What is a blog anyway? It’s basically a website with an index of “posts”, dated, and typically sorted in reverse chronological order. But a blog can be much more than that. A blog can serve as a central hub for your marketing efforts, a place where people can read your content and leave comments, or a syndication system for managing an email newsletter. Blogs can be all of that and much more, so what are the top blogging platforms?
- 1. WordPress
- 2. Write.as
- 3. Ghost
- 4. Jekyll
- 5. Drupal
For one reason or another, you might find that you need a blog to help you achieve your digital marketing goals. While having a blog is not necessary to take advantage of various digital marketing systems, it can be a serious way to organize your marketing efforts in one place and keep up regular conversations with your most ardent users.
The WordPress content management system (CMS) is still the king of the hill. Installed on most of the world’s websites, there’s no doubt that it holds high status in the industry and maintains a loyal following of users, developers, and supporters.
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User Management in WordPress
WordPress makes it easy to integrate multiple users. Every user, identified by unique username and email address, can be granted different tiers of privileges. You have everything from basic subscribers to authors and editors, all of whom have been different access to content. This makes it easy to have multiple users contributing to your site and also keep a lid on things for security purposes.
Post and Page Templates
WordPress allows advanced users to easily customize page and post templates to get customize the look and navigation of their site. Templates are separate from themes, the latter of which are full packages you can install and activate right away to change the look and function of your blog.
The Plugin and Theme Architecture
Write.as is a new platform built on the Write Freely CMS. If you want to skip the process of installing your own Write Freely server, you can set up a free account on write.as and start blogging right away.
One of the main advantages of write.as is that it is built on federated software. This is a relatively new protocol that allows you to create one user account that you can use to participate with other federated apps, like an email address.
Ghost is a good option for someone who doesn’t mind paying for premium all-inclusive hosting but also wants to support the open source ethos. Ghost also supports local installation if you want to try before you buy. Remember, you can install Ghost on a server and use it for free, just like WordPress, but some of the paid optimizations available from the Ghost organization will not be implemented.
Hosted and Self-hosted
Ghost has a self-hosted alternative, like WordPress and Write Freely, which gives you the option of hosting your own installation on a private server. If this doesn’t work for you, there is a paid hosting option.
Support For Subscription Services
Ghost also offers built-in support for email subscription and paid memberships. This means you could monetize your blog. However, pay close attention to subscription tiers. Plans range from a limit of 500 subscribers to 10,000.
Jekyll is different than all of the other blogging platforms mentioned in this article. While all of the other content management systems listed here use dynamic site generation, Jekyll uses static site generation.
Static Vs. Dynamic Site Generation
A static site generator takes some existing content, converts to a static format, typically HTML, so the user can upload the static files to a web server and have a completely functional website. Dynamic site generation, on the other hand, relies on a few page templates to use a scripting language (like PHP or Python) on the server to pull content from a database and display it in the user’s browser based on what they requested.
Because static sites are already rendered in their final state, depending on server resources, the page load times can be faster for more users — and readily cached locally. Dynamic sites require more server resources and can therefore run slower unless the server is sufficiently optimized.
Jekyll builds its pages with the Ruby language and convenient, simplified Markdown markup syntax. For those interested in customizing the layout, Jekyll uses a relatively easy templating language, so the user can create various layouts and build them locally before publishing to the server.
While it’s most suitable for advanced users, or people who have access to a developer, Drupal must be mentioned here as a powerful platforming for blogging. While not specifically a blogging platform, Drupal can handle the creation and management of virtually any kind of website — including a blog.
Setting Up a Basic Drupal Blog
Blogs basically require an index of posts, dated, typically sorted in reverse chronological order, and a link to each post as an invidual page. And then you have welcome options like categorizing of posts, ability for users to post comments, and post tagging. Drupal can handle all of these various features without breaking a sweat.
The default Drupal system can be customized for blog support. But for more advanced options and customization of templates, you may want to have a developer on hand for advice and assistance.