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Recommend a good blogging site

I'm new to blogging and would like suggestions for a site which offers advanced functionality and flexibility for blogs that perhaps allows me to use my own web domain name and sponsorship from advertisers but tools that enable me to have a dash board / control panel type interface.

I would prefer a free one but would consider paying a small monthly charge if required. I know of a few. Wordpress is one that springs to mind.  Any other good quality blogs sites that people here can highly recommend?
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u587162
Asked:
u587162
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EirmanCommented:
I think that this list cover all the best available options out there ....
http://lifehacker.com/5568092/five-best-blogging-platforms
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Kailash AgheraCommented:
I suggest Wordpress.com and blogger.com. If you wish to use your domain, you an also purchase web hosting service and install your own blogging script like WordPress. This will allow you to install your selected themes, plugins etc.
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Jason C. LevineNo oneCommented:
Wordpress.com has an advanced option for a fee that allows you to use your own domain name instead of yoursite.wordpress.com.  I'm pretty sure Blogger and Tumblr have something similar. Otherwise, WordPress is far and away the most feature rich free offering.

WordPress would be my choice for a written blog.  But If you are planning a blog that revolves around images with minimal writing, I would look at Tumblr first.
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u587162Author Commented:
Is there a dash board type panel and is it easy enough for someone with no web programming skills to have a page setup, add pics etc?

What about banners / adverts / page view statistics / google analytics etc- do such sites cater for that?

Any idea on cost?
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Jason C. LevineNo oneCommented:
Is there a dash board type panel and is it easy enough for someone with no web programming skills to have a page setup, add pics etc?

Yes, all of them have a complete admin backend with visual editor and media gallery.  No HTML knowledge needed

What about banners / adverts / page view statistics / google analytics etc- do such sites cater for that?

For managed hosting, WordPress.com offers stat tracking via their internal system or you can add a Google Analytics account.  3rd party ads are NOT supported on wordpress.com unless you are paying for the top tier of hosting.  If your traffic is high enough, you can partner with WordPress.com and they will display ads on your site and split the PPC revenue with you.  But if you are planning to try to make money off the site then WordPress.com is actually a poor choice...it's geared towards letting people publish for free and not monetization.

If you run a self-hosted site (i.e. purchase hosting space on an ISP) then most of the blog/CMS packages have a developer community that writes plugins and modules that you can add to the site to add that functionality (again, no programming knowledge needed).  This is where WordPress (the downloadable version) begins to separate from the pack as it has the largest developer community who have developed the most widely varied plugins.

Any idea on cost?

WordPress.com starts out free but you have to pay to get your own domain name and the ability to customize the CSS files for the site.  The upper levels of service that allow you to run your own advertising are very expensive and meant for sites with huge amounts of traffic.  I don't know about the others but assume there are similar economies in place.  

From a pure economic standpoint, you are better off going with a shared hosting account at an ISP and self-hosting WordPress than paying WordPress.com for anything.  This is doubly true for sites where you want to run advertising.
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u587162Author Commented:
thx
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