Two great blogging platforms dominate the free blogging options.
WordPress.com vs. Blogger (Blogspot)
Have you thought of starting a blog and just aren’t sure? Maybe you read my post “Should You Start Your Own Blog or Website” and it got you thinking but you’re not sure what to blog about or I you want to pay for hosting and a domain yet.
Well, why sit there thinking when you could try blogging for free?
A free blog is a great way to see if you enjoy it. It gives you a chance to see what you really like to blog about and if anyone is interested in what your think you want to blog about. Also, once you decide to move ahead, you can use those free blogs to point people to your new “official” blog.
Who wins in a facedown between Blogger and WordPress.com?
In a no-holds-barred one-on-one, what’s the best choice to start a blog with? I’ll cover this matchup blow by blow with a surprising winner.
[mc src=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fiYPhlELLyc” type=”youtube”]Blogger VS WordPress.com[/mc]
There are two primary places to get a free blog:
- Blogger (also known as Blogspot)
There are other services, but these are the two strongest and some of the other options are more social sites (like MySpace) where only other users can view them. Both Blogger and WordPress.com consider the content you create as your own and not their property (surprisingly this is not always the case, especially with social media sites – WordPress.com does claim the right use your work to publicly promote your blog though, but still seem to consider it yours). Both these blogs do well in search engines. And as I pointed out, they are free.
WordPress.com is my easy favorite in this match. After all, if you ever decide to get your own domain name and hosting, you will probably end up using WordPress.org (which is different) as your blogging platform. WordPress.com (as is a self-hosted WordPress.org based blog) has a strong record. The editor (which you will use to blog with) is simple and yet fully featured. Lean and mean.
WordPress’s widgets allow you to add things to the blog easily. There are a hundred themes to choose the look you want for your site. You can do a ton of customizing without having to learn any type of code, all you do is drag and drop.
What’s not so great about WordPress.com?
- If you want to use your own domain name? They charge for it.
- Understand CSS and want to customize the theme to look the way you want. They charge for that.
- Blog a lot and need more space for all the stuff. They charge for that (a lot).
- Want to keep WordPress from running ads for their own advertisers on your blog. They charge for that.
- Want to run ads from your own advertisers? You probably can’t do that.
While if you just want to have a simple, fun blog WordPress.com is great, it’s going to cost you to do anything truly customized. If you are looking to make money with your blog, WordPress.com is not going to be the best place to do it. You could say that WordPress.com may not have the legs to go the full ten rounds.
Google’s Blogger (Blogspot) is an almost opposite of WordPress.com. I personally have found Blogger just seems a bit awkward to use. That said. Blogger has become much improved and continues to improve. Blogger has been around a long time. You could say Blogger is the long time champion still in great shape.
Blogger gives you almost total freedom to customize the page. While the choice of themes is much more limited compared to WordPress, modifying those themes can be done very easily and a lot can be done without learning any code. If you do understand html, you can design your own page and upload it. Blogger really gives you an amazing amount of freedom and unlike WordPress.com they don’t charge extra.
Blogger also allows you to allows you to use your own domain name, again at no extra cost. In fact, I did not see anything that Blogger charges any extra for anywhere. Google also does not seem to mind you having advertising on your blog. In fact, Blogger recommends Google’s Adsense program for Blogger blogs (not allowed on a WordPress.com site). Getting a Blogger blog may be a good way to help aquire an Adsense account for new bloggers.
With a Blogger blog, you get everything you would want to potentially make money with a blog at no charge. It is hard to beat that. It’s a knock-out 1-2 punch.
What is not so great about Google’s Blogger?
The editor. Personally, I hate it.
My first problem with the editor is that it does not include the proper H1, H2, H3 header tags. If you wish to mark headings and subheadings (important for on-page search engine optimization) you are going to need to learn how to hand code them into the page or use a desktop editor like Windows Live Writer. I can’t understand why such an important element is left out after all this time.
Adding a video from YouTube is also not intuitive like WordPress. You can’t just use the add video button in the Blogger editor to add the URL for the video. You will need to switch to the html (or code) view in the editor and paste the embed code there. Not hard, but your more likely to host a video on YouTube and post it on your blog than trying to upload it to the blog itself (it’s a lot easier).
You spend a lot of time using the editor. If you are new blogging or type slow, little things like this are going to slow you down a bit. It is not an insurmountable obstacle, but it makes what should be push button easy a bit more complicated than is should be. You could say Blogger is getting slow in it’s old age. It may be strong, but WordPress is faster on it’s feet.
So, who wins in Blogger Vs. WordPress.com?
Obviously if I had to choose one and I wanted to use the blog to make money, Blogger is the winner and the long term Champ. But that is not my recommendation. I recommend you use both Blogger and WordPress.com. Make it a tag team. Literally.
Use Blogger as your main blog. This is where you put your best posts and concentrate your effort. Then, use your WordPress.com blog to do short, quick posts and link to your Blogger posts. The added links will help your Blogger blog get better ranking.
The absolute best solution is to have your own self-hosted WordPress.org-based site.
This uses nearly the same software used on WordPress.com but hosted on your own domain name on a hosting provider that you choose. The cost to do this is actually not much more than you would pay to customize a WordPress.com blog and you will have complete control over everything.
In my opinion, spending energy on building on a free blogging platform is like renovating a home you are renting.
You are spending a lot of time and effort building up something that in the long run, you don’t own and might be forced out of without compensation. Owning your own blog costs just $10 a year for a domain name and as little as $5 a month for hosting. Skip super-sizing your lunch for a few days a month and you’ve bought your own business.