Blog Site-ing for Dummies |Moving Into the Neighborhood


In my last post on beginner’s tools for starting a blog,  I shared about helping my transitioning – journalist friend with the process of deciding whether;  to blog | or  not to  blog. Now that he’s made a decision to go ahead jump in the pond, it’s time to put on the big boy panties and figure out what neighborhood he wants to move into.

Just like buying a house, establishing where you want to set up your blog site will depend on several factors such as; are you in a position to spend money, or is the landscape looking thin and you need to tighten the belt?

Are you the savvy-techno type, or more of a click- drag- drop?

Are you good at maintenance,  or would you rather invest your time and imagination elsewhere?

Is your idea of a good time writing your own HTML data in order to control how your site will be seen by rating software like Google’s Penguin or Panda; or would you rather dazzle em with your content and brilliant headlines?

When I first started my own foray onto the Highway of BS (Blog Site-ing), I had little or no money and just slightly more sense than a wounded pigeon in a room full of starving cats. The result was several misspent blog sites with not much more than my name on them. I had no clue about themes, widgets, menus or HTML;  let alone how to get my post from the laptop, to the site,  to the front page.

Finally I came across WordPress.com, and after a lot of coffee, nail files and laptops (yes, I went through 3, but in all fairness, I can’t really blame it on the blogsites) I finally manage to get a decent site up and running. So in this week’s post I’m going to help my friend, whose working on a pretty short budget, take a  look at a couple of sites in order to find the one that best suites him.

“The bottom line is that blogging is like sex. You can’t fake it. You can’t fake passion. You can’t fake wanting to engage with the public. If you do, it will ultimately be an unsatisfying experience for both the blogger and their readers.” (Kevin Anderson)

While browsing the net, I discovered that he had tons of options to choose from, and that websites like WebUpon,  and Mashable,  gave him over thirty different free sites to start with.  And if he could stretch the budget a bit, Hosting Review and Consumer Rankings offered a list of more than fifteen  pay-for sites that wouldn’t break the bank. But for the sake of time and brain cells, I narrowed our options down to five.

Hosted Blogsite: Free

Blogger: This is an easy site, hosted by Google, that allows the user to have limited control over theme, font and color. The draw backs are: no options to add video, imagery and share buttons. On a rating of 1-5, I’d have to give this a 2.5; easy to use,  but limited and not very practical for someone trying to build a platform or Personal Branding.

Tumblr: Here the emphasis is more than just the author blogging; it’s sharing all types of media, allowing the user to express their creativity with more than just words. It’s also a great site for re-posting other people’s creative efforts as well. Limited dashboard control, but an easy site to get your toes wet. I’ve given this site a 3.0 rate.

Posterous: For this site I went to Jill Duffy from PCMag.com. She recommends this as an excellent hosted site for people whose goal it  is  simple and quick. By keeping the theme and layout choices to a minimum, this blog site allows it’s user to concentrate on the type of content that can be upload from anywhere,  with a guaranteed easy interface with sites like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Linkedin. For the on the go short post, this site deserves a 3.5 rate.

Self-Hosted Blogsite: Free>Pay

Wordpess.com: Free>Pay. This is my personal favorite, so forgive this writer if I sound a bit biased. In my opinion, this is the Cadillac site for non-nerdy people like me,  who want more options than a few font colors, themes and lay-outs. Each of the more than one-hundred-fifty themes comes with lots of widgets; as well as the ability to create menus, pages;  and offers the user a great place to experiment. Another bonus is that at any point in the game, you can turn this into a domain name for next to nothing. And if you’re really adventurous, buy it and write your own HTML. As I said, I’m biased so I’m giving this one a  5.rating on hosted and a 4.5 rating on self – hosted.

Squarespace.com: Pay. As with Posterous ,  I’ll need to go to another blogger to get the low down on Squarespace.  So I hoped over to Sprye Studio and read Oleg Mokhov’s post, ‘Hosted vs. Self-Hosted Blog Solutions – Pros and Cons’

“Squarespace is a fully hosted, completely managed environment for creating and maintaining a website, blog or portfolio. Think WordPress, but with more website-building flexibility but far less extensions, and hosted and maintained by someone else so you don’t have to worry about installing and updating yourself.”

Mokhov goes on to say that Squarspace is a more stable site than moste self-hosted; heavily guarded against malware-and high traffic crashes, and less expensive to keep than WordPress.com’s self-host. In all fairness, if what Mokhov says is true, then I’ll have to give Squarspace a 5 rating.

Whether you’re like me and just want to know where the on and off button on the remote is,  or your more evolved, there is blog site that is just right for you. And now that my friend has decided where he wants to set up shop, he and I’ll go over to Starbucks, get a couple of very tall Venti Breva Latte’s,  and talk about content.

So what site do you blog on? What made you choose that over others?

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