In the first part of the series, we discussed what blogging is and reasons to blog. Have you had enough time to think about it? Are you ready to start a blog?
If so, then the first step is to choose a blogging service. There are several choices:
Let's take a closer look at each service starting at the bottom of the list.
I have no experience with Typepad. All I can tell you is that it charges a monthly fee ranging from $8 for the plus package to $29.95 for the Premium package. However, it does offer a free trial.
Livejournal offers a free account (with ads), but you can upgrade (ad free) for a fee of $19.95 a year. Of the four, Livejournal is the most different. It’s more like a community within the blogging community.
Unlike Wordpress, Blogger and Typepad, Livejournal has limited customization options and if you have a free account, there are ads on your blog that you don’t have very much control over. And you don’t make any profit off of them either, at least not with a free account.
However, Livejournal has one thing going for it - it has a far superior commenting system than either Blogger or Wordpress. When someone leaves a comment on your journal, you are notified via email. You can reply directly from that email or on your journal, and your reply is then automatically emailed to the commenter. Within that email are relevant links, including a link to reply. So through email, conversations can continue, while simultaneously being posted on your journal.
Overall, Livejournal is affordable, easy to use and lends itself to easy and continued discussion, but in the end, you don’t have much control over your journal, even with a paid account.
Blogger is free, and next to Wordpress, the most popular. Google owns Blogger, so you have to have a Google account to start a blog, but setting it up is easy. When Pam, Dawn and I first started our blogs, we each considered whether Wordpress or Blogger would be best. For a long time, we couldn’t list any reasons why one was better than the other. There are subtle differences between them, and a couple reasons why Wordpress might be better.
But before I can compare Blogger and Wordpress, I have to compare Wordpress.com to Wordpress.org. Like Blogger, Wordpress.com is free, and like Blogger, Livejournal and Typepad, the blogging service hosts your blog. What this means is that the folder containing your entire blog, including your content, is located on the computers of the blogging service, not your personal computer. With Wordpress.org the folder containing your entire blog, including your content, is on your personal computer. All you have to do is upload it to your own server, which costs a yearly fee.
This is the point at which people start freaking out, so I won't go into the details of web hosting, servers, ftp etc. However, I recommend Wordpress.org because I like having complete control of my blog. It's all mine. I own it lock, stock and barrel. If you decide that Wordpress.org is the way you want to go, let me know and I’ll be happy to help you set it up.
Besides ownership, the major difference between Blogger and Wordpress is the number of options. With more options on Wordpress, you can do more with your blog, but that also makes it a bit more difficult to get the hang of, especially if you are brand-new to blogging.
In conclusion, I suggest starting off with a blog on Blogger. If at any time, you decide you want to try Wordpress.com or Wordpress.org, you can easily import your posts from Blogger. It's not as easy the other way around.
For even more information on blog services, I encourage you to check out Sommer Leigh's College of Blogging Series: Choosing a Blog Service for an in-depth analysis of Livejournal, Blogger and Wordpress.
ETA: Here's another blogger's take on why Wordpress.org is preferable to Blogger: Idiotproofblogging
For our members who still feel overwhelmed, I'd be happy to set a blog up for you. Just leave me a comment and I'll contact you to discuss what information I will need. Please don't be shy! I'm happy to do it for you! Blogging has been a very positive experience for me and I would love to share that experience with you. Just let me know before VBS starts! I'm going to be crazy busy that week.
For our readers, are you familiar with Typepad or Livejournal? What differences do you notice between Blogger and Wordpress? Your thoughts on this subject are greatly appreciated and will be a big help to our non-blogging members!