There are two basic needs for every blog and blogger: blog software and web hosting.
Every blogger has four basic choices within this framework:
- Free software and free hosting
- Free software and paid hosting
- Paid software and hosting included with subscription
- Paid software and paid hosting
When it comes to blog software you get what you pay for. The free nature often comes at the expense of features, storage space and/or bandwidth. Each combination has its pros, cons and features, and the best blog software is the combination of software and hosting that best suits your personal blogging needs.
Free software and free hosting
Free/free cons: subdomain address this means the name of your blog will appear as a subdomain of the name of the hosting company. You also might not be able to post photos (or only a small amount) and you won t be able to customize your template or template.
Advertising is another possibly annoying con of free hosting and free software packages. Placing ads on your blog is how these free companies generate revenue. The ad is usually related to your site content, but you have no control over any aspect of the contents or placement of this advertising.
The pros are obvious: it s free, but with a lot of limitations. If you just want somewhere to record your daily journal online you could easily get by with such a limited scope.
Examples of programs we reviewed that offer free software and free hosting include Blogger (by Google) and LiveJournal. LiveJournal is free to join and have a limited account but also offers paid accounts that allow you to fully utilize everything the program has to offer.
Free software with paid hosting
With this combination you pay for hosting service and are comped the actual blogging software. You can then download and install the program on your computer and begin blogging.
Cons here begin with price. Hosting generally costs about $5 per month for basic service. Depending on how many readers you have how much space you take up that can easily increase to a need of $10 per month. Also plan to spend anywhere from $6 to $36 per year in annual registration fees for your domain name.
Free software features are more limited than paid software. Your options with free software are either a full-featured open source program (as opposed to proprietary) or reduced-feature commercial software.
The install of the software is also a potential con. You have to know your way around your own server in order to accomplish this. There are flash tutorials and walkthroughs a-plenty designed to aid you in the venture, but you will need to be able to know about databases (such as MySQL) and how they work. Otherwise you might need to pay someone to do the install for you, or find someone you know with the skills and a pro bono, generous nature.
The advantages of paid hosting are many: photo capabilities, customized design, and the domain name of your choice.
WordPress and MovableType are two programs where you can pay for hosting and get free software. MovableType offers reduced-feature commercial software while WordPress is open source.
Paid software that includes the price of hosting
The biggest advantage to this type of service is that you won t have to install your own server but you will be saddled with a subdomain.
The costs can stack up with this type of package. Services are generally billed as a subscription service of at least $15 per month for full features, multiplied by 12 months and you re at almost $200 for the year. Add your monthly domain name registration to that and it really is getting expensive.
Most services allow you to choose to pay for a year s subscription all at once and you can set your domain registration to auto-renew.
This option is for people who don t want to mess with their own hosting and software installation. It is less work and more features for you, but you will pay a monthly price for the luxury, though this remains a popular solution for many would-be bloggers.
TypePad, LiveJournal paid accounts and SquareSpace are great examples of programs offering this combination of services.
Paid software and paid hosting
With this option you pay for software, hosting and domain registration but you receive the greatest amount of flexibility.
The software is a one-time fee but hosting and domain services are monthly subscription fees.
If money is no object and you re running a business or blogging for a living, this is the best option. You can choose your own domain name, have access to the most feature-rich software available and you will be eligible for full support from the software manufacturer.
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