By: Claire Shackelford
I thought I would do a 2 or 3 part series on the technical and not so technical aspects of blogging. I know some wonderfully smart and clever ladies who seem to believe that blogging is a hobby they could never do. They aren’t shy or unable to write, but they are a little shaky around the technical side of blogging, and what to do, what to write about and other issues.
In this first entry I thought I would go over the very basics of blogging platforms. Later we I will cover setting up your blog, and how to have a little fun with it!
First and foremost, keep in mind that it’s just a blog! You are not carrying the security of the nation on your shoulders. We will talk all about OPSEC and how to communicate with friends and families while keeping your soldier and his/her information safe.
Don’t worry! We’ll learn how to do backups and keep our information secure. If you hit the wrong button and delete your entire blog, as long as you are doing backups, you will be fine.
Take a deep breath. Now, let’s blog!
There are many different blogging platforms out there to choose from. Most are free. For a blogging newbie, I recommend using a free platform. Use it for a while, and if you start feeling like you want to have your own domain name you can look into that later.
Don’t pour any money into the startup. Blogging isn’t for everyone. Some people start and then decide 4-months into it that they really don’t care for it. The free platforms available are really good and easy to use to boot!
The list below comes from a great article I found on the top 10 recommended free blogging platforms. I hyperlinked the story in next sentence, and as a blogging courtesy, I encourage you to visit the site. The author does not mention Blogger (by Google) in his article, however. Blogger is a free blogging platform and it is used by a lot of beginners. Some folks wind up staying with Blogger even when they pass the novice stage and enter into the hard-core blogger addict phase. Blogger is good and I used it to start with.
I found it to be very clunky and very confining over time though. To this day I can look at just about any website and I can tell if it’s a Blogger blog without even looking further than the layout and structure. Even with customizations… it’s still hard to get out of the pre-fabricated look of Blogger.
The following list of the top ten free blogging platforms and their specs were taken from a great article at Specky Boy:
Wordpress is the Daddy of the Blogging Platform, can’t see anyone knocking it of the top spot for a long time yet.
Forum: Wordpress Forum.
Features: W3C compliant, easy to edit templates,create non-blog pages (ie. Homepage), update and maintain numerous Blog Rolls,thousands of themes available, cross-blog communication tools, comments, trackbacks, pingbacks,spam protection, optional user registration,password protect posts or pages,easy to upgrade, import from another blogging platform, allows multiple authors, bookmarklets, plugins…and the list goes on and on.
2. Text Pattern
Main contender to Wordpress, more or less the same features, just doesn’t have the support from the internet community.
Forum: TextPattern Forum.
Features: Easy publishing using textile, a text-to-HTML converter, preview post or page,compliant XHTML and CSS, tag-based template system which allows the creation of reusable blocks of content and code,comments, trackbacks, pings, spam protection system, built-in site statistics,RSS and Atom,plugins, built-in CSS editor, link management system, image management system,integrated file management system… and like Wordpress the list goes on and on.
3. Moveable Type
Forum: Moveable Type Forum.
Features: The first to use trackBack, Unlimited weblogs, static and dynamic publishing, can create standalone pages asset and file manager, customized User roles, customizable templates, plugins / extensions, tags, categories, sub-categories…
Forum: Serendipty Forum.
Features: Designed for users of all technical levels, anti-spam, comment, trackbacks, pings,plugins, skinable, easy to upgrade, flexible input/output, choose between HTML, Textile, Wiki, BBCode and other markups (I like this feature), and many more of the standard features not worth repeating.
Forum: Life Type Forum.
Features: integrated media management, smarty templates, plugins, spam filter, installation wizard, moblogging, multi blog, nice looking URLs (strange for a feature), XMLRPC interface for remote creating and editing articles. And of course you may ping as many directories as you like with the inbuilt XMLRPC ping service…
Forum: Flatpress Forum.
Features: standard-compliant, plugin support, Widget system, easy to customize with themes (powered by Smarty). To be honest there aren’t a lot of features, but I do like the bare bones system which does exactly what it says: I AM A BLOG!
Forum: Wheatblog Forum.
Features: The features on Wheatblog are much and such the same as Flatpress.
Forum: sBlog Forum.
Features: Again, as Flatpress and Wheatblog, basic features. Something appealing about that. Clean and Simple.
Forum: Eggblog Forum.
Features: Basic features.
Forum: Loudblog Forum.
Features: LoudBlog is a sleek and easy-to-use Content Management System (CMS) for publishing media content on the web. It automatically generates a skinnable website and an RSS-Feed for Podcasting. Just upload your audio/video files, add some notes and links, and you’re done! (I love the idea of this).
In the next article on blogging we will talk about what to write about, how to pick your topic and then OPSEC for us milspouse/milparent bloggers. Then I will cover layout, themes and customizing your graphics. I also intend to cover in this blogging series some creative writing tips and exercises.
Until then I highly encourage you to pick out at least two platforms and make a play around blog. It’s free and you have nothing to lose. Just try it out… “take her for a spin” and see what you think. If you have any questions just post them and I will find an answer for you!