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Best Blog Platform?
March 3, 2014 6:33 AM   Subscribe

I'm thinking of starting an anonymous blog just to play with. I just want to try it out and have some fun while not limiting my future prospects. What are your recommendations and why?

I'm sure this has been covered somewhere before on MeFi, so provide links - I looked around, but wasn't finding any correct recent thread if one exists. Thoughts from years ago help, but are probably out of date.

Keep these factors in mind - I have very limited time to futz. I have a great ability to learn, but limited web design and programming skills. Of course I'd prefer, free, but that's less important than a good platform where I own and control the content. I'm aware of the major platforms, now I just want honest opinions with pros and cons. Making money is always nice, but not the purpose, so advertising support is wanted but not the focus. Neither is selling a product or having a specific content focus. Thx.
posted by Muddler to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
WordPress seems to be ubiquitous and I've found it very easy to work with, especially if you're just futzing around and don't want to customize too much. Even if you want to customize, it's not incredibly difficult to learn.
posted by xingcat at 6:54 AM on March 3


If you want an advertising option, get a self-hosted Wordpress, which will give you the most options in terms of themes, plugins, ads and other customizations. If you just want to play around with content, get a free Wordpress.com or Blogspot.
posted by beagle at 6:56 AM on March 3


Wordpress is probably the most flexible easy option for you if you want basically unlimited ability to expand in the future. However, keep in mind that most professional or even serious hobbyist blogs on Wordpress run self-hosted Wordpress-- as in, Wordpress the content management system, downloaded from Wordpress.org, installed on a hosting service-- not the free version of Wordpress available on Wordpress.com. (See this comparison: http://en.support.wordpress.com/com-vs-org/)
posted by BlueJae at 7:02 AM on March 3 [2 favorites]


Tumblr is insanely easy to use and there's an existing community that you can connect with and "reblog" from when you find something you're interested in. It's pretty flexible within certain parameters. I love Tumblr, and recommend it unless you want to make money off it in the short run.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:53 AM on March 3


Another vote for Word Press. It was my first CMS and I will probably stay with it for a good long time. Easy to use, easy to install themes, plug ins, widgets and customize.
It can make a website that is minimalist or full featured and anything in-between.

I also usually BUY a good theme so I can get some sort of email support from the creator if I'm having difficulty. I get most of my themes from ThemeForest.

Hope this helps!
posted by John Kennedy Toole Box at 8:24 AM on March 3


Another vote for Wordpress. I started my professional blog (no longer in existance) on wordpress.com and then when I decided I wanted my own domain and hosting, exported it and imported it into a self hosted Wordpress install.

Now, my hobby blog is hosted by wp.com. I have no desire to keep up with security updates and broken plug-ins and the like. I don't want ads, I just want a platform that works. There are a couple hundred themes on wp.com and they release a few new ones every Thursday (although most of the themes they seem to be releasing now are paid, but there are very good free ones too). I can't ask for much more from free.
posted by kathrynm at 9:20 AM on March 3


Some observations:

an anonymous blog

How anonymous do you want to be, and from whom? For example you may want to rule out Blogger on the grounds that you will need a Google account, and Google will ask for assorted personal info. The info shouldn't be visible to normal blog visitors however so you may be ok with this.

Blogger is free and allows you to put ads on your blog. Putting Google ads in is very easy, and as easy as it's going to get without some modicum of tech savvy.

Making money is always nice, but not the purpose, so advertising support is wanted

Making money is not going to happen unless you are prepared to work at your blog (as in treat it as a part-time job) and over a long period of time. Very possibly not even then. If you are not planning on that, and it doesn't look like you are, I wouldn't worry about whether your chosen platform supports ads or not.

I have a great ability to learn, but limited web design and programming skills

Getting your blog just so is nice, but may take quite a bit of time and effort, especially in terms of learning new skills if you don't already have them. Again the question is whether you are willing and able to put that time in? Sounds like the answer is no.

Given what you've said and the points above, I'd suggest starting out with a free Wordpress.com blog and see how that goes for you.

If it happens that you want to get a lot more serious about blogging in the future, you can fairly easily migrate to a self-hosted Wordpress blog later. You can even buy a Site Redirect service so links to your old blog will carry over to your new site.
posted by philipy at 10:14 AM on March 3


This is all very helpful. For this particular blog, being anonymous would be a relatively thin layer, not something that is impenetrable. For example, being found out by subpoena is ok, but not to a casual observer with some web skills (whois lookup knowledge, etc.). I don't plan on doing anything controversial, I just want to have freedom.

For money, yup, I think many of you nailed it. For this blog I don't want to have to work at it enough to make money - I'll never make enough money to counter what I could make using my time in other ways.

For skills and time, I don't want this to be a job. I want it for fun.

However, I like all of these comments as I am also thinking of staring a professional blog, and that fits nicely into many of these more robust categories, so keep the comments coming. I thought maybe by getting my feet wet on the hobby blog I'd be better geared up for the pro blog a few months from now.

For example, if any of you have had good luck with a given host if someone where to self-host, that would be good to know.
posted by Muddler at 12:37 PM on March 3


I've heard good things about Squarespace and plan on trying them out myself. PuglyPixel recently moved her blog over, and wrote a post about why and the pros and cons. She has a background in CS and codes blogs for fun, so she has some good tutorials too; they're mostly geared toward blogger, but she just coded her first WP theme so that may change!

I can easily see using WP or blogger as a hobby/learning blog, and Squarespace for a pro/business site.
posted by jrobin276 at 12:52 PM on March 3


I am also thinking of staring a professional blog

If you want to minimize having to think about the tech, even for a professional blog it's worth considering Wordpress.com. There are a bunch of upgrades you can buy that let you use your own domain, remove their ads from your blog, and more.

The advantage is you don't have to worry about maintaining or securing anything, and their infrastructure is faster than cheap self-hosting would be. The disadvantage is that you don't have the hyper-flexibility you would have on your own site, and you can't put ads on the site.

If you want a fairly standard blog or content-oriented site, and making money from ads is not important, WP.com could be a good option.

you have had good luck with a given host

When I self-hosted Wordpress, I used Hostgator and was satisfied. I sometimes have coupon codes for them if you decide you want to try them.

thinking of staring a professional blog... getting my feet wet on the hobby blog

A hobby blog will help you learn your way around Wordpress or whatever. On the other hand it's not hard to get started, and the sooner you start your serious blog, the sooner it can gain recognition and traffic, which is a slow and gradual process.

If nervous about messing up, another option is to keep your blog private initially, work on it for a while til you're happy with the content and design, and only then make it public.
posted by philipy at 4:23 PM on March 3


When I self hosted, I used DreamHost. I never had a problem with them. You usually can score your first year of hosting pretty inexpensively.
posted by kathrynm at 5:55 PM on March 3


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