I recently compiled a list of tech writer bloggers here: http://techwriterblogs.com.
I noticed that a lot of people use Blogger and other platforms other than WordPress. My thoughts: Are you crazy?
Just kidding. But really, WordPress offers some definite advantages:
- Ability to categorize your posts by topic, not just by date
- Ability to choose from hundreds of themes/skins
- Ability to integrate plugins
- Large user community with help forums
- Extensive documentation
- Ability to completely customize WordPress code
- Ease of installation
- No ads
- Abililty to distribute podcasts with audio player plugins
There are two versions of WordPress — the freely hosted one, which you can get by going to http://wordpress.com
But if you want to take advantage of the plugins, theme variety, and other customization options, you have to install wordpress on your own server. This is really much, much easier than it sounds.
Your chapter has a website that is hosted somewhere, no doubt. There is a “cPanel” with that webhost that features a WordPress auto-installer. This auto-installer is called “Fantastico.” (It’s a blue smiley face icon.) You choose a folder in your directory where you want WordPress installed, and voila, you’re up and running in about three clicks.
If you were blogging somewhere else before, you can import your posts into your new WordPress blog.
If you want to take a tour of a WordPress.com blog, go to http://chapterblog.wordpress.com/wp-admin and enter chapterblog as the username and password. You can’t customize much, nor even see the code. But it is pretty well set up, and it’s free.
If you want to see a personally hosted version of a wordpress blog, go to http://idratherbewriting.com/play/wp-admin and enter play as the username and password. Click View Site at the top to view the site. You can play around in there.
There is so much going on with WordPress — widgets, plugins, even e-commerce shopping carts. I don’t know why anyone would choose Blogger or another platform instead. Even Movable Type, which is the biggest rival, is not something that the average person can install. Because of this, it will never gain the popularity and the leverage the capability and collaboration that open source tools allow.
Whatever platform you choose (and there are a lot — look at this chart at RedAlt, http://redalt.com/wiki/Blog+Software+Breakdown) — one of the major things you’ll want to do is set up categories for your posts.
Not only do categories provide a more logical basis for archiving your content than merely dates (do you ever search back dates on blogs?), they reveal what you’re really interested in. When I started this blog, I wasn’t sure what the focus would be. Now all my posts are about blogging, podcasting, and web tools. I guess that’s what I like.