When I first began my online career, I was faced with an important question, the same one that you faced yourself already. Or, are facing as we speak!
Should I set up my site as a blog? Or as a "normal" website?
I didn't realize at the time, but that is really a false distinction. A blog can really be designed to look the same as a traditional website, it just has many, many favorable advantages compared to a traditional html, xml, or css-based website. In fact, ANY website that you go to right now could be based on blogging software, and you wouldn't even know it. Even a site like cnn.com could be set up as a blog. The biggest thing that held me back from doing it right away was simply fear, and trust me, please don't let that be what holds you back. The learning curve honestly is not that steep. If you start off wrong though, you can and will lose some time. I myself probably lost 2-3 weeks worth of work by not doing it right from the start. Here are the 5 main advantages as I see it:
- Change design and functionality with the click of a button. Not knowing css when I set up my original website, when I made a style or template change that affected many or all pages, I'd have to make the change INDIVIDUALLY , on every single page. And, I had to go into the html coding to do it. Yuck! With blogging software, you can go in and make site-wide changes, either to the look or the functionality, with the click of a button. Awesome!
- Add high tech functions WITHOUT knowing any programming. This is another big WOW. You can do some really cool, fairly complicated things just by adding in "widgets" to your blog. This is functionality that some smart programmers create, and you just drop in to your blog and use. Very handy.
- Have a community of smart people helping you. With blogging software, you can leverage off the efforts of others WITHOUT having to be technical or a programmer yourself, and usually without paying for it. Or, you can get themes and widgets that are just plug-and-play, but very professional, at a very reasonable price.
- Search Engine (SEO) Friendly. By adding in a plug-in called "all in one seo" and setting a few options up there, your blog will be search engine friendly. Of course, you'll still want to brush up on seo basics, and do proper market research and keyword research, but a lot of the technical elements will be taken care of for you. Plus, search engines like Google simply LOVE blogs, as long as you post frequently (at least once per week or so) and consistently.
- Community Build. If you are passionate about what you are blogging about, and offer good information, people will follow you. By encouraging people to comment and participate, you can foster ongoing discussions that help everyone learn more effectively than you could alone. It is a great way to make some new friends at the same time! And there are a number of quick and easy ways for you to strongly encourage participation.
I hope you see now the tremendous advantage that utilizing blogging software to set up your site really has. Even if you already have a site now, you can convert that over to a blog somewhat easily. But, if you are just starting, it is definitely better to start out as a blog right from the beginning. And best of all, it is free to do!
And two last quick tips: I would highly recommend using wordpress. That is the most popular (so it has the most support and resources), and most functional. You might as well use the best! If you have your hosting through a place like godaddy, you can have your blog set up within minutes. And lastly, buy your own domain name and add your blog to that. DON'T just use a free site to set up your blog. You have much more control over it that way.