Sorry it’s taken me so long to add the next post in this series for How To Start a Food Blog. I have received several requests asking for more lessons and I’m excited to get back in the swing of things.
If you’re new to this series, please feel free to check out the earlier lessons on What Kind of Blog Will You Be? and How to Pick a Domain Name.
Today, I’d like to discuss blogging platforms — what they are, why you need them and which one’s best for you.
What is a blogging platform?
Wikipedia defines a blogging platforms as “specialized content management systems … [that] support the authoring, editing, and publishing of blog posts and comments, with special functions for image management, web syndication, and post and comment moderation.” Basically, a blogging platform is where you will write and publish your blog posts as well as make administrative changes to your website.
Should I host my own blog?
To start, there are two main methods for publishing a blog: self-hosted or hosted by someone else. For the purposes of this series, I am going to assume most food bloggers aren’t looking to create their site from scratch, but instead would prefer to have an easy way to share their stories, recipes, talents and lives. As a comparison, self-hosted sites allow you to have full administrative control with things like design, functionality, theme and customization whereas hosted sited tend to make more of the choices for you. This is not to say you can’t customize your site if someone else hosts it. Rather, customization is possible but requires some more technical abilities (or an awesome husband who just happens to be a software engineer, as is the case for me).
WordPress has three different forms you can choose: (1) As a free host for your blog, (2) As a paid service with extra features to host your blog and (3) As an uploadable management system for your own self-hosted site.
Check out the following section for how to choose which option and which platform makes sense for you.
Which one should I choose?
Blogger tends to be the choice for most blogging beginners. For people just looking to jump in and get started, Blogger can have you up and running in minutes. Blogger is owned and controlled by Google who has rights over the content and ability to publish. This is important to consider because Google ultimately has say over your blog. Using Blogger’s free hosting will give you a website URL like this: www.myawesomefoodblog.blogger.com. Blogger is a great choice for people who want to run a (food) blog as a hobby and nothing more. Blogger allows you to create custom looks and designs and you can do some advertising (though with some restrictions) and there are add-ons available that can help to customize and make it your own. However, for those bloggers with bigger aspirations who wish to create a brand and make some money, rather than just a hobby, a self-hosted WordPress is the best choice.
WordPress tends to be the site bloggers graduate to from Blogger, though it does not have to happen in that order. Hosting with WordPress will give you a URL like this: www.myawesomefoodblog.wordpress.com. If you’re interested in using WordPress for your hosting, you will not be able to have ads on your site. However, WordPress offers ways to (1) have your own customized domain name and (2) have your own ads to earn money. To use your own domain name (such as www.myawesomefoodblog.com), you can host your own website (through hosting companies such as hostgator, godaddy and servint) and choose to install WordPress onto your own hosted site (this is called having a self-hosted WordPress site). Because I think this is the best way to go for creating your own customized, easy to run and monetize-able blog, I will dedicate a later lesson, step-by-step for how to install WordPress onto your domain. For more information on how to choose your own domain name, check out this post. WordPress has all sorts of great plug-ins that are easy to download and install on your WordPress theme to help improve your blog. There are also tons and tons of free WordPress themes you can use to get started. This site is hosted on WPEngine and uses WordPress.
If you haven’t yet read my post on how to decide what kind of blog you would like to run, I suggest you read it and start thinking. Your answers will have an impact on what type of platform makes the most sense for you.
I hope you find this content helpful. Stay tuned for more lessons in this series.
Also, please contact me if you’d like more in-depth, hands-on assistance, as I also offer consulting services to help you get started or to improve your current blog.
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