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What Blogging Tool Do You Use and Why?

I had a long talk with the Seattle Webloggers Meetup group and listened to their reasons for staying with the blogging software tool they use. I heard about what they liked and what they didn’t like about their blogging software tool. Many of them mentioned they had done a little research and WordPress was one of their options.

Before I share what they said, I’d like to ask you the same question. Tell me what blogging software tool you are using, if it is a hosted service or dedicated (full version you control on your own site), and what you like, and what you don’t like, about it.

And if you have been considering switching to WordPress but haven’t, why? What is stopping you or holding you back?

NOTE: Thank you to everyone for responding, but how about some specifics? What do you like and what do you not like about the different blogging tools? How did you handle the migration from one to the other? What features are critical to your blogging needs, and does your blogging tool provide them? What do you wish it had? What do you wish it didn’t do? Are you currently shopping around for a better blogging tool? Then what features are you looking for? If you like WordPress, whatever version, what do you wish it had that other blogging tools have. You are the folks working these blogs, so I consider you experts on what makes a good blogging tool, so what is it?


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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen

16 Comments

  1. Posted May 18, 2006 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    WordPress all the way! Hosted by A Small Orange, rather than on my own servers or WordPress.com. WP.com isn’t an option for me; I’m too much of a fiddler.

    Why WordPress? I needed a PHP and MySQL based solution because .Net hosting is too expensive (I’m a .Net developer). I tried the other PHP options, B2, Drupal, etc, and just liked the way WordPress worked best. It does everything I need it to do, and it isn’t an effort to use and understand.

  2. Posted May 18, 2006 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    Definitely WordPress, it is by far the most flexible blogging tool, has excellent community around it and is open source :-)

  3. Posted May 18, 2006 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    WordPress, hosted at Dreamhost (which offers one-click installation and upgrade of WP). WordPress seemed like the easiest to use and offered a lot of opportunities for customization when I set up my blog. Now, I stay with WP because there’s such a great community of support, I know I can always get help if I run into a problem.

  4. Posted May 18, 2006 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    So far, WordPress has been my favorite platform (after trying TypePad and Drupal). I have two hosted WordPress sites, and they’ve been incredibly easy to maintain, plus they’re giving me great opportunities to be exposed to and start learning PHP.

    I also now have a wordpress.com blog, just to see what the differences are.

  5. Posted May 18, 2006 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    I use WordPress (came to it from Blogger via a couple of other bits of software).

    I like it because I have just enough knowledge to be able to tweak it without getting totally lost. Domain registration via Brinkster.com (cheap and very helpful) and a friend is hosting the site at a colo – so my webmaster is someone I know and trust.

  6. Posted May 18, 2006 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    Lorelle,
    I’ve used a number of platforms and wordpress takes the cake. The WP community and all the development that goes on makes it even better. I got a siteground account fo r $5 a month and offers one-click WP installs, 24gb and unlimited MySQL so you can have a little WP network all your own (I love my little group of five bloggers on mine).

    Oh and when I first read this I thought you were asking about what we use to blog with – Ecto is pretty good, but flock is getting to be pretty darn amazing and it works really well with WP and flickr.

  7. Posted May 18, 2006 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    I am still using blogger, and for my need is enough.

  8. Posted May 18, 2006 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    Sexy Sadie and the rest:

    What is enough? What do you need? I’d love to know what it is about blogger, or whatever the rest of you are using, that is enough? What makes it good? What do you wish it had? What do you wish it didn’t? Why do you stay with it? What would you look for in a new blogging tool? If you were to change, what would make you change and what features would you be looking for?

    Thanks!

  9. Posted May 18, 2006 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

    The Bloke has been using Blogger since Google took over. With hacks I have made a sophisticated site that is beholding to none. None of the free WordPress hosts have been able to match the features and configurability that I can do with Blogger and few nifty hack tricks. Until they can match it I will stay with Blogger.

  10. Posted May 18, 2006 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

    I use WordPress because it is what the person who introduced me to blogging used. When I started blogging, BlogSpot is the only other blogging platform I knew about.

    I’m sure if TypePad or Movable Type were introduced to me first then I would probably be using those instead. I’m also hosted by PowWeb because when I first put up my blog, WordPress.org had PowWeb as their top hosting suggestion at the time.

  11. Posted May 19, 2006 at 12:16 am | Permalink

    Blog Bloke: Can you be more specific with the “nifty hack tricks”? Not to have you give away secrets, but what can blogger do that WordPress can’t? I’m curious, as we all are.

