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Blogging 101, Part 2

We review 3 blogging platforms you may want to consider.

Remember what Internet and social marketing expert Marlene Gavens says: “One of the best ‘social networking tools’ for anyone online is a blog. Blogging can establish you as an expert in your field and help your website show up better in search results.”

In Blogging 101, Part 1, we told you about the benefits of having your own blog and posting regularly. Now we’ll show you the benefits and drawbacks of three popular blogging platforms—WordPress, Blogger and Tumblr—so you can decide which one best suits your business and marketing needs.

WordPress

Whatever you want your blog or site to do, chances are someone has created a plugin for it

WordPress is a full-scale customizable content-management system that can be used for more than just hosting a blog, says graphic designer Tony Camarota. In fact, some people use the free, open-source platform to create full-fledged sites, including e-commerce websites.

The platform’s customization abilities make it very appealing to the millions of people who use WordPress every day. A big draw is the fact that WordPress allows you to add plugins to enhance your visitors’ experiences, and make your blog very much your own.

“Plugins can be simple things like adding a border to images, to plugins that will turn your site into a full-blown social network, complete with accounts and logins for friends and family,” Camarota says.

Many bloggers use social media plugins on WordPress to spread the word about their blogs. Some of these plugins let you post your latest tweets on your blogs. Others, like Social Toolbar, let visitors “like” your posts. The customizable plugin also lets you decide the font and color, and decide if you want tweets to appear throughout your site, or just on the home page.

WordPress Social Ring allows you to add sharing buttons to your blog that will let readers to share your posts with others through their social networking sites. You can also decide where this button will appear.

“Whatever you want your blog or site to do, chances are someone has created a plugin for it,” Camarota says.

WordPress has a community of developers around the world that creates tons of plugins for the platform, and if you decide to try blogging on this platform, you should explore to see what plugins are out there—and which would work well with your blog, he continues. You can find a variety of plugins in the WordPress Directory.

According to WordPress, setting up a blog takes minutes. The platform lets you choose a free template for your blog from more than 100 themes that range from “attractive to crazy,” the site notes. You can modify these and edit the Cascading Style Sheets to give templates a slightly different look. One thing you can’t do with WordPress is add your own custom template.

But you can add tags to your posts to make them easier to find online, and you can schedule blogs—a big plus for sellers who would rather write a few blogs at once and spread out their publish dates. You can also have multiple users on your blog and give them different permissions.

The platform is powerful, but it does come with a learning curve, Camarota warns.

“If all sellers really need is a blog, they don’t need about 95 percent of the features on WordPress.org,” he says.

Blogger and Tumblr are simpler, and might be better suited for a basic blog, he adds.

Blogger

As we were researching blogging platforms, several sources noted that Blogger is easy to use. As InfoGenra states, “You can customize [Blogger] templates like your own,” and you can start blogging within minutes.

Blogger blogs are indexed quickly on Google, making them easier to find in search results

“Posting updates is as simple as sending an email,” InfoGenra continues.

You can add a custom domain to your Blogger blog for free, too. By contrast, WordPress allows this only with an upgrade to a paid blogging account.

Another benefit of Blogger is that it’s better suited for mobile viewing, notes InfoGenra. This is important, considering the ever-increasing popularity of mobile browsing. Blogger is also set up to let you quickly post blogs on the go.

The interesting aspect of Blogger is that it’s a Google platform. That means blogs are indexed quickly on Google, making them easier to find in search results—a big plus for bloggers and sellers who want to appear higher in search results.

The platform does have some limitations, though. For instance, it has a limited storage capacity of 1 GB, and you can’t store images on Blogger. You have to store these on Google’s free photo-editing site called Picasa, InfoGenra notes. Furthermore, you can’t add plugins to customize your blog.

However, blogger does have a few tracking tools so you can see how traffic to your blog is doing. Setting up a blog takes less than five minutes. As TopTenReviews, an online publication notes, “[Blogger] is perfect for casual and semi-professional bloggers.”

Tumblr

Finally, let’s talk Tumblr. This is Camarota’s top choice for people looking for a simple, customizable and free platform. He says Tumblr is gaining popularity with bloggers because it’s so easy to use and has an attractive look.

So it comes as no surprise that the platform’s tagline is “The easiest way to blog.”

Tumblr is considered a microblogging site. This means blog posts are shorter than traditional blogs. So if you want your posts to be longer (around 500 words), you may want to go with another blogging platform.

“Most of its user base [focuses] on photos—by a large margin—small text updates and quotes, and, occasionally, other forms of content,” notes a post on I Love Tumblr, a blog for people who love the blogging platform.

Posting a blog on Tumblr is simple. We’d say it’s the simplest. A simple dashboard lets you share quotes, photos, text and more in seconds. In fact, to create a new post, you simply click the Text icon at the top of your Dashboard, add a title, write your blog then click “Create post.”

The blogging platform has several free themes to choose from, or bloggers can choose to add a Premium Theme that will cost between $9 and $49. The platform aims to make things easy and even lets you know which templates are the most customizable. You can sort through these by choosing “Super customizable,” the site notes.

However, being able to customize a template will require familiarity with HTML, CSS or JavaScript, warns Chad Egeland, a technology blogger.

It’s important to note that the platform is very social and allows fellow Tumblr bloggers to “reblog” posts—sort of like retweeting a tweet—so your blog appears on another’s Tumblr blog, too. This is a nifty social networking tool that could increase your blog’s exposure. Just something to keep in mind.

Finally, Tumblr lets you schedule blogs for later, which is a nice convenience feature.

It’s interesting to note that those who frequent Tumblr tend to be younger than those on other platforms, according to our research—another thing to keep in mind about the audience you’re potentially reaching.

These are just a few of the many blogging platforms out there, but they’re among the most popular. Try them out to see which is more intuitive to you, offers the features you need and will be the best fit for your social media marketing strategy.

For tips on how to get started blogging, read Blogging 101, Part 1.

About the author

Olga Munoz
Olga Munoz is editor of TheOnlineSeller.com. In addition to writing news and feature articles about e-commerce, selling trends, online marketing and other topics of interest to online sellers, Olga manages the site's social media efforts. A journalism graduate of Chico State, Olga says her favorite part of being a journalist is learning interesting facts that help put stories into perspective, attending industry events and meeting interesting people "that leave you smiling, even in tough situations." Opinions expressed here may not be shared by The Online Seller and/or its principals.

  • R Janet Walraven

    Thank you so much for this valuable information about blogging. I appreciate all the pros and cons. I’m going to check out Blogger right now!



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