Jim Gibson - Publisher, Online Media Today
By Jim Gibson – Online Media Today

Being that I am an intense hockey fan, it only seemed fitting to take a page from my friends at NHL Home Ice (thanks Boomer!) and adapt their regular feature to the world of online marketing. 

Last week, I posted the first in a series of blog articles in what we hope will become a regular component of our blog - our “5 Burning Questions”.   The article titled “Love Your Blog” naturally focused on blogging and was geared towards those new to blogging in general.  I discussed the increased use of blogs for business and in asking the first of the 5 Burning Questions, “Why Blog?”, outlined what I feel are a few great reasons why it’s so important to get in the game now.


This week, we’re going one step further and answering the next important question: Which Blog Platform Should I Use?

5 Burning Questions - Online Media Today
Since there are quite a few blog platforms available, each with unique advantages (and disadvantages), I have broken them down to hosted vs private hosted applications.  This article will focus on two of the most well known hosted blog platforms Blogger and TypePad and will discuss features and benefits of both.
Blogger Logo


Blogger


If you’re just starting out and want a really quick way to get your blog up and running, then Blogger is for you.  As one of the first dedicated blog-publishing tools, Google’s free blog platform can be set-up in minutes (no downloading required) and doesn’t require a great deal of technical expertise to manage.  Blogger offers a modest degree of customization and provides a variety of template designs that help to create blogs on the fly. 

One of the great things about Blogger is its’ drag-and-drop page elements and its support of photo management.  Users with little to no technical experience can easily click and drag on-page elements and link to photos (Hosted on Google’s Picasa); making it very easy to manage your blog.  Although Blogger is a hosted service where your URL is a sub-domain of Blog*Spot (e.g., myblog.blogspot.com), you can also have your blog point to your own top level domain (e.g., myblog.com).

Blogger also supports online community building by adding a Followers gadget to your blog, allowing visitor Feedback and a blog feed subscription so readers are notified whenever you publish a new blog post.  In addition, Blogger offers advanced MoBlogging features that allows you to post to your blog from your mobile phone.

There are, though, some potential downsides to using Blogger.  Depending on your business goals and anticipated traffic growth, Blogger can be somewhat limited.  Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a critical factor in promoting your blog and requires certain features that are not available in Blogger.  Blogger doesn’t support the effective use of Tags, RSS and well known 3rd party SEO plug-ins and therefore limits users’ ability to leverage key SEO components that help to drive organic traffic to your blog.  Another downside is the in-ability to pass page rank up to your company’s main URL – in other words, even if you were to link your main company website to your Blog*Spot URL, the content you generate on your new blog will not help your main websites page rank with Google.

One more thing while we’re on the subject of negatives.  If you think you’ll need support, other than browsing online FAQs or random help forums, there isn’t much in the way of live person help.  But if all you need is a basic and simple-to-start blog tool to communicate with your customers, share helpful information about your products or services, then Blogger can be a useful platform and an effective way to quickly get into the world of blogging.  In other words, if your goals are modest, then Blogger can help.

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Blogger vs TypePad
TypePad Logo




TypePad


TypePad is the second of the two hosted solutions we’ll discuss and provides blog owners with a wide array of advanced tools to help make for a more effective blog platform.  Originally launched in 2003 by Six Apart, Ltd., TypePad is a subscription service ($9-$90/mo) and is based on the company’s Moveable Type platform (more about that in the next article) and shares many of the great features that have made Moveable Type so popular amongst tech enthusiasts.  Primarily marketed to non-technical users, TypePad offers a great deal of flexibility and tremendous ease of use.  Like Blogger, TypePad provides Point, Click & Publish technology that makes starting a blog a snap.

Other features include the ability to incorporate templates or for more sophisticated users, the opportunity to fully customize your blogs’ look and feel (HTML, CSS & JavaScript).  If your goal is to optimize your website for search engines, TypePad gives users full control over SEO and even feeds your content directly to search engines for you!  Moblogging is a standard feature as well as the ability to integrate advertising, widgets, podcasts and direct social media connections.

Another great feature TypePad employs is the ability to add traditional web pages to your blog.  With TypePad, you can now turn your blog into a fully functional website with standalone pages that describe your company, your products and services, FAQs and other helpful website content.

