Blogging on a Budget: Which Platform is Right For Your Small Business? Jessica Lunk It sounds too simple to be true, but one of the most essential marketing strategies for small business is to have – and use – a blog. If you don’t have one for your company, you are missing out on an opportunity to market your company in a relaxed, informal manner that customers love. Blogging is an excellent way to talk about your employees, upcoming events, new product launches and wish your customers well. You can also add personal touches, giving your customers insight to the people behind the company. Blog posts are easily shared to social media platforms, and give your website activity that looks good to search engines. You don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to start a blog. Here are some blogging sites to consider when getting started: WordPress.org WordPress is one of the most popular platforms online today. It offers limitless varieties for appearance, and configuration. WordPress.org is the self-hosted version of WordPress.com. You do need to buy a URL for this platform, but you are totally free of any restrictions when using it, unlike WordPress.com. It seems a little bit tricky at first until you get used to the way it is set up, however it has numerous add-ons and plugins, and can be upgraded at any time. There are many free themes, and you can move to a paid theme when you are ready. Blogger Blogger is Google’s blogging platform and one of the oldest on the Internet. It is completely free to use, and can be linked to Google+. You can start out with a Blogger.com URL, then upgrade to your own self-hosted URL later on. Not quite as versatile as WordPress, Blogger is still a great place to start a blog. Tumblr Tumblr is another site that has been around for quite some time, and has become very popular with the Millennial generation. It offers a unique ability to share between Tumblr members as well as the Internet community. You don’t need to keep your blog on Tumblr, but it is free to use. Not as versatile as either WordPress or Blogger, but a great place to start out. It is used quite a bit by the sub-cultural artsy communities, college students and designers. Medium Medium is another free site which has become a forum of opinion-related posts. It is a blogging network as opposed to a place to host your own blog. The articles on Medium are interesting and the site garners attention. It is a good site to learn to blog and see what other people are doing. Not a good place for growing your own company blog, but it is good for posts that relate to your business and link back to it. This is another free site. LiveJournal In some ways, LiveJournal is similar to Tumblr in that it is more of a blogging community than a blogging platform. This site is another veteran of the Internet, and offers a place to get your feet wet in the blogging genre. You can gain more traction getting involved in the social media side of the site. But there are many blogs that have been on the platform for a long time and are flourishing. It is completely free to use, and can be upgraded to a paid account for extra features. Weebly Weebly was designed as a place to build a website using building blocks for those who find other platforms too complicated. You can start out on Weebly for free, and create a full website or blog component only. The free version gives you a Weebly URL, but you can upgrade it to a self-hosted URL for $8 per month. It is recommended to get started as a blog, but unless you want to create an entire website on Weebly, it would be better to move to another platform when you are ready to self-host. It is an easy platform to use for beginners, and many people love it.