4 free tools to help you create an uber cool website or blog

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Blogging

I’m a bit ubiquitous when it comes to space online. Check out my FriendFeed or Google profile and you’ll see what I mean. I just can’t resist a new opportunity to create another path to this blog or play around with a new online toy.

You might say I’ve been around.

Before I started Diary of a Web Gal I hadn’t a clue about ‘making a website.’ I thought it was something reserved only for those uber-talented people who could decifer all that algerbraic code.

Not so!

During my online travels I’ve found a number of different ways to create a great website or blog with little or no HTML knowledge.

For me, things are different now because I chose to learn more about all that code stuff. But you don’t have to and can still have a super cool space online. The following sites all offer free-hosted blogs. This means you don’t have to pay for anything unless you choose to register your own domain or, in the case of WordPress.com, upgrade your account.

There are other sites but these are the ones I particularly like.

Tumblr

tumblr

A fledgling microblogging site that provides beautiful templates for free. You can check out my Tumble log which is really a mini version of this site but many people use their Tumble log as their primary site.

I highly recommend using Tumblr for your first blog. Tumble logs are known for their minimal look (usually one or two columns). And extremely easy to create. Some Tumblr users have been amazingly creative with their blog but even the pre-designed templates on the Tumblr site totally rock.

Posterous

posterous

A slightly different type of online space. Posterous lets you post things online using email. You email Posterous and they reply instantly with your new posterous blog. I’ve done it and it’s really as easy and pain free as they promise.

I’ve started a space for my art work using Posterous but, again, some people use Posterous as their main location online. Whereas Tumlbr allows you freedom to really customise your blog, Posterous is more prescriptive. One look (a very elegant one) fits all. Check out TwitterJunkies. And your favourite Twitterer Guy Kawasaki is on Posterous to see examples.

WordPress

WordPress.com

Just to confuse everyone there are two different WordPress blogging platforms: WordPress.com and WordPress.org. For the purposes of this post we’re looking at WordPress.com which allows you to create a blog in seconds. The other WordPress (.org) is for self-hosted blogs (which is the type I use) and would require you to pay hosting costs and pay for a domain name (on WordPress.com I would be http://lizhover.wordpress.com/ but I have a registered domain name so I’m http.www.lizhover.com)

And to confuse you even more you can register a domain name and use it on any of the sites listed here. But we’re focusing on setting up and running your blog at no cost in which case you wouldn’t be using a domain name.

I’ve used WordPress.com for several earlier incarnations of my blogs but veered away from it because template choices are limited and I needed to be super smart to make my template do what I wanted. But for the first timer just starting out it’s perfect and very cool. There are some established blogs and big name folks who use WordPress.com so it’s by no means just for beginners. Additional customisation features on WordPress.com will cost a little money. For bloggers on a zero budget you can set up a slick blog using WordPress’ templates and away you go.

Blogger

Blogger

Of all the free blogging platforms Blogger has a special place in my heart. It gets lots of criticism but I used it successfully for ages and highly recommend it.

I spent hours, probably days when I first signed up to Blogger hunting for my perfect blog template. One of the reasons I liked Blogger was that customisation is pretty easy so you can give your blog its very own look and feel. Like WordPress and Tumblr, Blogger provides ready-made templates to choose from but there are many, many others kicking around the web. I like Our Blogger Templates.

Again many established names use Blogger to host their blog.

Conclusion

I’m a big fan of Tumblr and Blogger. If I was starting my blog from scratch I would choose those in a heartbeat.

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