Now the assumption being that you have understood the nuances of choosing the right topic after reading my previous post how to choose a topic. Once the topic is decided we need to launch the topic and there are a lot of launch vehicles available where you can pen down your posts. Lets see a few tools or blog platforms available for us
Blogger is a free, hosted blogging tool. It’s one of the oldest blogging tools around and today has millions of users. Blogger promises that you will be blogging within 10 minutes of coming to the site, and in fact does deliver on that. This tool is about the simplest one around, and though free, nonetheless has an impressive array of features.
The biggest hole in Blogger’s offerings is the lack of post categorization, followed closely by the need to know HTML and Cascading Style Sheets to make custom changes to the templates provided. Unlike some of the most complex hosted services, Blogger doesn’t make customization easy, though it does provide some attractive skins to choose from.
One unusual feature of Blogger is the integration with the Audioblogger service. Program the Audioblogger number into your phone, and you can put audio recordings on your blog quickly by simply calling the number and recording yourself. This offering is unique among blog software packages.
Of special note is that Blogger does allow you to FTP the files generated for your blog to your own Web site. Used together with customization of the Blogger template, this fairly unique functionality means that your readers may never realize that you are using Blogger. It also means that you can publicize your own domain name, rather than the more usual Blogger URL: blogname.blogspot.com.
Blogger is perfect for the future blogger who’s in a hurry and less than interested in design customization. If your priority is to start blogging now, you can’t do better than Blogger. Clearly, it’s also a great tool for those on a budget, since there are absolutely no costs. In fact, you need not even have a Web site or a domain name, so you can literally get started using Blogger without spending a penny.
Very few professional Bloggers stick with Blogger for very long, if they even start there. Because it is so simple, and perhaps because it is free, most professional bloggers choose to use blogging software that has more prestige (read: is harder to set up and install). However, it is an ideal tool to use when first beginning, especially if you want to test blog for a couple of weeks before devoting any serious time or money to a blog.
Time to launch: 10 minutes
Typepad is one of Six Apart‘s hosted half blogging software services (read about Movable Type below) and one that has proved very popular with journalistic blogging efforts. Jim Romenesko uses Typepad for his Obscure Store blog; Joel Achenbach of the Washington Post writes Achenblog using Typepad.
The Typepad pricing scheme and features are divided into three levels: Basic, Plus, and Pro. Design customization is extremely limited at the Basic level and only fully accessible at the Pro level. If you want to run a group blog, or give some people editor access and others publishing access, you must go with the Pro account.
At all account levels, Typepad has a built-in feature called Typelists that allows you to build lists, associating each item with a URL. These lists can be added with a minimum of fuss to the left- or right-hand column of your blog – no need to touch the templates. Use a Typelist for your current reading list, links to other blogs, or links to new stories.
In some ways, it is actually more usable than its elder brother Movable Type. Typepad is a good option for users who want to get started quickly but still want all the bells and whistles. Customization is possible, but complicated, so it’s also a good option for those who just want a blog that works without fussing too much over how it looks. However, Typepad Plus and Pro do a better job than most blog software at allowing you to configure layout options without having to go into the templates.
Cost: $4.95 – $14.95 monthly, depending on level of service chosen
Free trial: 30 days
Time to launch: 20 minutes
Tucows is the creator of the Blogware blog software package, a robust system with a great selection of the top blogging tools. Blogware, like Typepad, can be difficult to customize, even for an experienced HTML jockey. However, it also provides a fair number of options within the administration interface to let you set up layouts and styles without getting into the templates.
Purchasing a Blogware blog is a little different than some of the other blogging software packages; you must get your Blogware blog through a reseller, so expect prices and packages to vary. It’s a good idea to shop around to get the best package for your needs. A good reseller to start with is Blog Harbor.
It’s unusual – and useful – that Blogware permits you to upload files via FTP to the server where your blog is hosted. If you’re looking to create a blog that has a few non-blog pages, this is especially helpful.
Cost: varies by reseller, but expect to pay from $8-$15 a month
Free trial: usually offered for 30 days
Time to launch: 20 minutes
WordPress is a solid, powerful blogging system ideal for publishers who are on a budget but who don’t want to give up any functionality. Professional blogger Darren Rowse maintains nearly 30 blogs using WordPress, from his popular ProBlogger to an Athens Olympics Blog. In two weeks the Athens blog received close to 2 million readers, said Rowse – a real testament to WordPress’ ability to handle heavy traffic loads.
