It’s not hard to argue that blogging has done more to disseminate knowledge and ideas than any other editorial innovation from the printing press. Here is an overview of the most popular blogging platforms to help you get your ideas out there.
Photo by Kevin Purdy.
Late 20th century printer and copier vendors frequently peddled their wares saying that a personal printing device could transform anyone – schools, neighborhood associations, churches, individuals with a message to convey – in small publishers. The revolution they alluded to, however, did not happen under their watch. The personal printer just did not have the volume and reach that a later innovation, the Internet, and more specifically blogging would have. Blogs provide an inexpensive platform for anyone to promote their ideas to potential audiences around the world, not just a county in Idaho or a street corner in Manhattan.
Blogger (web-based, free)
Blogger is a popular and free blogging service owned by Google. The big advantage of Blogger is its ease of use and almost instant setup. You can go from blogging to posting your first post in under 15 minutes with its super easy setup process. Blogger supports drag-and-drop template editing, dynamic updating, geolocation for location-based blogs, and easy posting from editing tools like Google Docs, Microsoft Word, and Windows Live Writer. Blogger supports up to 100 users, so if you grow your blog beyond a single write-up, you can grow it without any issues.
Tumblr (web-based, free)
While Blogger is an easy way to start a full-fledged blog, Tumblr is an interesting fusion of a full-fledged blog and a Twitter feed. Known as shorthand blogging or micro blogging, the blogging style on a Tumblr blog focuses on short, frequent posts that are normally longer (or more media-focused like images or videos) than updates. Twitter day, but not as involved and formal as a regular blog post. It’s a style that many people like, and the ease of setup coupled with Tumblr’s informality is a winning combination for people who aren’t looking to engage in blogging as an involved, time-consuming project. If this is your first time coming across the concept of microblogging, be sure to check out About Tumblr which provides an interesting picture of microblogging.
WordPress (web-based, free)
WordPress is a popular open source blogging platform modeled on the venerable Swiss Army Knife. As a WordPress user, you have the option of creating a WordPress blog on your own server (for free) or creating a WordPress hosted blog at WordPress.com. Thanks to an absolutely huge community of followers and developers, WordPress offers themes, plugins and gadgets of all kinds. It’s not as easy to install and configure as some of Hive’s other entries this week, but once you’ve got it up and running, you’re rewarded with an almost limitless array of options, configurations and plug-ins. Finding a customization tool or tip for WordPress is almost never more difficult than a quick Google search. WordPress is a scalable solution that lets you do everything from running a single blog with a single user, to a whole blogging stable with multiple users, all overseen by a primary administrator.
SquareSpace (web-based, starting at US $ 8 per month)
SquareSpace is a business blogging platform with plans ranging from US $ 8- $ 50 per month. One of the great things about their pricing schedule is that it’s based almost entirely on volume and not on the idea that lower level members don’t deserve all the cool toys that premium members get. Aside from a few features, mostly focused on volume management and large sites, the user experience for small to large users is consistent. SquareSpace’s most important goal is to make it easy to design good blogs for those new to design / coding. They’ve built their system around a modular design, so setting up a whole new blog is as easy as putting the pieces together.
Posterous (web-based, free)
Posterous aims to be an absolutely simple, stress-free way to blog. You don’t need to register, you don’t need to know any codes, you don’t need to know what to do, but to send an email to start your own Posterous blog and start sharing your ideas and your media. Just send an email [email protected] from any email account and Posterous will create a YourName.Posterous.com blog for you. They don’t hesitate to point out that this is not a shorthand or microblogging service as there is nothing short or micro about your Posterous blog. You can write articles and for as long as you want, attaching photos and media files. The only small part of Posterous is the time you spend setting it up. While email blogging isn’t for everyone, it’s impressive how much you can do through the Posterous system with just one email. Check out their FAQ file to see how you can do everything from media posts to tagging your entries right from your email subject line.
Got a favorite blogging platform that wasn’t highlighted here? A tip or a trick to set up a blogging platform that was? Let’s see all of this in the comments.