transfers (and I’m not just talking money – ie changing from a free hosted blog service to a self hosted one means changing your domain which has implications on Search Engine traffic etc). I guess all I’m saying is that it’s best not to rush into the first option you find – take your time, do your research and you might find a blog platform that will last you for a long time. Start by answering some of the following questions and you’ll have every chance of getting on the right track:

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Midnight Links

Here’s a few random links I came across today to keep those of you on the other side of the world amused while I sleep tonight. Enjoy:

Blog Platforms – Poll Results

As I said I’d do last week I’ve closed the latest Poll of the Week off because it was beginning to take over my sidebar. I found the results quite interesting. The question asked:

What Blog Platform Do You Use Most?

The results had a few surprises for me. While I was expecting a large showing for WordPress (around 37% of the 1000 respondents) I was intruiged by the large number of ProBlogger readers using the free hosted Blogger.com platform (22.2% – or 222 readers). This figure was almost triple the number of Movable Type Bloggers. Another surprise to me was the large numbers of Blog platforms that I’d never heard of before. By the end of the poll there were 49 options. Thirdly I was interested that 2% of those taking part use some sort of ‘custom made’ blog platform (sometimes even hand coded).

I’ve graphed the results of the top 13 platforms (each had 10 or more responses) and grouped all the ‘others together’. The full results with all the ‘other’ platforms are listed below the fold.

Blog-Platforms

Graphic powered by Keynote (click to enlarge a little).

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ProBlogger FAQ

I get a lot of email asking questions so I thought I’d begin to develop a FAQ that I can point people to. I’ll add to this page as questions arise.

About ProBlogger

What Blog Platform Do you Use? – I use WordPress to run ProBlogger. To learn about WordPress and how to use it check out their helpful Getting Started with WordPress Page. On some of my other blogs I also use MovableType which is another hosted blog platform which is popular with many bloggers. If you don’t want to mess around with hosting your own blog the people behind WordPress have a free tool which they host at WordPress.com and the people behind MovableType have a paid system called TypePad which you might like to check out.

Who Designed your Blog?Ben Bleikamp is the designer of the latest version of ProBlogger. This version was launched in August 2007.

Can I use ProBlogger’s Template my Blog? – This is a tricky one. While most blogs take inspiration from other blogs in their design in one way or another (there are only so many ways you can layout a page, so many colors etc) I’m a little protective of the ProBlogger design for a number of reasons. Firstly I paid for it, secondly the design of ProBlogger has become a part of its brand and something that it’s known for as it’s reasonably distinctive and thirdly I think it’s important for a blog to develop its own identity. Having said all that – if you want to take some inspiration from some element of ProBlogger feel free to do so – but I would ask you to not copy the whole thing, to make your design your own and if you take some inspiration from it to acknowledge that with a link.

Can ProBlogger link to my blog? – I’d love to link to every ProBlogger reader’s blog but due to the large numbers it’s impossible. You’re welcome to shoot me an email to tell me about individual posts you’ve written if they relate to the topic of ProBlogger – but I can’t guarantee to link to all such submissions simply because I get a lot of these emails. Here’s a few tips on getting links from other bloggers that you might find helpful.

Can you take a Look at my blog and review it? – I’ll answer this one by simply saying it’s a question I get asked 10 or more times a day. If I responded with a yes I could spend quite a bit of time doing it and not do much else. Please don’t be offended when I say no (or even don’t get back to you with an answer) but I am currently not taking on this type of work (either in a paid or unpaid capacity), even ‘quick looks’ at blogs. Sorry but at this point it’s beyond what I can offer.

Are you Going to Write a Book on this Topic? – It’s something I’ve thought a lot about over the last year or so. I think it’s a fairly safe bet to say that it will happen. You’ll be the first to know. Update: Well it’s now official – I’ve written a book with Chris Garrett on blogging. You can read more about it at ProBlogger the Book.

How do I keep track of ProBlogger, you write so much! – A number of ProBlogger readers make it their home page – but if you’re not quite that addicted and you don’t want to manually surf by each day you can follow every post of the site via our RSS Feed (you’ll need a news aggregator like bloglines to read it). You can also subscribe to my weekly (ish) newsletter in which I summarize the week’s most popular post, give a few exclusive tips and basically keep you up to date with ProBlogging.

Can I leave a link to my own blog in my comments? – We had a big debate over this at ProBlogger in 2005 and the upshot of it was that while I’m not a big fan of signatures in comments I will allow them IF the comment is relevant to the post or the discussion. If your comment is only a link, or says something like ‘nice post – here is my blog’ etc it will be treated as comment spam. I’m the judge of what is and isn’t spam. The best thing you can do is keep your comments helpful, engaging and on topic and you won’t have a problem. I use ‘no follow’ tags in comments anyway – so you will not benefit in an SEO sense by doing it either legitimately or spammily.

Why Do you use ‘no follow’ tags? – In an ideal world I wouldn’t – in fact I don’t like them. But after three years of dealing with comment spam and becoming increasingly frustrated by it I decided to use them. Unfortunately the actions of a small group of manipulative people have caused this inconvenience for the majority. Sorry.

May I republish posts from ProBlogger on my own Blog? – You may not republish full posts from ProBlogger without my direct permission (and in most cases if permission is sought I will still say no). Feel free to quote anything from this blog (within reason – ie a paragraph or two is pretty normal) with a link to it as a source, but keep in mind that this is copyrighted material. I regularly find people who do republish my articles without acknowledgment of source and/or without permission and pursue them to remove it.

