Blogging - how to set one up?

Part 2 of blogging - where we hoping to assist clients and others on the HOW to set a Blog up. We look at the 3 main blogging platforms, what they offer and which one you might choose and why. See also our Part 1 post on: Blogging - why set one up?
Our second part on blogs and blogging. In Part 2 we seek to help clients and other visitors on the HOW to set a Blog up. We look at the 3 main blogging platforms, what they offer and which one you might choose and why. See also part 1 on: “Blogging - why set one up?”

In part 1 we cited research from NM Incite that by the end of 2011 they had tracked over 181 million blogs around the world. That is a lot of blogs...

The NM Incite research from the US showed that out of the top 10 social networking sites, 3 were for consumer orientated blogging. These top 3 platforms are: Blogger, WordPress and Tumblr. Of these the NM research showed Blogger was the largest with more than 46 million unique U.S. visitors during October 2011. However Tumblr was the fastest-growing of the top 10, more than doubling its audience since last year from home and work computers to 14 million unique visitors. Overall, these 3 blogging platforms combined for 80 million unique visitors, reaching more than 1 in 4 active online users in the U.S. during October 2011. Wow...

Indeed this research supports our view that if you are considering blogging these are currently the only 3 main platforms we think worth considering at this time they are:.

- Blogger
- Wordpress (or similar own website blog publishing facility)
- Tumblr

With an eye to the future we think it worth also mentioning another platform that is fast rising and getting some press – Pinterest. Estimated to have 10 million US users in Dec 2011 up from just 6 million in October - Pinterest is gaining fast. However it differs from the others as it is a more visually oriented social media site and is not really - currently – a full competitor to the other 3.

Blogger


Blogger is owned by Google and that helps. It means it is big. It also means that it is likely to stay around. Google don’t say how many Blogger users there are however it is certainly in the millions (46m is what we have heard - making it second only to facebook in the social media scene if true).

The idea with Blogger is that your blog is hosted on Google’s own servers. This means no resources are required your end. Its very easy to setup – it is also likely to be free. It also is very good for adding content through mobiles or anywhere that you have access to a web browser (Google being of course a major force in mobile with its Andriod OS). The downside of Blogger is that it does not store the actual content of the blog on your website. This means that it does have the same search advantages that the likes of Wordpress (and other website blogging s/w ) has. Though you can certainly display Blogger content on your webpage it is actually stored in Google’s servers. Visually this has the same effect but there is little search advantage to your website from doing it this way if that is a motivation for you doing the blog.

Wordpress (or similar)


Wordpress is the daddy of blogging software for your website. Its free software, delivered through open source and as of writing this post there are 73 million Wordpress sites. Whilst not all will have a blog – a large number will given that blogging is Wordpress’s acknowledged sweet spot. It is what it does very well. There are however many other software packages you can use to create a blog on your own website. Some of these also being free to use. The key advantage of this approach is that you can publish blog content directly on your own website, on your sever and this will in general help in attracting visitors to your website. Assuming of course it gets read...

I have to say I am not a Wordpress fan. In my experience whilst it is free to use this is more than offset by issues supporting it over time. E.g. getting Wordpress and its plugins to work reliably and managing the frequent updates is just too stressful for us for use with paying clients). We prefer commercial tools which although we have to pay for them; they allow us more control and better reliability in support and we think work out cheaper on the end (and are less stressful).

Whether you use Wordpress or a similar package they are all likely to give you access to more facilities for categorising and manipulating posts than Blogger or Tumblr. However it may also be less easy to add posts on mobiles than Blogger and Tumblr.

Tumblr


Now estimated to have 14 million users, Tumblr is rising fast. Tumblr shares same essential concept as Blogger, in that your blog is hosted on an external server. In this case hosted by Tumblr. The difference with this platform is that Tumblr excels in supporting publishing small snippets rather than the more traditional larger essay type blog posts (such as we do here). Tumblr posts are often short and mix snippets of text with picture and /or video. Blogging in Tumblr is thus quick and easy – if you just want to publish short news items etc. Tumblr provides templates that control your blogs look and I have to say it does this in a generally very pleasing way. The disadvantage is that the look is the Tumblr type look with less customisation available than in other platforms. In our view short snappy posts also start to compete with other platforms not normally thought of for blogging. Think, facebook or Twitter.

Finally - our advice...


First consider your motivations for blogging in the first place (see Part 1 of our Post “Blogging - why set one up”. Of the clients who have asked our advice recently; after listening carefully to what they were looking to do and their motivations we advised most to go down the Tumblr route. Tumblr is an easy first step to get some blogging experience. We have however had two clients abandon the idea of doing a blog when they looked into what would likely be involved and what they were looking to get from it. In one we are now helping them set up repositories of information on their site to better engage and inform their clients rather than go down the blog route. So it is certainly worth asking yourself what you are looking to get from a blog before you jump in…