Content marketing and blogging have both become a very low-cost way to attract customers. A steady blogging process can build an audience of customers over time, smoothing out many seasonal peaks and valleys.
You have a few options you can use to start blogging with your Shopify store.
- Use the built-in Shopify blog
- Use hosted blogging platform
- Host your own blog
- Edit your Shopify blog template files
1. The built-in Shopify blog
First, you can use the Shopify blog that's built-in to all stores. You can create blog posts, receive comments and perform many of the basic blogging operations right inside Shopify.
This is a convenient option that every Shopify store can take advantage of right away with almost zero setup required.
Since Shopify's blog is included with the platform, there is no additional cost to start using it. This makes it an ideal option if you're not sure about blogging yet and don't want to spend a lot of time and money to setup a blog.
It's also an ideal option is you're not sure how frequently you'll be able to write blog posts.
Another benefit of Shopify's built-in blog is that it will scale using Shopify's powerful platform. So if you get a flood of new readers to your blog, it will keep working without crashing. Compare that to another externally hosted blog which could have problems with a spike in traffic.
One interesting note, all of Shopify's ecommerce blogs are running on the built-in blogging system. This includes their popular ecommerce blog, Shopify Plus blog, Shopify retail blog, and Partners blog. They can also serve as design inspiration too, since they show what can be done within the built-in blog system.
2. Wordpress.com or other hosted blogging platform
Using Wordpress.com, Tumblr.com, or another hosted blogging platform can give you more advanced features than the built-in Shopify blog. You'll also have the freedom to use more designs than the Shopify blog.
This can be important if you want to create a blog that uses more variety of mediums such as a video or photo blog. Though with Youtube, Instagram, and the ability to embed content into the Shopify blog system, this is becoming less important.
Depending on the blog platform, they might have better publishing work flows. While not important when you're getting started, once you grow having a well-defined publishing process can be a benefit with multiple people working in the system. That way writers can send drafts to editors for them to review, and graphic designers can add assets needed for a post, all separately in the process.
A disadvantage is that unfortunately you'll also have to maintain the blog as a separate website which means additional administrative burden. A hosted blog will also cost you more each month as you pay hosting fees. Depending on your store's design, any redesign will need to done twice, once for your store and once for your blog. This is because the Shopify templates aren't compatible with any other hosting service.
Using a hosted blogging platform will also prevent your blog from helping your store's SEO. Even though some platforms will let you host your blog on a separate subdomain (e.g. blog.example.com), search engines will still count that as a different website than your store.
Unless you already have an existing blog, I wouldn't recommend this option for new stores.
3. Self-hosted blogging software
With self-hosted blogging software like Wordpress (not to be confused with Wordpress.com) or Drupal you have full control over your blog. You'll be able to tweak and change just about anything you want in order to provide the best experience possible for your customers.
However, you will have to host the software yourself which can be difficult and potentially expensive depending on your experience and staff. A spike in readers can easily overwhelm a self-hosted blog which would result in a lot of lost traffic and you getting to play IT administrator while you bring the blog back online.
4. Customize your Shopify theme's blog templates
A fourth and often overlooked option is to customize your theme by modifying the Shopify blog templates:
article.liquid. You'll get the ease of administration and SEO benefit from the Shopify hosted blog, while still being able to have a customized blog that fits your brand.
All Shopify themes come with these blog templates so you can get started right away, though some themes will have better designed versions. From my experience, the premium Shopify themes tend to have better blogging templates and options than the free Shopify themes.
Additionally, there are various Shopify apps that can integrate with your blog to tweak and customize it even more. Using a Shopify app or two might give you enough flexibility within Shopify to avoid using a 3rd party blogging system at all.
One such app is BlogFeeder, which I had the pleasure to work on. This app is able to take blog content from an external blog and copy it into Shopify. This is great for importing blog content into Shopify but it also means you can use a different blog system to write blog articles and while still end up publishing them to your Shopify blog.
Whatever option you decide to use for your blog, make sure to pick one. The best time to start a blog is yesterday, and the second best time to start is today.
Don't let the confusion about the "right way to blog" prevent you from starting.