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Cheat Sheet

Blogging For Dummies

From Blogging For Dummies, 5th Edition by Amy Lupold Bair, Susannah Gardner

When you start a new blog, one of your most important decisions is choosing what blog software to use. You also need to decide what type of blogger you’ll be. Is there a certain niche that would be a great fit to match your interests and expertise? Whether you’re a new blogger or looking to switch blogging platforms, the range of blogging tools and options you find here can give you a head start on your search for your blogging software and blog niche match.

Selecting Hosted Blogging Software

When you choose to blog using a hosted blog service, you don’t need to worry about the software technology at all. You can concentrate on the topic for your next blog post, rather than on how to configure a web server. To use hosted blogging software, you log into the editing tool, write a post, click the Publish button, and log out. Extra bonus: If you choose hosted blog software, you don’t have to worry about web hosting — the software company is providing that service for you!

Software Notes
Blog.com Free blogs with ads; premium blogs ad-free
Blogger Free
ManilaSites Starts at $99 a year
Squarespace Pricing starts at $8 a month for yearly service
Tumblr Free
TypePad Pricing starts at $8.95 a month
WordPress.com Free

What Kind of Blogger Do You Want to Be?

Congratulations, you've decided that you want to enter the blogosphere and dive into the fun, new hobby of blogging! There are so many steps to follow and processes to understand that you may be feeling a little overwhelmed. Rather than jump feet first into selecting a blogging platform or designing a beautiful logo, take a moment to get to know some of the different types of blogs that exist. Have you found what niche works for you? Here's an overview of some of the most popular blog types:

  • Parenting: One of the most popular blogging areas, this niche continues to grow by leaps and bounds and includes both mom and dad bloggers writing about everything from life as a parent to the latest and greatest products for kids.

  • Hobbies: Are you a knitting genius? Perhaps you've become an expert on the ukulele. Whatever your hobby, why not consider blogging about your experience and joining a large community of other bloggers doing the same?

  • Technology: Technology blogging is a huge niche — a bit of an oxymoron — because, quite simply, people turn to online sources to learn about the latest technology. Not hindered by publication dates and deadlines as print sources are, technology bloggers are on the cusp of breaking technology news, always able to provide their readers with the latest and greatest.

  • Politics: If you feel passionately about politics and don't mind engaging in an intense debate, political blogging may be for you. Prepare to grow your readership quickly and respond to comments often if you take this leap into the world of political blogging!

  • News: Do you have an eye for news and an interest in sharing that news in a unique and fascinating way? Although you certainly don't want to just regurgitate the same material out there on every news site, you may want to share the latest information about a specific topic or even report the news through a comedic filter.

  • Journaling: Remember when you were a teenager and wrote down your every thought, hope, and dream? Now you can do that online and share it with the world! Journal bloggers often share poignant reflections on life that are bold, brave, and incredibly relatable to their readers.

  • Deal and Frugal Living: Perhaps you are the coupon queen in your family or even your town. Maybe you've found creative ways to turn leftovers into a meal masterpiece. The deal and frugal living blogging community has exploded in the last couple of years and brings millions of page views from families hoping to save a buck after visiting a blog.

  • DIY and Design: As do frugal living bloggers, DIY and design bloggers bring their incredible skills to the Internet, wowing readers with their abilities and instructing and inspiring them on how to do the same at home.

Blog Software Applications

You might want to run your own blogging system right from the beginning. This type of setup is known as nonhosted or installable blogging software. By installing blog software on your own web server, you take on all responsibilities related to maintaining the blogging software and the data created when you blog.

Strictly from a technical point of view, this type of setup might be a little on the difficult side for a new blogger and cause more stress, especially for the nontechnical folks who are figuring things out while they go. But you ultimately have more flexibility when you use a nonhosted blog setup. If you love a challenge or want all the bells and whistles, consider signing up for a domain and web host and installing the software yourself. The good news is that you have to install the software only once.

Many of today's popular social networking tools have blogging components; in fact, some of them began their lives as sites for members to blog within a community. As with hosted blogs, community blogging tools are easy, low-tech solutions that put the technical problems into the hands of the community's creators, but also limit some of the flexibility to customize your blog.

Software Notes
Apache Roller Open source, Java app, install on your own server, free
b2evolution Open source, PHP/MySQL, install on your own server, free
Battle Blog Open source, ASP, install on your own server, free
Blog.com Hosted software, free blogs with ads, premium blogs ad-free
BlogEngine.NET ASP.NET, install on your own server, $4.95/month
Blogger Hosted blog software, free
Blurty Community blogging tool, hosted, free
boastMachine Open source, PHP/MySQL, install on your own server, free
Drupal Open source, PHP/MySQL, install on your own server, free
ExpressionEngine PHP/MySQL, install on your own server, starts at $49.99
FlatPress Open source, PHP, install on your own server, no database needed, free
Geeklog Open source, PHP/MySQL, install on your own server, free
InsaneJournal Community blogging tool, hosted, begins at $5 a month
LifeType Open source, PHP/MySQL, install on your own server, free
LiveJournal Community blogging tool, open source, hosted, free
MacJournal Mac OS X, desktop blogging tool that ties into other blog services, $39.95
Manila Hosted software, starts at $99 a year
Movable Type Available for multiple OSes, install on your own server, pricing varies
Nucleus CMS Open source, PHP/MySQL, install on your own server, free
Open Diary Community blogging, hosted software, free blogs with ads, $12 for no ads
Pebble Open source, Java, install on your own server, free
Serendipity Open source, PHP/MySQL or other database, install on your own server, free
Simplelog Ruby on Rails/MySQL, install on your own server, free
Squarespace Hosted software, pricing starts at $8 a month
Textpattern Open source, PHP/MySQL, install on your own server, free
Traction TeamPage Java, install on your own server, pricing varies
TypePad Hosted software, pricing starts at $8.95 a month
Typo Open source, Ruby on Rails/MySQL or other database, install on your own server, free
WinJournal Windows, desktop blogging tool that ties into other blog services, $39.95
WordPress PHP/MySQL, install on your own server, free
WordPress.com Hosted blog software, free
Xanga Teen-oriented community blogging service, hosted, free
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