Over this series I will look at the various blogging systems available on the market. While there are no doubt any number of blog software reviews you could read, my focus will be on blogging software that will enable you to blog professionally and not just for fun.
In this part I will cover a broad overview of the blog
software market and then in future parts look at each blogging package in
detail. We will not cover all the blogs out there. There are just too many and
most are not suitable for your needs. You need to know which type of blogging
package suits the professional blogger best. Letâ€™s review the types of
blog you can choose from.
Hosted vs. Self hosted
The first choice is do you want to host it on your own hosting
account or do you want the blog service to do everything for you? For the
hobbyist there is a choice but really you donâ€™t want a business asset (
letâ€™s face it if you are blogging professionally thatâ€™s what a blog is) at
the mercy of another company or without a good deal of control. When you
host it yourself itâ€™s yours and you also have the
advantage of having it under your own memorable (â€œbrandableâ€) domain name. Keep
in mind even with the most technical of systems you do not have to be highly
technical to go this route, there are compromise options, such as Typepad where
you can have your own domain. Many packages have authorized hosting services
plus there are plenty of people out there who are happy to set up a blog for
you for a small fee.
So ruling out hosted options we need to further drill down
the choices. These are mainly to choose your platform (desktop software, php,
perl, etc) and if you want a single blog, multiple blogs or blog community.
The featureset for a hobbyist blogger is not so strict as
for those of us who want to do this professionally. A hobbyist can have a
â€œfield of dreamsâ€ approach (â€œbuild it and they will comeâ€) whereas a
professional needs to plan right from the start how they will build up an
attractive, interesting set of content, how their traffic will arrive and how
it will pay for itself.
Adding content is what blogging is all about so we need the
blog to be easy to manage, but also comments are content too. We want visitors
to be able to contribute without making it easy for blog spammers to spoil the
As well as web views of your content you need to be able to
syndicate feeds (usually â€œRSSâ€ and â€œATOMâ€), feeds are increasingly the way your
audience keeps up to date with new content and changes on blogs so these feeds
are vitally important.
For traffic and discussion across blogs to be maximized we
want to be able to easily take advantage of ping and trackback services.While
trackback has been downplayed of late in favour of services such as technorati,
it all comes in handy. Talking about technorati, anything that makes it easy to
â€œtagâ€ and categorise your content is welcome too.
A professional blog can not be without permanent page URLs.
These are web addresses of your posts that will never change. There is a
frustrating tendency for some sites, especially some newspaper sites, to play
â€œhide the postâ€ when you want to link to a great piece of writing. Visitors
want to be able to bookmark and refer to a link and know the destination will
still exist in future.
The final key feature is the ability to choose from a
variety of templates, to buy or create your own unique look and feel and
especially for revenue, the ability to paste in advertising network code so you
can get paid for your efforts.
Pro Blogger Software Shopping List
There is quite a lot to cover and chances are all of the
packages will score high in some areas and low in others. I have found to my
own distress getting the choice wrong can be a big pain once you have content
in a blog and some visitors, changing over can be a big headache so itâ€™s
worthwhile getting it right now. Here is the full list of criteria we will
judge the blogs on.
- Ease of installation
- Technical requirements
- Ease of use
- Flexibility of posting formatting
- User registration for comments
- Moderation of comments
- Comment spam protection
- Syndicate RSS/ATOM feeds
- Permanent URLs
- Friendly URLs
- Overall Search Engine Friendliness
- Template flexibility
- Ability to paste advertising code
- Multiple Authors
- Multiple Blogs
- Developer support
- ISP support
- Community support
- Technical support and documentation
- Blog by email
- Static pages/Articles
- Type of database
- Stats and reporting
With the above points in mind, letâ€™s take a quick look at
some popular blogging packages before we review them in depth in coming posts
in the series.
CityDesk is actually simply billed as a easy to use desktop Content
Management System but bloggers do use it including the popular blog of
FogCreeks founder, Joel Spolsky. More than one person can use the software but
it is aimed at people with a single blog.
Moveable Type has various options, beginning with a free
version for one author all the way up to unlimited blogs with unlimited
authors. There are also hosting companies who will set it all up and host it
for you. Moveable Type will run on any web server with Perl installed.
WordPress is free, which we like. You will need to be
running a webserver with PHP and have access to a MySQL database.
BBlog is an Open Source PHP solution. Not quite as well known as some
of the others but is used by thousands of bloggers and uses the popular
templating system called Smarty
DasBlog is the first of our two .NET-based blogs for
Microsoft platform fans and is aimed at bloggers who only want a single blog
with one author. DasBlog uses XML files rather than a database so all you need
is up to date Microsoft hosting capable of running .NET websites.
CommunityServer, as the name suggests, is not for single
blogs but for people who want to host many blogs with multiple authors. Along
with blogging capability it allows forums and picture galleries also. As well
as .NET it requires either the free Microsoft MSDE database for simple low
traffic installations or SQL Server for heavy load. CommunityServer is free,
has a commercial option and source is available. Itâ€™s the software
behind blogs.msdn.com and the www.asp.net sites.
Drupal is much more than a blogging system. Itâ€™s a portal, a
CMS, you could probably describe it as a platform. Itâ€™s open source and is
powered by PHP and MySQL or PostgreSQL. Itâ€™s the software behind
Performancing.com, spreadfirefox.org and Threadwatch.org
In this part of the series we have looked at what as
professional bloggers we need from blogging systems, the types of platform
available and what products are on the market. If your decision will be solely
based on price or platform then you might have enough information to make a
decision just on todays posts but for the rest of us in future parts we will
take a more detailed look at installing and using each of these packages.