Using a Free Blogging Service vs. Blogging on Your Own Hosted Site


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Using a Free Blogging Service vs. Blogging on Your Own Hosted Site is a presentation by Mark McLaren of McBuzz Communications.

Who can learn from this presentation? Anyone at a beginner level of blogging or new to blogging.

Topics covered: Free blog services like and; Third-party hosted blogging; How to decide which one is best for you; What is a Plugin? What is a Theme? What is a Widget?

First used as part of a live presentation at Social Media Camp Seattle 2008, these slides have been modified to include much of the spoken component given by Mark McLaren at Social Media Camp.

For more information, contact Mark McLaren at

Published in: Technology, Business
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  • Intro McBuzz Communications and Mark McLaren
  • Using a Free Blogging Service vs. Blogging on Your Own Hosted Site

    1. 1. Using a Free Blogging Service vs. Blogging on Your Own Hosted Site How to Decide Which One is Best for You Includes examples of plugins , themes and widgets .
    2. 2. Using a Free Blogging Service vs. Blogging on Your Own Hosted Site Mark McLaren
    3. 3. Free Blogging Services <ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> and many others </li></ul>
    4. 4. Third-party Hosted Blogs <ul><li>You choose the host & pay for hosting </li></ul><ul><li>Some hosts setup the blog for you </li></ul><ul><li>You can modify source files & add plugins </li></ul>
    5. 5. Before You Create a Blog <ul><li>What are your goals? </li></ul><ul><li>Who is your audience? </li></ul><ul><li>What is your budget? </li></ul><ul><li>How much time can you spend on: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Design </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Learning HTML & CSS </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Learning to use widgets, plugins, etc. ? </li></ul></ul>
    6. 6. Depending on your audience…
    7. 7. … a generic blog design may be fine.
    8. 8. Major Considerations <ul><li>Ease of Use </li></ul><ul><li>Flexibility </li></ul><ul><li>Good User Interface / Sticky Design </li></ul><ul><li>+ 2 more (discussed in a few minutes) </li></ul>
    9. 9. Major Considerations <ul><li>Ease of Use </li></ul><ul><ul><li>If it's not easy, you and your staff won't use it. Totally defeats the purpose. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Flexibility </li></ul><ul><li>Good User Interface / Sticky Design </li></ul>
    10. 10. Major Considerations <ul><li>Ease of Use </li></ul><ul><li>Flexibility </li></ul><ul><ul><li>You want to be able to add new stuff and update stuff to increase stickiness and make it easy for users. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Good User Interface / Sticky Design </li></ul>
    11. 11. Major Considerations <ul><li>Ease of Use </li></ul><ul><li>Flexibility </li></ul><ul><li>Good User Interface / Sticky Design </li></ul><ul><ul><li>In some cases, you need the latest design to keep a young audience coming back. But don’t forget the basics. Good UI is for everyone. Without it, you will lose visitors and defeat the purpose of having a blog. </li></ul></ul>
    12. 12. Plugins and Themes <ul><li>Plugin: an easy way to “extend” or add features to your blog </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Plugins are free </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Hundreds available </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Theme: the set of files that constitutes your blog’s design (page layout, fonts, colors, graphics) </li></ul>
    13. 13. Plugin Example: “Share This”
    14. 14. When you install the “Share This” plugin in your blog, it puts a button after every post. Readers can click on the button to let others know about the post or to bookmark it.
    15. 15. The “Share This” plugin is free. You can install it in about ten minutes by downloading a file from and uploading it to your 3 rd -party hosted site using FTP software.
    16. 16. The “Share This” button at the end of a post on the website.
    17. 17. Some features – like this “Notify me via e-mail” checkbox – must be added manually or by installing a plugin. You cannot get them with free blogs hosted on ,, etc. Comments. “ Notify me via e-mail when these comments are updated.”
    18. 18. Plugins like “Recent Comments” come with, but other great plugins like Related Posts” do not . Comments.
    19. 19. The Plugin Directory of over 2,500 plugins on
    20. 20. Example of a Theme This is a WordPress theme. Themes on are similar in most respects. They are easy to use, easy to switch from one to another, etc.
