In our last post, we outlined the benefits of blogging for small businesses. These range from providing a way for you to talk with and learn from your customers to broadening the appeal of your business to more types of customers. In this post, we’ll look at three popular platforms for small business blogs.
The WordPress platform dominates its playing field, having been downloaded more than 45 million times and said to power nearly 19 percent of the Web. There are several reasons for this:
- WordPress is supported by a vast community of designers and developers that continuously contributes to its features and functionality.
- It’s highly customizable, with a growing number of design templates and plugins.
- WordPress is very flexible and can be used for a range of purposes, from a simple, streamlined blog to e-commerce. This flexibility means that you can build a complete site around your blog, one that has a professional appearance and requires no coding knowledge.
WordPress gives you one free and two paid options. The free version is a good choice for a basic blog, but you have to use a WordPress.com address rather than a custom domain URL. The free platform also has limits on storage space and doesn’t offer support beyond what’s available in the community. These aren’t serious drawbacks, however, if you keep things simple.
The first paid option is a premium version that does include a custom domain, more space, the ability to store dozens of videos and direct email support; this is currently $99 a year. The top-of-the-line version, at $299 per year, also includes premium themes, unlimited video storage, unlimited space and live chat support.
This is Google’s blogging product, so it includes several ways to integrate with other Google services. Blogger is less sophisticated or feature-rich than some other blogging platforms, but the upside is that it’s simple to use. It was one of the earliest platforms, so functionality and stability issues are not much of a concern.
While fairly streamlined, it does offer some social media integration and has analytics to help you monitor traffic. It is, however, much more limited in terms of themes and designs compared to a platform such as WordPress. Blogger also has minimal community support when it comes to plugins to increase its functionality and doesn’t allow users to get into the backend code to add customization. Perhaps it’s best feature? It’s free.
With monthly costs ranging from $8.95 to $29.95, Typepad is a relatively affordable option for a paid customizable small business blog. Like Blogger, it’s been around for many years, so it’s very stable. Another reason for its stability is that its code is closed-source, unlike WordPress, so it’s not as easy to hack.
Typepad has some solid analytics tools built in, and the themes can be customized or you can use your own original theme. Additional advantages include the ability to publish via mobile devices and tablets with dedicated apps. It doesn’t have the myriad features or flexibility that some other platforms offer, but it does have a reputation for excellent customer service and responsiveness.
Since each of these and other platforms tend to attract certain types of bloggers, it’s worthwhile to do some research to see where your kind of business fits in. Unless you have ample time to devote to blogging over the long-term, take some time now to explore your options for a simple, quick-to-update platform.
In our next and final installment on blogging for small businesses, we’ll explore how to get ideas for topics.