When it comes to premium blogging platforms (not free) TypePad is one of the oldest members of that club. Launched in 2003, it was one of the most popular blogging platforms that hosted various celebrity blogs like Paris Hilton or Wil Wheaton. In the meantime, other blogging platforms emerged and took away its share in the blogging sphere. However, the mere fact that is still here, some 15-ish years later, alive, kicking and doing well, is something to think of. It may be old in internet years, but it’s far from dead.
It takes a few steps to open an account on TypePad. Beside the standard username, email and password, if you want to have a free 14-day trial period, you will also have to provide billing information. Although that may seem a bit redundant for a free test trial, it makes sense. With that, they discourage any spammers, non-professionals, or underage bloggers from using their site. It is the first assurance that this is the tool for those that are serious about their blogging, rather than a place to sometimes invest your time and interest.
After you provided all of the necessary information, you will be sent a confirmation “Welcome to TypePad” email, and taken to the screen where you can have a quick start. You can be immediately taken to pick your blog design, write a new post or publish your blog. It essentially takes you to different parts of the dashboard, and it doesn’t make any difference which one you pick. You will eventually explore all parts of it.
User friendliness and the dashboard
The TypePad dashboard is quite easy to understand and to use. Although its features and support are made on a professional level, its target audience is those less technically inclined and it delivers big time. Most prominent are things that you’re going to use the most. In the first window that you see, you have tabs for uploading photos, videos, sharing links, writing quick posts or you can click on “Write a full post” and you will be taken to more elaborate post editor. In the header are other tabs that will take you to various parts of the dashboard.
On your right, you have “Manage my blog” section where you can access stats, design options, settings, posts, comments and once more, composing a new post. Like we said, those are basic shortcuts, there are more options in the header tabs. Below that you have a progress bar that indicates how far you’ve completed the getting started tasks. There is also a really tiny button that can open a roll-out menu with a checklist for those tasks. They include personalising your blog, finding people to follow, leaving a comment or a favourite, etc. Also, on this starting dashboard page, you have a timeline of recent activity that shows everything you do, or it is done to your blog plus RSS feed of the blogs you follow.
When you want to type a post, it is a standard offer of text or HTML editor. Below that you can easily adjust comment, track settings, keywords, Technorati tags and write an excerpt from the post. There are also other options, and if you want to mass edit them, you can click on the “Post” tab in the header and you will be taken to that part of the dashboard. There are really no places where you could mess something up and you will find everything you are looking for in under a minute.
Design themes and tools
There are a lot of themes to choose from, but their designs are a mixed bunch. While some of them are right on point and look very fresh, there are others that were the rage a decade or two ago. The really good news is that almost each and every design has multiple layouts that you can choose from. Some have element placing, colouring and/or background picture changes, but the point is that you don’t have to be a design-savvy user to have a pretty theme suited to you. They point out strong elements of each design, so you can swiftly pick the right one. Having said that, if you want to up the ante and play around with HTML, you won’t hit the brick wall, but you will find some limitations while the situation with CSS is somewhat better.
Storage room, reliability and uptime
Typepad’s uptime is almost 100% and one of the best there is, but there was one disastrous exception. In April 2014, it went under a major DDoS attack that caused it to go down for about 6 days. While this is not your usual line of business, it raised questions about its reliability. There were no similar accidents after that, but even with this being only one major slip, it has shaken trust with some users. Excluding that major attack, its uptime is practically flawless. When it comes to storage room, there are no worries since all packages come with unlimited storage and bandwidth.
Help and support
Help starts right from the beginning. After you create your account, you will get a “Welcome to TypePad” email that will not only have information about your billing, but also about basic blogging things like writing a post or inserting a picture. This may seem redundant to those that have some prior experience with it, but it is a nice touch for beginners. In that same mail, you will get links to their Knowledge Base and Help page, so there is no excuse if you get stuck somewhere. A community is lead by example and if you ask for help outside the official forms and employees, you will get a warm welcome.
