May 9, 2009

Seven blogging tools reviewed

A detailed look at the top blogging software platforms

Target audience: Nonprofits, cause organizations, businesses, individuals

Guest post by TechSoup

While often regarded as a platform for people to share their personal stories, a blog can also be used to tell the story of an organization. Whether showcasing your work, offering behind-the-scenes glimpse into your nonprofit, highlighting the people you serve, or advocating a particular point of view, a blog can be a powerful — and influential — communication and public-relations tool for your organization.

So how do you create a blog? Let’s say that you’ve already spent time reading other blogs and articles on how to successfully maintain and promote your blog. (More Resources at the end of this article will help you get started.) You’ve defined your goals, your target audience, and the type of content you’ll provide. Your next challenge is to pick the blogging tool that offers the right features for you.

There are a number of good blogging tools, but choosing among them can be confusing. In this report, we’ll take a detailed look at the top blogging tools out there and outline key considerations for selecting a blogging platform, including the skills required to set it up; the ease with which you can post to it; whether you can upload images, video, or audio to it; its ability to moderate comments and prevent spam; how closely you can tailor its design to match the look and feel of your organization’s Web site and other collateral; and tools you can use to track who’s reading it.

The seven blogging platforms we’ve chosen to review are Blogger, LiveJournal, Typepad, Movable Type, WordPress, ExpressionEngine, and TextPattern. We chose these tools because they are the ones most commonly used to create a typical nonprofit blog — by a long shot. 77 percent of all the bloggers included in the Nonprofit Blog Exchange and 81 percent of respondents in a survey of serious bloggers conducted by ProBlogger used one of these seven tools.

That said, these seven tools certainly don’t meet all possible needs. This report doesn’t include the more sophisticated tools you might use to build a complex multi-blogger community, or blogging software that provides deep Web site integration. You’ll want to look beyond this report if you need a posting workflow, where, for instance, an editor can approve posts from many different blog authors; a closed community in which only specific people can see, post, and comment; complex integration with other Web site content such as forums; or if you’re building a Web site that includes a blog built from scratch. For example, Drupal and Joomla! — both free, open source, content management systems — were among the top ten tools most commonly used blogging tools in the Blog Market Analysis. These tools, and a number of other powerful and sophisticated blog and community tools, are well worth a look if your blogging needs are more complex

But for the rest of us — whether we’re with a big nonprofit that wants a highly branded, tailored blog with multiple authors, or a tiny organization looking for something easy to set up and use — one of the seven tools covered here will work just fine. We’ll help you ask the right questions to determine which blog is right for your organization and provide reviews of the most popular nonprofit blogging platforms.

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