It happens quite regularly that I get questions about which platform to choose when starting to blog. I know there are many blogging platforms out there and new places are popping up almost daily. For example Medium, Branch, Svbtle and Quora Blogs have recently started running their own blogging platforms. This is on top of the popular platforms like WordPress, Blogger and Tumblr.
I understand that for newbies this might be a bit of a complicated decision to make and people do get stuck at this point or they make a decision that they later regret. In some cases it is not easy to amend this decision at a later stage so a lot of initial effort is wasted when wanting to move your existing blog content to a platform that fits you better.
It is about control and ownership
For me it has always been a very simple question to answer though. It is about control and ownership for me. On some of these blogging sites your work is placed on someone else’s platform and you help build their audience which then they monetize through your work and your content. It might be your work, but someone else actually has the full control and ownership of it.
I have tried to compare the different platforms earlier on this blog and I have explained what the pros and cons there are. See for example more about Blogger, more about Tumblr and also more on the different versions of WordPress. Pros and cons of the different platforms definitely help newbies decide where to start their first site, but deeper you get into blogging and more experienced you get the more you will appreciate the control and ownership aspects of your own work.
Having full control over your work means having freedom. Freedom in the sense that you can decide the look and feel of your site. Freedom in the sense that you can decide what to write, what words to use and which images to use. That you decide if you want to monetize your site and how you want to monetize your content. Nobody places any rules or restrictions on your work, there are no risks in getting your site shut down because of external decisions, and nobody but yourself can use your content to promote a service or a product, or to make money.
Changes to platforms are frequent
It happens quiet regularly that blog platforms change and disrupt their users. Some cease to exist, some get taken over and start getting neglected (see the recent case of Posterous for example). Some force advertising banners on your content. Some change and adapt their positioning (see how Tumblr recently redesigned to look even more like Twitter and less like a blogging platform, disappointing some of their users who do some written content). There are many of these cases and many more will come when the control is out of your hands.
So how do you get the full control and ownership you may be asking. The best way is not to rely on any platform to host your blog on. Go for an open-source blogging platform like WordPress.org and self-host your site on your own domain name and your own hosting space. Then and only then you would have the full flexibility, control and ownership. You will be the boss and you will be able to completely decide how you want to run your site.
Don’t neglect the other platforms though. They are shiny, they are new. Be aware of the new trends and act when you can to tap into the buzz and popularity of another platform to get the attention and drive some visitors back to yourself. Twitter, Quora, Tumblr may not be the best choices for you to have your main hub on, but they can certainly be used to drive traffic back to yourself.