3 of the most popular blog platforms--explained in simple language
I've received multiple requests from heypoletti! followers about this topic, and I completely understand why. When you are in the process of building a website, it can be overwhelming from the beginning because of all of the choices presented to you. Do you want a free blog, a paid domain, Wordpress, Tumblr, or something else? You may not even know the difference between a domain and a host--I know I didn't when I first started building websites.
Today I am going to break down 3 of the most popular blogging platforms out there, so you might have more of an idea of which to choose for your business or creative project. Hopefully by the end of this article you'll know where to start!
FIRST OF ALL...
Here are a few topics you might need to read up on before you begin building your website. I've included links to some helpful articles to get you going.
TO BLOG OR NOT TO BLOG?
In the above article from Forbes, "9 Reasons You Should Blog," the writer discusses some very valid points to why starting a blog is a good idea, especially for entrepreneurs. I have one more point to add to the list, however: Having a blog on your website increases your SEO. What is SEO? Simply put, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the likelihood that websites like Google will rank your site higher up on the list when people search for related topics. So, if you're a pianist and someone searches "Cleveland pianist for hire," your website is more likely to be higher up on the list if it includes a blog. There are many more detailed criteria for better SEO, but incorporating a regularly updated blog into your site is one easy way to increase your visibility.
Ready to start your blog? Let's go over a few of the most commonly recommended blogging platforms.
You probably have heard of Wordpress several times if you've talked to others about blogging. Wordpress is an excellent tool for blog hosting, but it can be a bit confusing. Ever been to Wordpress.com? How about Wordpress.org? They are two totally different platforms and have a ton of major differences. The video tutorial on iThemes.com is extremely helpful in defining what makes these two platforms unique.
Here are a few ways I might describe Wordpress and its benefits/downfalls (however you want to look at it):
- A simple, straightforward blog design with the ability to code and customize
- A plethora of widgets and other helpful tools
- Very SEO-friendly
- Slightly complicated if you want customization or graphics, but very developer-friendly
- You must purchase web hosting and your domain name from an external website and link it to your Wordpress if you want to be a ".com" instead of a ".wordpress.com"
My blogger friend Brynne uses Wordpress.org for her website The Gathered Home. You can see she's added customized graphics and pages; her website has really developed into a detailed mechanism. She spends a lot of time working behind the scenes to make her blog what it is today, including hiring out coding help if and when she needs it. The result is beautiful but there's no doubt it takes time and effort!
If Wordpress seems a little complicated to you, there are definitely other choices out there. Tumblr is one of them. Looking for a place to post quick, on-the-go, visually-weighted content that is easily shareable? Tumblr is the place for you. If you're a visual artist and just want a blogging platform that is free and simple, Tumblr is a great starting point.
Many people think of Tumblr as a community, and it most certainly is. There is a definite demographic to Tumblr users, but this can benefit you if your project is appealing to this group. According to Business Insider's research, "Tumblr is strong with teens and young adults interested in self-expression, but only 8% of U.S. Internet users with incomes above $75,000 use Tumblr." If you want your content to go viral, Tumblr may be the place to post it. Many artists use it as a space to post their projects so that they can be reshared and reposted. Tumblr also allows for easy collaboration and audience involvement.
The downside to Tumblr is it is not totally customizable, the layouts are very simple, and you may find it does not fit your workflow. Here are a few popular Tumblr websites to give you an idea:
As you can see, Tumblr is image-heavy and the content tends to be short and sweet. Many posts are simply an image with a caption. Artists, this may be the platform for you!
If you know me and you've asked me questions about blogging before, I've probably mentioned Squarespace to you with stars in my eyes. I love Squarespace. To me, it is the complete package. If you're interested in just a blog, you can use Squarespace--and eventually, as your blog grows, it's so easy to add more pages, an online store, videos, podcasts, integrated social media widgets, and much more. With Squarespace, you get a web host, domain name, and blogging platform in one. No more complicated redirecting with your host and domain to your platform, no more crazy coding to make your website look appealing, no more horrible customer service. Squarespace themes are gorgeous and their customer service representatives are extremely helpful.
I have three websites hosted on Squarespace: heypoletti!, the Nerd Novice podcast website, and my old blog Rental Revival. I've also built a few websites for clients on Squarespace, including Cleveland pianist Rob Kovacs.
Squarespace has a blogging platform, e-commerce platform, and pages designer. You can add an integrated music player, sync your band's calendar through Bandsintown, sell your merchandise, add simple newsletter signup forms through Mail Chimp, create custom forms, post high-quality photo galleries, and much more. Plus, if you're new at web design, the building tools are very simple to use. I mean I really could go on.
There is no affiliate program for Squarespace, so me saying this good stuff does not benefit me financially at all. I really am raving straight from the heart. I highly recommend you check out Squarespace's free 14-day trial to check out what it's all about by going to Squarespace.com.
Even though I love Squarespace, there are definitely benefits to using Wordpress and Tumblr--and there are a lot more blogging platforms out there! I hope this little list was helpful in your quest to finding the perfect blogging platform.