So… I’ve been thinking for a while about the best way to have an online presence.
First, I had to assess what I need in a website. I really use the web for two things… text and pictures. I post periodic updates that keep friends and family aware of life as I know it. And, with those updates come pictures. Oh, and I also maintain a static website for my small business (wirepaper) that doesn’t change very often. The most complex need that I have involves the option to email people when I have something new to say.
There are numerous options out there, and I’ve been of the opinion that creating and maintaining my own hosted website was the best way to go. Since I have little to no design expertise, it has been tough going for quite some time. I have had some luck with my own design work, but it hasn’t been ideal. Add to that the fact that many of the tools out there require some sort of technical expertise in order to update the site.
Enough of that. Time for a change. And time to save some money while I’m at it. I’ve decided to go the blog route for a while. There are plenty of sites out there that provide blog space for free. Without much comparison shopping, I chose Blogger.com. I spent a little time looking at Movable Type but found the setup a bit more than I could be bothered with. And, after spending a few minutes looking at Blogger, I was sold (and the price was right – free!).
Pictures… again, there are plenty of options out there. I’ve looked at yahoo, smugmug.com, flickr.com and g2photos.com. There are numerous other options, but I limited myself to a small handful.
Yahoo Photos was part of the larger yahoo network, of which Flickr is also a member. I’m a little confused about the different branding, but who am I to judge? I’m partial to the separate Flickr brand, which doesn’t identify as easily with the big corporate Yahoo name. Smugmug offers a free trial for a week, but then you have to pay for use after that time. $29.95 per year is quite reasonable, but I’m looking for free. G2photos is a local site run by a good friend of mine in Toronto. If I was going to pay for photo storage I’d seriously consider his site, but again, I’m looking for free… so… no g2photos.com.
I’ve used flickr before to see pictures from friends. The site is easy to use. And the best part is that it’s free. Flickr’s free program caps you based on a combination of number of pictures and total size of picture uploads per calendar month. 200 pictures and/or 200 MB of uploads per month. That’s it. Pretty simple. Based on my past picture volume, I’ve never gone over 200 pictures uploaded per month and since I compress my pictures before uploading them, 200 MB will not be a threshold that I have to worry about.
And the best part is that Blogger and Flickr work well together. I can post pictures in Flickr which will automatically update my blog on Blogger (should I choose to set things up that way). And, once my blog is updated, it will automatically update my audience (with another tool that I’ll talk about next). All in all, quite snazzy.
The last part about this whole blogging thing is to update my audience. There are two ways to do this. First, I can email all of my friends and family and tell them to visit my blog on a regular basis. That works great for most people but we all get busy and we forget to check things out from time to time. A service called FeedBlitz.com automates the distribution of my blog via email once people sign up for it. Subscribe to this blog using the form on the sidebar of this blog to see for yourself. Quite simple. FeedBurner.com works in concert with FeedBlitz.com to automate and advertise your blog in various ways. All in all, quite a good package.
And the best part is that all of this stuff is free! In less than a day, I’ve set up a fully functioning blog that manages the distribution of text and pictures to an audience that can sign themselves up for future updates. It all operates on its own. The only thing I have to do is manage the content.
I’m impressed. Aren’t you?