A Quick Comparison of Some Popular Blogging Platforms
A blog is one of the four main elements we encourage any business to have as a part of their online presence to help you connect with your target audience. So lets take a look at four popular platforms that are used for blogging. The first three are currently the most widely used (of course there are many many more out there). The fourth, Squarespace is the one we ourselves now use after switching from WordPress. We will keep this to a general overview to help you make an informed decision for which is best for you.
All the options below include the basic features every blogging platform should have:
- RSS feed and link for users to subscribe
- various theme options to easily customize the look of your blog
- easy to use writing and media embedding tools
- dates for posts
- user comments section
- social sharing options
- option to use your own custom domain
- built-in SEO and metadata options
- tools to import content from other platforms/feeds (making it easy to switch)
We feel that having your blog as a part of your main website is best since linking to your blog posts on social media will drive more traffic directly to your website, which in turn will increase search results for your name. Remember: your website should be the central hub for your online presence.
Using WordPress, Squarespace or other CMS platforms with built-in blogging tools also gives you much more control over the user experience you create, as well as more tools that can help you engage your readers. The higher tier paid CMS options even give you the ability to host your own built-in online store.
With the above being stated, having your blog integrated as a part of your website would rule out using Tumblr or Blogger. Depending on the subject and format of your posts, you may be able to take advantage of Tumblr as another social media service, but I would not use Tumblr for my primary "standard" blog - unless you choose the microblog format as your main blogging mechanism (which many people do).
WordPress offers both their fully-hosted option at WordPress.com where you have access to a variety of sanctioned and auto-updated themes and plugins, or you can download their free software from WordPress.org and install it on your own paid hosting account and take advantage of the thousands of third party plugins and themes available. Many hosting services now also offer "one click WordPress install" and specific hosting plans for WordPress to make it relatively easy to set up your own custom WordPress site.
While installing your own custom WordPress site gives you the most options, in my experience if you use the wrong combination of 3rd party themes and plugins, you can run into all kinds of glitches. Worst of all, if you don't stay on top of your plugin and theme updates, your site could get hacked and even shut down as a safety precaution. For this reason the WordPress.com hosted option, while not offering as many design and functionality options, is more attractive to me for basic website and blog setup.
We recommend using Squarespace
We decided to go with Squarespace for the reasons above and other reasons that I covered in my blog post "8 Reasons Why We Switched From WordPress to Squarespace." But ultimately it's up to you to decide which platform is the best fit for your needs and budget.
Disclaimer: while we do have a discount code (use "MIXTUS" for 10% your initial subscription), please be assured that our motivation for recommending them as a service is not for our own financial gain (they discontinued their affiliate program). We still use and love them and genuinely feel they are one of the best options available for anyone to build and manage their own website, blog, portfolio, podcast, online store, etc. (Updated 5/3/2016.)
I know there is a lot more to blogging platforms than what we covered here. Hopefully this basic overview can get you headed in the right direction. If it leads you to more questions, that's good too - we're here to answer them for you!
Are you just now jumping in to the world of blogging, or are you a seasoned blogging pro? Are you happy with your blogging platform of choice, or are you looking to upgrade? What questions has this post brought up for you? Please let us know on Twitter, Facebook, in the comments below, or via email. We'd love to hear from you!