Blogging for beginners: technology choices

Blogging for beginners: technology choices

This is the fourth post in a series by Caroline O’Doherty and me about getting started in blogging.

In previous posts we’ve explored the benefit of blogging, building a network and seeking out sources of inspiration, and how to choose a topic and a name for your blog.

In this post we’re looking at technology choices and a development path for your blog. There are three options.

1. Free services

The easiest way to start blogging is to use a free service. It's a good way to get started and build confidence. What are you waiting for?

There are numerous services to choose from such as Blogger, Medium, Tumblr and Wordpress.com. Each platform has its own benefits in terms of design, integration with other services and workflow.

The downside is that you'll quickly outgrow a free service if you're successful and find the limited analytics, ads, restrictions on design and URLs frustrating.

As your skills develop, you will inevitably want to add more features to your blog. It possible to move content from one service to another using third-party tools but this isn’t a trivial task and requires a level of technical knowledge.

2. Wordpress.com

If you’re committing to blogging for the long term I’d recommend using Wordpress. It is a fully featured content management system that includes a third party template and plug-in architecture that is used by more than 60 million web sites on the web.

Wordpress.com offers a premium managed service for £70 per year. This includes a bespoke URL, customisation, no ads and email support. It’s a good route for someone that starts out with a basic blog but then wants to add more features or wants a level of personal customisation from the outset.

I use a Wordpress.com site to document my family's houseboat renovation project. We've got a bespoke URL and have found a ready-made template that works well for photos. Its a way of recording and sharing photos and we're unlikely to ever want to do anything more.

3. Wordpress.org

You may decide that you need even greater levels of flexibility, integration with other services and advanced customisation, or you may simply want to be in completely in control of your own destiny.

In this case I’d recommend a self-hosted Wordpress.org site. It’s a wonderful open source community that uses the same technology platform as Wordpress.com.

The annual cost for a self-hosted site Wordpress.org site is around the same as a managed Wordpress.com site. That’s almost certainly a deliberate commercial ploy by Wordpress.com.

You need to be prepared to get your hands dirty under the bonnet of your web site if you opt for a Wordpress.org site. But don’t let this put you off. You’ll get plenty of help if you need it from your chosen web hosting services and the Wordpress.org community and you’ll almost certainly find it a liberating learning and development process.

Caroline is committing to blogging as a long term initiative, wants complete control over her blog, and is keen to learn, and so has opted for a Wordpress.org blog. In the next post we’ll buy a web domain, some web space and set up a blog.

Photo by kevandotorg via Flickr with thanks.

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