If you want to make money with your blog, TypePad offers blog owners ways to incorporate ecommerce and advertising into blogs.  TypePad blogs can connect with Amazon, eBay and PayPal or serves contextual ads from Google and/or Yahoo.  You can even join the Six Apart Advertising Program and control the ads that are served on your blog.   

Although TypePad is a simple point and click, hosted blog platform, don’t let that fool you.  This blog service is used by many large corporations and media companies to host their weblog.  Among the most notable, GE, Coca Cola, Rubbermaid, ABC, MSNBC, and the Los Angeles Times each employ TypePad as their primary blog.  TypePad is a great service for companies both small and large and, for the price, offers the greatest degree of control of any of the current hosted blog solutions.

My next blog post will round out the most popular blog solutions as I delve into the private-hosted blog platforms.  If you have any comments or thoughts I may have missed in this article, feel free to leave a comment below.   

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About the Author:

Jim Gibson is a certified search engine marketing professional and serial entrepreneur.  In addition to Online Media Today, Jim is a principal at GibSEM Group (http://www.gibsem.com) and has founded several internet properties including online B2C directory, Service Omni, Inc. (
http://www.serviceomni.com) and QuakeDog, Inc. (www.quakedog.com), a network marketing company focused on the sale of personal survival gear.  You can reach Jim at: jgibson@gibsem.com or follow him @GibSEM.
Jim Butz
3/31/2010 08:56:14 am

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Jim Butz
3/31/2010 09:01:15 am

I have been blogging for about 5 years and have used a couple of blog platforms. For hosted, I prefer Wordpress. They constantly improve it and add new features. I has always been pretty easy to use and especially to get started. I have helped people set up a blog and to get it up and running takes about 5 minutes.

My partner started with Wordpress hosted, moved to Typepad and then moved to a non-hosted version of Wordpress where she has been for about 2.5 years.

I have also used a couple of open source blog tools that are built into Drupal.

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Dawn
3/31/2010 11:45:37 pm

Thanks for this information Jim! I've tried to setup my blog two times with Wordpress but never get my confirmation email from them to begin! I'll have to check out these two platforms. I'd like to get my blog up and running soon!

Regards,
Dawn

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4/6/2010 12:29:47 am

Hi Jim:

We've been doing a ton of reasearch on this subject, signing up for each of the hosted apps described above(& including WP) and each offers a great many features but where one offers what we need, it fails in other areas (where incidentally the alternative does offer). For example, say you want to incorporate advertising on your blog (a big one for us) - not just AdSense but owner controlled banner ads, etc. TypePad hosted offers a fully customized advertising program through Six Apart and WP hosted doesn't allow user defined ads (some Adsense yes).

Yet say you also want to have regular web pages incorporated into your blog (important for some website to blog conversion people). Word Press hosted supports that feature yet TypePad does not. There are other minor issues between the two hosted apps (mostly cosmetic and user preference issues) but they are both no doubt powerful tools and serve their customers well.

It's clear to me now that the real way to go is with the WP non-hosted route. If you have some web design guys (note: not that we're opposed to sharing but we hate templates!) and a WP guru (tip: just put an ad on Craigslist, we have over 100 responses in 1 day! starting at $15/hr.) you will have what you need to have all the great tools you need (including fully controlled advertising modules).

Hi Dawn: not sure what is going on with WP and your email. It should work. Have you checked your spam folder?

Jim

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4/8/2010 04:58:24 pm

After a thorough review of the big three open source CMS solutions (see http://wp.me/pDtXa-gp)I chose to start with a self hosted WordPress site and am incredibly impressed. Very SEO friendly. There is a significant upgrade pending - V3.0 is expected in May. This will allow administration of multiple sites through a single user interface. Hope to see you all at the next meeting!

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11/3/2010 04:30:56 am

It is looking very gregarious. thanks.

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1/26/2011 11:42:58 am

After three major open source CMS solution (see http://wp.me/pDtXa-gp) I chose to begin a comprehensive review of a self-hosted WordPress site, it is an incredible impression. Search engine is very friendly. There is an important waiting-V3.0 upgrade is expected in May. This will allow a single user interface management of multiple sites. Hope to see you at the next meeting!

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3/23/2011 10:59:19 pm

Great pool of information you have here on your blog. Thank you for sharing this vital difference and advantages/disadvantages between the two platforms. For a company that can afford monthly subscription then I believe Typepad is a good option. However there are lots of small businesses who are using free services to reduce their business expenses. With this regard I believe Blogger will be an asset.

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