This is a question I found myself answering today. The last few days I’ve spent helping my bro set up a log for the first time. We dived in at the deep end and opted for a custom domain (from godaddy of course).
I weighed up the pros and cons of each of the popular, free blogging services that I thought were appropriate for a casual blogger. These were Blogger, WordPress.com hosted blogs and Tumblr.
What I use personally is a custom install of wordpress on my bluehost web hosting account. I’ve had this account for a few years and while I personally love wordpress and bluehost, there’s no denying the fact that it’s probably a waste of money for me.
The reason why it’s a waste of money for me is that I simply don’t use really any of the features that I pay for. I have almost unlimited storage and transfer, tons of other great features including unlimited domain hosting and email accounts. However, if all I use my £60 a year hosting plan for is to run a wordpress blog, then why waste the cash?
Another thing that may interest you is the fact that despite all of the storage space and transfer, up until recently, I just linked to images from other sites, at one point I even uploaded everything to flickr first. When virtually all web video is best distributed via youtube from where it can be easily embedded into a blog post, it makes me wonder why I pay this money for essentially nothing.
I think when it comes down to it, the reason I do it is because I enjoy having that luxury where I have the ability to do these things, if and when I need to very easily, even if I don’t make use of it. It’s a nice feeling to have your own independent space online, as long as the price is reasonable, which I believe it is.
While I’m on the subject, I do very highly recommend bluehost if you’re like me. Their service is unmatched in my opinion.
Going back to the subject at hand, it took me quite a while to come to a decision as to which blogging tool would suit my brother best. In the end, I went with tumblr. There are several reasons behind this.
Firstly, simplicity has to be a factor. Tumblr is so easy to use and well designed. It’s a joy to blog using it. The templates they offer are absolutely stunning, especially compared to most of blogger’s ones. It’s a shame that blogger lets itself down on style, but also usability to an extent.
WordPress is obviously a favourite of mine. It just offers unparalleled levels of customisation with its themes and widgets as well as plugins. WordPress.com is a very good service. However it does have some drawbacks.
The first is that when you want to add a custom domain to your blog, you have to pay a fee. That fee still stands even if you already own a domain at another provider such as godaddy.com. Blogger and Tumblr both don’t make you pay and are very easy to set up custom domains with.
The final straw for wordpress.com was that there is no guarantee that the site will be ad-free. As a fan of stylish simplicity, this is definitely not something I would be ok with.
So there you have it. Tumblr wins as my recommended blogging tool for casual bloggers, but more than that, it provides a great tool no matter your experience. I love it so much that I even pointed my domain christill.com (which up until now redirected here) to tumblr and it works perfectly.
Even better, I have it set so that whenever I blog here, the entry in the RSS feed gets imported as a link and description into my Tumblr feed so people who find my stuff there can make their way here for full posts rather than just quick thoughts and videos.
Finally, posts that I actually make at christill.com will be sent to twitter as well. I basically now have a chain of blogs that range from full blog to micro-blogging, with some video stuff in the middle.