Ins and Outs of Blogging: Choosing a Platform

by Amber Strocel*

Hey Ladies, this is Amber here…

One of the things that I love about the 5 Minutes for Mom community is that so many of us are mom bloggers ourselves. We are online for a lot of reasons – to connect with other moms, to learn things, to make money, to enter giveaways (who doesn’t love giveaways?), to practice writing, or to communicate information we care about. No two of us are the same, yet we have a lot in common.

I’m writing a series of posts on the ins and outs of blogging. It will cover some of the personal and practical considerations that we face as mom bloggers, as well as some technical tips to help you get a blog set up and running well. This is the second post in the is series – if you want to get caught up check out the first one about why people blog.

Once you’ve decided that you want to blog, the next logical question is how to go about it.

There are two main types of blogging platforms – hosted and standalone (Note: standalone is sometimes also referred to as self-hosted or non-hosted). Examples of hosted platforms are Blogger, TypePad, WordPress.com and Tumblr. On hosted platforms you sign up for a blog, and they have all the computers and know-how to handle the technical details for you. Examples of standalone platforms are WordPress.org and Moveable Type. When you run a standalone blog, you pay a hosting company for computer space to ‘host’ your blog, and then install and set up your own the blogging software via their user interface.

It’s only fair that I declare my bias – I am a fan of WordPress.org. My own blog, Strocel.com, uses it, and so does 5 Minutes for Mom. At this point, it’s the only platform I would choose for myself. But there are other fabulous bloggers who swear by other platforms, so my opinion should not be taken as gospel.

Leaving my biases aside, here are some reasons you might choose a hosted platform:

  • Cost – Many hosted platforms are free, or very affordable.
  • Ease of use – You don’t need to know a lot of technical details to set up a hosted blog.
  • Stability – When you’re using Blogger, for example, you have Google’s servers standing behind you.

Here are the reasons that I think you would choose a standalone platform:

  • Flexibility – You have much more freedom to create the look and feel that you want in a standalone blog, especially if you are comfortable editing blog formatting code.
  • Advertising – Some hosted platforms, like WordPress.com, don’t allow advertising.
  • Professionalism – Many people believe that ‘serious’ bloggers use a standalone platform.
  • Plugins – WordPress.org has a huge install base, including lots of programmers. These programmers create free plugins, that allow you do all sorts of things, from blocking spam to monitoring blog statistics to displaying a commenter’s last post from their own blog.

It is possible to switch from one blog platform to another. I know several bloggers who have moved from Blogger to WordPress.org, for instance. However, it’s not a small thing to do. So taking some time up front to consider how you want to blog, both now and in the future, is worthwhile.

Navigating the maze of hosting options and blog platforms can be intimidating. But take heart – the platform that you choose matters a whole lot less than what you blog about. It’s your words, your thoughts and your offers that your readers come back for, not your webhost.

Do you blog? What platform do you use? And what do you love about it? Let me know in the comments!

Written by 5 Minutes for Mom Contributing Editor, Amber Strocel. Check out her blog, Strocel.com.



Email Author    |    Website About Amber Strocel*

Amber is a crunchy granola mom of two, a suburban superstar and an incorrigible dreamer. She spends her days trying to organize chaos, and eating chocolate on the sly. You can read about her daily adventures on her blog at Strocel.com or check out her quest to help other moms live with intention at Crafting my Life.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Pam October 6, 2010 at 12:08 pm

I just moved from blogger to self hosted Word Press. I love it. I have so much more control over my space and I think that it will give me some more credibility in the future.

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2 Susan October 6, 2010 at 3:00 pm

Thanks Amber for sharing this great advice with our readers here at 5 Minutes for Mom.

Yes, we love using our own self hosted Wordpress installation. When we started the site back in March 2006 we decided to start straight away with Wordpress.

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3 Anna October 6, 2010 at 3:10 pm

I just started blogging a few months ago and I have to say I’ve become an addict! I use wordpress and am forever checking for new comments!

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4 Barbie October 6, 2010 at 8:31 pm

I have been blogging for about a year on Blogger. I did dabble a little in WordPress and also SquareSpace. I am not very technically, so finally landing on blogger, having my site designed (and paying someone to do it) suits me just fine. I wouldn’t know how to go in and format things using code. It’s scary! I suppose I could learn. But for now, I love Blogger and have no plans on changing.

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5 Amber Strocel October 23, 2010 at 12:59 am

I think you’ve got to find what works for you. It sounds like you have, and that’s great! Happy blogging. :)

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6 pomomama October 7, 2010 at 12:23 am

I’m a blogger fan, mainly because I use my blogs to advertise and I can’t get the widgets to run on Wordpress. One thing I did like about WP were the static pages so right before I spent an age transferring, blogger offered them too :)

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7 Rita Shehan October 9, 2010 at 6:05 pm

Although my website focuses on free backgrounds for blogger.com, my site is a self hosted Joomla site. I had the website set up in Wordpress before but was hacked twice. Has anyone else had this problem with Wordpress? I really liked the usability of Wordpress.

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8 Amber Strocel October 23, 2010 at 12:59 am

I’m sorry for the delayed reply. I haven’t been hacked on WordPress – I think that more recent versions are much more secure than earlier ones. A quick Google search might let you know if others have experienced similar issues, and how they were able to resolve it.

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9 Jaclyn Rubly October 10, 2010 at 4:59 am

Yeah I think Blogger is a great way to start. It took me a year to finally get 100% comfortable with Wordpress (self hosted). I design, write and review everything. It keeps me busy, yet happy.

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