baby blog?
October 11, 2011 3:34 AM   Subscribe

I want to create a blog about my baby for the benefit of family members who are located far away. What is the best way to do this?

Because of my husband's job, we will be raising the newest addition to our family far away from family and friends. We really want to set up a blog that will allow them to see him grow and develop. I would like for that blog to be comment enabled. I would also like for it to be password protected/ invite only. Ideally it would also be free. Any suggestions?
posted by citizngkar to Computers & Internet (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I use Wordpress for exactly this sort of blog (link in profile if you care to take a peek since it's relevant in this case). It's very userfriendly and comment enabling is standard.

I checked into their privacy settings and you can make a blog visible only to its users - which is anyone with a Wordpress account. Since all you need to get an account is an email address, it wouldn't be too hard for your family members to get one and have the blog totally locked down to users-only.

I tried to check and see if this feature was available on Google's blogger service (which is more popular among "mommy blogs"), but their help pages are a miasma of unhelpfulness.
posted by sonika at 3:49 AM on October 11, 2011

Ugh, second paragraph was unclear. What I meant was you can add anyone with a WP account as a user, not that it would be standard for anyone with a WP account to see your blog.
posted by sonika at 3:50 AM on October 11, 2011

I would recommend using Blogger if most of your family members already have Google accounts (use gmail). That way, you can give them permission to read the blog without having to create a new account. Here's a video about the privacy settings.

One thing that will be useful to use is the "post by mail" feature. If you take a quick picture from your phone, you can just e-mail it to the blog and it gets published automatically.

Of course you can do all this with any number of services, I only recommend blogger if your readers already have Google accounts. Personally I run Wordpress for my own blog because it is publicly viewable.
posted by amitai at 4:11 AM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

(a note: with Blogger, Gmail, and other Google services – and probably other providers, but definitely Google – don't be cute by using the birthdate of baby on any registrations, because they may close the account for being underage according to the TOS)
posted by taz at 4:17 AM on October 11, 2011

BTW if you do use Blogger, or any other blogging service, make sure you BACK UP YOUR BLOG. Find the import/export tool and use it on a regular basis to save a copy of your blog someplace safe.
posted by amitai at 4:18 AM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

I found myself in much the same position as you about six months ago in anticipation of the arrival of our twins (now 5 months old). I wanted an easy way to distribute photos and news etc to far-flung friends and (particularly) family.

I looked into setting up a password-protected tumblr blog and was impressed by the range of templates, ease of use, and options etc. for displaying photos, updating from mobile devices, and blogging generally. You can set up a password-protected blog as an additional blog to your primary blog. It's also free.

In the end, though, on the recommendation of a friend in a similar position, I set up an account at, purely for the purposes of uploading a weekly batch of photos. Both my friend and I have found that the most efficient use of time was to spend half an hour a week culling that week's photos of the kids into a weekly gallery. Every Saturday night I load up a new gallery (while watching TV or whatever), ready for grandparents to look at on Sunday morning. The galleries are all labelled by week (Week01, Week02 etc.) and make a lovely record of the children's development.

Smugmug's got a great customisable platform and doesn't have limits on uploads like free photo sites. You can password-protect any or all of your galleries. Cost is pretty reasonable (I pay $60 a year so I can upload video, $40 p.a. just for photos).

I know your question was on blogging, but I just wanted to avert you to the time-cost of blogging and the alternatives available. I'm glad I went down this route, because we just don't have the time with newborn twins to commit to any sort of blogging schedule (and TBH the family just don't want or need updates that often).

TL;DR - Tumblr for blogging; Smugmug for photo-hosting.
posted by bright cold day at 4:18 AM on October 11, 2011

FWIW I believe you can only invite 100 people to see a private Blogger blog, so if you have A LOT of friends and relatives you want to share with, you could conceivably run into problems.

I recommend also setting up an email notification system so that you can let subscribers know when a new entry is posted (or send them the whole entry) but I don't know how that works with private blogs. A lot of my older relatives are much more comfortable with email than they are with logging into blogs, and I seem to be the only person I know who uses RSS feeds anymore. And if you're updating irregularly (as I would guess you will be with an infant in the house, unless you're super-committed to it), it gets hard for people to remember to go check out the blog (especially if there's a login step).
posted by mskyle at 4:26 AM on October 11, 2011

We do exactly this and use tumblr. I can post directly from my phone, where most of the photos come from, so it is quick and easy to keep up to date. The blog is updated 4+ times a week with a new photo or two because it is so easy. It is nearly all pics with captions and very few word posts as I think people are more into photos but ymmv. Good luck!
posted by saradarlin at 5:57 AM on October 11, 2011

Do enough of your friends and family use Facebook to make going that route feasible? That would cover all the comment and privacy requirements and has the added feature of being something a huge segment of the population goes to on a regular basis already. If you're a FB user, it will be easier to update that way than to integrate a blog into your routine. Plus it seems by all the hoopla about Timeline that it will soon be almost tailor made for this purpose.

Then when your child is 13 s/he can just take over the account and use it. Because what teenager in the world doesn't want to be linked to the baby site their mommy set up for them?
posted by looli at 6:19 AM on October 11, 2011

We're experimenting with Posterous which updates via email so you can send an email with photo attachment and it updates the site. Makes it easy to update via phone or computer. I feel like it has privacy features but not sure how that all works out.
posted by amanda at 6:59 AM on October 11, 2011

If it's only a small group of friends, have you considered doing an email newsletter instead?
posted by schmod at 7:47 AM on October 11, 2011

We do this with Posterous as well.

People can receive emails every time you post, or once a day, or never (I find this helpful for the older generation that is not RSS-savvy or may forget which sites to check in on). You can password-protect, or not. iPhone and Android apps. You can email text or pictures to your site, or post from the web interface. Comments and "likes" are built in. They also have a nice feature called Autopost, that lets you post once to Posterous, and then Posterous can push that content out to Flickr/Facebook/wherever -- you can use it as a pseudo-backup tool, or you can choose some posts to share to Facebook for a larger audience.
posted by misterbrandt at 7:58 AM on October 11, 2011

Any of these suggestions will work. There are also specialized websites like Kidmondo (which is free up to a point).

You could also set up a flickr account (not free beyond 250 pics, but not expensive), restrict it to friends/family and/or send out password-enabled links and post photos/short videos there and use captions for written content. All of these systems have strengths/weaknesses based on how you want to blog (lots of pictures? A few well-curated pictures with a lot of text updates? Short videos? Long videos? Audio updates?). So decide on that first then shop around.

No matter what, being easy to update is key. For example if you use iPhoto it integrates with Flickr (and some other services) so you can easily sync up photos with no extra work. If you will use a phone camera a lot, post by mail is great.

I did this over ten years ago for my kid and it was greatly appreciated by friends and family (and even a few random strangers who came across it by accident). I only wish the tools were as good then as they are now!
posted by mikepop at 7:59 AM on October 11, 2011

You might consider Their motto is "The simple and private way to share life with close friends and family." It's mostly a smartphone app for sharing pictures, but also includes text.
posted by mattbucher at 8:44 AM on October 11, 2011

Seconding amitai because it can't be said enough: Any online service can delete you without notice -- it's happened to the best of us.

Backup everything. (I use the free HTTrack to keep a backup of my Wordpress blog. It's easy.)
posted by coolguymichael at 9:43 AM on October 11, 2011

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