Blogging

Is WordPress the Only Practical Choice for Starting a Blog?

If you’re considering starting a blog (or moving an existing one), is WordPress really the only platform I think you should consider? Not necessarily.

I stumbled on an article about blogging sites you should check out if you’re considering starting a blog. I immediately noticed that of the four options presented, a curious, obvious one was not included.

That obvious option just so happened to be WordPress.

I’ve written before about why I think WordPress is an important place for bloggers to get to. Even if they don’t immediately set up a self-hosted WordPress blog, that should, in my opinion, be the eventual goal.

But this list makes no mention of WordPress and I find that curious.

This blog did not begin on WordPress.

I’m the first to admit that at the time I started this blog way back in February 2004, I didn’t know a great deal about starting a blog. I feel reasonably certain that in 2019, I have picked up at least a little knowledge.

I started somewhere besides WordPress because I knew nothing about hosting their platform on my own website. For that matter, I knew nothing about acquiring a domain for a blog.

At the time I started this blog, I was a member on America Online, otherwise known as AOL. About the time I decided I wanted to dip my toe in the blogging waters, they introduced a blogging platform they called “AOL Journals.”

The nice thing about AOL Journals at that time was that it was a small but tight community. When you posted something, it seemed you had a good-sized audience who’d read. They’d even comment!

Bloggers on the AOL Journals platform started building a following.

But there was a problem in that idyllic close-knit community: the readers there were only loyal, with very few exceptions, to AOL bloggers. When a group of bloggers who decided it was time to expand outside the world of AOL left the platform, some of those once-loyal readers started talking about boycotts.

Really? Yes, really.

Suddenly, those of us who were used to a certain number of comments and page views per post realized we suddenly had an all new amount of work ahead of us.

We were no longer the big fish in a small pond.

At best, we were now small fish in an ocean. There was little to no loyalty. Readers found you if you were lucky — few of us knew much about SEO back then. Readers returned only if they really, really liked what they saw on that first visit.

It was a culture shock, to say the least. We’d gotten ourselves used to having an audience that now seemed to disappear.

But the good news about that was that we started learning the discipline of blogging while we enjoyed having that larger-than-normal audience.

When we were suddenly off that little tiny island, we were having to tread water. But we’d learned how to swim while we were on the island.

There should have been 5 options, not 4.

Of the four options listed in the article, I’ve heard of all four. When I first left AOL Journals, Blogger is the one I chose. And about a year or two later, I finally felt I’d done enough research and planning to move to my own domain. That happened 12 years ago.

But if you look at the pros and cons, you’ll see some alarming details. Some of the options are free only if you’re willing to tolerate ads. One doesn’t allow a change of layout once the site is built. Another has what the writer calls “questionable” SEO.

One option that is listed as free also “owns” your site, and it sounds like it’s not clear what happens to your content if you move elsewhere.

These are all scary thoughts.

WordPress does have a free version it hosts for you. It’s a difference between WordPress.com, where you write a blog it hosts; or WordPress.org, where you download their blogging platform, then upload it to your host and run with it.

WordPress currently runs about 30% of all websites, according to the latest research. That speaks volumes about the reliability and versatility of the platform.

There’s a great deal of support out there for bloggers who happen to use WordPress. And it grows year after year.

Starting elsewhere isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

In a way, I’m glad I started out on a smaller platform in a tiny-but-loyal community. It did help me keep blogging and taught me how to do so.

But if I knew what I know now, I might have started on WordPress.com.

I might have learned the WordPress platform, which I’d convinced myself was far too difficult to master. I was extraordinarily wrong about that belief, I soon learned.

If you feel you can find an encouraging community on Blogger or Wix or the others, and you feel you won’t find it in the big wide world of WordPress, maybe starting small is good.

But as the saying goes, sooner or later, you must “go big or go home.”

WordPress is the best place to grow once you’re established, even if you insist it’s not necessarily the best place to begin.

To put it another way, start anywhere…but end up here.

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 28 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.