Why Pay For a Blog Platform?

An interesting auxiliary thread has developed over the past few days. It has to do with blog platforms.

So, it’s not really a new discussion but it seems to be cropping up again a bit. It has to do with paid blog platforms versus free blog platforms.

Before I go any farther, let me say that although I’m a WordPress fan and advocate, I completely recognize that platforms should not be the focus. It should be the content. And platforms should essentially be transparent to the blogger. Get out of the way and let the blogger blog. Realistically, some people need more than a blogging platform and need a full featured content management system. I get it.

However, for new bloggers with so many quality, free options available, it boggles my mind that anyone would pay for a blog?

It seems even at home plate, at Lijit, there seems to be a tendency to use Typepad (which boggles my mind) and in corporate settings, Expression Engine seems to have legs.

I asked this question on Twitter:

Here’s a question for everyone: why on earth would you choose Typepad for your blog platform when starting out? Who pays for blog platforms?

Responses were varied an interesting:

I certainly don’t want to get into a platform war. Whatever makes your job as a blogger easier. But with so many really great free options out there, who pays for a blog platform and why?

Published by

Aaron Brazell

Aaron Brazell is a Baltimore, MD-based WordPress developer, a co-founder at WP Engine, WordPress core contributor and author. He wrote the book WordPress Bible and has been publishing on the web since 2000. You can follow him on Twitter, on his personal blog and view his photography at The Aperture Filter.

15 thoughts on “Why Pay For a Blog Platform?”

  1. I'm a big fan of WordPress and use it wherever I can, wherever it makes sense. But we also use Expression Engine for our bigger sites, things that require a full blown CMS. It's apples and oranges for us. I would be very unlikely to use anything but WP for a blog style site. Likewise, I'd use EE for any big site that benefits from the extra features of a full on CMS.

  2. I make enough with ads now that my site fee for Typepad isn't felt anymore–and I love the look and functionality of Typepad; really just don't see any reason to move now. :)

  3. Often I think there is a perception from the general public, if something is free, it must not be good. Thus, if you pay for something, you are getting more value, and a better product. I've often wondered the same thing regarding paying for a platform. While consulting in the enterprise, many of the EVP's insisted on using a platform you had to pay for. I couldn't convince them that an open source version was the way to go. The perception was, if they paid for the service, it would make them appear more professional vs. a “hometown” blogger.

  4. Because ExpressionEngine is absolutely amazing and brilliantly written. There is so much beauty in EE, and so much to like. EE is the only platform that I've found where, anything I want to do with my data, no matter how crazy it is, I can do it. Very seamless.

  5. No offense to Drupal, but even I'm not that geeky. The original reason for EE was at the time there were only a handful of CMS packages that were stable enough and robust enough to do what we wanted and after using it, I really like it. It's also dirt cheap for CMS of it's class, I think around $249. Huge community, the company is big into open source (code igniter) and I still haven't found anything I like better. Do you have a CMS you prefer for larger than wordpress sites?

  6. I would never trust my business to something like WordPress. A personal site or hobby site maybe, but seriously, I use ExpressionEngine with one of the main reasons being absolute, dedicated support. Not community support where I have to go out and find an answer. I get that too, but I can also contact the COMPANY and get answers.

  7. To be clear, EE is $249 for a business license. Dirt cheap for enterprise software. It is $99 for a personal full license, and there is also a free version for those who want something simple that is more akin to WordPress. So if we are comparing Apples to Apples, there is a free version of WordPress, and there is a free version of ExpressionEngine for those with those kinds of needs.

  8. Maybe, if you don't know how to code a template :P I can export my EE data into MoveableType, WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal accepted formats, easily. There may be others out there that I may be unfamiliar with, but those are the four others aside from EE that I have dealt with.

  9. It's a great question Aaron, and thanks for phrasing it in a way that doesn't turn this into Yet Another Blog Bickering Thread. :) We ask ourselves this constantly at Six Apart: How do we make platforms that are *worth* paying for. And based on our feedback from our customers and our own ideas for our platforms, here are a few principles we've come up with:* More control. Paid platforms don't insert ads on your site without permission, or keep you from making money on your own blog. They don't limit what you can do with your content, or require you to be a technical expert yourself when you can just hire someone to do that while staying focused on your content.*Great support. Our aim is to have the best support, provided by real humans who speak plain English. That's worth paying for if you're serious about your blog, and the results leave bloggers delighted when they might otherwise be frustrated.* Better security. Because we have paying customers, we'd get yelled at if our platforms were plagued by constant security holes like other platforms. Instead, we can invest in professional testing and our customers don't have to worry about getting hacked or delisted from search engines.* Better features. TypePad had the first iPhone app because we can invest in creating clients for new platforms, and we've got mobile clients for 90% of the smartphones out there. Movable Type has really strong social features. And all that stuff comes directly from our customers telling us “this is what we want to pay you for”.And there's frankly a lot more innovation, too. Things like OpenID happen because we have the professional resources to invest in them, and our business model lets us do things like make TypePad AntiSpam free for all bloggers. (Yep, even WordPress bloggers!) As a result, we're not taxing people for their comments, or worrying that adding OpenID support will jeopardize our business model of charging for spam blocking — we're motivated instead to keep adding more valuable features and abilities so that our customers stay happy.The last thing I'd add, given the current economic climate, is that we were hell-bent on having real paid products and services as part of the mix at Six Apart from day one. We wrote the business plan before AdWords or AdSense existed, during the last economic downturn. And we'd seen our friends at services like Blogger go through some really rough times where not only did their employees suffer, their entire communities had to wonder about the viability of their publishing platform. Some people even asked whether blogging itself would survive.So we made a simple goal of building a sustainable, responsible company that would help grow the blogging industry as a whole. We want consultants and developers and designers who work on blogs to be able to thrive, and we want to promote bloggers to succeed, whether that's through making money with Six Apart Media advertising, or by reaching new audiences, or by growing their businesses. All of those things take resources, and all of those things are more likely to keep growing if there's a fundamental base audience of people who are willing to invest their time and, yes, money in helping them grow. Even the platforms that don't cost money up front are all supported either by advertising or by subscriptions. We think the model of making those tradeoffs and choices explicit is more in keeping with the tradition of openness and transparency in blogging.Put simply, you get what you pay for. :)

  10. Good point. That makes the question: Why use anything other than EE? :) (Especially once EE2 comes out, and it's based on Code Igniter.)I'm a BIG EE fan, obviously, but that said, WP is definitely quicker/easier if all you want to do is throw up a vanilla blog with a pre-built template.Another question I might have is, if all you want is a template-based blog, why use anything other than WordPress.com or a other comparable hosted blog service?

  11. I think WordPress is an excellent blogging platform, but also use ExpressionEngine and other software when appropriate. Most of my blogs run WordPress. I'm a geek, so I can hack them to my heart's content.But almost 100% of our client websites including blogs, marketing sites and content sites, all run Expression Engine. It's very easy to use, has excellent support, and is so simple to customize that our designers can just cut up a layout into HTML/CSS and skin a site. There is no need to ever see PHP, write a query or FTP a file. I think there are excellent free and paid blogging and CMS solutions available. They all have different features and appeal to people with different technical capabilities. Use whatever is a good fit for you.That said, $100 or $200 for a good software package is not a big expense. Add that to $50/year for hosting and $8 for a domain and it's still cheap enough that just about anyone could start a blog. If $100 is going to break the bank, use a hosted service like wordpress.com or Blogger.

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