Starting a blog can be an extraordinarily rewarding experience. Many extremely popular sites today started off as humble blogs, and
it’s even possible to turn a successful blog into a viable career opportunity. There are countless examples of bloggers who earn a living just from writing their thoughts down on a daily or weekly basis.
The situation for aspiring bloggers used to be quite dire; there was technical knowledge required for starting even a rudimentary blog, and adding advanced features like guest commenting and sharing was unusually clunky and difficult.
Fortunately, those days are long past. Now, there are several simple blogging platforms that can help you get started with minimal effort and really focus on the good stuff: blogging!
Tumblr is probably the most basic and simple way to get a blog going. It take about three minutes to set up a page, select a theme, give it a name and start writing. You simply choose a name, and you get a basic Tumblr URL that looks like yourblogname.tumblr.com. If you want, you can even direct your own domain to Tumblr so that you have your own site name that runs on Tumblr’s platform.
Adding pictures, text and video content doesn’t get any easier than on Tumblr. It also has a built-in social network that can make it very easy to get a large number of followers for your content. This simplicity comes at a price, however. If you ever need anything more advanced, you’re stuck with exporting your stuff to another platform. Commenting is limited as well.
Blogger is one of the original free blogging platforms. Owned by Google, there is a lot of support and technical knowledge out there for the product. It’s like Tumblr in some ways, but Blogger is slightly more feature rich and, conversely, more complicated. Blogger works for anyone who has a Google account, and it takes just minutes to set up a basic site. The big advantage with Blogger is that since it is a Google property, it is very easy to monetize your site with Google Adsense. You also get Google Analytics stats built-in. Blogger has some quirks with the user interface and ease of use, but it’s a great overall blogging platform.
WordPress is a couple of things: It’s a full-featured, open-source content management system that is robust and powerful enough to run some of the web’s most popular sites, but it’s also a lightweight, free blogging platform for anybody who wants to start a site. The nicest thing about WordPress is the sheer number of extremely well-supported plug-ins. You can create almost any kind of site you can imagine with WordPress. The downside is that it requires a good deal more technical know-how than either Blogger or Tumblr, but WordPress also offers free basic blog hosting at their WordPress.com site (though your URL would be something.wordpress.com). WordPress is probably the most popular blogging platform out there and for good reason. It’s rock solid, and it works great.
Squarespace does not offer any free blog platforms, but even their lowest-priced tier is feature rich and highly supported. Like WordPress, Squarespace has enough flexibility to be more than “just” a blog. You could actually build a fully customizable website with it. The interface is not quite as refined as WordPress or Tumblr, but it’s not really difficult to get up and running with a basic site. The downside compared to WordPress? WordPress has the aforementioned open-source development community contributing a great many plug-ins and themes, all for free. If losing that doesn’t bother you, Squarespace is a viable choice.
We’re at a point when even the “worst” blogging platform is still actually quite good. For a basic blog that’s for a hobby, Tumblr or Blogger might be the perfect fit. For those who want something a bit more flexible and grown-up, check out WordPress or Squarespace. No matter what you do, you should be enjoying your new blog soon!
Image: Baby Working On A Laptop by Petr Kratochvil