We hear this question a lot, and the simple answer is – there’s no simple answer!
There are so many different website platforms and this alone can make the process confusing. It really depends on the following questions:
- What are your goals with blogging?
- Where are you in the process?
- What’s your level of comfort with technology?
- And, how much time and money you want to spend?
Let’s start with the first point – what are your goals? Are you blogging for business growth? To help direct traffic to your website via SEO?
Or do you want to start a blog to write more, to explore ideas and connect with others, to practice and refine your writing style? These different goals can have very different tech solutions.
The technology is just the means to deliver this, and is can be less important than your actual content. Yes, the platform you use matters, particularly if SEO is an important objective for you, but you could have the fanciest, most expensive WordPress site built for you and if you aren’t producing useful or interesting content – it will make zero difference.
All too often we see clients get stuck in the idea of having the best-looking website they can dream of, when they have a shoestring budget and an idea, but not an actual business yet.
So be really clear and honest with yourself – will a free, less professional-looking site suit your purposes at this stage of your journey? With a dream upgrade later when you’re ready?
Where you’re at in the process folds nicely into this topic too. I started a blog about a year or so ago, and I really wanted it to look gorgeous and professional. Helps having a web designer/developer husband 😉 However, once I got started writing, my interest and dedication quickly waned. A few months later I came up with another idea and am still writing for that one.
The lesson here for me? I could have started a free Blogger account for both of those blogs, until I explored further what I was trying to do. As it turned out, the first idea wasn’t really where I wanted to go at that time, so I moved on.
The second idea could have stopped just as quickly, so again, I could have gone for a free site until I had explored further. Instead I tortured Nick both times with making me a beautiful blog site that I LOVED without having explored my ideas enough.
I would tell anyone who says they want to start a blog, either start writing NOW in a Word/Pages document and see where it goes. Or start a free blog with:
- Google’s Blogger – all the power of Google integration but very, very minimal features, it’s always going to look like a free blog;
- WordPress.com – the free one, hosted by them, you just blog;
- Tumblr – perfect for visual stuff, try searching for “funny cats”, you’ll see what I mean;
- Or, Medium – it’s a blog but not as we know it!
Just get some writing down on the pages, get some momentum happening!
Now, how do you feel about technology? We’re all pretty savvy with the internet now, right? If you can manage to write an email, you can use blog software to create posts. Easy. But it’s the actual set up part that stumps many people, and because of the myriad of options, they stop right there. Smoke starts to pour out of your ears when you even think about choosing a platform.
Jana Kingsford has a great quote that she shares with her eCourse students – “technology is just pushing buttons”. So true. I can guarantee you that somewhere out there in the far reaches and folds of the internet, you will find a video or some kind of tutorial which will explain to you, step by step, how to do what you want to do.
Need to learn how to install WordPress on your hosting system? No problem, Google that and you’ll come up with approximately 4 million hits. I’m guessing there, but you get what I’m saying. If you have an approach of curiosity and goddamn pigheadedness, then you WILL get there in the end.
Never fear though, for those of you who feel like the internet kind of works by magic and are always just slightly afraid you will blow up your computer accidentally somehow, there is help at hand. You need to choose a low-stress, minimal tech option, with as much done-for-you as possible.
For you I would suggest looking into Medium (mentioned above), Squarespace, or finding a template package offer like our JumpStart blog/website packages.
Finally, the old time + money question. This also relates to the tech question, if you are happy to spend as much time as it takes to create your blog site and journey far and wide to find your answers, then you could look at a WordPress install on your own hosting, buy a theme, and set it all up from scratch. It IS possible to create your own beautiful site for low cost but high time investment. And that’s what a LOT of people do, they take the late night-shift route and get it done. There are so many WordPress communities out there to help you along the way, it’s one of the biggest pros for going WordPress.
So, if you are:
- Already down the path of your blogging journey, maybe already done the free blog site thing, looking to upgrade now,
- And, probably blogging for income or business (i.e. sponsored posts, advertising on your site, have a business to promote),
- And, cool with tech, happy to be pushing the buttons and finding the answers,
- And, have the time to invest managing your own site,
Then set up your own WordPress site.
If you answered no to most of those things, then you should look at other options:
- Free blog site like Google Blogger, WordPress.com, Tumblr, or Medium while you find your feet.
- Ready to upgrade to a nicer site and pay a little but still keep it simple? Try Squarespace, or a WordPress template package like our JumpStart, which gives you room to grow.
- Going totally pro to make serious money from your website, blogging for SEO and reach, don’t have the time or interest to spend doing it all yourself? Pay someone to do it for you.
It’s that simple really. And that complex.
No-one in the early stages of blogging or business really feels they can pay much for a website. Yet, if you had a bricks and mortar store, you’d pay the rent, you’d pay for advertising, you’d pay the staff you need to keep the business running. Your website can be your greatest business tool and work for you 24 x 7, so choose to INVEST if that’s where you’re at on your journey.
Alternatively, if you hate technology and have no interest in spending hours trying to figure it out, go for a simple to manage option. Yes, you’ll sacrifice somewhat on design and professionalism but if you’re just starting out it doesn’t need to be perfect from day! Seriously, it just doesn’t.
There’s a website where you can look back in time at famous people’s websites and all of them, ALL OF THEM, were bloody awful to begin with. But, they got started, THAT is the important bit – just start!
If you can, try to consider how and where you will want to grow later, for example, aiming to add an eCommerce store, or membership site? Then choose a more flexible solution like WordPress which can grow with you. If you have no idea and just want to write, go with the simplest to use and free-est option while you get going, and upgrade later.
You can always find a technical solution later for whatever you need, but you’ll never get back those hours you spent procrastinating over which solution to go with!
Leave a comment and tell us – where do you fit in this matrix of needs and wants? Want free+hate tech? Or still just confused? Let us know.
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