Blogs: Toys or Tools?

by Matt Tharp on 08/09/2008

Blog technology from ForresterTypepad, WordPress.com, Blogger, Movable Type, Expression Engine, Live Journal, Tumblr…the list of options for blogging appears endless and for a business that is considering blogging it must be frustrating. How do I know the site will provide search engine benefits for our domain? Will this help extend our brand, or be a separate appendage that eventually gets ignored, gets atrophied, and falls off? Will I need programming skills? I imagine many give up here and just go back to buying PPC and trying to optimize their main website. It’s not unreasonable, but I can make it easier.

Which are tools, which are toys.

Toys:
1. Livejournal. It’s a neat site and technology for the non-geeks out there, but Livejournal isn’t blog platform technology. When used as an extension of an existing blog, it’s a tool. When used as a main blog – it’s a toy.

2. Tumblr. I love Tumblr, and next to Twitter it’s one of my favorite social media/web 2.0 platforms. A corporate blog platform, however, it’s not. Great personal site or moblog, not a business blog technology. Toy.

3. Blogger. Sure it’s a more robust blogging tool than Livejournal and Tumblr, but as a hosted blog platform you are extremely limited technically. Mostly toy.

Tools:
1. Typepad. Typepad has history and flexibility. It’s solid and stable, and if this is your personal blog or maybe a hobby blog Typepad can be a great tool. It’s more than a toy, but it’s not an appropriate foundation for your business blog. Eventually you’ll be limited on bandwidth, SEO flexibility, templates, branding….limited is the best way to refer to Typepad. Tool, but not a high end business tool.

2. WordPress.com. This is the hosted version of WordPress and pretty much everything I said about Typepad is true of WordPress.com. It’s a tool, but it’s like that strange, cheap wrench that came packed in with your kids big wheel.

3. Expression Engine. Great, super flexible blog platform. I’ve read great things, but I have never personally used it because of the cost. Unlike competitors Movable Type and WordPress, a real production version is going to cost. Solid business blogging tool.

4. Movable Type. This is like the Coke/Pepsi debate for the blog-geek. WordPress or Movable Type. Movable Type has a longer track record and a phenomenal user group, there is a free version and even a commercial version users can get for free. When you grow up, there is a more robust commercial version that costs you. Movable Type is polished and well built. It’s built for search engine visibility. It’s fairly simple to install, and if you are just starting out it’s not terribly complicated to learn. You will need to put it on your servers. You will need to map it to your domain. There is more technical “know-how” required to use Movable Type but the different results are obvious.

5. WordPress. This is the version of WordPress that you download and install on your own servers. It’s fairly easy to setup and use (even for the uninitiated bloggers) and there are so many custom themes for WordPress you can completely change the look of your blog every day for the conceivable future and never run out. It’s open source, which means you’ll deal with bugs every now and then and free plugins that don’t always work properly but in the end, it’s free. WordPress has become the defacto standard for business blog platforms. I can’t think of any reason not to recommend WordPress.

There is a huge different between the toys and tools for business bloggers, it’s hard to put them in the same post but to people just starting to investigate blogging tools hopefully this will clarify Tumblr versus Blogger, WordPress versus Movable Type, and the blog tools versus the blog toys.

{ 2 comments }

Tom May 3, 2009 at 12:18 pm

Good read – thanks for posting!

Bath Toys December 25, 2008 at 3:48 pm

Thanks For this information, I have take a long time to find it!! 🙂

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