A couple people have recently asked me about how I got my weblog started, what software I use, how much it costs, and what I would recommend for them. Here is my reply to one of them. If anyone else out there has a favorite blog platform, maybe one that I’m failing to mention, let us know about it in a comment. Or, if you want to take me to task for a shortsighted or misguided opinion, feel free to do so. You won’t hurt my feelings.
There are a number of options for creating a blog—from the quick and easy to the complex and robust. All of them allow you to publish entries, assign entries to categories, enable comments, and display images. They also have built-in archiving systems and design templates. The quick and easy options have limited flexibility. Your choice will depend on how much time you want to devote to setting up the blog, designing it, and maintaining it.
Quick & Easy:
1. TypePad (30-day free trial, then $4.95 per month for Basic or $8.95 for Plus): This is a hosted service, which means everything is stored on typepad’s servers. You don’t have to pay a Web Hosting fee to another company. Also, the installation and configuration of the blog software is done for you. With TypePad, you have a couple options for your URL (web address): example.typepad.com or example.blogs.com (where “example” is any name not already taken). Also, at the $8.95/month Plus Level, which allows up to three blogs per account, your URL could be example.com, as long as you get the domain name registered through a domain registration company.
2. Blogger (FREE): Another hosted service, and very easy to set up. In fact, they claim you can be up and running within 5 minutes. Blogger allows you to post entries by email, or even by phone. Your URL will be example.blogspot.com. If you want your own domain name (example.com), you’ll have to register it and have it hosted by another web hosting company. I’m not sure if it costs extra for that feature. Also, the free option lets you choose from about 8 design templates, but you can’t create your own design, and the Blogger logo will appear on every page.
Complex & Robust:
4. Movable Type (FREE, $69.95, or $99.95): The free version does not include technical support, although copious help pages and third-party tip sites are available. Free allows for 1 author and 3 weblogs; Personal (69.95) allows for five authors and unlimited weblogs; Unlimited Personal (99.95) allows for unlimited authors and unlimited weblogs.
Both 3 and 4 have some nice templates to get you started. Third-party sites also give away templates. They’re both non-hosted, which is why two of the Movable Type options have a flat fee instead of a monthly fee. That means, though, that you’ll need to register a domain name and pay another company to host the site for you. There are technical requirements for the blogs to work, so if you go this route, make sure your web host provides the necessary components (such as a server database). Both have RSS capability built in and ping popular blog index sites when you post an entry.
I use Movable Type, because I’m a geek and I love to tinker with this sort of stuff. I have full control over the appearance of the blog, and have fully integrated it into the rest of my site.
If you just want to get started right away and don’t want to fuss with settings or technical details, you can’t really lose by going with Blogger. By the way, Blogger is now owned by Google.
Here is a list of a few other blog platforms that I didn’t mention above because I don’t have all day and I don’t know enough about them. If none of the big four suit your fancy, you might want to look into one of these.
Which one would you recommend?