    21. 21. Changing your theme is easy In the WordPress administration panel, go to Design > Themes. Click on the theme you want to use.
    22. 22. Same content, different theme
    23. 23. What about Widgets? <ul><li>Widget: a really easy way to “extend” or add features to your blog </li></ul><ul><li>Available on free blog services and on third-party hosted blogs </li></ul>
    24. 24. The Flickr Photos widget has been added to the left sidebar.
    25. 25. To add a widget, go to Design > Widgets in the WordPress administration panel. Click the Add button. Then click the Edit button for that widget and fill in the blanks.
    26. 26. For the Flickr Photos widget, you just fill in the title you want to display in the sidebar, fill in the Flickr RSS URL you get from your Flickr account page, and select the number of thumbnails you want to appear in the sidebar.
    27. 27. Major Considerations (+2 more) <ul><li>Ease of Use </li></ul><ul><li>Flexibility </li></ul><ul><li>Good User Interface / Sticky Design </li></ul><ul><li>Branding </li></ul><ul><li>Search Engine Optimization </li></ul>
    28. 28. Major Considerations <ul><li>Branding </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A 3 rd -party hosted solution is required for real branding capability. And, you can make your whole site with WordPress. </li></ul></ul>
    29. 29. Major Considerations <ul><li>Search Engine Optimization </li></ul><ul><ul><li>There are many aspects to this. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Blogger and do several things well in terms of SEO, but the 3 rd -party hosted option is definitely best. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A number of technical details follow on the next two slides. Send me a comment – or email me using the link at – if you want to learn more. </li></ul></ul>
    30. 30. Major Considerations <ul><li>Search Engine Optimization </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Many SEO plugins are available for WordPress. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Some hosted solutions restrict SEO techniques, like .htaccess for permalinks (important!) and adding “www.” in front of a domain. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Also, customizing robots.txt and the PHP header files for NOINDEX of pages like Archives pages is important and can’t be done on the free blog services. </li></ul></ul>
    31. 31. Major Considerations <ul><li>Search Engine Optimization </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Even tags in <head> section of the HTML should be customized: description, keywords </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Good formatting should be used, especially use of header tags <h1>, <h2>, bold & lists </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>If you move your blog, you want to keep existing URLs or to be able to redirect. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Domain name is also a consideration – but free services allow you to use your own domain. </li></ul></ul>
    32. 32. Custom WordPress Designs Design by e-CBD
    33. 33. Custom WordPress Designs Design by OMSH
    34. 34. <ul><li>Ease of Use – very good </li></ul><ul><li>Flexibility – fair (some widgets) </li></ul><ul><li>Good User Interface / Sticky Design – good (themes are great but limited) </li></ul><ul><li>Branding – limited </li></ul><ul><li>Search Engine Optimization – fair </li></ul>
    35. 35. & domains <ul><li>You can use your own domain </li></ul><ul><li>You can use a subdomain </li></ul><ul><li>You cannot use a subdirectory </li></ul><ul><li>You can buy a domain on </li></ul>
    36. 36. <ul><li>Ease of Use – excellent (tutorials) </li></ul><ul><li>Flexibility – fair to good </li></ul><ul><li>Good User Interface / Sticky Design – good (thousands of themes) </li></ul><ul><li>Branding – limited </li></ul><ul><li>Search Engine Optimization – fair to good </li></ul>
    37. 37. & domains <ul><li>You can use your own domain </li></ul><ul><li>You can use a subdomain </li></ul><ul><li>You cannot use a subdirectory </li></ul><ul><li>You can buy a domain on </li></ul>
    38. 38. WordPress on 3 rd -Party Host <ul><li>Ease of Use – fair (excellent with skill or $$) </li></ul><ul><li>Flexibility – good (excellent with skill or $$) </li></ul><ul><li>Good User Interface / Sticky Design – good to excellent </li></ul><ul><li>Branding – excellent (with skill or $$) </li></ul><ul><li>Search Engine Optimization – very good to excellent (with skill or $$) </li></ul>
    39. 39. Questions or Comments? <ul><li>Visit: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>And also: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
    40. 40. Thank you! Mark McLaren Tel. (209) 962-9119