I had some really lovely feedback from Starting a blog Part 1, so thank you to everyone who took the time to read it and to interact about it. Very much appreciated. In this part, I’m going to cover some of the blogging platforms themselves, and what they can offer you – and I’ll also touch on the most important thing about starting a blog – the content.
What Platform – Starting a blog part 2
I’m just going to get this out there straight away. You’ll end up using WordPress. It is by far the most comprehensive of the blogging platforms – and if you can organise the hosting – you’re laughing. But, there are others!
Wix is rapidly gaining traction as one of the big players in the self-creating website category. It’s aimed more towards creating a *website*, not specifically a *blog*. For example, Wix allows you to easily create custom pages of content, similar to what you’d expect to see for, say, an information website about a local tourist attraction. WordPress is, and always has been, aimed towards specifically blogging, that being, a core website theme with multiple blog posts on it. To put it in to it’s correct technical terms, Wix is a tool for building a website, WordPress is a tool for managing content (Content management system, CMS)
Wix doesn’t have the community that WordPress has, it’s not open source, so people can’t build for it as easily as they can with WordPress.
If you’re looking for a corporate level / business website, then maybe Wix is for you. But if you just want to quickly start blogging, it probably isn’t.
Personally, I love Medium. But don’t get it confused with a blog – it isn’t. I mean, it is, but it’s more of a tool for writers, and not something that can (or should) be used to represent you or your brand / persona. Medium is for writers – it’s for people who want to write an article about specific subjects. I still use Medium for some of my tech posts, but I keep it separate from out blog for a few good reasons.
Medium is also classed more as a “publisher“, so you can add a paywall to your content, and they will also publish your article across their site (if it’s worthy of publishing, that is!). I guess it depends what your goal is – If you just want to log in, and write, then maybe Medium is for you. If you want to customise, and have full control of your visual, then probably not.
Firstly, let’s clear something up. WordPress comes in two flavours. WordPress.org, and WordPress.com. Pick wisely! Basically, WordPress.com is a blog hosted directly with WordPress. You pay them for the hosting ( there is a free level, but it’s littered with adverts and restrictions, and you’ll live on a subdomain (yourblog.wordpress.com) unless you pay to upgrade). I won’t go in to the full restrictions, you can read about them here. From experience, you’ll get so annoyed on wordpress.com (the free tier) that you can’t overly customise your site, or install plugins, that you’ll end up looking for a solution to fix these issues fairly quickly – which involves sub quite substantial fees to WordPress.
The solution to wordpress.com, is wordpress.org. It’s the same “platform”, but it’s hosted wherever you choose, which gives you much more freedom over your blog.
There are literally thousands of hosting options around – personally I prefer slightly more “advanced” options where you can configure the server yourself, but there’s lots of off the shelf hosting suppliers out there that make setting up a WordPress blog incredibly simple. Check out post one in this series for more information on these.
Ultimately, regardless of what platform you opt for – the key element of anything you decide to do is the content. Search engines (Google, bing etc) use incredibly comprehensive algorithms to establish what your content is all about, and whether it should appear when people search for things on their websites. Back in the day, you could easily climb up the Google rankings by using some pretty easy techniques, keyword stuffing and so on, to tell google that your page was about something very particular, even if it actually, from a “readable” point of view, wasn’t. Now, Google will analyse your content to establish if it’s genuinely readable, it’s tone, its relation to other content on your site, its comparative relations to other content that it thinks is related to your content, and so on. Even adding links to other websites (‘backlinks’) in your content – if they aren’t relevant, you could be punished in your ranking. Years ago, people would create pages and pages full of links to other sites, to improve their ranking – thankfully, it’s something that doesn’t happen much now, because it simply doesn’t work like that anymore.
If you’re interested in understanding what Google is looking for from your content, you can read about it here – I’d actively encourage you to, too.
It’s a whole new world of understanding, and the best way to understand is to read, process and appreciate both the complexities, and the simplicity around it. And by that, I mean, if you’re passionate about your writing, and you’re producing content that is relevant to your audience, well structured, and ticking some basic boxes (see Yoast, Rank Math, Monster Insights, all WordPress plugins that will help you understand the core elements), then the rest will happen organically.
I think that’s enough for starting a blog part 2 – but if you have any questions about platforms, or need any help or advice in choosing a platform or hosting provider, then please don’t hesitate to use the comments, or contact me on Instagram. In starting a blog part 3, I’ll talk about Improving performance – Site speeds and optimisations.