You may not think blogging is for you and your company, but the statistics say otherwise. According to Social Media Today, companies that blog see traffic increase by 55% on their website, and 57% of all companies that blog have acquired a new customer through their blogging efforts.
Google rewards sites that regularly add unique content to their site in the search rankings, and blog readers reward sites by sharing and commenting on posts that they find interesting or entertaining. There’s really no reason why your business shouldn’t have a blog – as long as it’s well-written and well-constructed.
Luckily, you don’t need to have extensive web design experience in order to put together a professional-looking blog. That’s where blogging platforms come in.
What Blogging Platforms Are All About
Blog platforms allow you to begin blogging without having to build a domain from the ground up. There are plenty of platforms out there that are free or inexpensive and easy to set up. In addition, many blogging platforms also have a social aspect, and bloggers can Like, share, and comment on each other’s posts.
When choosing a platform, you need to decide whether you want a hosted or self-hosted blog. Self-hosted sites are owned by the blogger (i.e. your business) and may require a little more web savvy than hosted sites, which are supported by a third-party website like the popular WordPress. All blogging platforms will give you the opportunity to set up a theme and certain features, but some sites may limit you a bit in terms of style and format (more on that later).
What Businesses Can Blogs Benefit?
The better question may be, “What businesses can’t blogs benefit?” As long as you want to expand your web presence, become an authoritative voice in your field, and attract new prospective customers, you’re a business that can benefit from having a blog.
Of course, not all blogging platforms are cut from the same mold, and certain platforms may be better suited to specific industries than others. For example, Tumblr, a micro-blogging site with an emphasis on short posts and images, could be a good platform for a company with visually-appealing products and a young target audience. However, if you’re a business that would benefit more from writing in-depth think pieces on a professional-looking platform, a site like TypePad might be a better choice for you.
Individual Blogging Platforms
Blogger. This free platform from Google is good if you’re looking for a very basic blog layout. You can also integrate it with your business’ Google+ profile and easily follow and read other blogs on the platform. However, design options are somewhat limited, and this platform tends to be more popular with individuals than businesses. You can make some adaptations to your blog’s design, but you need to be familiar with HTML coding.
Joomla. Unlike Blogger, Joomla is aimed primarily at businesses and could be a good choice for any business that plans to work with a team of writers and content editors. The platform has nine different user groups that allow you to control who has access to what elements of your site. It also offers a number of useful add-on features and features a robust community showcase that helps promote different blogs. The main downside of Joomla is that their premium plans cost anywhere from $20-$100.
TypePad. If you’re hoping to sell products or services in relation to your blog, TypePad may be the right choice for you. The site allows you to sell your own products, run ads, join their affiliate marketing program, and track the success of your blog using integrated Google Analytics. It’s relatively intuitive and costs between $9-30 per month.
Movable Type. Used by popular news sites like The Huffington Post and Gothamist, Movable Type is good for blogs that get a lot of traffic. Some people find it to be one of the less intuitive blogging platforms, but if you’re comfortable working with it, it can be a professional-looking, high-performance host. It’s free for individuals to use, but they have a tiered pricing plan for businesses.
Tumblr. Many businesses treat Tumblr like the red-headed step child of the blogging world, but it’s actually a great platform for certain types of businesses. It’s a free micro-blogging site, which means it emphasizes short posts and images. It also has a lot of social features which makes it easy for users to reblog posts, favorite things they like, and leave questions or comments for other Tumblr users. Tumblr users tend to love pop culture and Internet culture, so make sure you know your target audience and their interests if you choose this site.
WordPress is the most popular blogging platform for both individuals and businesses. It has both a hosted and self-hosted option, and its self-hosted option is generally considered the easiest self-hosted option to set up. It also has a large selection of themes and plugins that make it simple to design a great-looking blog without having to mess with HTML code. One potential downside is that it’s structured in a chronological manner, so you have to scroll down or click through a monthly archive to find older posts. However, if you don’t mind having your posts in chronological order and want a relatively straightforward, professional-looking blog, WordPress is a great choice. There’s a free version of the platform, and you can also pay for add-ons and upgrades.