Hosted Blogging Platforms

Photo by: "tarop@flickr"

Previously we discussed the three main options for hosting you webcomics series – (Free Comics Hosting Services, Hosted Blogging Services, and Self Hosting Platforms). In this post we’ll explore the option of using a Hosted Blogging Platform to host your webcomic.

Overview
A blog (short for weblog) is a website which consists of individual posts, usually appearing in reverse chronological order. It’s easy to make a parallelization between webcomics and blogs. Webcomics can be seen as nothing more than illustrated blogs. A comic strip would be in that sense a blog post. Therefore, it’s only natural to host your comics using one of the many platforms for hosting blogs.
Free comic hosting services were created for the sole purpose of providing comic artists an easy, free way of uploading their comics to the internet. As such, they provide an easy and free way for beginners to publish their comics. The main down side is that the artist has very limited control over his site, as we’ll detail below.

Popular Hosted Blogging Platforms
Blogger (formerly known as BlogSpot) and WordPress are probably the two most popular blogging platforms. Other popular platforms include TypePad, Tumblr, and LiveJournal, but there are many other options.

Comics Using Hosted Blogging Platforms

Pros
  • It’s low cost! Blogger and WordPress allow you to open a blog for free. TypePad requires a small monthly fee. The services provide you a free website address in their own domains, e.g. myownwebcomic.blogspot.com. You can of course choose to use your own custom domain instead, for example myownwebcomic.com, but then you have to buy a domain name (see below). So overall, depending on which service you choose, this alternative is either free or quite affordable.
  • Endless site design alternatives! Each service offers a limited amount of designs to choose from, but the community which evolved around these services can offer you much more. There are virtually thousands of premade designs (called templates in Blogger or themes in WordPress) that you can download and install on your blog. Adding the fact that many of these services allow you to customize the design using CSS, your design alternatives are endless.
  • You can monetize your comics! Unlike free comics hosting services, which don’t allow you to place ads on your site, platforms such as Blogger or WordPress give you no such restrictions. Not only that, Blogger even encourages you to monetize your blog. Blogger is owned by Google, and Google also owns AdSense (an advertising platform), so Google has an interest to make advertising in Blogger using AdSense an easy task. And indeed, Blogger has built-in integration for AdSense, allowing you to easily place ads eherever you want on your blog.
  • You can use your own custom domain. If you have a domain name that you bought for your comic (from eNom or GoDaddy, for example), you use that domain with your blog. Of course you have to buy a domain to begin with, but the cost for most domains range from $8 to $10.

Cons
  • Designed for blogs, not for webcomics. Blogging Platforms were designed for managing blogs, not for managing webcomics. And while there are many similarities between blogs and webcomic sites (e.g. both have posts that appear in reverse chronological order, both may allow comments), webcomics sites still have their own special common design, which is expected by the webcomic reader. For example, webcomics are expected to have the standard webcomic navigation interface, or the standard way to access the archive. Webcomic-tailored platforms (like free comics hosting services, or webcomic DMSs such as ComicPress or StripShow) provide those features out-of-the-box, but blogging services do not. The good news is that since most blogging platforms give you so much flexibility in terms of design (using CSS and custom code), you can achieve practically any design you have in mind. But it will require a lot of hard work from your side.
  • You are not in full control. Some hosted blogging platforms may restrict you with content they allow to host on their site. This shouldn’t affect you in most cases, but in case you’re going for a real graphic (as in pornographic) comic, I’d double-check the terms and conditions of the service before using it to host my webcomic. For example, Blogger does allow hosting any kind of material, including x-rated material, but you must specify this in the blog settings (in order for Blogger to display an “adult content warning” whenever someone enters the blog).
  • You may have to find a solution for hosting your comic images. Some blogging platforms, especially the free ones, might impose all sorts of restrictions on images uploaded to the blog. These could be restrictions on the total size of all images (e.g. 1GB hosting space for all images), or restrictions on the volume of dimensions of individual images (e.g. images should not be more than 2MB in size, and not higher or wider than 1000pixels). Let’s take Blogger again for example. If you open a Blogger account, it automatically connects it to your Picasa account. In a free Picasa account today, you cannot upload more than 2GB of images. Moreover, in case you are using a custom domain for your Blogger blog, you’re also restricted on the dimensions of the images that can be displayed using Picasa on your blog (it’s stupid, I know, but that’s the way it is). This may force you to use other image hosting services, especially if you comic images are very large. The good news is that there are so many image hosting services (both paid and free) that this issue becomes a non-issue, one you find the right service. I’ll have posts reviewing the various image hosting services later on.

So should I Use This Option?
Hosted Blogging Platforms can be an excellent alternative for comic creators who don’t want to invest a lot of money in publishing their comics, but do have the willingness, capability, and time to learn a thing or two about web design and HTML/CSS. I myself have been using Blogger for hosting some of my webcomics for years now, and in my opinion it’s one of the most professional platforms out there, better than some non-free alternatives out there.



2 comments:

adjie1258 said...

what template you used for blogger platform???

-_-

Idan said...

For "My 25 Percent", I took one of the Photoblog templates offered by ourblogtemplates.com and customized it.
For "C-Section Comics", I took one of the templates offered by Blogger themselves, but again had to customize it.
Today Blogger offers something calls Dynamic Templates, which allows your user to choose how they view your blog - and if offers Webcomic friendly views, so the template issue becomes a non-issue!

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