It’s More Than a Blog

In our May/June issue of 2connect, we discussed the benefits of using blogging software to take your publication online, including the ability to share content through RSS, build on content through video- and photo sharing, and expand delivery by connecting to social media. There is no question that blogging software, such as WordPress, Typepad, or Blogger, is an excellent resource for creating an online publication on a tight budget. But is it right for your publication? Here are a few things to consider:

Web Address as Brand.
It goes without saying that your web address is part of your overall brand. The challenge of using some blogging systems is that your web address might have another brand embedded within it. If your publication’s title is “Magazine Monthly” and you’re using Google-owned blogspot, the web address would be magazinemonthly.blogspot.com. The better option, if you have available resources, would be to not only purchase the domain name of magazinemonthly.com but variations that might be used by your audience. Some variations might be magmonthly.com, magazinemonth.com, and magazine-monthly.com. For the really adventurous brands, try www.domai.nr, where you can find alternative domains, such as magazinemonth.ly or magazi.ne/monthly (monthly would be a subfolder).

Customize the Design.
There are hundreds of templates built using blogging software that can be further customized to visually relate to your print publication (if you have one). You may not get exactly what you want, but if you can let go of some of the details, you can get close. The key to using existing templates is the grid. Just as you would start by defining a grid system for your print publication, you need a strong, flexible grid in web design. Find a template with a good grid and let your web consultant apply your visual identity as best he can.

Maintaining It.
Many smaller publications cannot afford to build out a customized content management system (CMS). Blogging software comes with an easy-to-use CMS built in. It will take some time to learn the interface of the system, but for the most part they are WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) applications. Everybody’s favorite commands of copy and paste will work to get your text into the text editor. Uploading photos and videos is usually just a couple of extra clicks of the mouse. Many of the systems also allow you to customize access for the many people who maintain the website: For example, administrators who manage the site can access the entire CMS; editors are able to access articles and accept or decline comments; and contributors can post articles.

Examples.
WordPress: Go to wordpress.com to get your free (mydomain.wordpress.com) WordPress blog, or visit wordpress.org to download the system and apply it to your own domain name.

Typepad: Created by Six Apart, which also developed Movabletype, Typepad is a blogging and social networking development platform.

Blogger: Google owns this blogging platform. Strangely, when you create a blog, it’s not myblog.blogger.com, it’s myblog.blogspot.com.

Wicked Tasty Harvest: This is our latest redesign of a blogging template; it is built on the Typepad system. Check it out at www.wickedtastyharvest.com.

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