At its most basic, getting started with blogging is as easy as going to the home page of any of the major blog applications and signing up.
We look at the popular blogging applications, consider their advantages and disadvantages, and show how to use them to create stand-alone blogs or add them as part of your website.
Blogs and blog software are a powerful addition to any publisher’s or author’s online marketing. There are three ways to use blog software.
- You can set up a blog and operate it as a stand-alone blog site
- You can add a blog to a new or existing website
- You can use blog software to create both a blog and a publisher or author website
How to add a blog to your existing website
A blog isn’t just for bloggers. It can be a good addition to an existing or new website, providing an easy way to generate and share new content and gather an audience.
There are several ways to add a blog to an existing website but it depends on how your website was made. If you used an outside developer, you should discuss options and costs with them first.
Adding a blog can be easy but it can also get fairly involved, especially if you want one that looks like it’s part of your website while having all the ease-of-use and tools you ideally need. And unless it is easy to use, you or your team won’t use it.
Briefly, the options tend to fall into one of the following:
1. Add a blog section to your website using the same system that’s been used to build it
If it was built originally with a content management system (CMS), this approach might work. However, not all CMSs give you the tools you need to easily add and market your blog posts. If it’s not easy to use, you might still be be better to look at one of the alternatives below.
2. Add a special blog program to your website and ‘skin’ it to look like your website
‘Skinning’ means that, even though it’s a separate program, it looks like it’s part of your website. A self-hosted Wordpress site (see below) is commonly used for this approach.
3. Link to a separate blog from your website
This is the simplest option. You can set up your blog using one of the free systems like Blogger or Wordpress and link to it from your website’s menu. It’s not as elegant – you end up with two sites to manage and your visitors leave your website to visit your blog. But it works, it’s simple and quick to set up, it gives you an excellent blogging platform, and you can do it for free.
Regardless of which way you choose to go, you should first set up a free blog and play with it so you understand how blogs work and what tools they provide to support the blogger. You’ll be in a much stronger position to discuss options and pick your best route.
You’ll have a chance shortly to do just that when you create a blog using WordPress.
Which blog software?
Let’s look at the three most popular blog applications.
wordpress.com (hosted) or wordpress.org (self-hosted)
WordPress is the most widely-used blogging software and it powers both very large and very small blogs. It’s generally the best option for publishers and authors who want to do serious marketing because it provides a lot more flexibility than other systems (it can be extended to do anything you’d want to do with a website), while staying true to the simplicity of great blogging software.
This is Google’s free blogging service and one of the oldest blog networks, hosting millions of blogs. It’s straightforward, easy to use, free, and hosted by Google so you never have to install or update software, or pay hosting or storage charges.
In spite of stiff competition from blogging heavyweights WordPress and Blogger, Tumblr has managed to carve out a big piece of the ‘blogosphere’ and now powers about 100 million blogs. Tumblr blogs are short-form blogs, quick to post to, typically containing image- and video-rich multimedia content, and very easy to share.
WordPress.org vs WordPress.com: A Definitive Guide For 2013. This straightforward article will give you a good idea of how these two options for WordPress work, and which might suit you best.
Find out more about this topic on our Digital Publishing 101 useful resources site.