The explosion of social networking and microblogging has lead to a corresponding explosion in the popularity of blogs and article writing. If you’re looking for a free provider to host your blog, you probably want to choose one that you can stick with in the long-term.
Here are five popular services that offer free blogging potential, and some reasons why you might want to choose them as the host for your journal, website or photo blog.
You may be quite familiar with Google Docs, but have you tried Google Sites? Sites is a lesser-known addition to the Google Apps family that allows you to pull in data from your Google Docs and some Google Gadgets. You can then sit other elements around it, such as blog posts, RSS feeds, forms and static pages. Layouts are reasonably fixed, though, so if you need to adapt the appearance of your website and tinker with code, you’re probably best off looking elsewhere.
Sites aren’t the most intuitive service, and many writers still choose to use Google’s long-standing platform, Blogger. Blogger is undoubtedly more suited to ‘pure’ blogging, but anyone who uses Google Docs extensively may find Sites offers them the flexibility they need as they outgrow more basic blogging solutions. It’s also great for users to work extensively in the cloud through Google Apps.
WordPress is undoubtedly one of the most popular tool on the web. It comes in two flavours: WordPress.com is a hosted blog site which gives you limited control over your posts, whereas WordPress.org provides you with the necessary tools to install the same software on your own server. If you head to WordPress.org and download the files needed to set up WordPress on your own server, you’ll be able to pick up some basic programming knowledge as you tinker with the code, making it a good choice if you’re learning PHP.
But even just being familiar with WordPress is useful to know if you plan to get into blogging on a freelance basis. It’s so widely used for blogging now that it has almost become a standard, and a huge amount of regular article-writing work is based around some knowledge of the WordPress interface. Having said that, if you just want somewhere to post pictures or a journal, you may find WordPress is overkill for your needs. And if you’re planning to install it yourself, you’ll need to spend a little time setting it up before you begin.
More than just a blogging platform, Weebly is designed to help you quickly make any kind of website through a simple drag-and-drop system. The appearance of sites is controlled through templates, and content can be added as widgets. This makes Weebly ideal for webmasters who don’t have the desire, money or time to build their own site, or pay someone to build one for them from scratch.
Blogging in Weebly is relatively simple, and the interface is powerful enough to complete with dedicated blogging providers. But Weebly’s real strength lies in easy customisation. If you’re looking to go beyond a basic blog and into the realms of basic e-commerce or brochureware, Weebly allows you to make that transition relatively easily, but you might sacrifice some control in return.
Tumblr is designed to have a simple, graphical interface, and makes blogging really easy. Theme selection is as simple as clicking a thumbnail, and integration with social media is a breeze. Tumblr has become really popular for photo blogs because it allows quick and easy image posting. Various Tumblrs have popped up on very specific subjects and themes.
Are you a designer, a photographer or someone who collects quirky photos and art? If so, you’ll probably love the way Tumblr works. Posting is easy, and the interface is clean and efficient. Even if you intend to write on Tumblr, you’ll like the fact that the site doesn’t put any complex obstacles in your path.
SEE ALSO: How to Create a Free Website or a Free Blog.
Half blog, half social network, Posterous is designed to help you create a network of interesting people and follow them, while also easily creating your own content. And the Posterous iPhone app is a complete joy to use, too: content sharing across social networks is so easy, and adding media to your posts is handled beautifully on the small iPhone screen.
One great feature of Posterous is the ability to create multiple blogs with different addresses under the same account, meaning that anyone who blogs on different subjects can easily segregate the content without having to log in and out of the site to switch usernames. If you plan to run more than one blog, but you don’t need the power of WordPress, Posterous may be the one for you.