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Blogs Now Mean Business

Blogs aren't just for blowhards anymore. We review five blogging packages that can suit a range of business sizes and budgets.

Once the domains of anything-goes commentary, blogging apps have evolved into powerful business tools.

Today's blogging systems range from simple applications that provide pre-formatted Web pages to sophisticated systems designed for multiple contributors and users (including a full range of contributing, editing, and viewing permissions). Which is best for your business? The answer depends on how much control you want to exercise over the content of your business blog.

Most general-purpose blogs used by consumers are meant for unfettered access by anyone who cares to read them. Business blogs are focused, instead, on enabling internal communications, in many cases supplementing intranets as vehicles for quickly communicating information within work groups. For example, while general-purpose blog applications allow users to freely post entries or comments, blogging systems that are more specifically designed for business use allow more control over individual users' access rights.

In addition, personal and general-purpose blogs are generally created using hosted applications, which can be set up quickly and economically, and without the overhead of installing software on a server and maintaining user accounts and data. However, for more controlled environments where the security of the data content is a critical, an organization may decide to install blog software on its own servers.

This review looks at a five blog applications that fill a variety of business needs.

Blogger.com
Google, Inc.
Price: Free

Blogger.com is one of the most prominent names in blogging. It offers users (mostly consumers) a choice: You can opt to have your content hosted at a subdomain of Blogspot.com, or you can publish your blog to a Web server of your choice via FTP.


Click on image to expand.
Blogger.com is easy to set up and configure -- you can choose from a variety of templates or, if you're comfortable with HTML programming, create your own design. I was able to create a free account and a blog on Blotspot.com in less than five minutes using the WYSIWIG editor.

Blogger provides the ability to allow posting by registered users of Blogger.com whom you designate as members of your team. However, even though you can elect to host your blog on your internal corporate Web server, all entries are made on Blogger.com's servers before they are posted to yours. Though there is no reason to believe your information will be made public, this does mean that you have limited control of the destiny of your data. In addition, there is no built-in ability to keep anyone who knows the blog's URL from viewing its content, so sensitive information should not be posted.

I like Blogger for its ease and open access. If you want to create a business blog that is easily accessible by your customers, and if you count public access as a plus, it’s tough to beat Blogger.com. It’s also a fast and free way to get your feet wet and to learn how a blog works.

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