The options are endless just as long as you don’t blog yourself to death . . . No joke.
Most of this entry will provide all your bloggers-in-waiting the information you’ve been asking about getting started, but before I urge you onward, you really need to dig up this full article from the New York Times (4/6/08) that explores how bloggers are making money from the art, bloggers getting ripped off by cheapskate blogging sites, and even bloggers dying on the job.
“In Web World of 24/7 Stress, Writers Blog Till They Drop” journalist Matt Richtel chronicles the stories of a number of full-time bloggers who live, eat and breath blogging to feed the insatiable demand of 24/7 blogs, many of which are devoted to the frenetic high tech industry. Some bloggers are said to regularly fall asleep at the keyboard. And Richtel cites two tech bloggers – Russell Shaw and Marc Orchant – who actually died from heart attacks at the relatively young ages of 60 and 50.
Were their deaths connected to their high-stress blogging gigs? No one can actually prove it this was “death by blogging,” Richtel writes, but he paints a less-than-lovely picture of writers being ripped off by rapacious, low-paying Web publishers. For the handful of bloggers for whom the art has been quite lucrative, Richtel says those “on the lower rungs of the business can earn as little as $10 a post, and in some cases are paid on a sliding bonus scale that rewards success with a demand for even more work.”
He reports that sites like Gawker Media give bloggers retainers and then bonuses for hitting benchmarks based on page clicks. Then the goal is raised so that bloggers have an incentive to write more. And, yes, he says writers at some of the bigger blogger sites are earning about $30,000 annually and some are making as much as $70,000. If you’re lucky or smart enough to build a hugely popular blog site, you can generate far more, but most are lucky to make $1,000 a month for tireless effort.
How many bloggers are earning a living this way? Richtel says it’s “unclear how many people blog for pay, but there are surely several thousand and maybe even tens of thousands.”
So, if you still are itching to make your living as a Web-based writer called a blogger, imparting personal and even useful information to unknown readers, read on . . .Just make time to eat, sleep and get some R & R.
But how to get going? Lots of you wanted information on blogging platforms so I dug up some threads from a fairly recent Hidden-Tech discussion on the subject, which mainly focused on Blogger, Wordpress or Typepad. If you want to read the whole trail then join Hidden-Tech (www.hidden-tech.net), which is free, and do a search on the topic. But here, in condensed form, is advice from the A – Z International Associates blogging expert Tish G along with input from Ron M, Contributing Editor of EContent Magazine and Diane C:
“When I started blogging in 2003, there were basically two options; Typepad and Blogger. I started using Blogger (before Google bought them), but I didn't like the Blogger look and feel, so I switched to Typepad. It has/had more professional looking templates and a level of control I wasn't getting from Blogger. I get daily stats for instance, which I didn't get at the time from Blogger.
“If I were starting today, I would strongly consider WordPress, but I think for $5 a month, you get a lot from Typepad including paid, professional help. WordPress provides a community of help, but you don't know if someone will respond to your query and you don't know if the answer you get is right. I've always gotten prompt, professional responses from Typepad.
“ Typepad also provides a gallery of free widgets, add-ons that are dead simple to add to your page. They also have a variety of professional looking templates and they give you complete control over your blog from configuration and monetization all in a graphical environment. If you are a web designer, you can design your own CSS and they recently added a page concept that makes it easy to create a web site from your blog (with separate pages on different topics) without web page design experience.
“Wordpress is great, but the last time I looked at it, I strongly disliked that it required users to subscribe to the blog and comments separately. If you want free, I would probably go with Wordpress, but you get a lot for your money for $5 a month from Typepad."--Ron M.
“Well, which blog platform you choose could have more to do with your level of comfort with blog terminology than it does with whether or not to use Blogger over Wordpress . .. With Wordpress, there's Wordpress.com and Wordpress.org. Wordpress.org is great if you are a web designer and like to tinker a lot with your template and other stuff.
“If you don't have the time, or aren't a designer (I refuse to say not tech savvy -- there are varying levels of tech savvy that have nothing to do with whether or not you can build a Website or blog from the bottom up) then you may want to play a bit with Wordpress.com and Blogger -- go in to each, goof around with them (they're both free and don't have to be searchable if you don't want them to be) feel them out to see which ones are speaking your language -- that is, which one has the shortest learning curve and is easiest to use. (You can also check out "Blogging for Dummies"--a fairly comprehensive book with good hints about most blog software)
“Both WP and B allow you to have your own domain for your blog--your not stuck with the .blogspot.com or the .wordpress.com extensions.
"Both Wordpress and Blogger can be incorporated into existing websites. They have different templates, but are searchable the same way (one doesn't have better SEO than the other--not that I know of. Blog SEO depends on the amount of content as blogs register differently in Google and search in general.
"Some folks say that Wordpress is more stable than Blogger. But WP's had outages too. Blogger --the company --in their merger with Google did some funky things to some templates in order to weed out splogs. However Google's algorithm can flush you from the search engines too -- for lots of vague reasons, not that you're doing anything funky with your site.
Thus, we are all at the mercy of Google."--Tish
"The only way, David, to know exactly which package might be good for you specifically is to either play with each or talk over what you want to do with a consultant who can then sort out with you what your particular needs are and help you pick the right one.
If you don't have the money for a consultant, just check the different platforms out for yourself.”
“Ron has a good point. **my last paragraph is most important point** But I also want to point out that there are tons of free widgets (add-ons) for WordPress.
There are lots of professional templates (called themes) with WordPress.
You can also tweak or change the CSS to your hearts content.
I know that many WordPress people have their blogs integrated with their sites - seamless - I don't know if they created them all in WordPress or something else.
“You can have other pages with WordPress also - not just a blog. You can have static pages too. WordPress has had this page concept for at least while - I don't know how long.
Again, you don't need design experience to make those pages - very, very easy. I have not always gotten the help I needed from expensive paid software. WordPress people have been very generous in my experience with helping figure things out.
“I am a subscriber to several TypePad blogs and I don't get the comments - just the posts. With WordPress I can usually get the comments too. So, Ron, I wish I were getting the comments from my TypePad subscriptions. They seem pretty equivalent to me.
What I particularly like about WordPress is that is **OPEN SOURCE**. I love that hundreds if not thousands of people are working to make it better and to keep it free.I love the whole open source (also known as free) software. It's a power to the people thing.
It is quite a strong movement!-- Diane C