How Do You Know You've Found the Blogging Platform for You?
Back in 2004, when I started my blog over at Blogger, blogging wasn't a thing. It wasn't popular and blogs used to serve merely as diaries for people who want to keep talking (writing?) beyond their circle.
I, for one, discovered blogging when I was hanging out at the house of a friend from church, practicing our little dance number to be performed on a Sunday (or Saturday?). I was sitting on her bed waiting for the others to arrive when I couldn't help but notice "Diaryland" displayed on her computer. At the time, it looked really cool and personal, and the more I observed her interact with it, the more I grew interested. I was very shy then, so I didn't ask what it was.
When I got home though, I googled 'Diaryland' (Or was it Yahoo? Dang I'm old.) and was shown this website:
Before any of this, I didn't have much going for me on the internet. All I did was to search on it for homework or check and send emails. I don't recall spending hours 'browsing' and getting eye strain. After a quick search, I discovered Blogger.
It doesn't seem much right now, but back then, it opened up a whole new world. I kept physical diaries growing up so knowing there was a way to kind of immortalize and share my thoughts to people was mind-blowing to me.
This was also the time I began to explore HTML/CSS/Flash (thanks, Friendster!) so with my knowledge, I decided to start with Blogger as it was a straight-to-the-point system for posting and designing my blog's look and feel. Diaryland was cool and intimate, but I didn't have access to the codes for customization. Wordpress wasn't even a thing back then.
Between 2007 to 2009, I didn't touch my blog. I didn't see it is something valuable enough to keep spending time on because I already had a physical diary, and that was enough for me. Boy, was that a big mistake. When I got back to the blogging scene, a lot of people had started one and for them, blogging was a business. I realized I needed to get back to work, and after a short glitch in the system (I somehow deleted everything in my blog, sadly), I was back.
A few months into blogging again, Wordpress started catching up, offering "plugins" to give more customization options for a small fee.
With Wordpress, my love for designing web pages was ignited. I remember looking through a number of free themes thinking about possible blogs I could create - food blogs, one for politics, one for just my artworks, one for music... there was just too many ideas, but I decided to stick to one - art.
I then proceeded to keep two blogs: one on Blogger for my personal posts and one on Wordpress for my art posts. During this time, I also discovered other blogging sites like LiveJournal, Tumblr, Weebly, and Wix, among many others. Name a blogging platform and I can bet you I've already tried blogging on it.
For the next 5-6 years, I blogged inconsistently with blogger, never really feeling contented and countlessly switching from Blogger to Wordpress and vice-versa. I could never seem to find the sweet spot, since the other had benefits the other didn't. I couldn't find peace. I even tried telling myself to switch fully to Moonfruit instead, or Wix. (Moonfruit back then didn't offer a lot of versatility, but now, it can definitely be a contender.)
Around 2014-2015, I heard about Squarespace.
As a student, getting my blog on Squarespace was near to impossible. I had no job to sustain the monthly fee and I had no money of my own to buy a domain for it. I tried the 14-day trial and fell in love, but I couldn't afford it. Blogger was still the best platform for a starting, unemployed student-blogger.
Fast-forward to the first quarter of 2017, I could finally afford Squarespace. I already had a job after graduating in 2015 so my income was steady. I also already established a brand that same year and it wasn't hard to choose the domain for my portfolio/blog. For the first time in years, I didn't feel unease. I stopped looking for alternatives or "what could be better". I felt right at home with Squarespace. I've always never questioned being on the platform.
How do you feel about blogging platforms now?
Admittedly, though I'm earning enough to sustain my blog and domain, Squarespace's P832.00/month pricing can get quite heavy. Add to that your G-Suite subscription and you're more or less paying for P950-P1,100/month. For that price, you could have yearly hosting covered and get your blog on Wordpress.
As for Blogger, I found myself opening my dashboard again and redesigning it. I realized how much I missed the simplicity of blogging there, and how I could get so many customizations in the code done just the way I wanted it. During the process though, I also realized how in-love I am now with Squarespace. I couldn't believe it myself.
While I tried to relive my Blogger days (I still use it for my daily doo-dahs: read here), I kept comparing how easy it was to style your posts and add elements on Squarespace. Yes, you had full control with HTML but so much time can be saved with the available blocks in the latter. You don't even have to think. Blogger was good while it lasted for me. There are still heaps of blogs hosted there, but I think I've graduated from the platform.
As for Moonfruit, I recently decided to take another look and was surprised by the pricing and the modernized brand.
The new site looks updated, and the pricing was actually cheap (at around $5/month). I then decided to sign up again and see what's new. Once I got in, I noticed the site builder is akin to Wix's website builder, with a preset structure (header, body, footer) and pre-made templates. I expected to get more, but they've apparently stuck to a few themes plus a blank one to start from scratch with. As much as I'd like to say it's become a contender, there's still just too many limitations for it to hit mainstream.
As for Tumblr, LiveJournal, Weebly, and the others, they still aren't flexible enough (or simple enough) to offer competition. As of today, I still believe Wordpress & Squarespace are leading the industry.
Why talk about this now?
You see, there have been a number of people asking me through private messaging about blogging, like how to start, what it is, how can they make money off it, which platform is better, and more. I realized that they're struggling with this earlier than I did, because they now have more options than I did 10 years ago (I'm not too old, okay? I just turned 26, haha!).
I also found myself rethinking my decision to move to Squarespace after so many months of contentment. Wala ba talagang forever? (Is forever really just a concept?) Kidding. Don't worry - with all the good I've mentioned about the site, I'm definitely staying. I just thought I'd talk about my previous struggles and show it's okay to get a little muddled at first.
If there's a takeaway from this long post, it would be these three things:
• You're comfortable with how the platform handles content creation and you can design posts exactly how you want.
• You're alright with the monthly/yearly price (for those with domains & hosting) and it doesn't affect your blog or its content.
• You're excited to keep producing content because you're just totally in-love with the platform and how your blog/site looks. (Q: Are you proud to show off your blog to complete strangers?)
If you're struggling with anything blog-related, whether hosting, setting up, content management, marketing your blog - I'm here to help. Leave a comment or leave me a message on any of my socials! I love helping out people with their passions so don't be shy! :)