Blogging Options

Blogging Options

Posted on Dec 4th, 2008 by Marmalade : Gaia Explorer Marmalade

I’ve been looking at my blogging options.  There is a lot out there and its hard to make a decision.  I’ve found reviews, but everything is always changing and so I have no way of knowing which reviews are still relevant.  At least, I have an idea of what types of things are available and so have a better sense of what I’m looking for.

I want to bring my blogging up a notch as part of my wanting to get more focused on my own writing.  I want a blog that is hosted by a site like Gaia, but something with more options. 

I have a couple particularly important factors.  I’m mostly interested in the big players in the field.  Since I’m planning to put a lot of time and effort into blogging, I want a stable system with a company that won’t go belly up.  There are way too many new companies popping up and not all of them will last.

However, problems can even arise with the big companies.  Blogs can get (accidentally?) deleted or frozen, and depending on the customer service it might be a challenge to retrieve your blog.  This has happened with some people on Google’s Blogger, but maybe they’ve fixed it by now. 

Blogger does seem to be the single most popular blogging site with WordPress in a close second.  Blogger is simpler and WordPress is fancier, but both are constantly improving.  Yahoo has jumped in with MyBlogLog which looks promising, but I haven’t looked into it very much yet. 

All these have definite advantages, but they’re focused just on blogging.  Part of me is attracted to white-label networking sites as they balance tons of options with ease of use.  Ning is the most popular, and is the only company in this category that I feel sure will continue to exist for many years.  The problem with blogging on Ning is that your blog is in a community that you set up.  You could make it a more private community, but the main problem is whether the blog is easy to find.  For instance, is it picked up by a websearch like any other blog would be?  I’d hate to have a blog that was simply hidden away somewhere.

The reason I’m looking at the networking sites is because they allow more complex designs.  WordPress does allow more complexity, but the learning curve on WordPress is quite large from what I understand.  I want to be able to (easily) set up multiple pages with categories (and possibly sub-categories).  I want to be able to have multiple blogs for different topics and maybe pages for longer articles.  Ideally, I’d like to even be able to set different accessability for the separate pages… some public, some private, and some viewable only to friends.  I don’t know if any blogging site has these functions, and so networking sites may have more of what I’m looking for.

There are many other networking sites that are similar to Ning.  Some of them even seem nicer than Ning, but its hard to tell which ones will last.  There so much hype and splogging (spam blogging) that its hard to determine what info is reliable.  Ning is the only one that gets consistent praise.

I’ve already joined a bunch of these sites.  I wanted to explore them for myself, but haven’t yet started blogging on any of them.  I was thinking of narrowing my choice down to two or three, and actually start using them.  In particular, I wanted to try out maybe Blogger and Ning as they’re two very popular and yet very different platforms. 

Anyways, I thought it would be good to keep two blogs going with the same posts.  They would act as backups for eachother instead of me saving my blog posts to my computer.  I have this fear about blogs.  I’d hate to wake up one day and see years of blogging entirely disappeared into the aether.

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This continues in Part 2:

Marmalade’s New Blogs

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Access_public Access: Public 17 Comments Print Post this!views (243)  

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

27 minutes later

Marmalade said

Of course, the only blogging options I’m seriously considering are ones that are free.  I don’t feel like spending money unless it was very minimal and there was some great advantage to what I was getting for my money.  I’m fine with there being some advertising on my blog. 

It would be simpler (in some ways) if I was willing to put the money and time into designing my own website, but I’m not that motivated or that wealthy.  I don’t need perfection… just something that works good enough for my purposes.  I’d rather spend my time on my actual blogging and less time with endless tinkering and upkeep.  I don’t need any more distractions in my life.

Annemieke : Similarity

about 2 hours later

Annemieke said

Hi Ben

WordPress is not that difficult, it is rather easy, even for me. And I have never lost anything yet. Everything you are working on is saved every few minutes.

Something else to consider might be to become a member of  BlogCatalog. It is a very large and active community for bloggers and a great way to get to know other bloggers. 

