Which blogging platform to use? This is a very critical question that every newbie needs to consider. As you expected, each platform has its own pros and cons. So, it all boils down to what you want.
We shall first look into the blogging platforms that exist now before trying to choose which one suits you best. Primarily, blogging platforms are of 2 types.
Type 1 - Externally hosted blogs: This means that a third party is hosting the blog for you on a remote computer or server and they automatically provide you with a built in software to run your blog. (Mostly free but sometimes you need to pay $) Type 2 - Self hosted blogs: This means that you have your own domain name or website address for blog and you have your own server or computer to store the files of your blog. (You definitely have to pay $ for this one)
Though Externally hosting platforms such as blogger.com and wordpress.com are easy to set up and get started, they do have their own drawbacks. One important reason is that you do not actually own the domain name. The platform provider still owns the domain and can switch it off any time. No matter what happens though, note that you still own the content and it is yours always!
Now, there are 2 Questions you need to ask yourself when choosing platforms.
Question 1. Do you plan to make money off the blog by using programs such as google adsense?
Question 2. Are you a tech savy person who is familiar with CSS and HTML
In this post, we will only talk about blogger and wordpress platforms although there are several other out there. Note that wordpress.com is different from wordpress.org. The .com version is offered free of charge whereas the .org version requires you to pay some $.
Re Question 1: If you answered yes to the first question and want to make money of your blog using adsesne, you have two options - Blogger.com or wordpress.org (remember that wordpress.org requires you to pay $). Apart from blogger.com and wordpress.org, you can choose to have self hosted blogs for which again, you will be required to pay $ and requires quite a bit of technical knowledge.
So in conclusion, for the first question, if you answered yes, the options are (in no particular order) - 1. blogger.com if you want a free and easy to use, 2. wordpress.org if you want easy to use and don't mind paying, and 3. creating a self hosted blog if you want an extremely customizable blog and dont mind paying and doing a lotta tech work.
On the other hand, if you answered no and do not want to make money and only want to blog for pleasure and fun, your options increases by one more. Along with the 3 options mentioned above, you can use wordpress.com, which is a free blog hosting service.
Re Question 2: If you answered yes and are a tech savy person familiar with CSS and HTML, your options are wide. If you don't mind shelling out some $, you can get a self hosted blog and customize it as you want.
On the other hand, if you answered no and are not familiar with CSS and HTML, don't worry too much. There are people out there working to make our lives easier. In this case, it is recommended you stick with an externally hosted blog until you become familiar with blogging, CSS and HTML. Externally hosted blogs do have some advantages over self hosted ones as they are relatively indexed faster by google crawlers and that any updates to the platform will take place automatically. So, there is nothing too technical to worry about.
Conclusion Phew... its been a long post! Hopefully I didn't loose you yet. I believe this is an important topic as I made a mistake myself once without knowing the difference between wordpress.com and .org and had to transfer all my posts to blogger through some transfer software that transfers posts. There are some softwares that do that, but they aren't too neat. So, it is very important to make the right choice at the start.
Moving from an externally hosted blog to a self hosted blog can be considered to be a move in the positive direction and there are several things that could be done to make the transition smooth. So, if you want to seriously make money and at the same time have the technical skills, it would be worth to spend some $ and get a self hosted blog. If not, it is always good to start from externally hosted blog and move to a self hosted one when you become more familiar with blogging.
Moving from one externally hosted blog to an another is a mess and is exactly something you should avoid doing. There are several softwares out there, which I will put up sometime soon in later posts that would make the transistion less shabby. So, when you choose an externally hosted blog, choose the platform wisely considering your goal for the blog.
What is a blog? I remember googling this question just to confirm if what I had in mind was correct. With the number of blogs that currently exist and the number of people around who already have blogs, its very likely you will know the answer too. And yes, after googling I found I was thinking on the right lines.
Definition: Dictionary.com defines a blog as " an online diary; a personal chronological log of thoughts published on a web page; also called weblog, web log."
Author(s): Blogs are usually, but not always written by a single author.
Content: Blogs can contain posts on any topics. Some blogs concentrate on a single topic and provide detailed information on it. This would make the blog an information bank for the particular topic and will have readers visiting repeatedly to access information. Some blogs on the other hand are created for a non-commercial use and are used mainly for socializing and communicating with friends.
Comments: Comments are a way of communicating with readers and making the blog user friendly. It is actually one of the ways to get to know other bloggers in the blogosphere. This infact will actually help build readership for the blog.
The points I have mentioned above about authors, content and comments might appear to be basic, but it is to be noted that there is so much to know about each of them. There are so many blogs and websites that contain information about blogs and how to go about them. Though information is good, too much information might cause confusion. That is exactly the problem I intend to address in this blog. A step by step information guide for newbies.
Finally, I'd like to conclude this post by putting up a video I found on youtube bycommoncraft.com, which very finely explains blogging using simple visuals.