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Weblog Services

February 11, 2005

There are a lot of good reasons to include a weblog into your business site.  Many of these advantages go out the window if you use a weblog service instead of making it an integral part of your site.  Nevertheless, many people use them.  If you’re considering doing so, here are the leading candidates.

Weblog Service Choices

I’ve got to admit, it’s appealing — you can go to a weblog service and for a few dollars — or even for free — you can be bloggin’ with the best of them in minutes.  No muss, no fuss, no installing scripts or customizing templates.

Of course, you miss out on getting all of that great weblog search engine traffic spilling over onto your main web site.  Even if you link the two sites together, you’ll lose visitors going either direction, and you are still without an easy way to add content to your main site, where you’re trying to make money.  You’ll also have two sites to monitor, and two web hosts to deal with.

Given the cost of your time spent actually writing content, and the advantages of having your blog built into your site, the real cost and time savings of not having to install and customize a weblog are probably pretty small potatoes.

All of that said, you may still be considering a service.  Outside of the simplicity of getting started, it does give you an opportunity to try your hand at writing a blog, and in most cases your content can be imported into your site should you decide to integrate a weblog into it in the future.

Here are the main choices:

Blogger

Owned by Google, Blogger has been around for a long time (at least in weblog terms).  It’s free, and you can have a blog up and running in literally a couple of minutes.  Unfortunately, sometimes you get what you pay for.  As far as sophistication goes, Blogger is rather like a blog on training wheels.  It does let you do the basics, however.

Cost: Free
http://www.blogger.com

TypePad

TypePad is at the extreme other end of the spectrum from Blogger.  TypePad is operated by Six Apart, and is essentially the hosted version of their flagship product, Movable Type.  In addition to Movable Type’s basic features, it also includes features such as photo albums, spell checking, and wysiwyg editing.  If you want to customize your templates or use some of the more sophisticated features, you will end up towards the high end of their pricing spectrum. It is a more professional alternative to Blogger, however.

Cost: $5 – $15 per month
http://www.typepad.com

MSN Spaces

The new kid on the block, Microsoft’s offering is similar to Blogger, except less well known.  The layout is more like a cross between “My Yahoo” and a weblog.  Some features require using Internet Explorer to customize.

Cost: Free
http://spaces.msn.com

Other services

Some of the other services, such as Live Journal, are not appropriate to business use.  There are others out there that offer services such as a custom install of WordPress.  Unfortunately, these services tend to come and go like the wind — the owners eventually need to find a way to monitize the service (charging you a fee, putting advertising on your site, or both), or one day they’ll just be gone — and all of your writing along with it.  If you’re going to go with a weblog service, stick with one of the major players.

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