Good luck,
Annemieke

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

about 5 hours later

Marmalade said

I just checked out your WordPress blog.  It looks nice.  You have multiple pages.  Was that at all difficult to set up?  One comparison showed that WordPress has the option of both categories and subcategories.  Are the pages what are considered categories?  Have you ever tried creating subcategoreis?

There is another thing about some of the white label sites.  Some of them have the capacity to create photo and video albums.  I’m not sure if any of the purely blogging platforms is capable of doing that.

As for learning curve, how long did it take you to design your blog?  The learning curve I heard about with WordPress is that it takes a lot of effort to do anything outside of basic functions.

BTW I had come across BlogCatalog.  It probably would be a good idea to become a member there.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

about 5 hours later

Marmalade said

Hey, Annemieke, have you ever blogged anywhere else besides WordPress and here on Gaia?  Why did you pick WordPress?

about 5 hours later

WH said

I blog on both Blogger and WordPress, but I prefer Blogger, especially if you use Firefox. Blogger can be customized on Firefox, using Grease Monkey and other scripts, to make it do a lot of stuff. With Chrome or IE you are stuck with the Blogger interface as they created it.

The “new” Blogger is easy to use, but less easy to customize unless you are really good with html.

That’s my take.

Peace,
Bill

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

about 5 hours later

Marmalade said

The one thing I haven’t looked into yet is websearchability of blogging sites.  I’ve seen some comparisons that I plan to check out soon.  Personally, I want to be read, and so having my blog listed in relevant websearches is important.

There is another thing I’m keeping in the background of my researching this subject.  At some point, I might want to start a community group for my family.  I want a site that would have certain options.  Video and photo albums would be necessary of course, but also a way of organizing info about the family including genealogy.

Terrill : Spirit of butterfly

about 7 hours later

Terrill said

Hi Ben,

I have been having similar conversations with myself over the past few months. I now post on a ning community that I was asked to join. It is kind of cool to be part of a narrowly focused community and I am pretty much the only one who blogs there. I am not fussy about all the steps I have to do to put in hyperlinks and formating when I have pasted text in from word that already has everything.

I recently set up a blog on blogspot because it is nice and clean to link client into. But I have no idea who reads it or if anyone can search it. Not a good feeling… it somehow feels more like a post card instead of a blogging conversation.

I looked at wordpress and follow another blog that is on there. Humm… maybe I will check it out more closely.

Anyway, if you find anything that is super good, please let me know.

And thanks for posting your research.

Terrill

Annemieke : Similarity

about 13 hours later

Annemieke said

“You have multiple pages.  Was that at all difficult to set up?” 

The pages are not difficult to set up, the only thing that was a bit strange is the followup in the heading. It took me some time to find out why one showed up before another.


“One comparison showed that WordPress has the option of both categories and subcategories.  Are the pages what are considered categories?  Have you ever tried creating subcategoreis?”

No, the categories belong to the posts. For each post you choose one or several categories. The pages are just static on the header. I did not create subcategories but it should be rather easy to do, from each category you can make subcategories.  
Some of them have the capacity to create photo and video albums.  I’m not sure if any of the purely blogging platforms is capable of doing that.

I also don’t know if the blogging platforms have the capacity to create photo and video albums. I think the way to do that is to link to your own pages and posts, but the idea of albums seems more an external thing to do, I guess.
As for learning curve, how long did it take you to design your blog?  The learning curve I heard about with WordPress is that it takes a lot of effort to do anything outside of basic functions.”

It did not take that long as I just started it and I just learned along the way. Maybe not the best way to do it, but for me that usually works best. I also never read manuals very well but just start something and just see where it goes.

I can very well imagen that it is difficult to do anything outside the basic functions, but until now that has not been a problem for me because it was all very new and I just used what was available.  

” have you ever blogged anywhere else besides WordPress and here on Gaia?  Why did you pick WordPress?”

