The personal blogging revolution is here. Along with social media channels like Instagram and Pinterest, blogging is set to explode in 2018. You can say that this year will be all about personal expression as people young and old decide to ensure their voice is heard. Given that many millions of people are already using the internet to share their opinions and inform other people, it’s necessary to do so more effectively than ever to rise above the din of intense chatter to get noticed.
A free or paid blogging platform is usually setup to make it easy for a non-coder to create a website. They don’t need any special skills either. Templates or themes are provided that let a user point and click, selecting which look for their site they want. Once the theme or template is selected, customizing it from a selection of logos or graphical images from a supplied royalty-free photo gallery is made easier. Some platforms have a gallery setup, others like WordPress leave everything blank and the user to fend for themselves.
The platforms work for beginners who could not make a website on their own or for people who are graduating from a web site builder with too few options for their liking. Many of the blogging platforms can help new users to put up their first page and see how it looks,show their friends and loved ones and then expand from there. There’s a greater sense of accomplishment because setting up this way is not as easy as with a web builder provided for them that’s more of a series of clicks to setup.
If you go back a few years, blogging platforms were more basic and cumbersome to use. The features were less advanced because the platforms had not evolved to a point of sophistication yet. However, better computer languages focused on presentation and speed have made it possible for many platforms like WordPress, Medium, Squarespace, Tumblr and others to deliver impressive results in record time without coding knowledge required.
Templates or themes are created not just by the platform itself, but by outside graphics designers and coders working together. Sometimes the web site designs are free, but many of the platform providers have premium marketplaces to help designers sell their site designs and profit from them. This is a win-win for both the platform and the designers; the platform gets more attractive visuals for users to apply and the designers have a new source of revenue for their work while still retaining the copyright.
Third party apps and plugins are created by the developer community who are fans of the blogging platform and wish to see it succeed. The framework is a starting point with the ability to have new sites put up quickly. Where the blogging platforms outdo straight web site builders is in their expandability.
Whether using WordPress on either a standalone hosted or self-hosted cloud server apps environment, Joomla, or to a lesser extent, Wix, there are extensions or plugins (they use different terminology depending on the platform) that extend the feature set. The feature extension can be a way to let people subscribe to an email newsletter by integrating the site with a mailing list provider, creating a table of contents for pages with more content, adding nicer menus, or some other bit of improved functionality and even scaling by reducing bandwith with a CDN.
With an increased selection of both free and paid third party apps or plugins, the blogging platform becomes more attractive to serious users. Someone who starts off with a personal blog but wants to expand it later to sell goods online like people are doing on Shopify doesn’t want to be forced to change platforms down the road. The inconvenience of this is something that people wish to avoid. While users of a content management system do not want too much complexity early on, they do want to see that the more advanced options are provided or possible via plugins or extensions in case they expand later.
This is the year for blogging platforms because their sophistication has reached a point where they can do whatever you want of them. While web site builders are excellent too, they don’t always have all the features at your fingertips because they’re setup to make things simple for newbies. A blogger platform offers a little more, but you’re often required to go up a steeper learning curve to get there. Many people begin their online journey with a website builder application provided by the web host and then gravitate to a professional blogging platform when they feel ready for it.