My Blogging Activities

What are your Blogs and How much do they Earn? – While I’m happy to talk about my overall income occasionally I do not get into talking about which of my blogs earn how much money. A guy has to have some secrets. I regularly have my site’s copied as it is without giving away all the details of what I’m doing. All of my blogs have been mentioned at one time or another on ProBlogger. I don’t hide what I do – but I’m not in the business of inviting people to copy everything. ProBlogger is about sharing principles of how to blog for money which can be applied in many niches – the most successful bloggers carve their own niches on topics that have not been done to death already by others.

How Much time do you Spend Blogging? – Over the years blogging has progressed from a hobby, to a part time job for pocket money to a small business. The time I put into blogging reflects this. These days I’m a full time blogger and as a result most week days you can find me in front of my PowerMac for at least 8 hours. Like most small business operators I fall into the temptation of doing more than a full time load from time to time (it’s tempting when you love your work and when you work from home).

How much traffic do you get to your Blogs? – The total numbers of visitors to my blogs vary incredibly from day to day. Most days they total somewhere between 35,000 to 50,000 unique visitors.

Personal

Where do you Live? - I live in Melbourne Australia.

How Long have you been Blogging? - I started my first blog in November of 2002.

How did you start Blogging? – A friend shot me an email telling me about a site (a blog) that I might be interested in. At the time I was part of a team starting a new emerging church. The recommended blog was on the same topic and as I surfed it I not only connected with the author and his content – but was intrigued by the idea of blogging. I immediately saw the possibilities of it for the community we were starting and within 24 hours had my own blog up and running. The rest, as they say, is History. Blogging has since evolved considerably since my first blog.

What did you do before you started Blogging? – I’ve had an occupational history with many twists and turns – but for the majority of the 10 years proceeding my full time blogging I was a Minister of Religion in a number of different ministry capacities. I still do this work on a voluntary capacity today in the small Christian Community that we started (LivingRoom). As well as this work I’ve done a variety of other jobs (often part time to supplement the income from ministry) including working as a kitchen hand, working for an online retailer, laboring, doing research work and selling office furniture. I’ve studied Marketing and Theology (a bizarre mix I know).

Why don’t you talk about your Family Much? – I don’t refer to my personal life too much here at ProBlogger for a number of reasons. Firstly it doesn’t really fit with the focus of this blog. This is a site about making money from blogging and while my family does benefit from this it’s not a personal blog where I talk too much about what I do from day to day. Secondly I’m a firm believer in having boundaries as a blogger in terms of what you do and don’t talk about. When you’re communicating in a public arena security and privacy need to be thought through. As a result, after talking this through with my wife, we’ve chosen not to reveal names, photos or details of my family at this point. In general terms though – I am married to ‘V’ and we have a little boy (born July 2006).

10 Things You Should Know about WordPress 2.0

Aaron Brazell is from Baltimore, Maryland and leverages his influence as a blogger at various blogs to develop his (sometimes) convoluted opinions. He writes about Web 2.0 topics at Emerging Earth and keeps a personal and political blog at Technosailor.com

If you’ve been seriously blogging for any bit of time at all, you’ve heard of the juggernaut that is WordPress. WordPress, of course, is the most popular self-hosted blogging platform utilized by independent writers. The official launch of WordPress 2.0 is upon us and, no doubt, the blogosphere will be buzzing about its launch. As a tester of the product since the early days of the WordPress 2.0 alpha builds, I’ve watched, participated and even assisted in the development of this software.

While this entry might get a bit technical, it is only because thecoolest new features are under the hood. For new users who don’t feel like tinkering with code and expect a shiny new piece of software out of the box, fear not… you will not be disappointed. The software provides a much more interactive and user-friendly interface. And for those of you who love the color blue, you’re going to love the new admin panel!

However, if you want to get into the real glorious nitty gritty of what you can do, then read on!

Here are ten things you may or may not know that can be extremely beneficial to know about WordPress 2.0….

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WordPress on Yahoo

Looks like Yahoo are opening up even more options for bloggers and are now offering WordPress on their hosting packages in addition to MT. Read what Matt has to say about it at the WordPress Development Blog › WordPress on Yahoo

WordPress.com to compete with TypePad

It looks like WordPress is going to be launching a new service at WordPress.com. Word on the street is that it will be a service to compete with Six Apart’s TypePad – a hosted blog service using the WordPress platform.

WordPress chief, Matt Mullenweg, made the announcement at the Blog Business Summit this week.

Why not to use Google Web Accelerator with WordPress

The Word Press forums have an interesting thread running with a warning NOT to use Google’s new Web Accelerator with Word Press.

In it they link to an article over at O’Reilly Radar which is a little frightening:

‘Some users of 37 Signals’s new Backpack web application started noticing yesterday that their backpacks had been rifled through and a page here and there had simply disappeared. A little digging found Google’s new Web Accelerator to be the culprit.

Writes Jason Fried:

The accelerator scours a page and prefetches the content behind each link. This gives the illusion of pages loading faster (since they’ve already been pre-loaded behind the scenes). Here’s the problem: Google is essentially clicking every link on the page — including links like “delete this” or “cancel that.” And to make matters worse, Google ignores the Javascript confirmations. So, if you have a “Are you sure you want to delete this?” Javascript confirmation behind that “delete” link, Google ignores it and performs the action anyway….’

Thanks to Tom Hanna for the heads up on this one.

WordPress Website’s Search Engine Spam

WordPress have been coming under a little scrutiny in the past 24 hours by Waxy.org who have questioned their hosting of 120,000 articles on their site on a variety of topics provided by a third party on some high paying keywords. You can check out some examples of these pages here and here. I’d noticed a few of these articles a few weeks back and wondered what WordPress was doing with them – not it all becomes clear! Waxy.org writes:

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