Create your own company blog for cheap
There are a lot of companies now that have a blog. Why you should have a company blog is another topic of discussion, but it's important to the lifeblood of the online portion of your business. Frankly - the online portion of your business is your business nowadays. If you don't focus on your main investment (your website) and getting people to it, you're getting left behind. The first impression of your business may be the home page people find you on. We can talk about good web design later, but for today let's talk about setting up a blog.
Now when I say cheap - I mean really cheap or FREE. Yes you can get a blog for free. There are advantages and disadvantages to free versus paid for. Nonetheless we'll go over a few today. Three types of blogs include:
- Free Hosted Solutions (Blogger for example)
- Free Open Source Blogs (you can install and download)
- Premium hosted blogs (you pay a company to host it for you)
We'll go over all three.
Free Hosted Solutions (Blogger.com)
Probably the most popular amongst the hosted solutions include the Google owned Blogger platform. You can literally go to blogger.com, register for an account and be posting blogs in just a few minutes.
This is as turn key as you get. You can have multiple blog accounts from one easy to use interface. It's completely free, easy to use and widely accepted amongst the blogging community. In addition - they have integrated with a lot of cool tools to make it easy to build a subscriber base, alert users of new messages, upload images, embed youtube video, etc. etc. Just like any legitimate blog - users can search posts and you can categorize them to your choosing.
Free Open Source Blogs
Probably the most popular is Word Press.
Word press is open source or web code that is open to view, edit and use by the community at large. It is written in a language called PHP and because it is open source, it is widely supported by an avid community. You can go right to wordpress.org and download the scripts and files necessary to install the database on your webserver and configure so you're up and running in very little time. There is tremendous support by the community and thousands of WordPress themes you can download to make your blog look unique and pretty. Hey and it's completely free!
If you don't know how to install Wordpress - you'll need to get someone who does. We install Wordpress blogs for a flat fee of $350. So it's not too expensive. Wordpress requires you have a hosting account to host the blog files. You will need to pay for a hosting account somewhere that allows for ftp, database administration and file permission changes. This account should have sufficient space for your web files and other basic tools that come with most hosting accounts. You can get a hosting account for as little as $7/mo nowadays. It's dirt cheap - but we can talk about these cheap hosts another day. (you do get what you pay for in the hosting world - and you don't want to leave your legitimate business to risk for $7/mo) Takes a little longer to setup. Wordpress is for more advanced users who know how to upload files via ftp to a webserver. You will also need to have permission, access and the ability to create an online database on your webhost. In addition - once you do get wordpress installed, you'll need to be able to edit php and html files so your blog looks like your website. I mean what's the point if when someone goes to your blog it looks like they've left your website? This is called "skinning" the blog. We skin as well for a small fee depending on the design and html files we're going to use to wrap your blog. Typical fees for skinning are around $500-$1500. If you have these skills - then you probably are not reading this blog post. If you don't -you probably don't want to have to learn all this stuff either.
One final note about wordpress. I like it. I've used it many times. It does however need some ongoing maintenance. Because it is open source, everyone and their mother can see the "source code". That means savvy and yes malicious hackers can play with it. Hackers love open source software (and don't get me wrong - we do to - it does have it's place), and can easily get into it if you haven't installed recent security patches and updates. One month without the right patches or security updates and some one could be using your new blog as a means to mass email viagra to users all over the world. Yes it happens. We recently picked up a new customer becuase they had been using a blog that got hacked and all the important government user data was exposed. Needless to say - they left and went to a proprietary blog/cms solution.
Premium Hosted Blogs
Most hosted solutions that you pay for will have a reliable platform that is bug free, user friendly and secure. Now of course we're going to plug our own blog! Let's take a look at hosted solutions like the Luna Blog.
Because hosted solutions are proprietary - they are regularly being enhanced because users are sending feedback constantly. Most proprietary solutions are easy to use or they wouldn't be in business. You'll see several robust features including YouTube video embedding, image uploads and resizing, categorizing of posts, search engine, and all the other things that come with free blogs. Probably the biggest advantage and the reason we are seeing more customers change over to hosted blogs is because of security. Being proprietary (more secure less likely to get hacked) the code is not open to the public. So it is more difficult for a hacker to figure out how to create exploits to get into the code. Hosted solutions are updated with security patches and new features on a regular basis. Most blogs like the Luna Blog don't charge for software wide updates, enhancements or upgrades. What's more is often you can have custom features built for little cost to add to your blog.
Cost. With any hosted solution - you're going to have to pay for these advantages. Now we're not talking hundreds of dollars. Typically there is a one time setup fee and a monthly cost. Our blog happens to start at $39.95/mo and comes with a content management system to allow you to build web pages and manage your entire website.
So there you have a few options to get started with your own company blog. Read why you should have a company blog now.