How to go back to the future with old-school blogging
In recent years, social media platforms haven’t shown a whole lot of respect for user privacy, and have constantly proven to be detrimental to our mental health and bring out the worst in people. This has led some to believe the age of social media is drawing to an end and if you’re one of them, you may be wondering how will you invest your newly available digital time.
Private group chats in messaging apps have become a popular way to share photos and videos away from the glare of social media feeds. But if you still want some level of exposure, blogging is a way to get your thoughts, pictures, links, and other content out into the world. It goes back to an earlier, simpler time on the internet, and if that sounds appealing to you, this is how you post like in the good old days.
Why you should start a blog
As the internet first began to open up to the masses, many people started up personal blogs: Their own space on the web where they could share musings, pictures, videos, music, links to other places on the web, and just about anything they wanted.
Gradually, social media platforms began to take over this same role, as they were easier to use, better suited for mobile apps, and easily connected users to hundreds or thousands of people, which meant that a person’s audience could get exponentially bigger pretty quickly.
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But as all the connectivity and speed we associate with social networks starts to seem less appealing, blogging‘s slower, more structured and controlled approach has begun to look attractive again. The reduced exposure can be an asset, too—even if you choose to make your posts widely available online, the bigger attention span required to read a blog post will make it more likely to have a following that’s genuinely interested in your voice and not only reading for the sake of hating.
Tumblr is the perfect place to turn to if you’re switching from social media to blogging. It focuses on seven quick post types—text, photo, quote, link, chat, audio, and video—and pages can look a lot like Twitter feeds, just with more of a blogging framework around them.
Just as with social media, your Tumblr home page also has a timeline with a rolling feed of posts from other blogs you’re following on the platform. It also includes mechanisms you’re very much familiar with from social networks: On Tumblr you’re able to give likes, comment on other people’s posts, and even reblog them to your own page.
The platform balances all of the speed and convenience of these social features with the added extras of a blog, like your choice of layouts, your own personal URL, and the ability to tag your posts, for example. You can also manage multiple blogs from the same account, and make some of them password-protected if you don’t want the internet at large finding them or seeing what’s on them.
There’s a lot to explore on Tumblr, but you may be interested in the big art community that set up shop here, along with a lot of fandoms based around popular culture. Tumblr is free to use without any restrictions, but you can pay $5 a month to remove ads from your feed.
Some of the biggest sites on the web are built on WordPress. The platform is similar to Tumblr in the way it offers a specific group of post types, but this service offers more of everything: More features, more customizations, more layouts, and more room to expand and add functionalities like online shopping or booking, for example. You can think of it as a more advanced version of Tumblr that you can upgrade if and when you need to.
There are thousands of templates for you to choose from, both paid and free, and when it comes to your blog’s structure, you can have static pages (like the classic ‘About me’) as well as chronological posts and even drop in features like web forms or polls. The posts themselves can include images, links, galleries, or straightforward text, and you also get control over other elements such as post comments.
But the social networking features are rather rudimentary. You can follow other blogs, and comment on and like posts, but it’s all a lot more basic and less intuitive than it is on something like Instagram or Twitter (or indeed Tumblr).
There are two ways to use WordPress. Without paying anything, you get your own URL on the WordPress.com domain, and you’ll see ads embedded in your posts and dashboard. If you pay a monthly fee (starting at $11), you get extras like your own domain name, no ads, video upload functionality, and the ability to earn revenue through your site.
While not as modern as some of the other options here, Google’s Blogger allows you to create a good-looking blog very quickly—and even make money off it. But this is proper old-school blogging and with that comes pros and cons.
The platform is a bit old-fashioned and staid, and you don’t get specific post types as you do on Tumblr or WordPress—everything is a standard post, but you can easily include images or links if you need them. On the flip side, Blogger is free, easy to use, and includes a lot of advanced features like traffic statistics and the option to make money from ads on your site.
The theme options are a little more limited than on Tumblr or WordPress, but if you want and know what you’re doing, you can tweak the HTML and CSS that makes up your blog yourself. You can also organize posts with tags, and there are plenty of widgets to pick from—from those that will show off your most popular posts, to those able to provide a contact form. You can also enable multiple authors for your blog, so several people are allowed to post on the same page.
Blogger doesn’t really have any social media features. The closest you’ll find is the ability to enable comments on your posts and a simple reading list feature that lets you keep up with new content from other blogs on the platform.
Everything that Blogger offers is free to use, but if you want to use your own domain (rather than one on blogger.com) you’ll have to pay a hosting provider for it.
Medium allows you to embed pictures and other media types inside your posts, but it generally appeals to writers. If you want somewhere to post longer, text-based posts and aren’t so bothered about taking time to play around with layouts and HTML code, then Medium is definitely worth a look.
Creating posts on Medium is much easier than on WordPress and Blogger, and as soon as you try it, you’ll see that the emphasis is on minimalism and ease of use. You can quickly drop in videos and images and apply formatting with only a couple of clicks, but the platform keeps most of the screen blank to focus on the text you’re writing.
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There are some social media features here, including the ability to follow other Medium blogs, and the option to add comments and ‘claps’ (likes) to posts. You don’t get any real theming options, and other than the header image and the color palette you choose, every Medium blog looks more or less the same.
Something unique about Medium is that authors can lock access to any of their posts, which means they’ll only be available to users paying a monthly Medium subscription of $5, which also removes the ads from the interface. This model also allows writers to generate money for their posts if they get enough traffic.
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