I now have 2 WordPress.org blogs and 4 TypePad blogs plus, of course, Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter accounts.
Here's the scoop. If you are a professional, consultant or independent contractor, you desperately need a web presence. If you love technology and can write your way out of a paper bag, you should almost certainly have a blog-based website as your main web presence - your home base. A blog is the not so new thing that comes after static websites. Blogs live, allow interaction and give you an easy way to make occasional updates. They have much better google juice than static sites.
If you want a blog, get one now! Don't wait. If you want one as opposed to think you should have one, go get one. If you hate to write, Facebook and Linkedin are for you. You still get to have a pretty enduring (we hope) spot on the web in your Facebook or Linkedin page. On Facebook all you really have to do is post a photo of yourself, friends and goings on and comments on what you and your friends are up to now and then. It's fun if perhaps rather light-weight.
Linkedin seems pretty solid too. If you go the LInkedIn route, it is because you are doing all this social networking to further your career. You are willing to work your career and social network. That's what happens at Linkedin. If you want a more collegial friendly sort of thing that isn't as professional, then you go with Facebook. Or like a lot of people, do both to cover both personal and professional socializing.
Twitter. Twitter to me is micro-blogging, but that is me coming from a blogging background. I do think, though, that Twitter's popularity is mostly around sharing information. There's not much of a there there on Twitter. There's no real web presence except for the ephemeral stream. You are only as good as your last few tweets and then you fall off people's radar.
The people who follow me on twitter are people who want to hear what I have to say. Just like those who regularly check out my blog. I like micro-blogging on twitter because I can do it faster and more frequently. The work of writing 140 characters is easy to squeeze into my day. Writer's block doesn't exist on twitter.
Let's come back to Facebook for a minute. I don't go there much. I don't have time for everything and I would rather listen to my favorite tweeters express their opinions and discoveries and engage with them than *merely* socialize. I get more writing in by writing tweets. I also think Facebook is a bit too heavy-handed in the *how we commercialize all this traffic?* sense. It is stuffy on Facebook. Also, I don't have to worry about whether someone likes or knows me on Twitter to see what they have to say. But on Facebook your relationships must be equal -- each party wants to be friends. I'm glad there's a casual way to extend your circle beyond the already known friends that facebook traffics in.
So you got your non-blogging alternatives: facebook, linkedin and twitter and many more lesser known more marginal venues. These are powerful and cool and can all be fun and satisfying. LInkedin can be used by a serious job-hunter or for business development effort. But I like having my own spot and got my own domain name in 1995 when the web was just firing up.
Since posting here last I've been doing a lot with my WordPress blogs at tokerud.com and studio-manager.com. That was work to get things migrated and then taking a hodge-podge of static pages brewing up a couple tight WordPress blogs. The results are spectacular, though if I do say so myself. See my 5 part series below on my WordPress experiences.
WordPress is the dominant blogging platform and community, and I would recommend WordPress to everyone who is not just dabbling even if you are just starting out. If you want it easy and free, start with WordPress.com and migrate down the road to the more full-featured and extensible WordPress.org when you want to really get serious.
When should you get a WordPress blog or a blog at all and when not? Not is where you are a full-time employee with perfect job security and plan to stay that way. Not is where you hate writing and couldn't imagine yourself with a blog. Not is when other outlets like blog commenting, facebook, twitter and linkedin meet all your social networking needs.
What about a TypePad blog, though. TypePad is a strong runner up to WordPress. And it's way less work to get started. TypePad is serious too. It's not Vox or some other strictly personal platform. Lots of professionals, experts and consultants use TypePad very happily. It works tremendously well when you don't want to *waste* time on the plumbing of your blog or the hosting of it.
If you are pretty clear that you don't have time or the inclination to get more technical and you don't have a great friend who will do the dirty work for you, try TypePad. It's affordable and Six Apart is really serious about adding features to TypePad and typically those features are added by checking a checkbox rather than getting intimate with html, CSS or some other less pleasant code.
OK. That about covers it. Pick your poison! This stuff is not for everyone, but times are changing and these tools/services look like they can help keep you in touch and visible enough to keep your economic wheels moving.