A blog is an online diary where entries are made in reverse chronological order. Not so long ago, blogging was considered as writing articles with pictures and/or videos. Today we have social media networks like Facebook, Instagram or Twitter which help us post updates to our followers. YouTubers call themselves vloggers. Which combo you will use depends on your blogging aims and strategy.
Both Facebook and WordPress began roughly in the same year. In the year 2003, Google acquired Blogger platform from Pyra Labs. While Blogger and WordPress are true blue blogging platforms, Facebook started off as a social network. If we go back to the aim of blogging, all the three of them provide the ability to allow the user to post articles, photos, audio and videos. Which brings us to the question, is YouTube a complete blogging platform.
Different ways to blog
The two distinct approaches to blogging is via website article way and social media platforms way.
Website articles method
The free options available for bloggers are as follows
- Blogger by Google – The most beginner friendly option for bloggers with many of them staying on. You get a subdomain by Google and simple blogging interface. Blogger or Blogspot has been around since 2003 without many changes in design. Integration with Google Adsense is added advantage. Simple design means you can focus on blogging and creating content.
- WordPress – Rich in design and functions with themes and plugins. Launched the same year as Blogger, WordPress has grown from a blogging platform to a content management system. The core functionality as a blog tools will not change. You get a sub domain from WordPress and many features far better than Blogger. The WordPress smartphone app helps you to get more followers in a focused manner.
- Others – There is Wix, Weebly, Jimdo, Shopify, SquareSpace, the list goes on. Everybody is vying for the site builder space. They all want to take the complexity out of design by providing templates and giving all functions like payment gateway, shopping cart, etc in the form of simple drag and drop modules. All of them give a subdomain and website for free.
Paid options are as follows.
- Self Hosted WordPress – If you are in for the long haul, self hosted WordPress is the way forward. You have complete control over design and SEO is a breeze. Looking for sponsors or joining an ad network, this options works best. besides giving a professional look. Choose your hosting provider with care since it is going to be a three to five year commitment. Go for the longest duration pack since you will get a straight 50% discount on your first transaction. Check for free addons like SSL cert and business mail.
- Paid plans by WordPress.com – Plans include custom domain, ads by WordPress, spam protection, CDN and much more. It is like a single platform giving cutting edge features of WordPress. But comparatively, plans are expensive.
- Other options – Google Domains provide an option to buy a domain and link it with blogger website. It also give business mail options under G-suite. Except for the basic integration, the setup remain buggy and customer care is non existent.
Blogging by Social Media method
Popularity of social media networks has tempted the masses to change the definition of blogging. People now assume (wrongly!) that posting updates is a form of blogging too. Here are a few pointers suggesting otherwise.
- Blogging is necessarily writing an article of between 300 to 600 words. How will you post a 300 word update on Facebook timeline.
- Every social network keeps insisting that they are only for updates from friends and family.
- Google does not show search results within the social networks.
- Social media posting is for entertainment purpose, at-least that is what your followers will believe.
- Brands are given promotional tools for business purpose which are misused by influencers to boost follows and likes.
- This confusion will remain because blog articles are also called posts and social media updates are called posts too!
Here are a few social media networks and what they can be used for.
- Facebook – To check-in public places of interest like restaurants, shopping malls, picnic spots, museums, gardens, etc. Post pictures and videos of travel experiences. Use a Facebook page to post short stories, poems or funny one liners.
- Instagram – If you are photographer or travel blogger or posting restaurant reviews, this app can work with short updates.
- Tumblr – Can be used to write posts sometimes detailed ones too.
- YouTube – Integrated with Adsense, this has become the big daddy of money spinning vloggers.
If you are an aspiring blogger, you need to take a long and hard look towards social media before taking a call. Businesses and brand have a presence on social media without need for a website. But for a blogger, a website is the only sign of true identity.