Right now, a lot of my colleagues (especially journalists) want to start building an independent online brand for the first time. Thus, they want to launch their first serious blog or site.
My universal advice in this case is: Don’t start from scratch (i.e., build a static site in Dreamweaver, FrontPage, or GoDaddy’s Website Tonight or SmartSpace). Instead, build your project with a popular professional-level blogging platform, even if you don’t want to blog at first.
Good blogging tools allow you to create static pages (which can comprise your whole site, if you like) and implement nearly any design strategy — while also playing nice with search engines, making your content easily linkable, and leaving your options open for more interactive approaches without having to totally rebuild the site.
Also, get a good domain for your site and use it. Over time, this provides far more search visibility and brand recognition (which benefit your career) — as well as options for easily switching platforms without losing those benefits — than a site bearing, say, a blogspot.com or WordPress.com domain.
Another reason to avoid free blogging platforms like Blogger for serious sites is that these tools are very limited. Once you get into blogging, you’ll quickly outgrow these tools — and moving a site is always a hassle.
After this, my colleagues typically want to know which tools to use to build their blog or site.
Personally, I’m a big fan of WordPress, the free open-source content management system. (It only started as a blogging tool; it’s grown.) I’ve used it for Contentious.com for many years. It’s flexible and offers just about any design theme or plug-in option I could possibly want — which encourages me to learn and experiment.
But let’s face it: I’m rather geeky. I actually enjoy spending time playing with new online tools and seeing what I can make them do. That’s not true of everyone — especially many journalists.
So to someone who’s not inherently techno-geeky and who wants start a serious blog or site for the first time (and who may want to start multiple blogs or sites), I actually recommend a different tool: Typepad, the inexpensive hosted blogging service from SixApart.
Here’s why… Continue reading