In preparation for the launch of Church Blog Theory, I researched online blogging services extensively. Not only did I read about most of these services, I signed up for several free accounts and worked within their platforms. Here is my take on some of the web services available.
1. Blogger – Rated by most reviews in the top 3 of blogging platforms. I find it the easiest to start and maintain. It also allows the most extensive functionality of customizing and adding useful gadgets. Provided by the Google empire, Blogger doesn’t have any 3rd party ads unless you specifically add them yourself. I think the greatest attribute is the automatic inclusion of your blog content and tags into Google’s powerful search engine. See CBT on Blogger
2. WordPress.com – Another favorite. It is a little more cumbersome to post and manage but still an excellent and free online blogging service. WP is highly ranked by most 3rd party reviews. If you have your own web server you can download WordPress to your own domain and have expanded functionality.
3. TypePad – Appears to be an excellent platform to create and manage a blog. It is highly rated. The only downfall is its cost. Prices start at $4.95 a month. If you think you might like to use TypePad, they offer a free 30 day trial. While I’m sure it is a great product I wouldn’t pay when I can get the same quality with Blogger or WordPress
4. Facebook – Is probably the most popular social networking site online right now. It contains a “notes” section where you can publish a blog-like posts that are shared with your friends only. Everyone not on Facebook is cut off from reading it and therefore does not improve the exposure the church has in search engines. On the other hand, there is a useful tool that automatically imports your blog into your notes. This has significant ministry implications that we will discuss in a later post.
5. Live Journal – Another free blogging platform available. It isn’t the easiest to use and not the best to look at. It also forces you to have 3rd party advertisements which should be avoided at all cost. LJ provides an option to pay and omit the advertisements but I think we have previously established why this is a poor idea.
6. Yahoo 360 & MSN Live Spaces – Both email/IM services have expanded to allow their users to create blogs. They are more like Email/IM/Social Networking/Blogging all in one. But, don’t let that fool you. It is rather convoluted and difficult to create something that will be easily shared with friends, family, neighbors, co-workers and the world. If you are a Yahoo or MSN buff, you might check it out.
7. Xanga – Difficult to start posting and 3rd party advertisements.
8. BraveJournal.com – Difficult to navigate.
9. VOX – Difficult to navigate and 3rd party advertisements
10. Myspace – This is a social networking site not just a blogging platform. If you have a Myspace profile and have several friends, it isn’t a bad place to re-post a blog. But I don’t think it should be used as a stand alone blog platform for following CBT. If you re-post from another blogging platform it is possible to notify everyone in your friends list of that post and therefore could increase exposure of your message. On the negative side, there are a lot of suggestive 3rd party advertisements. However, Myspace needs the light of Christ just as much as any other place. You just need to weigh the pro’s and con’s and how it might effect your ministry.
Without a doubt, for the purpose of CBT, my recommendations are for Blogger and WordPress. Let me know if you have any questions or need help getting started. I would be happy to help.