Bloggers come in all shapes and sizes.
When I started a previous site, Future Expats, it was a place for me to collect my research and thoughts about living full-time in another country.
Being a writer, I tend to explore topics by writing about them, so into the blogging world I plunged.
Lots of people start blogs that serve as personal diaries or journals that they share with family and friends. At the other end of the spectrum are people who blog as part of an actual business. Bloggers are people who want to:
- Share their personal experiences with friends and family
- Share their personal experiences with the public
- Share knowledge about a subject
- Make some side income sharing their knowledge
- Run a business, which includes a blog
As you can imagine, a website that’s appropriate for someone who wants to share personal experiences is quite different from what the business blogger needs.
I’ve been blogging since the mid-1990s, and during that time I’ve run:
- A blog about a consumer protection issue I was passionate about.
- A blog where I shared my personal explorations and musings about moving overseas. Gradually, as I gained knowledge, I also shared that knowledge with readers.
- A blog where I shared my knowledge about a subject (WordPress), as part of a business (setting up WordPress sites and consulting).
I’ve presented each of them very differently, and needed different approaches and tools to make them work as intended.
Do You Need Your Own Site?
Your website is like your home base on the web. If you’re running a personal blog, you may or may not need a home base that you own. If you’re running a business, you definitely do.
Maybe you can satisfy your personal blogging needs on a social media platform like Facebook or Google Plus. The drawback is, if they change their rules, they could wipe out all your hard work.
Personal Blog Sites
The first two types of bloggers have a lot in common. They are what I call “personal bloggers.”
Their blogging website is pretty simple. The traditional blog layout works well for them, with a sidebar on the right and the content area taking up about 2/3 of the width of the browser on a desktop or laptop computer.
Here are a couple more examples of personal blogs.
If you’re looking for a personal blog, the good news is, you have some excellent free options, where you can get started quickly. Some of the most popular include:
Each has its pros and cons, of course. Each is reasonably intuitive to set up, and provides helpful instructions.
With each of these free services, you cede a certain amount of control to them — letting them show advertisements on your pages, for example. If you’re not happy with that solution, consider moving up to a more businesslike arrangement, using self-hosted WordPress (my preferred platform).
Business Blog Sites
Although the platforms above have room for upgrades (except for Blogger), if you’re ready for something more robust than they offer, you should look at self-hosted WordPress.
There’s a lot of confusion about the difference between WordPress.com (the free hosting service) and WordPress.org. Here’s a detailed explanation.
Here’s the short version.
WordPress is the software that you use to build your blog. If you’re using self-hosted WordPress, you install the software on the hosting server that you’ve arranged for (here’s information on how to set up a hosting account). If you’re using WordPress.com, the software is already installed and the hosting company is WordPress.com.
So if you’re running a business blog, you need a base of operations on the web (your website) that you control. Your best choice for that is self-hosted WordPress.
Before you continue: Determine what kind of blogger you’ll be. If you’ll be writing a personal blog and you don’t want to deal with the technical parts of running a website, look at WordPress.com, Blogger, or Tumblr.
If you plan to monetize or use your blog as part of a business, I recommend self-hosted WordPress.