Blogging is a fast and easy way to get yourself a web presence and show off your abilities as a writer, artist, or as an expert in your chosen field. However, the choice of blogging services and options available can be bewildering.
- LiveJournal is one of the oldest and most popular free blog providers on the web, and is great for personal blogs. You can set up a blog for free, and customise its look and feel using predefined templates or your own HTML. You can also choose to upgrade your account with paid features which allow you to edit a few more aspects of your journal's look and feel; upload more user icons; and create voice posts and user polls. LiveJournal's unique selling point is its focus on social networking; users can add others to their Friends List (sometimes called a flist), giving them special permission to view higher-security entries. Friends' entries are also displayed on a user's Friends Page. Users who share interests can find one another using the interest search features.
- Blogger had been around for a few years before it was bought out by Google in 2003. Blogger is another good option for personal blogs, with the added advantage of the ability to set up Google AdSense advertisements on your site, meaning that you can earn some pocket money from site visitors. A major benefit of a Blogger account is that users can choose to use their own Domain Name for their blog, and can also host their blog externally if they wish. The Google toolbar features a button that says BlogThis!, which, when clicked, allows the user to post a blog entry about the page they are viewing. However, unlike LiveJournal, Blogger blogs are not always properly indexed by search engines.
- Bravenet is a web services site which offers a multitude of tools to users of all abilities. The blogging service has improved greatly of late, with more and better customisation options available. The other integrated features offered, such as web hosting, statistics, counters and site builders, may be useful. Again, some of these features require a small fee to be activated.
- WordPress.com is another free blogging service which is popular with businesses and personal users alike. WordPress boasts the ability to import journal entries from other blogs, meaning that moving over to WordPress is not too complicated a task. Some of the more recent features of WordPress, such as CSS editing, domain mapping, and increased storage space, are only available for a fee, but the free service is more than adequate for most users.
WordPress (as opposed to WordPress.com) is a blogging software package which gives users much more flexibility with regard to the management of their blog. The software is free to download, and is open source. You will need to have your own web host and domain name to use WordPress software, but it is a highly powerful and professional way of running a blog. The technical support offered is also excellent.
- TypePad is a paid blogging service which gives users a lot of flexibility and powerful features without the need for much technical knowledge. Multimedia such as video or music are easily added to TypePad blogs, and users can also embed functionality from various websites including Amazon and Skype, as well as choosing whether and how advertising should be included. Detailed site statistics are also available to some users.
By Brian Jackson