Excerpt from forthcoming book, Putting Community First in Social Networking Technology: A Tropical Music and Food Dream Becomes Reality, The Eric and Kim Stone Story (copyright 2014, all rights reserved, working title). The book focuses on what made for a successful crowdfunding effort to raise working capital for Dockside Tropical Café. Part of the success was the orchestrated use of social media which is review in the book. This excerpt summarize our conclusions of choosing a blog platform.
The TropNetworking BlogSmackdown compared 7 blog platforms including Blogger, FourSquare, Movable Type, Posthaven, Type Pad, WordPress.com, and WordPress.org. The best blog platform depends on how you plan to use the blog, but the huge market share and vital development community around WordPress are going to make those options a top choice for many. Both of those platforms also support standard web pages and make a good platform for your web page as well, making it easy to integrate the two. Interestingly, custom blogs were the second most popular alternative in the Pingdom study. Custom blogs can be good for larger companies or high tech companies with the skills to set up the databases and the link to the page, but take more work than most companies would want to do. The added work can, however, make a blog that is well integrated with other systems in the organization.
The difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org is that WordPress.com is a site where people can just sign up for the blogging service and get started whereas WordPress.org is open source software which would be installed on the user’s web server. Of the people interested in WordPress, probably most would be well served by WordPress.com which simply requires setting up a free account to start. Many would likely opt for a paid account which allows for a custom domain name and added space. This option gives you the software with a huge selection of templates for the look and feel, a large user community, lots of how to books, and plenty of web information to give you tips and tricks all slightly easier to use than WordPress.org.
We will be more adventures for the book and go with the slightly more complicated WordPress.org software module hosted on our GoDaddy web site. This method is still not difficult because GoDaddy, like many web host providers, has a menu option that says “Install WordPress” and allows you to specify a folder on your web site for the WordPress software. The advantage to this approach is that all of the WordPress files are copied into your folder and can then be modified allowing for more customization and the ability to include third party plugins. For example, financial eCommerce is supported through plugins. As of September 25, 2013, our GoDaddy account costs $4.49/ month with unlimited websites, bandwidth, and disk space and no extra charge for WordPress.
An honorable mention goes to FourSquare that offers simplicity with integration of blog, web support, email list support, and the financial side of ecommerce. To over simply a bit, their rates are $8/ month for blogging, $16/ month blogging and email management, and $24/ month for blogging, email, and financial eCommerce. FourSquare excelled at easy of use and for simple integration of its tools. In this world of almost free online tools, it’s priced slightly higher, than others, but may be worth it for the reduced headaches. It is intended for the users that do not want to be a web programmers and offers flexible editing without all out site design. If you plan on doing your own logistics for sales, but want simple integrated payment systems, and if an easy integrated site sounds good, FourSquare may be for you.
From our point of view, honorable mention goes to Posthaven for their straight forward and unusual pledge to host your blogs forever. Their mission to create a blog that lasts forever comes out of their frustration when Twitter purchase the Posterious blog site the founders helped create and then proceeded to shut it down. Also, their clean design was liked best by many of our viewers during the Blog SmackDown. Although the site did not have extensive templates, the basic functional design was appreciated. Since many of the features are not ready and we need to get blogging this Fall (2013), we will still stick with the WordPress direction for the book. Depending on when you read this, you may want to check out their site and see what has become of a neat idea. Tweet us if we should take another look.
Google’s Blogger deserves a mention. Started in 1999 and associated with Google since 2002, it remains a reliable choice. The service is free and easy. Possibly a good choice if you have a solid web strategy and want to add a blog.
The runners up were Movable Type and Type Pad. Still solid choices with a track record of good customer service.
Note that the book contains more the details of the analysis that went into these recommendations.