Hi Skywriter, I have just started blogging too, and find that the old standby at Google, blogspot.com, offers great choices, many templates, and good support with serious instruction pages. They also offer, by the way, the best (free) website pages I have ever seen. There is no need to pay for a website! Google "Google sites" and "Blogger." Go there and check it out! All free. As for the pros and cons, it is my impression that blogs are very much like the old community sites, with which I have had a lot of experience. You have to build a membership. To do that, you must offer something of interest to the public. They tell every author to create a blog just to have one, and I have checked out some of those blogs...boring! If you are searching for something to post every day just to keep your name and pic on the social media, that shows. You can be very nice, but your little daily life is boring. Who has time to read all those mundane meaningless posts? Its irritating to have them show up on my facebook page and I am certainly not going to click a link to go to one unless it offers something of interest to me. The blog wave is to me a whole lot like facebook itself...99% boring, written by types with nothing much happening, and a place for them all to hang out together and be boring together. If you want a following, you have to offer something and it has to be something specific, for a specific type of person. The old communities (groups) were the same way. If you are a writer and have written something, post about your topic or a new topic or new info on the old topic. Teach, entertain, give advice, give away free stuff or even sell something...but offer something. No one will come to your site to do you a favor. It is even hard to get members when you offer something, but you have a chance. And how do you build your membership? One at a time, and word of mouth is the best way. Eventually Google will crawl your site and if it offers something of interest or has activity, they will place you on their google pages. That is the best way to succeed with a site like a blog or group. The point is, you can open a blog, but if you don't really have anything to say or you are not centered and focused on your topic yet, you are talking to the air. Well I have gone on and on. Hope this might offer a bit of info you can use. Sarah Paul
I saw a neat article just last night and thought of your post. Best wishes, and hopefully it'll help.
I have been blogging since 2005 and have found three resources over the years that have been awesome in helping learn how to be an effective blogger.
1. Problogger Blog - http://www.problogger.net/
2. Ed Dales Challenge (this is updated every year and is free) - www.challenge.co
3. The Niche Blogger (Amy Bass's Product)- Amy has an amazing story - she paid off a large debt in a short period of time using niche blogging. It is a product that you need to pay for. For me, it was worth every penny. www.thenicheblogger.com.
I hope this helps!