  12. irpet
    Posted May 19, 2006 at 2:24 am | Permalink

    I´ve recently moved from blogger to wordpress, things I like so far is the controll it offers, I have total control over the data and the database and backups (for good or bad). It also offers a wide variation of plugins that I can use to build my blogg together with other parts of internet, like Flickr.

    What I miss about blogger, and why I consider moving back, is that I can administrate many bloggs from one admin interface. I really, really miss this, using categories is just not working for me, and my knowledge i php is just to small for doing any “tweaking”. I haven’t tried TypePad or Movable Type yet.

    I´ve tried Livejournal once, but I didnt use it it was way to inflexible (I only tried the free version).

  13. Posted May 19, 2006 at 3:58 am | Permalink

    First i used LiveJournal (2001)
    Then, as i needed more customisation power i tryed Typepad, but after a year i thought it was expensive and bought Movable Type 3 and instaled it on a rented server sapce.
    In the end of 2005 i sensed that Movable Type was shifting it’s core target to large hosted blog platform and intended to become “mainstream” (it’s new mix of LiveJournal and typepad project).
    So i started to look into wordpress, that got some thing i liked:

    1) was free
    2) had powerfull features
    3) good documentation in the codex
    4) large user base of entusiastic people wiling to help others
    5) Tons of plugins
    6) Fous on usaers that wat many thing and are not afraid to test new ways of bloggin

    I had to learn some thing i didn’t want (messing with code), but it was a necessary “evil” to test more diferent visual solutions.
    I hope wordpress could become more of a content managment system than a blog tool, because all the oepn source CMS solutions are dificult to configure for non-technical usaers (i tried some).

  14. Posted May 19, 2006 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    Re: USTommyMC

    That is a hard question to answer with just one small comment. I think the bottom line is there is very little if anything that WordPress can offer that I can’t do with hacking Blogger. For example, I’ve made my own category tags that are actually more functional and work better than using built-in WordPress plugins. I like free stuff and so far I see little advantage moving over to using a paid host for WordPress. And like I said earlier, the free WordPress hosts offer few plugins and/or flexibility for altering their meager templates that they offer. With Blogger only I’m limited by my imagination and technical know-how with what I can accomplish. There is unfortunately too much to mention here but if you see something in my blog of interest I will be happy to answer specific questions.

  15. Posted May 19, 2006 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    Hi Lorelle,

    First of all, you have a great blog, I’ve learned alot from it, and have been encouraged to write by seeing you write. Thanks for posting :)

    As to your question (and to be specific which for me usually means long). When I first started blogging, I
    started with Typepad. My reasons were pretty simple, I didn’t know anything about blogging software, self-hosting, php, html or anything else. I just wanted a tool that I could start up and start writing. I wanted my blog to look reasonably nice too. So Typepad seemed like a great tool for me and here
    are the specific reasons:
    * The promise of getting up and blogging in 10 minutes
    * No need to know html or anything else remotely program related
    * It didn’t feel “cheap” what I mean is I felt like I could have a nice professional looking blog without alot of work. I wanted to write not design.
    * A known company was supporting it. I didn’t want to spend my money with a company that was a flash in the pan. I wanted someone who I thought might be around.
    * WYSIWG interface. I just had to type like on my word processor and I was on my way.
    * Built in spell-checker
    * I could format my blog posts with underlines and bullets and so on and it would look nice and be easy to do
    * Someone else would worry about keeping the site going, updating it, working with insuring the hardware and software were bug free. I didn’t have to do any maintenance.

    I found that as I learned more though, that the mechanics of a blog site were not as daunting as I had originally thought. And, I learned that other tools might allow me to accomplish my goals better and at a lower cost.

    So I looked around and compared Moveable Type to WordPress 2.0 and decided to take the jump into doing the hosting myself. Now part of this was born out of frustration with Typepad. As I grew, I felt limited by how my site could look to present my writing and how I could organize my writing as well. Indeed, I started seeing my blog as more than just an on-line outlet for my writing (gosh, for the first few months I kept it all private even though I wasn’t writing about anything too personal). I began to see my blog as something that could add to the conversations about alot of subjects that I was very interested in and that might help in even educating others about my personal passions. I guess I was catching blog-fever!

