The art of blogging was set to die a painful death at the hands of the new social networks. It’s true that Social media has changed how we communicate online, blogging still remains a core part of business and social networking engagement.
In fact, there’s never been a better time to blog than today. Why? because social media networks will help you to build audiences and deliver content to readers, and more establish blogs and websites faster than before.
So, if your blogging for the first time, here’s my guide to what blogging platforms to use and why.
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WordPress has two options: a freemium hosted service that provides .wordpress.com domains — e.g. jonrussell.wordpress.com (but you can still pay to use your own domain) — and includes limited customization. Or the completey free .org version which allows for you to host WordPress on your own servers with much more control, edit your themes to your own specific requirements, add as many blog plugins as you wish.
It is, the big daddy of blogging. The platform powers almost 19 percent of the Web and has been downloaded more than 45 million times.
One of the platform’s core strengths is its community of creatives, who have produced thousands of customizations and tweaks allowing WordPress users to add sophisticated and powerful plug-ins to their blog, or customise it in a new layout or design.
Pros: Customisation, customisation, customisation!
Cons: Vast array of options can be complicated for less-experienced users — tread carefully.
Verdict: Still the best option out there. WordPress is especially useful for companies or those looking to develop (or have someone else develop) a sophisticated website.
Google’s take on blogging is Blogger, an easy-to-use and free platform that requires only a Gmail/Google account to get started.
Blogger blogs can be customized with new backgrounds and layouts easily. Unsurprisingly, the platform is hardwired into Google’s AdSense advertising program (which might make the average blogger enough money for a cup of coffee each month) and other Google services like Google+ (for comments) and Feedburner (for RSS distribution) are easily configured.
Pros: Easy to use and get started.
Cons: Not particularly sophisticated and tied to Google — which killed off Google Reader, lest we forget.
Verdict: Less popular in this era and with me, but Blogger is often the place where many, begin writing online. Its customisation options pale in comparison compared to others, and the layout looks dated.
Is Google+ a social network? Well, Google says it isn’t — the company believes it’s somewhat broader than that — with a range of the service’s top users write blog like content there, often generating seeing impressive engagement.
Ultimately Google+ is not a actual “blog”, but it is a place where you can blog if you want to tap into a community to drive your social engagement message. These days most content is shared to social media so why not use this?
Pros: Google+ has a strong community, despite the reports saying the contray, drives SEO when posting into Google+.
Cons: Not a blog platform so no customization or other features.
Verdict: Good enough for beginers so not to be dismissed as an option.
Before you dive into a post, it’s important to note that LinkedIn’s publishing platform is a little different than your normal blog. The audience, the tone, and the overall “lay of the land” are unique to those of LinkedIn.
What does the “lay of the land ” look like, then? In a SlideShare announcing the publishing platform, LinkedIn described themselves as “the working world in one place.” They wrote, “LinkedIn has millions of executives, entrepreneurs, entry-level, workers, and people about to retire.” While this is a without a doubt a valuable audience to tap into, you’ll want to be sure that you’re using their platform in combination with your actual business blog where your niche audience lives.
To get a feel for how people are already using the publishing platform, start by reading through a handful of successful posts. Here’s how to locate the best LinkedIn posts on a day-to-day basis:
- Select “Pulse” from the Interests tab in the main navigation.
- Select “Top Posts” to surface the top-performing posts that day.
- Dig in.
The Web’s top business social networking service launched blogs for ‘Influencers’ back in October 2012, signing up 150 prominent business leaders, including the likes of Richard Branson and President Obama.
LinkedIn blogs were initially for ‘influencers’ on an invite-only basis, however that requirement was dropped in February 2014, which means that anyone can blog on LinkedIn. I personally believe that LinkedIn’s foray into publishing platforms is interesting because it makes its money from its main service, which could mean it is less constrained with the features and services that it can offer.
Pro: Now open to all. If you have a strong LinkedIn network this is one way to engage it. LinkedIn Pulse gives you access to the right audience. It’s an incredibly targeted way to share your knowledge.
Cons: Like Medium and other template platforms, there’s no customization.
Verdict: An interesting option that I suspect will suit best for those who have a large network on LinkedIn, or are looking for a secondary/more public blogging option.
Finally, Over to you: Which blogging platform is your favorite and why?