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Definition: Blog Platform, Blogging Software, Blogware, Content Management System (CMS)

This is part of a series called “The Blogger’s Dictionary”, we’ll be defining everything to do with blogging every Wednesday and Friday for the time being!

We know they can be hosted, or self-hosted, but what actually is a blogging platform?

Blogger, WordPress, Moveable Type, Tumblr, are all examples of blogging platforms, and that is they are the core of your blog. They are what makes your blog actually work – allow you to create posts without hand-coding HTML and CSS to create a website. Essentially they are a form of software on the internet which were created to make the process of blogging itself and blog maintenance easier.

This is the last blog post before Christmas, I will be back on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday next week and then posting daily after the new year!

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Why I’m Using WordPress.com

First I’d like to apologise for the lack of post yesterday. You might have heard about the general strike in Belgium today – I was due to travel via Eurostar from Brussels today and had to change my travel plans at the last minute. Anyway, onto today’s post!

Anyone out there who “knows about blogging” is probably thinking something along the lines of:

“This lady is crazy, every serious blogger knows you use self-hosted WordPress to blog properly.

And the truth is I do use self-hosted WordPress, over at College Student Magazine. So why on earth am I not using it here then?

Money.
I don’t have a huge amount of money, it’s enough to live on – but I managed to get the hosting for College Student Magazine at a special offer ($3.95/month for two years). I decided that for at least the first year I would be better off using WordPress.com for this blog for several reasons.

Ease of use.
Everything is integrated here. I don’t need to install any plugins, find API keys, or do anything except the writing and comment moderating side of things, that for me is great, I don’t even have to update!

Social features.
Wordpress.com is almost like a social network within itself – you can follow each other’s blogs, like posts and so on. The biggest thing is it notifies the blog owner who has done what – whenever someone likes a post, follows my site or leaves a comment I always check out their blog and if I like it then follow it, comment on it, or like a post too.

You can make money here too.
You can sell things you’ve made yourself – so no Adsense or Amazon Affiliates, but if/when I create eBooks or tools I would like to sell then I will be able to as I’ve created them myself. (Sidenote: It’s advisable to contact the team directly to double check that what you want to do will be fine.)

Simple.
This probably goes hand in hand with ease of use, but I like not having so many themes to choose from, not being able to play with the HTML, etc. It saves so much time. I think this blog looks professional enough for now – and if/when I move to a self-hosted Wirdpres blog then I will redesign the theme myself. But I’ve spent a lot of time working on the theme for College Student Magazine, and unfortunately it wore me out a little bit so I was fed up with the blog for a while.

So that’s why I chose WordPress.com for this blog. What do you use and why?


The Disadvantages of Self-Hosting

So now we know what self-hosting is and the advantages of it lets have a look at the disadvantages!

Cost

I would say that most of the time you’re going to have to pay for a host for your self-hosted blog. There are free options out there, but you want to be able to trust whoever’s in charge – and be able to contact them if there’s a problem. Self-hosting costs can vary – I got a special offer for my other blog (College Student Magazine) with BlueHost and I pay just $3.95 a month. But I had to pay for that all in one go.

Ease of Use

If you’re using WordPress.com, Blogger.com or any hosted option then you simply sign up, choose your blog name and you’re away. If you’re self-hosting you have to choose a host, choose what platform you want, pay, install the platform, set up your blog how you want it and then you can start blogging. Now with some hosts this is much easier than with others, With BlueHost (the only host I’ve paid for) I had a great experience and I was up and running in about 20 minutes, but I knew what I was doing.

Time

I’m talking here about the time you spend doing things other than writing posts and publishing, etc. You will have to update your platform and any addons yourself, possibly spend more time tweaking settings, etc. Now you can still spend quite a bit of time doing that with the hosted options (I mean, I definitely don’t… honest!) but everything is pre-optimised for you. If you use WordPress.com as an example then you have several addons pre-installed and set up, and some other settings are different.

Can you think of any other disadvantages?


The Advantages of a Self-Hosted Blog

Image Copyright Rosemary Jayne

Yesterday we looked at what self-hosted is, now I want to look at the advantages of a self-hosted blog.

Domain Name

This isn’t unique to a self-hosted blog, but if you’re self-hosted then you will usually have your own domain such as “myblogname.com”. This is an advantage because if you decide to move your blog for any reason then you will still be in the same place. Think of it as moving house but keeping the same phone number.

Control
This is a biggy. You are completely and utterly in control of your blog. Do you want to have adverts? Go for it! How about affiliate links? A customized theme? All 100% possible if you host your own blog.

Looks
This comes under control, but you can customize your theme however you like with a self-hosted blog. With WordPress.com you have to pay $30 a year to customize your theme with CSS, and that’s providing you can get a theme that looks pretty much how you like in the first place. You can buy your own theme, create one or choose any free theme on a self-hosted blog.

Flexibility
If you’re choosing WordPress.org or most other Blogging Systems to self-host you get a lot of extra flexibility. For example you can install plugins to add a forum to your website, add a shop, improve your search engine optimization, or do pretty much anything you like! You could even create your own social network.

Those are pretty much all the advantages of self-hosting a blog, check back on Tuesday for the disadvantages!


Definition: Self-Hosted (Blog)

This is part of a series called “The Blogger’s Dictionary”, we’ll be defining everything to do with blogging every Wednesday and Friday for the time being!

Blogging jargon is a wondrous thing, now we know what a hosted blog is what is a self-hosted blog?

A self-hosted blog is hosting the blog yourself. This means you pay for server space, a domain name and manage everything yourself.

This is different to a hosted blog, such as WordPress.com because usually all of this is done for you, you might or might not pay – but WordPress.com, Blogger and so on all manage the rest for you, even if you buy a domain name the rest is sorted.

 

Check back tomorrow for advantages of self-hosting your blog!


Definition: Hosted Blog

This is part of a series called “The Blogger’s Dictionary”, we’ll be defining everything to do with blogging every Wednesday and Friday for the time being!

So what is a hosted blog? Assuming you know what a blog is then we just need to define “hosted” so what the heck is it?

A hosted blog is where the server (where your blog is stored) is provided by someone else, usually for free. Your blog domain is usually something like http://MYBLOGNAME.wordpress.com

Here are some common examples:

  • WordPress.com
  • Blogger
  • Tumblr

There are lots more options for hosted blogs, but I believe that these are the most popular.