Today's post is about the thing that most bloggers are stumped with first when they decide to start blogging: which blogging platform, and what's different about them. Now honestly, I've heard so many different opinions on which platform is the best that it's hard to come to a definitive answer. What I've gathered is that different ones are better for different purposes and different people, and since a non-objective approach to this question seems to be the most fitting, I'm going to write about my own opinions on the matter.
The very first platform I ever started using was Tumblr. Way back when I was around 14 and I stumbled across it, it was nowhere near as popular as it's grown to be now. It was mostly filled with amateur photography and teenagers complaining (I was one amongst them). However, since then it has developed much more status in the blogging world, often being a platform that most artists and other creative people turn to due to the image-based format of the site and the ease of uploading multi-media posts. I like this about Tumblr, because it makes discovering new artists and viewing their work in high-resolution very simple, and I like how there is no 'default' posting format, so to speak. You can literally post any kind of media: pictures, videos, speech, sound clips - anything, with ease, because it's not automatically assuming that you'll be wanting to write a text post like most blogs do. For this reason, I still use Tumblr now to host my Art blog. I also like the tagging system used on Tumblr; it makes your posts easy to find, and it makes finding others' posts on chosen topics easy to find. There's also the added benefit of the daily laugh you get with Tumblr, because there's a lot of blogs on there posting an abundance of internet-based humour, which is a nice thing to have on your dashboard. I think Tumblr is very easy-to-use, and I like the fact that the Tumblr community seems to be very informal and social. However, I have found that it has a lot of down-sides. Firstly, unless you're good with HTML coding, customising the appearance of your blog to anything other than a simple, pre-designed theme can be very tricky. There are no options to even make small changes to existing themes such as changing font colours without changing the actual HTML code, which sucks a little. Also, it's impossible to browse in public. Because Tumblr is one of the few platforms that still allows NSFW content and blogging, it's not uncommon to be leisurely scrolling down a dashboard of completely normal blogs when you get the shock of your life, because one of them has reblogged one out-of-the-ordinary post. Especially not good when there's someone stood behind you who completely misunderstands the situation. Not good at all. It's also easy to go off-topic from your blog's main purpose with Tumblr, because there are so many pretty pieces of art on there that you can find yourself listlessly reblogging hundreds of image posts and forgetting to write any actual text, or losing your text posts in between the hundreds of reblogged images.
The second platform I used was WordPress. I don't actually use this platform anymore, despite not finding much wrong with it. I guess the reason I started using it was because I wanted to try a more 'traditional' way of blogging, heavy on the text posts, simple and easy. I figured that because WordPress was a text-based platform, it would be a good one to use. I started blogging about things that I did and was planning on doing, like baking cakes, attending social events, planning tattoos etc, basically a lifestyle blog. I found that it was really easy to use. Formatting was easy enough and I was able to make my blog look suitably pretty without too much fuss. Posting was easy, too. I figured it out pretty much straight away, which is always a bonus. I liked the dashboard, too, and how it picked out a few blogs to follow based on your interests. I remember my dashboard always being filled with really interesting, artsy textile posts from really great bloggers. I never got many views there though, which I didn't mind, but if I was planning on blogging about something that I needed as many people as possible to see, it would have been an issue. I found it pretty hard to connect with other bloggers there, too. Other than the crafty-type blogs that I followed and appeared on my dashboard, just browsing was pretty hard. I couldn't really find many more blogs, and I wanted to because I wanted more variation than reading posts from the same few people all the time. I guess I just felt kind of cut off from the community, because people weren't as involved in each other there as they were on Tumblr, which I was used to. None of this was really an issue though, and I guess the reason why I moved eventually was purely because WordPress was decreasing in popularity, and there were more other bloggers to connect with elsewhere.
That's when I started to use Blogspot, which obviously, I still use now. I like Blogspot because it's text-based, which makes traditional blogging easy, but since it's more popular there are more other bloggers on it to follow and connect with. I find it very easy to just browse here, too, using the 'next blog' feature. I find formatting very easy on Blogger because panels can be dragged around in settings and widgets added, and in addition to this the customize tool allows you to change small details like fonts and colours with ease, without having to be totally HTML-savvy. One thing that I also really like about Blogspot is that it's linked to Google Plus. It makes sharing posts with more people really easy, and it's another way to connect with other bloggers. I just think that it all works really well. I love the way that blogger offers stats as a feature, too, so that you can see exactly where in the world and which sources your traffic is coming from. The option of having multiple blogs on Blogger is great, too, especially for people like me who like to have their own personal blog as well as others for certain projects, like this one. I think that the only thing I don't like about Blogger is the lack of a proper dashboard. I know that there is one, but it doesn't really feel like a proper dashboard to me, and it's not so easy to browse.
Then finally, my most recent blogging muse is a new site called Ello, which is developed especially for creative people and is ad-free. It's currently still in beta-testing so I haven't had chance to properly blog on it yet, but I've found my feet and I think that it's simple enough to use. Formatting is fairly minimal on here so that gets rid of the problem of working out how to format your page etc, and I quite like the minimalist approach to it all. It basically just does what it says on the tin, and does it well, without all the ads and popups that other sites have. The community is pretty limited because it's just starting up but it's slowly getting bigger. Similarly to Tumblr, it's quite image-heavy but doesn't rely on that so much, although there is still a feature similar to Tumblr's reblog. I like it. I can see it going places.
So, that's all of my experiences with different platforms. There are loads more, but these are just the ones I have tried. Which platform is your favourite? How many others have you tried? I'd love to know your thoughts!