Each WordPress post is formatted with search engine friendly URLs that also look good to humans. Comments can be extensively moderated: you can review them before they go live. You can also filter comments containing certain words or more than a certain number of links.
WordPress’ built-in blogroll management tool allows you to categorize blogs, set criteria for the display order of the links, and turn off and on visibility. You can also import an existing blogroll from some link manager services.
This software has inspired numerous developers to write plugins and extra features for use with WordPress, which makes plugin installation a quick and painless affair. You will find that the selection of additional themes (or skins), for instance, numbers in the hundreds, and that WordPress fans and friends have developed tools for adding photo galleries, a music player, an event calendar, and even geo mapping.
WordPress promises a 5-minute installation, but for that to be true you do have to have some familiarity with uploading files to a Web server and using an FTP client.
Time to launch: 20 minutes
Movable Type, created by Six Apart, is perhaps the best known of all blogging software tools. Built by a husband and wife team looking for a better tool for blogging, the system is powerful, but not simple to install or use. Although it has been used to create Web sites that don’t look entirely like blogs, doing so requires quite a bit of code tweaking. Movable Type is used by blogger Joshua Micah Marshall to create Talking Points Memo, and by Kevin Roderick who writes the L.A. Observed blog.
As a blogging tool alone, Movable Type has nearly every feature you might desire, and continues to add more. Many of their users are highly technical themselves, and have created additional plug-ins that can be added to the standard installation. You might say that Movable Type is the blogging package chosen by bloggers who care what other bloggers think, and who notice and appreciate other Movable Type blogs. If you are looking for street “cred” in the blogosphere, this is the software for you.
The least attractive functionality of Movable Type is the need to rebuild the blog whenever you make a change to a template, a configuration setting, or add a new category. Waiting for the rebuild is annoying, to say the least, and certainly slows down any customization work you do to the design or layout. This can be addressed by turning on dynamic page-building, but some users have found that the server load that occurs as a result is unacceptable to their Web host.
For the non-technically inclined, installation of this software can be quite a challenge. Don’t attempt it all if you aren’t already comfortable with uploading and downloading files to a Web server. There are several Web hosts that offer Movable Type installation as part of their package of services.
There is no trial period for Movable Type, but there is a free version of the software that you can download and install. The paid license entitles you to support, some promotion, and discounts on future upgrades.
Cost: MT’s pricing scheme is fairly complex. Personal users will pay at least $69.95. Commercial users pay at least $199.95.
Time to launch: 2 hours
pMachine’s Expression Engine isn’t well-known, but that shouldn’t stop you from giving this powerful and extensible software a try. It is technically more accurate to call Expression Engine a content management system, rather than just a blogging software tool. However, it grew out of blogging and has all of the blogging bells and whistles: moblogging, Trackbacks, archiving and so on. Dennis Lloyd uses it for the independent information resource iPodlounge.
In addition to the usual set of blogging functionality, Expression Engine has incorporated modules for image galleries and a mailing list. Uniquely, you can crop, resize, and rotate images in the Expression Engine photo gallery tool, in addition to batch processing a set of images. The people and search engine friendly URLs the system generates are of particular interest to bloggers looking for good search engine listings. You can run multiple Weblogs through the same installation of Expression Engine, and each “new post” page can be customized exactly to fit the use. Most blog software limits you to title, entry, extended entry, and excerpt fields. With EE, you can rename those to suit your publication and add more as needed.
Templates are editable online through a simple textbox interface, but you can set up the system to generate files you can download and edit with an HTML editor. Learning how information relates and how to link across the site is a challenge: expect to spend several hours learning how to use this system. Your reward will be incredible flexibility in building a site that has constant updating needs, blog or not.
Expression Engine is ideal for publishers that need to do more than just blogging; this system is ideal for handling hundreds of members, multiple user groups with different editing privileges, and sites with several blogs. Technically speaking, it’s not for the faint of heart.
Cost: $149 for a non-commercial license, $199 for a commercial license
Free trial: 14 days if installed on your own server, 30 days with a hosted version
Time to launch: 2 hours
The above comparison is provided by Susannah Gardner of Vancouver, Canada is the co-founder and creative director of Hop Studios. There are lot of other platforms available you can find them in this post, Blog Platforms.
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