A Look at Blogging Platforms

Note: This post was previously the first in a series about blogging. The series has since been cancelled, but I've decided to keep this post, as it has some great information in it.

When it comes to the blogging platforms, you've got tons of options. I want to introduce you to some of them, and try to list some of the pros and cons of each. Keep in mind that I'm only going to touch on a few of the many, many options you have.

Wordpress (Self-hosted and Hosted)

Wordpress is by far the the oldest and most mature platform in my list, and because of that, is likely to have the most community support available. Their hosted service is "Freemium", meaning that they have a free base service, but you can pay a subscription fee if you'd like more features. The problem that many people will have with Wordpress though, is its high learning curve; especially with the self-hosted option. Wordpress has a pretty cool "5-minute installation" process, and oftentimes, it doesn't even take that long. However, after the installation process comes the process of configuring and customizing your installation, which can be very complex, beyond the basic features.

All in all, Wordpress is a pretty great platform with tons of customization options and support, so long as you're willing to spend a bit of time figuring out everything it can do.

Ghost (Self-hosted and Hosted)

Ghost is the newest blog platform on my list, and is actually what this very blog is hosted on. It's written in Node.js, and posts are written using Markdown. Because Ghost is fairly new, it is lacking a lot of the features that other platforms have, like third-party plugins. It does, however, have lots of themes available, and third-party plugins are on the way. The self-hosted option can be a bit difficult with Ghost, but with a little perseverance, it can be done.

Medium (Hosted)

Medium is a beautiful platform, stylistically speaking. The post editor is wonderful and very well-designed, allowing for a great writing experience. However, Medium doesn't have themes. You can change very little about how the blog actually looks. On the plus side, Medium is very popular at the moment, meaning that if you can write well enough, you're likely to get a lot of traffic. If you want to just get writing right away, and don't care about customization, this is the platform for you.

Jekyll (Self-hosted and Hosted)

Jekyll is the perfect blog platform to use if you like a bit of a challenge, and are comfortable with the command line. You might notice that I haven't included a screenshot for Jekyll above. This is because it's unlike all the other platforms I've listed. Like Ghost, Jekyll uses Markdown as its syntax of choice. Unlike Ghost, Jekyll provides no post editor to use. No web interface either, for that matter. Instead, Jekyll provides a way to generate a static website from your text files, which you can then host on a web server for the world to see. Since it's a static site, there's no extra overhead to account for when figuring out just how much traffic it can handle.

Which one should I use?

You've got a lot of options (No, seriously, remember that link I placed above?), and I've only listed a few of them above. To decide which one you should use, you should first figure out which features you feel are essential to your blog. Do you want to have an easy-to-use blog, from the writer's perspective? Do you want your readers to be able to comment on your posts? (hint: you probably do.) Do you want to be able to easily embed images and rich media into your posts? Once you start deciding on which features you want as part of your blog, you can start narrowing down the list of potential platforms and make it a lot easier to decide which one is right for you.

Next Steps

I certainly haven't detailed every platform there is out there, but I hope I've given you a bit of a jump start towards figuring out what you should use. Once you've decided on a platform, I'd suggest you look into what topic (or topics) you want to write about!

Austin Peterson

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