    I chose WordPress after trying it out at WordPress.com I found WordPress.com easier to use than Typepad and it was faster. I was, frankly, surprised. I thought about just migrating my blog to WordPress.com but then thought to myself, why not just go the full boat and get the package myself. I figured I could
    learn something valuable I hadn’t known before and get the added value of the full WordPress package and control over look, feel and content.

    So I chose WordPress, chose A Small Orange for my host and dove in.

    I chose WordPress 2.0 because:
    * Easy to use
    * Free
    * Secure
    * Super full featured but not bloatware. I found with WordPress I had about 90% of what I had in Typepad. With the plug-ins and some tweaking on my own I found I had more features than I had with Typepad and WordPress felt more nimble and simple to use, not big and bulky. I like that alot.
    * Better able to customize the look and feel with a wide variety of templates
    * The underlying technology sounded and “felt” better. I’m not a programmer and don’t understand software architecture well, but, WordPress just felt like it was put together the right way. Whatever that means!
    * It felt like one package. Moveable Type and Typepad had the feel like I was using multiple applications, WordPress felt like one smooth simple package and I liked that.
    * The WordPress community. I felt like I was part of something with WordPress. I felt like there were lots of famous and not so famous people using it, and there were so many people freely supporting it. That made me feel like I could use it to and in fact be successful setting it up.
    * Cost. With my own self hosting of WordPress, some plug-ins and learning some programming on my part (simple php and html)I found I could get a more full featured blog, that would allow me to write easily, that was more secure, with less spam, for 1/2 the price of what I’d been paying.
    * Trust. I felt like I could trust the WordPress development team and community to do “right” by me and for other users. Why is this important? In my opinion, if I couldn’t trust them and the community to crush potential security holes or even to give the straight scoop on capability then would my blog then require me to do more to get it running and keep it running keeping me away from writing?

    Bringing Typepad over to WordPress was initially very easy. I was shocked I could do it frankly. I thought I’d have to call someone and pay them to do it but sure enough I followed the instructions, crossed my fingers and *ta da* the export from Typepad and the import to WordPress 2.0 worked
    as advertised. Then I found I had to set about tweaking it. That took some effort and learning on my part. The text didn’t all line up clean enough for me and some links looked odd or pointed back to my old spot at Typepad. So I’m still working through the odds and ends on that (retyping hotlinks here and there, moving pointers to images from Typepad to my host, A Small Orange). But by and large I can’t complain, it was amazing, to me, that I could get this done at all. Learning from other’s experience in the WordPress Community who did make this move was very helpful. That gave me the courage to try it frankly.

    What I would like to see in the future?
    * WordPress WYSIWG does not necessarily work as I’d like. Sometimes I can’t get line breaks in and my posts don’t look that great. I have to mess with the HTML then. That’s not such a big deal, and I’m always proud of what I was able to do technically, but, I don’t think I should have to mess with that at all. Typepad’s WYSIWG editor works better and seems to allow for an easier time posting. I wish WordPress’s was that easy.
    * Images. I wish WordPress made putting these in easy as thumbnails (then click to make them full size) easy. I’ve tried plug-ins to make this easier and they work most times, but then sometimes they seem to “break” and stop working. So I’ve taken them out and just use the image upload feature as is from WordPress 2.0 It may just be my having to learn what to do here though.
    * Better plug-in ecosystem. The WordPress ecosystem is really amazing and is a real draw to WordPress. However, as BlogBloke commented, at times a hack I’ve learned is better than a plug-in. That makes me wonder how the WordPress plug-in ecosystem could be made better (through validation or some sort of better programming rules or a developers conference perhaps). I’ve found about 1/2 the plug-ins to work well. The balance need some help (IMHO).

  16. wildframe
    Posted May 19, 2006 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

    Hi Lorelle,

    Great blog and I intend to delve deeper into it. As a veteran web-developer of ten years I chose WordPress because by the end of the week I’m usually sick of the web and wanted a flexible interface that would simply allow me to focus on content and wouldn’t get in the way. I looked at a range of options including Mambo/Joomla which I run on my wife’s domain but it was too bells and whistles for what I needed. I also toyed with the idea of a wiki as well but many of them lack the journaling format that suits me.

    I chose to host it on my own website [wildframe.net] because I wanted to have control over its features, look-n-feel, permanancy and above all content.

    As far as things that I think WordPress could improve on would be the upgrade process. It’s not a problem for me but I imagine for beginners it’s a show-stopper. Then again that why there are good placees like [wordpress.com] so newbies don’t have to learn a whole new set of skills.

    Glad I found your blog…Cheers…John.


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