Hosting and pricing options
TypePad is not a free service. You can pay for it with your credit card or via PayPal. If you don’t want to jump in into a new contractual obligation, you can try their 14-day free trial, but you will still need a billing information. You can choose to pay monthly or yearly, where you can get a certain discount for the yearly option. After your 14-day free trial, you will be automatically subscribed to the services at your subscribed rate. You may cancel your subscription at any time during your free trial to avoid being charged in case you don’t want to host your blog there. If you decided to stay, there are four different packages: Plus, Premium, Unlimited and Enterprise ranging from $8.98 to $49.95 per month.
You will instantly get a .typepad.com domain, which if you want to be taken seriously, you will have to change. Installing your own domain is easy and you won’t need to leave the dashboard. After you check the availability of your domain name, you will proceed to checkout. TypePad is partner with LogicBoxes, so your blog account and hosting account (along with billing) will be separated. You will need to register to LogicBoxes, but there is small chance of confusion because the whole registration process will take you step by step from searching the domain name to actually buying it. However, you do not own your blog. If you want to co-own it, you will have to pay for the most expensive package.
All the basics are covered when it comes to content management. Under “Comments” tab you will be able to moderate them or ban certain keywords or IP addresses. SEO tools are right under “Overview” tab and there you can link your TypePad Account with Facebook and Twitter. Also, you will also find a link to their mobile and tablet application so you can moderate it on the go. More advanced options are under “Settings” tab, including Import/Export of your content. Those two can be tricky, especially the Export option, which will download plain text, so those are the only downsides.
HTML and CSS knowledge
HTML and CSS aren’t a requirement at TypePad. After all, its target audience are those that do not want to tackle technical side of blogging. However, if you want to play with it, there are no limits. When it comes to CSS, it is easy to find under “Design” part of the dashboard, however, the only not so intuitive placing was the HTML design part. You can add and play with modules and plugins and their HTML, but you cannot play with your template design HTML. In the end, it is a closed-source. If you want to do that and build it from scratch, you will have to select “Advanced Templates” that is buried in Customizable themes that you can find in Design settings after you pick “Select a theme” button. Even then, there is no one place with the whole HTML code, but only modules that control different areas of your blog.
Promotion and monetization
Money flow on TypePad is handled pretty well. TypePad offers you widgets from big players like PayPal, Amazon, and eBay. You can place Amazon Associates, Google AdSense or PayPal donation buttons in an instant and there will be no glitches. Of course, there is always an option for your own plug-ins.
We already mentioned that there are SEO tools, but with RSS and SMO, it is one powerful engine for tracking and seeing how is your traffic evolving. Connecting your social media is seamless and customising RSS is easy. You can add keywords to your posts and on top of that Typepad promotes blogs on its own network, which can lead to more readers.
- professional blogging platform that is easy to use
- customer service
- easy setup and buying of custom domain
- works nicely with e-commerce and money transaction sites like PayPal, Amazon or eBay
- top service for those less technically educated
- despite 2014 incident, very stable
- small number of plug-ins and features, considering the price
- design elements are a bit outdated
- no option for complete or automatic backup
- not the most HTML-edit friendly
- lack of flexibility for more advanced users
- you don’t own your property, unless you pay for the most expensive package and co-own
TypePad is one little engine that despite its incident and rise and fall of mass popularity, it’s a steady provider that prevails in spite of all things that are thrown at it. Although it is not free, it is offering quite a lot compared to free services. Its incorporation with other social media, e-commerce sites, and a domain host provider are three giant plusses. However, when it comes to flexibility, design, and the needs of more advanced users, things are getting clunky, especially in the HTML area. With powerful free options, it may be a bit expensive, but it offers stability and incorporated SEO, SMO, and RSS, which isn’t such a small advantage. It may not be the most powerful option when it comes to paid blogging platforms, but it is most definitely the easiest to understand and get a grip on. If you are a powerhouse in need of a beast, you should probably look somewhere else, but if you are blogger that is taking your blogging seriously, and you need an easily understood and more robust platform than the free ones, TypePad is definitely for you.