Which Blogging Platform Should I Use?
The core essence of any blogging platform is its Content Management System (CMS). A CMS is a system that helps you to manage your content. It includes creating, editing, publishing and saving content, among others manipulations. These CMS platforms are differentiated by the following factors;
- Programming language
- License type
- Hosting type
There are many programming languages. Programming language is extremely important as it will determine how easily you can access professional help should you desire to tweak or customize some CMS features.
The following are the most popular programming languages for CMS (server-side);
PHP is by far the most popular CMS programming language. As such, it is easy for you to learn or get professional help should you desire to tweak or customize your blog. Most popular blog platforms including WordPress, Joomla and Drupal are written in PHP.
The second most popular CMS programming language is C#. But it comes at a very distant second to PHP. Java and Python are less popular. Node.js is a new entrant that is growing in leaps and bounds and is likely to grab a bigshare in future as it continues to increase in popularity. It is more likely to rival PHP in the near future. For the time being (as of publishing this guide), there are very few host providers for Node.js, C# and Java.
Coming close to programming language is the license type (which is dependent on the language used). There are basically two main types of licenses:
- Open source license – Open source license allows you free access to programming codes (source codes). This is extremely important when you want to tweak or customize your blog. PHP, Java, Python, Node.js are all open source programming languages.
- Proprietary license – Unlike open source license, proprietary license is associated with closed source programs. Being closed source means that you cannot access all or some parts of the source codes. Thus, it is hard to tweak or customize the platform as desired to suit your particular needs. C# is partially proprietary and partially open source. While you can access, tweak and customize some codes, backbone codes and the engine that drives them is inaccessible.
Hosting simply refers to providing server space for the blog to run and connecting to an address (domain URL) for it to be accessible on the internet.
Hosting type is determined by two critical factors;
Server OS (Operating System) – There are two major types of Server OS – Windows and Linux. So far, Linux is the most popular server OS for internet. Over 80% of websites and blogs run on Linux server. This is majorly because Linux OS is free and open source while Windows OS is paid-for and proprietary.
- The hosting party – Hosting party simply refers to the person in charge of hosting your website or blog. There are two types of hosting parties; self-hosted and non-self-hosted. Self-hosted simply means you are responsible for hosting the blogging platform. Non-self-hosted simply means that the provider of the blogging platform hosts it on your behalf.
There are two pricing options when it comes to blogging platforms;
- Free – A free blogging platform simply means you don’t pay anything to acquire it.
- Paid-for (non-free) – Paid-for blogging platform simply means that you have to pay to acquire it.
There are over 50 CMS in the market today. However, the most popular CMS are;
Recommended choice criteria
The best platform to choose should have the following key features;
Programmed in a most widely used language – PHP is the most preferred as it is most popular and can be hosted on Linux server
- Linux hosted – Linux servers run over 80% of blogs and websites across the globe. You can easily find a host provider on Linux unlike Windows.
- Open source – PHP is the most popular open source language for blogging platforms. Node.js is competing for the second place.
- Self-hosted – Your content is your property, your investment and your wealth. You obviously need to own it! Self-hosting is the only guarantee that you own your content and thus can fully monetize it.
- Free! – Why pay when you can get it free? Surprisingly the best blogging platforms are free. WordPress, Joomla and Drupal are absolutely free.
Why self-hosted WordPress is the best CMS for you
There is no doubt that, if you consider your content as your most important asset, then, you would naturally want to self-host. Also, you would naturally desire to spend less cost on acquiring the CMS. This rules out blogger and other non-self-hosted CMS. It also rules out non-free CMS. In this case, there are very few candidates left to compete with self-hosted WordPress CMS. Such other competitors include Drupal, Joomla, among others.
However, WordPress stands out from the crowd due to the following reasons;
- It is less bulky.
- It is easy to use.
- It has a large community of users.
- It has the largest community of developers.
- It is so easy to install.
- There are plenty of plugins that can help you optimize SEO, monetize, automate income, and many others.
- There are plenty of themes to boost the ‘look and feel’ of your blog.
Most host providers can install WordPress for you at no extra cost. There are several specialized WordPress host providers that you can engage to help you out on this.
Steps to building your blog
The following are important steps that will guide you in building your blog;
- Determine your type of blog
- Choose a domain name
- Register your domain
- Open a host account
- Install your blog CMS
- Create blog content
- Promote your blog (so as to build audience and generate traffic)
- Monetize your blog
- Automate your income
Choose a domain name
Choosing your domain name is extremely important for purposes of SEO and user scanning.
The following steps will help you choose the most appropriate domain for your blog;
- Come up with a domain name that matches your niche
- Match the domain name with seo keywords of your niche
- Make the domain name as short as possible (without compromising on 1 & 2 above) – this is for easy scanning and memorization by readers
- Choose non-limiting domain extension (e.g. .com, .net, .org)
- If domain you want is taken, slightly modify it without stripping it of core essence (1 & 2 above)
Register your domain name
Once you have a domain name, the next thing is to register your domain. The process of registering, though extremely simple (and largely automated), varies from one domain registrar to the other. In case of difficulties, you can always get assisted by your domain name registrar in the setup process.
The following are popular domain registrars where you can easily register your domain;
Namecheap is the most preferred of the two options. GoDaddy used to be the best but it has descended due to its insistence of compliance with government policies that restrict internet freedom, more so, when it comes to protecting the anonymity and privacy of domain ownership.
Open a host account
Once you have registered your domain, the next step is to host your domain account. Hosting is simply providing a space for your web content and directing your domain address to it so that the web content can be available when people enter your domain address to access it.
There are thousands of hosting service providers. However, the following are the most known;
The process of hosting varies from one host provider to another. Nonetheless, most hosting providers would be willing to guide you in setting up your website at no extra cost.
Install your blog CMS
Once you have successfully registered your domain and it has fully propagated (that is, the domain name is recognized by servers across the world) you can go ahead and install your WordPress blog.
Most hosts, like the ones mentioned above, have cPanel. cPanel is simply a dashboard with tools and resources that enables you to manage and optimize your website. The most popular of these tools is known as Softaculous .
Softaculous is a tool that enables you to install your WordPress blog without complications. It is automated. All you need is to fill in the required details in a form provided by it. These details include;
- Your blog name
- Your blog email address
- The folder in which you intend to install your blog (just provide the name of the folder). The folder must not exist as Softaculous will automatically create it.
- The place on the server where you want the folder to be created (by default, within ‘public html’ otherwise known as public directory). By default, Softaculous installs WordPress in the public directory. Thus, if you want to install in the public directory, leave the place for directory blank.
Once you provide these key details plus some other basic details, you simply need to click on the ‘Install’ button for Softaculous to automatically install the blog for you. Within 30 seconds, your blog will be up and running. You will be provided a URL address to the blog site and URL to the admin where you will log in with your admin credentials (username and password) to continue customizing your blog and adding content.
Select a great theme
Softaculous has a wide variety of themes which you can select prior to installing your blog (prior to clicking the ‘Install’ button). For a start, select an appropriate theme among those provided by Softaculous. You can later on easily change them when you find a better one that suits your content and layout through the admin panel.
Create your blog content
For information on creating your blog content, please see the section titled “How to Optimize Each Blog Post”.
Promote your blog
For information on how to promote your blog, see the section titled ‘Other Ways to Generate Traffic’.
Monetize your blog
For information on how to monetize your blog, see section titled “How to Monetize Your Blog”.
Automate your income
For more information on automating your income, please read section titled “Automate Your Income”.