Choosing a Blog Platform: Blogger, WordPress and Tumblr
We want to help you to start blogging! So, for simplicity, the most popular (and free) blog platforms are discussed and compared below to help you decide what would work best for you. Opening a blog is as easy as opening an email account; the hard part is creating the content and keeping the blog active. The blogs discussed below are the most user friendly. These blogs can be used without any advanced programming skills as they have many ready to use themes/templates (unless you are seeking advanced customization in the case of WordPress and Tumblr).
1. Blogger (also BlogSpot)
Blogger is the easiest and fastest way to start your first blog. It has a user friendly interface and has a setup wizard that allows you to be up and running quickly. Blogger is owned by Google and is easily integrated with Google analytics to give you professional statistics on how your blog is doing.
Who is this for? Beginners and casual bloggers should consider starting with blogger, then if the need comes up they can move on to another platform. The limited themes and design styles makes Blogger seem less professional.
WordPress is an extremely flexible and powerful blogging platform that can be used as a content management system for websites. There are thousands of themes and plugins that can make your blog look great and have many features. With all these choices and power comes some complexity in its setup and configuration. But once up, it is easy to use and maintain.
Who is this for? This is the way to go for professional bloggers, artists, independent media outlets, civil society groups including NGOs and also the private sector.
Tumblr is a form of microblogging that focuses less on writing and more on sharing pictures, videos and visual art content. It is easy to publish on, even through SMS and email. It also has many great looking and fun to view themes; and it works well on mobile phones and tablets.
Who is this for? Tumblr is great for photographers, artists, video bloggers, and as a commentary tool on other websites’ content through sharing links and embedding their content. But due to its highly visual nature, tumblr is recommended for non-writers and mainly for sharing pictures and videos with limited text.
Hosted vs Self-hosted blogs
Obtaining paid hosting services could be difficult and costly, specifically for countries impacted by US financial and technology sanctions (i.e., Iran, Sudan, Syria, Cuba, and North Korea). However, free options for blogging are abundant. Even though the free options would not include a personalized domain name (www.yourname.com) hosted URLs are available at no charge (yourname.wordpress.com). Below is a breakdown of how to choose the right hosted solution for your blog.
Hosted platforms are 100 percent free, easy to set-up blogs that are hosted on the platform’s server (e.g. on blogger, wordpress.org or tumbler servers). This reduces the the complexity of setting up a blog, and makes the process similar to setting up a Facebook page or opening an email account.
Who is this for? Individuals and/or institutions and those who don’t feel like plunging into web development should start with the hosted platform. Besides the ease of use it also welcomes you into a community that the platform provides.
Companies, NGOs, professional writers and artists might need the power to design a unique self tailored blog/site. For this the non-hosted or self-hosted option is the way to go.
Self-hosted means you get your own hosting or a third-party paid site. Good examples of hosting sites include: bluehost.com and hostgator.com. This costs around $4 to $5 (USD) per month; and provides your own unique domain name (URL); [e.g. www.girifna.com]. Independent hosting accounts give you total control and freedom to design and manage your blog as well as access to a customized email (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org). It also allows you to easily transform your blog to a website. With that power comes added complexity and the need to have basic html and web-design skills. Note that it is possible to buy a domain name and then map it to your platform hosted blog.