Blogging for Beginners: Week Two: Choosing a Blogging Platform and Theme

Welcome to week two of the Blogging for Beginner's series! bloggingforbeginners3

Now that you’ve gotten started and answered these questions, you’re ready to choose a blogging platform!

You have a lot of options: Blogger, Wordpress, Tumblr, and those are just the most popular ones!

How does one choose?

When I was searching for a blogging platform, I did some research. First, I looked at my favorite blogs and saw which one they used. For example:

Blogger: The ever-popular and wonderful Jen from I Heart Organizing uses Blogger to her advantage and is ranked #30 on the Top 100 Blogspot Blogs of 2012.

Wordpress: One of my biggest blogging inspirations is Kira from Her New Leaf. Check out how she created such a lovely Wordpress blog using the Thesis theme (what I also use currently).

Tumblr: One of my favorite fashion bloggers, Jessica from What I Wore, uses Tumblr so creatively that it functions much differently from a regular tumblr and looks great.

For me, I knew that I didn’t possess the knowledge to turn a tumblr into that beauty, so I eliminated that from my list (don’t let that deter you if you’re willing to learn though! Or to pay someone to create a theme for you!) Tumblr offers bloggers convenience and a large community, as The Blog Herald outlines here.

Choosing a Blogging Platform

Next, I consulted some comparisons between Blogger and Wordpress. I found this site to be helpful because it points out the key differences between Wordpress and Blogger and I also really enjoyed reading this post because it puts each platform into perspective based on your blogging goals.

In the end, because I knew I wanted to "brand" and monetize my blog, I chose Wordpress. But if you feel more comfortable with Blogger, don't let that hold you back! Choose the platform that makes the most sense to you and is the most user-friendly for you.

Don’t worry about making a permanent decision. You can always transfer later if you want to, with some research and effort, but once you’ve done your research and established your blog goals, you should have a clear answer.

Hooray! Now that you’ve decided on your platform, choose a fantastic theme that meets your needs. Remember, this is something you can (and will!) change throughout your blogging career. But it is important to choose something visually pleasing to invite your initial readers in.

Here are some things to keep in mind when choosing a theme:

things to consider when choosing a theme

Ask yourself these questions:

Can you actually see the important content? For example, If you have a photography blog, the pictures should be the first thing your eye moves toward. Does it have a clean, open space that is clutter-free keeps your readers from feeling stressed or confused and focused on YOUR content? Can you add features to your sidebars and are they where you want them? Can you make this theme your own? Can you change the colors, add a header, include personal images, or choose the fonts? Is that important to you? What are the most appealing features on your favorite blogs? What are your must-haves?

Be aware that basic, free themes will not have everything you want! You’ll have to invest in a customized theme down the road if that’s what you’re aiming for. I did when I purchased Thesis and I’m really glad I did, but I certainly didn’t start that way. One of the first WP themes I started with was Fresh & Clean. Thesis Theme for WordPress:  Options Galore and a Helpful Support Community

If you’re ready to invest in a theme, you can do one of two things:

  1. Hire a graphic designer/web designer to create a personalized template
  2. Learn the basics and create your own

If you’re looking for some fabulous designers, Aubrey from The Kinch Life, and Angela from Saffron Avenue have done some really incredible work with blogs! Check them out.

Again, don’t let the stress of finding the “perfect” theme stop you from starting your blog. It will take plenty of time to get settled in before you feel really confident in the look and feel of your blog. Just get started!

Come back next week when you’ve picked your platform and theme and we’ll talk about the big fancy stuff—purchasing a domain name and web hosting and using FTP (What the heck is that?)