I haven’t blogged anywhere besides WordPress and Gaia. The reason I picked WordPress was just random. I just started blogging because at that time I read a homeopathy blog where someone said there should be more homeopathy blogs that where actually about homeopathy instead of the sceptic blogs that came up high in the search engines. And most of the blogs I read at that time where WordPress blogs so I just started there.

” having my blog listed in relevant websearches is important.”

Coming up in relevant websearches was not to hard. In fact it all worked to fast for me. I am very much on the edge of homeopathy, astrology and the periodic table and showing up there too prominent would be just provoking. I remember after my first posts I found myself all over the place. At least that is the idea I got. And I decided to leave a lot of words out of my posts and tags. So my idea is that showing up in relevant websearches is not to hard.
I might want to start a community group for my family.  I want a site that would have certain options.  Video and photo albums would be necessary of course, but also a way of organizing info about the family including genealogy.

About starting a community group for your family I don’t think that WordPress or Blogger would be your best options. But maybe it would be best to seperate that and use a personal blog which you can very easily handle, to be a sort of centre, maybe a daily journal of some sort, to link to albums, videos and other family activities. Just thinking out loud.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

about 14 hours later

Marmalade said

WH – I don’t use Firefox.  I’m not too excited about adding further complications to the process of blogging.  I may not be computer illiterate, but I’m definitely not computer saavy.  I probably could figure out using all of that, but it sounds like a lot of work.  I’m an inherently lazy person who seeks the path of least resistance.

Terrill – I belong to several Ning groups.  I like it, but one problem is that your profile doesn’t carryover from one group to the next.  When I do a websearch for “Ning” and “Marmalade”, it shows my profile for each group separately.  I could blog in one of those groups, but I don’t want to blog in someone else’s space.  I even started a group there just to see its capabilities, but I have the group closed.

Your other blog on Blogspot is a good basic blog.  I mostly would be happy with something like that.  The main thing it lacks is multiple pages.  I wonder if there is a way to create multiple pages with it.  I think it does allow you to create multiple blogs which might serve a similar function.

I think I understand your view that it has a less personal feel to it.  That is the difference of a blogging site and other sites that offer blogging amongst many other services such as networking.  Also, a blogpost blog like you have can seem so much more plain than a WordPress blog.  WordPress gives one greater ability to personalize.

If you don’t like the feeling of anyone being able to read your blog, then you’d probably be better off making Ning (or another similar platform) your main blog.  Both Blogpost and WordPress come up in websearches very easily.  I tried to do a search on blogs in Ning and nothing seemed to come up other than Ning’s official blog.  Apparently, if you blog on Ning, you are hidden from the prying eyes of strangers.

I’d like some attention from websearching strangers or at least I don’t want to be isolated entirely.  My blogs here often come up in relevant websearches.  However, too much attention can be problematic.  I’ve heard that if you allow comments on the main blogging sites, you might have to install some anti-spam tools and spend some time removing spam.  That is one nice thing about Gaia.  I’ve only had one comment here that I assume must’ve been spam.

And I’ll be sure to keep you posted.  I’m taking my time in making a choice.

Annemieke – I like that starting a WordPress blog hasn’t been difficult for you.  Your blog looks pretty nice and I like what you did with the pages.  I’m like you in that I’d probably just figure it out as went along and hope for the best.  I’m fairly good at figuring things out as long as they’re reasonably intuitive in design.

Out of the blogging sites, WordPress does seem most impressive.  I have one lingering question which I don’t know if you can answer.  Some of the more general sites allow multiple pages that have different levels of privacy.  Is there a way of making private or friends-only pages?

You’re probably right about keeping the two separate.  It might be easier to think of them as two different objectives.  Although, its possible there could be a single platform that would allow me to separate them enough.  Some sites allow you not only to make pages and specific blogs private to varying degrees but also allow you to create multiple groups or multiple blogs.  There are many different ways I could go about all of this.

