By now, I hope I’ve impressed upon you the importance of firing up your blog again. Last time, we spoke about determining what type of thought leadership you will share; now we need to decide where to publish what you write.
There are many options for blog hosting—from free to high-end, from easy-to-manage personally to more complex. I’ll outline for you here the main options for where to host your blog.
Hosting your thought leadership blog
For the purposes of this article, I’m assuming that you are an independent executive who desires to share thought leadership with your industry but can operate outside of the confines of your company’s general communication and branding infrastructure. If that’s not true, talk to your communications or marketing department to find out what your company’s thought leadership tech stack currently offers.
Let’s look first at the blogging websites that are not free. WordPress.org—generally the most popular blog hosting platform—is free to use itself, but users need to pay for web hosting through another source. Basically, WordPress.org provides you everything you need to build and maintain your blog, but you still need to acquire a domain name and hosting provider (which are often lumped together through a separate source). Similar to WordPress.org but less well-known are Joomla and Ghost. Both of these are well-used Content Management Systems (CMSs) but also require web hosting.
Squarespace offers blog hosting, and it doesn’t require a purchase of a domain or outside web hosting in order to use it (you will have to choose a “.squarespace.com” web address). However, Squarespace doesn’t offer any free options. Its layouts are beautiful and modern, but the plans are a bit higher-end.
There are several blog-hosting sites which offer a free option alongside different paid options with more features. WordPress.com (not to be confused with WordPress.org but run by the same company), Weebly and Wix are three sites that offer free blog hosting as well as paid options with more features. The free plan options may not be as well suited to a business, for example, depending on what your needs are for your blog website, which is something to consider.
Hosting your blog for free
Lastly, there are the completely free blog hosting options. Tumblr, Medium, Blogger (through Google), Google+ and LinkedIn all host completely free blog communities. Tumblr offers a lot of style and format options (although some of them will cost you), and Blogger offers some formatting choices as well. Medium, Google+ and LinkedIn, on the other hand, don’t offer much in terms of design. They are essentially locations for posting your writing. That may be all you need, and you’ll benefit from the simplicity.
If ease-of-use is a factor for you, Wix, Weebly, Squarespace, Tumblr, Medium, Blogger and WordPress.com are all considered to be very user-friendly without a lot of technical know-how required.
Plugins (add-on options such as a mailing list sign-up, social media buttons or ecommerce options) also vary by blog hosting site and CMS. Some offer a wide variety of plugins; others have more limited offerings or may have specific plugin limitations. This may be something to look into based on what your needs will be.
While having a multitude of options for hosting your blog can be overwhelming, once you decide what you are looking for, it actually works to your benefit.
For our money, there are two excellent options for where to blog. One is through a business-minded blogging social network such as LinkedIn (see: posts) or Google+. When using these sites, you don’t need to build anything. Simply sign up, begin writing what you want to write and connect with others (link: Blogging5).
The other option—and this is the best one for company leaders—is to incorporate your blog into your existing business website. If you can bring blog readers to your website, that increased traffic will only work to your advantage (assuming you have a well-made site).
Fortunately, modern CMSs make it easy to create static pages that allow your blogging CMS to also be your website builder. WordPress.org offers the most options and highest customer satisfaction (although there are other options including Joomla, Ghost, and even Squarespace that all allow you to use your own domain).
Whether you want to run your own website and blog there or blog on a free site elsewhere, blogging can be a huge resource with many potential benefits for businesses and thought leaders at all levels. For more information on this, see this post. Then get writing.