Prep-Blog.com has been online for almost 11 months now, and I’ve noticed that we are not the only new face in the world of prepping and survival blogs. New websites are cropping up every month in a similar vein: articles and posts on preparing for different types of emergencies. It is a topic that is increasing in nationwide and worldwide attention, and new blogs are being created to address that interest.
If you are considering starting your own survival blog, how should you begin? First, as they say: “Write what you know.” You should have some knowledge on the topic to share with your audience. You could also write about your experiences as you learn, and perhaps make some mistakes, in prepping. A first-person point of view is helpful.
Will your blog be commercial or non-commercial? This decision will affect the design of the blog and the software and hosting for the site. Butch and I (Thoreau) decided from the start to make a commercial site, with advertisers to support our work. Since prepping often includes buying food and other supplies, there are many different companies looking to advertise on prepping websites. But you need to have a site that can accept advertising.
I like the range of features that the WordPress software offers, including thousands of different Plug-ins to add to the site. The software also has thousands of Themes that will distinguish your site design from other sites, allowing you to choose from different layouts, colors, and graphics. WordPress.com offers free blogs, but you cannot place your own advertising on a free blog. WordPress uses its own advertising to support their free service. If you want a free blog, with great software, and you don’t intend to use your own advertising, WordPress.com is an excellent choice.
But there is another option. If you like the WordPress software, you can download it free at WordPress.org and install it with your own hosting company — or choose a hosting company that will do the installation and set-up for you. Then you can place whatever advertising you like on the site. I have experience in web site design, so for me, this was the best option. However, it is more complex than any of the other options for blogging. Even if the hosting company does all the software installation, you will still need to have some understanding of how the software works to get the most out of this approach. Monthly fees are relatively low, so find one advertiser and you have broken even; two, and you are in the black.
Blogger is a Google service, and a very popular blogging platform. The blogs are free, and you can add Google’s AdSense advertising to make some money on the site. However, my experience with AdSense and web site design is that you need very high traffic for AdSense to bring in much money. Also, I’m not a fan of the blogger platform. It is less flexible than WordPress or TypePad, and there are fewer options for enhancing or modifying your site. The interface is simpler than WordPress, but also less powerful. If you want a free website that might bring in a little extra money, you can use Blogger. But I would recommend WordPress or TypePad.
The TypePad platform is low cost. Currently, there is a 14-day free trial and then it is $14.95 for the best plan (pricing subject to change). In my opinion, it is worth the money. You can place banner ads from your own advertisers on the site. The platform is powerful and easy to use. You can customize the look of your site. And the company that does the hosting is the same company that designed the platform: TypePad. This service is very competitive with WordPress.
Between the two, I’d say to choose WordPress.com if you want a free blog without your own advertising. Choose a WordPress.org installation if you are technically inclined and want the largest range of options. But choose TypePad if you need an easier solution that also allows advertising.
More of my thoughts on starting your own survival and prepping blog in my next post. (Part 2 is here.)
By the way, if you need professional help setting up a prepping blog, or solving a website design problem for such a site, contact me.