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Welcome back to The Ultimate Guide to Book Blogging! If you’ve never been here before you can catch up on previous posts in the series here.
This week we’re going to be talking about one of the most important decisions a new blogger will make: which blog platform to use. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular blogging platforms.
Blogger is so 2005, you guys. The interface is clunky and there aren’t many customization options. Sure, you can install a cute theme and buy your own domain name, but it’s a real pain in the neck to transfer your domain if you decide to switch to another platform, and ultimately you do not own your blog. The giant internet-eating Google monster does. As popular as Blogger is, I would choose any other platform on this list before I would ever go back to blogger. (Yes, I’ve tinkered around with it in the past, so I know!)
WordPress.com is like a shinier, supercharged version of Blogger. It’s based on the same principle, but infinitely better. WordPress offers a number of attractive designs for free, but as with the other platforms we’ve discussed, your ability to tailor your website to your specific needs is limited and your blog will not truly belong to you.
[bctt tweet=”Blogger, Tumblr, SquareSpace, or WordPress: Which blogging platform is right for you?”]
Over the last couple of years, SquareSpace has exploded in popularity and it’s not hard to understand why. Their pre-designed websites are stunning, but they are not as flexible as a self-hosted WordPress blog, and at $8 per month they may be more expensive, depending on which web host you use. SquareSpace is very user-friendly and it may be a good option if you are uncomfortable with technology or have little desire to learn the technical side of blogging. While it’s not my top pick, I would definitely investigate further before making a final decision.
My blog is powered by WordPress and I wouldn’t change it for the world. With self-hosted WordPress you are 100% in control of your content and design. With self-hosted WordPress, your blog is YOURS. Period. And better still, it’s free! Self-hosted WordPress also allows you to build your blog on what I consider to be the finest design framework ever created and it gives you access to thousands of free plugins that will take your blog to the next level. (We’ll be talking more about both of those things a little bit later in this series.)
The Bottom Line: If you want total control over your website and unlimited room for growth without breaking the bank, then a self-hosted WordPress blog is the way to go.
Now that you’ve decided on a self-hosted WordPress blog, you’ll need a web host. I highly recommend my webhost of 5+ years, BlueHost. BlueHost offers optimized hosting for WordPress, which means easy one-click installation and access to a dedicated team of BlueHost-trained WordPress experts. This plan starts at $12.49 for your first month and goes up to $24.99 billed monthly thereafter.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. $24.99 a month?! That’s obscene! Can I let you in on a little secret? As great as dedicated WordPress hosting is, you really don’t need it. You can save a bundle by signing up for the basic hosting package, which is just $3.95 per month and it comes with a free domain name, so you don’t have to worry about the hassle or cost of purchasing a domain name and then transferring it over to your hosting account. If your website outgrows this hosting plan, you can always upgrade to the plus or business pro plan, as I did. And despite the fact that this standard package is not WordPress-dedicated, it features an easy-to-use WordPress installer, so you’ll have your blog up and running in a snap.
One of my favorite things about BlueHost is how great their support team is. You can chat with them 24/7 or give them a call if you want to. In the 5+ years I’ve been blogging with WordPress+BlueHost, I’ve never had a problem they couldn’t help me solve. They know their stuff, which is good because navigating the hosting side of blogging has never been my strong suit!
Not ready? Are you completely overwhelmed by the idea of installing WordPress and navigating a web host? Does the word “technical” make you sweat? Even the most technically challenged person can become a book blogger with a little bit of help. If you feel thoroughly unprepared to tackle the technical side of blogging, I recommend signing up for Nose Graze WordPress Hosting & Maintenance. Nose Graze will install, update, maintain, and protect your blog from hackers for $19.99 per month, which is a damn good price for the level of service you’ll receive. The plan includes a domain name, your choice of 14 gorgeous designs, and use of the Ultimate Book Blogger Plugin–a tool that will make formatting book reviews easier than making a sandwich. With Nose Graze you won’t have to lift a finger except to write your blog posts–and it’s run by a book blogger, so you know you have support from someone who understands you personally.
Questions? Leave them in the comments section below.
Check out The Ultimate Guide to Book Blogging for more tips and tricks on how to become a book blogging wiz!