The Most Popular Blog Platforms
For the new blogger, choosing a blogging platform can be a challenging prospect. That’s because there are a wide variety of blogging sites available for you to use. Nearly all are free to use, but there also are some that require a fee. Even the free blog sites usually will offer to sell you extras, such as additional storage or paid themes.
By far, the biggest and most popular blogging platform is WordPress, This is is an “open source” site, which means it’s free to use and people can upload and download new tools to the site as often as they please. The biggest benefit of WordPress – and the cause of its popularity, no doubt – is that it is very easy to use. It also comes with tons of instructional videos and guides to help you get your blog up and running and looking exactly the way you want.
If are new to blogging or don’t have a lot of experience working with code and web page design, WordPress is a good choice because everything on the site is essentially point and click and drag and drop. You can choose from more than a thousand free “themes”, or pre-made templates that you can upload and simply use as your blog’s background. The site also offers paid themes or you can create your own theme, although this requires a little knowledge about CSS coding.
WordPress allows you to add custom functions to your themes and create plug-ins, such as linking your blog to your Facebook and Twitter pages. It’s easy to add polls or contests to your blog. Plus you can use keywords and tags to make it easy for users to search through your blog postings.
But perhaps the biggest benefit of WordPress is that it will host your blog for you for free. That means you don’t have to buy a domain name or rent space on a server, or even worry about blog maintenance because WordPress will take care of all that for you. Or, if you prefer, you can use the free tools on WordPress to get your blog set up and looking the way you want then migrate it to your own domain.
Another popular blogging platform is Tumblr. Like WordPress, it is free and is very easy to use, even if you are a beginner. But Tumblr is targeted more toward bloggers who want to share interesting things they find on the internet that they want to share with their followers, almost like a mixture of blogging and Tweeting.
Other popular blogging platforms include Blogger, ViralNetworks, and Instant Blog Subscribers. While all of these platforms have their benefits, they don’t offer as many options and flexibility as WordPress, so we will be focusing on WordPress for the remainder of this course.
Determining the Hottest Blog Topics
One of the best ways to attract new readers to your blog is to write about the hottest topics. While these issues are constantly changing, when you leverage what’s trending for creating new blog content, you can ensure a steady stream of visitors to your blog.
So how can you determine what’s hot at the moment? There are several free tools available online that you can use to identify the most popular topics. By frequently checking websites that keep tabs on trends – such as Google Trends or Twitter’s Trending Topics – it’s easy to keep up to speed, even when the most popular subject matter is continually changing.
Google Trends provides a constant update on the topics people are searching the giant search engine for the most at any given moment. If you are looking for ideas to write about, it can be a great place to start. Often it’s possible to use hot topics posted on the site as a starting point for your blog, even if they are not directly related to your subject matter.
Another great place to start is Quora, a question and answer site that is similar to Wikipedia. Users post questions and respond with answers to questions posted by other users. It’s categorized according to topic. When you sign up for a free account, you indicate which topics you are most interested in. Then, whenever you sign in you are presented a list of the most recent Q&As for those particular topics.
The site also allows you to browse any other topic you like. Quora also lets you know which topics are most popular moment, so it can serve as a kind of cultural barometer that you can use to find the topics people are most interested in right now.
Another great site is Alltop. This site monitors news stories online as well as social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook to determine what people are talking about the most. It includes links to the biggest news sites, blogs, social opinions sites and YouTube. It can even tell you the top sellers on iTunes.
If you plan to focus on the more offbeat or humorous, the website Fark provides up-to-the-minute links to the most popular ridiculous, strange and unbelievable headlines from around the world. It’s actually one of the most popular sites that news organizations use when they need human interest stories or for a funny story for the end of TV news programs.