A blog is really just a CMS tool (a Content Management System). The benefits of which are: 1.) Branding potential, 2.) Good ranking on Search Engines. Every time you write something new (a new blog = a new page on your site), you’re improving your search engine rankings. The more pages Google has indexed, the more your blogsite shows up in the search engine results pages (SERPs). The idea is to target a specific keyword or phrase, and write content that reflects that specific keyword or phrase. Then, a good step would be to use an analytics tool like Google Analytics or Visistat to track your statistics and assess your ranking for specific keywords (a feature provided through Visistat).
I give various presentations throughout the year and people always ask: Which blog platform do you recommend? So I thought we’d talk about just that in today’s post…
Pros and Cons of Hosted Blogging Platforms
- Cheap/Free: most hosted blogging solutions are free (wordpress.com and Blogger are free, Typepad charges a minimal monthly fee).
- Easy to Set Up: this is the perfect solution for the non-tech savvy user. Most solutions are plug-and-play in the sense that all you have to do is pick a template from one of the many options listed, fill in a few required input fields and presto! you have a blog.
- Automatic Updates: maintenance and security updates are automatic so you don’t have to worry about performing these operations yourself. For example, WordPress.org’s update cycle averages about 3-4 updates per year.
- Limited Design & Other Configurable Features: hosted blog solutions run standard templates which means that ultimately, your blog design ends up looking very similar to other blog designs as the default templates get used over and over again.
- Generic URL: free accounts like wordpress.com and blogger give you a subdomain. For example: _________.blogger.com or ________.wordpress.com or __________.typepad.com. The problem with having the name of the platform represented in the URL is that you’re ultimately branding that platform and not your own brand.
Pros and Cons of Self-Hosted Blog Platforms
- You’re In Complete Control of the Design: depending on how tech savvy your are, you can design and code the site yourself (that’s what Jeff Bernheisel did with his site and Jay Thompson as well). Or, you can hire a company to design the site for you (that’s what we do).
- Open Source Development: in the case of WordPress, what’s great about the fact that it’s an open source platform is that a vast array of developers are constantly coming up with and improving the ‘plugins’ and all manners of code that support the platform.
- URL: you run your site on your own specific and branded url.
- Difficult to Set up: This of course depends on how tech savvy you are. Some users are very tech savvy and can install wordpress themselves while other individuals have a difficult time understanding how. Either way, the complexity in setting up your own hosted blogging platform is much more difficult than in setting up a plug-in play free account.
- Cost: there are yearly fees associated with your hosting account. Also, though wordpress.org hosts free themes, you might want to brand and edit your site using or expanding on the design of a premium theme (often ranging between $75 – $150 in price).
- Maintenance & Security Updates: wordpress.org undergoes approximately 3-4 updates per year. Updating to the latest version of wordpress can be difficult if you’re not otherwise familiar with the process. Automattic, the Founders of WordPress, just released VaultPress (in private beta), a premium WordPress backup service.
Choosing the right platform is entirely dependent on a couple of different factors. Some questions that you should ask yourself include:
- What are my long-term goals and objectives with this site? (Are you blogging for business or pleasure?)
- How tech savvy am I? (What can you realistically accomplish yourself and what should you and can you outsource?)
- What is my budget? (Can I afford to host and possibly design my own site?)
From a professional and branding perspective, a hosted blog platform is the recommended option. You’re in control of your own content, design, etc. You essentially act as your own webmaster. If you’re a newbie blogger and don’t know if you can stick to it long-term, you can always go with a self-hosted wordpress.com blog and migrate your content later if you come to find that it’s a fit with your marketing.
What have I missed? What would you add? What are some of the benefits of having your own hosted vs. self-hosted blogging account? Drop your thoughts in the comments and share your blog with us so we can check it out.
[Flickr Photo by: ePublicist]