Monday, August 29, 2011

Blog Platforms for Building Your Online Presence

As writers, we depend upon our audience to provide feedback and support for our work.  Fortunately for us, we live in the era of personalized mass communication.  Through blogs, social media, and e-mail, we are able to reach out to our readers in new and exciting ways.  Here are resources and tips to get you started.


Blog Platforms: Providing Information as a Product
For anyone serious about building an online presence, I recommend blogging as the best place to start.  Although you can also set up static webpages through a variety of hosts, the internet tends to be moving away from static, stand-alone pages in the push for information that is "current" and "now."  The advantage of blogs is that they're generally much simpler to update than a static page - they automatically link to your earlier posts, and the newest posts are always front-and-center on your homepage.  The downside is that you have less control over the server-side operations of your website.




Blogger: Blogging Made Simple
Blogger is perhaps the most intuitive blogging platform in terms of posting and design, going so far as to allow instant Amazon links and easy advertising (if you're trying to earn money on your blog).  On the downside, it's much harder to make your blog search-engine-friendly (which is ironic, given that it's run by Google).  My creative writing website, 12Writing.com, is a Blogger blog hosted on a custom domain.

WordPress: The "Ultimate" Blogging Platform
Unlike Blogger, which is extremely self-contained, WordPress gives you the freedom to change pretty much every aspect of your blog.  However, the additional options do come at a price: WordPress can be harder to modify, and making changes is not quite as straightforward as with Blogger.  However, unlike Blogger, you can install WordPress on almost any website.  Currently, I use WordPress on my personal website, ryanedel.net, using automatic install from Yahoo!

HubPages: Social Media Meets Blogging Meets Community Watch
Semantically speaking, HubPages isn't exactly a blogging platform - it isn't really about simply creating "your place" on the internet.  Compared with Blogger and WordPress, you have very little control over what you can post - the layout controls are bit cumbersome and limiting, and you have no backgrounds or titles of your own.  The advantage, though, is that HubPages incorporates discussion forums and a rating system as a way to facilitate information exchange.  You can easily connect with others who are interested in your field, allowing you to create the kind of active audience that's difficult to find using a traditional blog platform.  Because of this, you don't have to focus all your Hubs on the same niche topic in order to attract readers - instead, you can use a new topic for each post and still find a good number of readers.  To take a look at the possible variety, here's a link to My HubPages Profile.

Tumblr: Possibly "The Easiest Way to Blog"
Though it might not be quite as well-known (read "dominant") as Blogger or WordPress, Tumblr offers many unique and helpful features as a blog platform.  I haven't explored this one as much myself, but it's certainly worth a look.



- Blogging Platforms - 




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