This is a question I get asked quite frequently, so I thought I’d share my thoughts on the subject.

There are 4 mainstream blogging platforms, which include:

WordPress (there are 2 versions, a self-hosted and a free, hosted)

Typepad (also has 2 versions, a small business and enterprise version)
Blogger
Tumblr

I’ve used all of these blogging platforms, except for the enterprise version of Typepad, called Moveable Type. Which blogging platform you choose to use depends largely on what you want to use it for; whether you’re just starting out blogging, if it’s going to be a website in itself or an add on to an existing site, or a personal/hobby blog – so there’s no simple answer to the best one you should be using.

WordPress is probably the most popular blogging platform, with a free, hosted version and a self-hosted version. I’ve clients who use the hosted version, some who use the self-hosted version, and of course, this website is built on the self-hosted version of WordPress.

Clients of mine who use the free, hosted version of WordPress already have their own site but wanted a blogging facility attached to it. It was easy to set up and they could change the blog url to a subdomain of their site, so for example, rather than use mysite.wordpress.com, they could use blog.mysite.com/.co.uk

Typepad is similar to WordPress in that it also has two versions. The hosted version for small businesses is paid, although it doesn’t cost much to use (from $9 per month). The enterprise version is called ‘Moveable Type’ and can be hosted on a company’s network, similar to the self-hosted version of WordPress. It works well for businesses wanting multiple blogs. Typepad hasn’t been as popular as WordPress, despite being easy to use, but less flexible than WordPress.

Blogger has been around for quite a long time and acquired by Google in 2003. Funnily enough it was started by Evan Williams of Twitter (well before his Twitter days!). Blogger doesn’t have as many features or flexibility as WordPress or Typepad, but is a good place to start if you’ve never blogged before. In fact, I started my first blog on Blogger where I got to grips with blogging before setting up blogs elsewhere. Quite a lot of blogs on Blogger are personal or hobby blogs rather than business blogs, probably because those types of bloggers don’t need such advanced features, but tend to place ads on the blog, which is easy to do with Blogger, as it provides good Google Adsense integration.

Tumblr is currently going from strength to strength for people who want to set up more of a personal blog. It’s incredibly easy to use and you can choose which format your post will take, e.g text, a photo, video, audio, link, quote etc, so it takes minutes to put something up. I’ve noticed that many Tumblr blogs make good use of photography, you can post an image on it’s own with no text if you so wish and easily publish from an iPhone. Tumblr also has a very dedicated community, and you can connect with other bloggers and follow their blogs easily.

What’s great about all of these blogging platforms is that if you start a blog on one of them and decide to move on, you can generally import your posts to another blogging platform quite easily. I’ve moved a Blogger blog to WordPress and a Typepad blog to WordPress, both without problem!

So before you set up your blog, ask yourself these questions:

1. Why am I blogging, i.e is it for business, professional blogging or a personal/hobby blog?

2. Will it be a site in itself or an add-on to an existing site?

3. What do I want to get out of it, e.g new business, revenue from advertising, or just a bit of fun?

4. How much time do I have to maintain my blog?

5. Do I want to get involved in anything too technical?

Hopefully this will point you in the right direction to choosing the right blogging platform!

Image: I’m blogging this. by Foxtongue, on Flickr