I have tried quite a few blogging platforms and it is my opinion that WordPress is one of the best platforms out there. You can either choose to host your blog at WordPress.com or use WordPress.org to maintain self hosted blog. I maintain two blogs on WordPress, TroubleshootingSQL and MyeScribblepad. Last week I decided to get over my lethargy and revamp my SQL blog.
The first step was to look for a blog theme which had a flexible width and was able to utilize the complete real estate available on your display medium, desktop monitor, laptop screen, iPad, PDA/Smartphones etc. and at the same time re-size based on the device and display settings being used. I browsed a bunch of themes and finally zeroed in on a two-column sidebar theme called Andreas09. This provides me with a wide column for the body which allows me to combine my posts with in-line screen-shots which I have started using a lot in my recent posts.
Next were the sharing buttons available under Settings –> Sharing options on your blog Dashboard. This makes it easier for your blog readers to share your blog posts in case they want to. You can also use the pre-configured Widgets (Appearance –> Widgets) to add a bit of pizzazz to blog home page by providing cloud tag, Twitter feed, RSS feeds, etc.
I like the Text widget which allows you to add arbitrary HTML tags to create your own fancy little sidebar item. I went to work on this using old school HTML tags like <a> and <href> and a bit of Adobe Photoshop handiwork to create my own social connection options for my Facebook page, Twitter account, RSS/Feedburner feeds, LinkedIN profile and Networked Blogs account.
The next step was to customize the Facebook page for my blog using RSS Graffiti. This Facebook application allows you to use RSS feeds from other blogs and post them on your page’s wall. I currently have the following blogs being subscribed through this application:
SQLServerFAQ – A MSDN blog where common issues encountered by the Microsoft SQL Server CSS team are blogged about.
PSSSQL – A MSDN blog where you will find valuable nuggets of information from the members of the Escalation Services team for SQL Server CSS including the likes of Bob Ward and Bob Dorr.
SQL Server Release Services – The official blog of the SQL Server Release Services team where you will find the information about all the latest cumulative updates/service packs and support policy information.
Data Platform Insider – The official blog on the Microsoft SQL Server team.
SSRS Team – The official blog of the SQL Server SSRS team.
SQL Azure – This is the official blog of the SQL Azure team.
SQLCAT – The official blog of the SQL Customer Advisory Team.
So if you like the Facebook page, then all the new posts from these blogs will appear in your Facebook news feed. The primary reason for creating a Facebook page for my blog was to prevent getting hate posts from my friends on Facebook who are not SQL Server enthusiasts or who don’t want to receive updates regarding SQL Server on their social feeds. (You know who you are!! 😛 )
Along with all this WordPress also allows you to connect your blog to services like Twitter, Facebook, Yahoo and Live Messenger using Settings –> Sharing from your blog Dashboard. Once you have configured the connection to these services with your WordPress blog, WordPress can automatically post updates using these updates using the aforementioned social networks/tools. The social networks also provided various applications which allow interconnectivity between different social networks which allow you to cross-post the updates.
WordPress now allows you to enable a mobile and iPad theme for your blog readers who use their cell phones or iPad to arrive at your blog. (Appearance –> Extras and Appearance –> iPad respectively from your blog Dashboard)
Within you a very short time, you can really increase your potential blog reach without having to manually post updates to multiple places once you decide to evangelize a blog post or article that you have found.
One of the numerous reasons I really like WordPress is their spam filter Askimet which keeps out a vast amount of junk, spam comments from my blog.
Happy blog customization!