Prolific edtech blogger Richard Byrne recently streamed a Google+ Hangout on Air to answer questions he receives from his readers of Free Technology for Teachers on how he got started, how he manages his blogging routine, how he generates income and his advice to educators that want to set up blogs for professional purposes.
Richard provides great insights and tips, but I don’t agree with one specific thing he said near the beginning of the hangout and wanted to discuss it here. It all has to do with a question he was asked, “What do I start with for a blogging platform?”.
Here is what he says:
I would use WordPress.org (not WordPress.com) and I would run on my own servers or a shared server plan.
WordPress.com is a free platform, much like Edublogs, for easily starting blogs and WordPress sites. WordPress.org is an open source project where you can use your own servers or a hosting provider – which does give you more flexibility and control.
Here’s why I disagree with Richard’s advice.
Disclosure: I work for Edublogs.
An individual’s blogging experience should always be taken into account. If someone has never blogged previously, starting off using a self-hosted blog mightn’t be their best option.
There is a learning curve to blogging. A new blogger’s time is better spent learning how to blog and focusing on publishing posts and building an audience.
Self-hosting (WordPress.org) is a good option for more experienced bloggers who have worked out how they want to use their blogs.
Setting up a self-hosted WordPress.org blog on a shared server is more costly than setting up a hosted blog on a blogging service like Edublogs or WordPress.com.
Richard quotes USD $250/year for a self-hosted blog with a custom domain on the shared servers he uses. If you do go this route, here is a roundup of web hosts that are popular with educators.
You could achieve a similar outcome using a custom domain on Edublogs ($39.95/yr + ~$10 for the domain) or WordPress.com ($99/yr). Custom domains allow you to remove the .edublogs.org or wordpress.com part from the URL and use your own custom domain like myblog.com or myblog.oursite.com.
It’s a seamless process for readers if you decide to move from hosted WordPress blog to self hosted WordPress blog. Changing the DNS records on your domain automatically redirects your readers, and your RSS feed, to your blog on the new location. Content is easily moved using Tools > Export and Tools > Import.
Don’t forget, your time is also valuable and there are costs associated with your time as well.
Think carefully about how you want to brand yourself. Once your blog has an established audience you’re less likely to want to change your blog title and URL.
A simple option is to use your name in the blog URL or use something that has meaning:
- Sue Waters Blog ( http://suewaters.com/ )
- Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day ( http://larryferlazzo.edublogs.org/)
- The Edublogger ( http://theedublogger.com/ )
- Free Technology for Teachers ( http://www.freetech4teachers.com/ )
Work through our series on personal blogging. It guides you through the process of setting up your own personal blog or professional educator’s blog and can be adapted for any platform.
Do check out Richard Byrne’s recording from his session! Richard is an incredible edublogger and his video is packed full of great advice.