Which Blog?

21 October, 2008

A colleague sent me an email yesterday asking:

I’m thinking of setting up my own blog, but I want it to be pretty good, so I’m happy to spend a bit of money if required.

What software would you recommend me to use? What features should I be looking for?

I thought my response might make for a interesting post. 🙂

They are all much of a muchness. If you don’t mind paying a few bucks a month, I would recommend WordPress. you can either use the free version (wordpress.com) which is what I use and what we use for the Congress and KM blogs or you can pay a hosting service to host a version of the downloadable wordpress for you.

I reckon the free version is ok, the main limitation is you can’t use Google analytics to track your site traffic (or embed any other widget that uses JavaScript), but the built in stats page is ok . You can add your own domain, which I am going to do at some point, so micktl.wordpress.com, will ultimately become micktleyden.com.

You can choose from a range of themes, many of which can be customised if you know what your doing (or know someone who does).

My advice would be to start out with a free one and see how you use it. Blogs take a LOT of effort to maintain, there might not be much point in paying for a you-beaut set up if you decide it isn’t for you after giving it a try. There’s nothing wrong with that I personally like blogging and twitter, but I don’t really like Facebook, so everyone has their own preferences.

If you do want a permanent presence it doesn’t matter much which platform you use. Most of your regular readers will subscribe to your blog via RSS and never see your site again. As long as the site is clean and easy to navigate (mine is way to messy at the moment!) it will work.

Regarding features, add an RSS feed from Feedburner.com it gives you pretty detailed tracking info and will allow users to subscribe via RSS or Email, Once you have got a few comments I would add a recent comments widget to the sidebar. It shows new users your blog is a happening place! I would also try and come up with a system for tags and categories before you start, mine are a MESS and not much help to anyone! One other feature I would look for is email in posting (that is write a post in email then send it to an address for publication) or mobile access. WordPress.com has a limited mobile version but it isn’t great and does not offer email in.

If you want it to be more than just a blog for example an online catalogue or CV, go with a hosted option as you can customise it a lot and make it look sexy. The two other main platforms are typepad.com, blogger.com. I would avoid Vox.com as you need to be a registered Vox user to comment.

What do you reckon? Am I off the mark?

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