Monday, 27 January 2014

Blogging Platforms: A look at Wordpress

In my search for the right blogging platform for me I expect to go with wordpress unless a recent alternative shows up. This is a post I am writing as I go. I'm hoping to make a decision in the next month or two but life often gets in the way and deadlines drift. That's life. I keep notes like this all the time but it's the first time I've made them public. I have just noticed how much I benefit from others sharing their notes so I am doing the same.

So the obvious questions are
  • what I actually want to do with blogging?
  • why wordpress? 
  • what does WP offer and why is it better than blogger. 

what I actually want to do with blogging?

The first question is what are my needs for the future?
  1. create content: It's relatively easy to create content right now but I feel it should be much easier. The blogger mobile app for example ruins the formatting of existing posts so I'm put off using it and rely on desktop browsing. Not good. Lots of other issues.
  2. connect: Blogger connects easily to google plus but nothing else. I'm looking at other options like livefyre. I want automatic publishing to major platforms. Though IFTTT and others get around this.
  3. promotion: It's a lot of work right now to promote what I do. I hear wordpress has a lot of plugins to help
  4. monetise: Blogger does well so far in allowing adsense but overall the feeling is amateurish and the stats seem unreliable
  5. Admin: Blogger doesn't have great admin tools. The mobile app doesn't even report stats.

Why Wordpress? 

Wordpress is the tool for the majority of bloggers I know of or hear about, professional or amateur. My experience of wordpress has really impressed me considering my 7 or see years experience of blogger

Quick Review

My wordpress blog life as play gives me a basic insight into Wordpress. I started it a few years ago but left quickly because there were a few things I couldn't do. Mainly it was about restrcitions on what you can embed but now I don't have the same concerns. If I host I should get round any problems anyway.

So I thought I would just list the features I really like:

  • The editor: 
    • putting it fullscreen is lovely 
    • pasting test in is easy. Blogger needs a lot of formatting
  • Quick draft: Now I have found it I love it. Something I've been needing
  • php and opensource: I'm a developer who write php code all day. So the ability to adjust wordpress if I need to is a nice option to have. Not expecting to do anything but this is not an option with blogger. 
  • related posts: Categories done as I have always expected. Every post ends with a list of related posts determined by the categories it is assigned to. With blogger I'm having to do this manually. What's the point of that?
  • Social: 
    • Blogger does an OK job. Publishing to G+ was particularly good until I started scheduling posts. Now they don't appear there unless I share manually. What's the point.
    • on tennisfrontier I can post to all the big networks but also customise the post to the network. Set key tags for each using @, # or whatever.
I also post on tennisfrontier which runs wordpress. This is properly setup i.e. not the basic hosted package so I get a chance to see more of the plugins that are available. The content sharing and promotion options are much better. Particularly the ability to coordinating social media campaigns for each post.

Wordpress.com

I am still learning what wordpress can do by running my blog life as play. It's the next blog I want to focus on and now I'm a starting to think properly about it.

Install

I am likely looking for a hosted service. Thought I checked with a frind who set up a self install wordpress site. He said wordpress isn't particularly secure by default. So most of the work was in setting up the right security plugins. He chose these:
  • BulletProof Security
  • Look-See Security Scanner
  • WP-Sentinel

Self hosted

So I just found some guides for transitioning from blogger and wordpress to self hosted word press. I know there will be a lot of these out there and planned to search in time but I came across these today. Worth including

Plugins

Word press is all about the plugins so I looked at what is popular then checked a few more sites:

Tutorial sites

Git

I use git a lot now. I basically swear by it. I'd rather use this instead of ftp if I could. So, naturally, I'm going to look at how to use it with my hosting and with word press.
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