I’m glad I got all of these responses here.  Its given me a chance to think out loud.  I still have plenty of more research to do.  I need to play around with the various sites I’ve joined.  Once I narrow down my choices, I might start another blog to get at more detailed comparisons.

Annemieke : Similarity

about 15 hours later

Annemieke said

“Is there a way of making private or friends-only pages?”
Private is easy, you have the choice between public and private. Friends only I didn’t know, so I went looking and it seems you also have the choice ‘password protected’.

And you have the same choices for the pages.

Marmalade : Gaia Child

about 16 hours later

Marmalade said

I must say that WordPress is looking pretty nice.  Between Blogger and WordPress, I was leaning more to the former.  But, listening to you, I’m starting to lean the other way.

Annemieke : Similarity

about 16 hours later

Annemieke said

If you want some more comparison between the two, here are pages full of opinions from users. Some use Blogger, others WordPress and some even use (or have used) both.

Marmalade : Gaia Child

about 17 hours later

Marmalade said

Thanks!  I’ll check it out later.

about 19 hours later

Centria said

Ben, this blog is so timely!  Thank you for writing it.  Yesterday I asked (inwardly) to figure out some sites for blogging.  Have been thinking of doing a special “project” and writing about it every day next year.  Still in the planning stages, but was trying to figure out where I might blog about it.  Don’t want to do it here on Gaia because I still want to blog about other things here. 

Thanks also to Annemieke for her insights!  REally appreciate all of this information.   Kathy

Marmalade : Gaia Child

1 day later

Marmalade said

Hello Kathy! Yeah, this blog is so timely. I was just thinking about blogs the other day and then all of a sudden I saw this blog. I was like, dude, I wrote that. It was amazing. Its like I can read my own mind. 🙂

Anyways… If I blog elsewhere, I can’t say what will become of this blog. I was thinking I might reserve this blog for less serious writing and postings of videos. This is a good basic blog.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

1 day later

Marmalade said

BTW I’m not being very focused… nothing new. lol I’ve been on a massive reconnaissance mission to discover every interesting thng that exists on the web. That is my humble aspiration. :))

I can’t help myself. My curiosity is my addiction. Its not my fault the internet is such an interesting place. For the past several months or so, I’ve been looking at all the ever-multiplying sites that involve: virtual reality (worlds and globes), video (tv and movies, video sharing), social networking, white label platforms, blogging sites, search engines, social bookmarking, portals, OpenID,etc.

They all start intermingling after awhile. I’m particularly interested in where these different services crossover in a single provider. For instance, I’m sure Google has more services than I’m aware of. Google has: Google Earth, Google Maps,Blogger, Google search engine, Google Reader, Lively (virtual world, social networking), OpenSocial, Google Groups, Google Books, and on and on. However, they’re not all in one place per se. Google is a rather sprawling megacorporation.

I like some of the white label platforms because they offer the diversity of services like Google but with the ability to create a niche market. The problem is niche markets are more precarious and don’t necessarily offer the best promise of longterm innovation.

Anyways, I’m looking for something more than just a site to blog. My true desire is to find a main platform that will allow me to aggregate many different services. Some sites offer their own versions of services. Other sites allow importing services or other nifty ways to interconnect with other sites. Many networking sites offer an easy way to put services such as Twitter on your personal page or automatically show your favorite YouTube videos.

A similar concept are tools that allow simultaneous posting across multiple sites. There are tools that will post to all of your blogs. And there are tools that will post to all of the social bookmarking sites you belong to.

An even newer method of merging is happening with web browsers and browsing histories. Amazon has created A9 which is a search engine that not only remembers your search history on the browser, but also includes your history from your Amazon searches. This allows it to give you a tailored search that will show you the results that are the most relevant to you personally. Plus, it will tell you which pages you’ve visited before, and I think it might also allow you to make notes about sites.

Its cool (and scary)to consider where all this is heading, but I’m at thepresent simply interested in the immediate benefit for me.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

about 1 month later

Marmalade said

I’ve just posted a new blog about blogging:

Marmalade’s New Blogs