Have you been thinking about starting your own blog? One of the first decisions you’ll have to make is which blogging platform to use. The two that most people use are Blogger and WordPress. There are pros and cons to using both, and you’ll have to take them into account when deciding.
Ease of use – The biggest pro to Blogger is that it’s very easy to use. You don’t need to know anything about HTML to get started blogging – it has a handy WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) interface, which means you can customise your blog and publish posts with just a few clicks.
Some complex features and limited customisation available – If all this is too easy for you, you can also edit posts in HTML, or install a custom template (Lacquerheads of Oz uses Blogger with a custom theme). There are many free custom templates available around the internet. Blogger also includes a number of useful, popular widgets (e.g. Google Friend Connect, popular posts, post archive) which can be easily installed. There are built-in stats that you can use to get an idea of how your blog is going, and the far more reliable Google Analytics can also be easily added (see our tutorial on how to install Analytics).
However, if you want more complex features or widgets, they’re usually fiddly and frustrating to install.
Free/Cheap – Another big pro – Blogger itself is free, and many successful blogs still use the “blogspot.com” free domain, although purchasing your own domain name through Blogger is also very cheap (about $16 a year) and takes only a few minutes. There’s also unlimited free image upload space, as long as you keep the dimensions of your photos under 900 px (if you go over that size, you have 1 GB before you need to upgrade).
Owned by Google – Blogger is also owned by Google, and therefore integration with other Google products (Google Accounts, YouTube, Google+, Analytics) is very straightforward. Additionally, Blogger has the advantage of Google’s robust servers and security systems, so you won’t need to worry at all about bandwidth or hackers (unless you lose your password). Google’s indexing is also faster for Blogger than for self-hosted blogs, which means your posts will turn up in search results quicker.
Comments system – The default commenting system has some pros (loads quickly, option to turn on/off Anonymous comments, allows some HTML formatting, can link to commenter’s Blogger/Google+ profile or URL), but also a few cons (doesn’t allow much threading, commenters aren’t notified of replies). It’s possible to install another commenting system to overcome some of these issues – Disqus and CommentLuv are two popular options – but these are sometimes slow to load.
Customisation and greater control – The biggest pro to using WordPress is that you essentially have unlimited customisation options, with everything, and this is the sole reason many people switch to WordPress. There is a multitude of widgets and settings you can adjust to your liking, as well as a cooler-looking set of starting themes, and it’s relatively easy to design a custom template. There are also plugins a-plenty for every purpose you could want.
However, it all comes with a price – if you want any real access to customisation options, you’ll need to upgrade to the paid, self-hosted WordPress.org services, which require some web know-how (there are plenty of people offering services to help you set up your blog if you have no idea where to start). Most nice templates don’t come for free. Additionally, if you don’t know much about technical web development jargon or HTML and CSS, it’s hard to take advantage of all the extra customisation, and dealing with web-hosting can be a massive hassle for the uninitiated – but again, there are plenty of web-savvy people offering their services for hire.
If you’re just thinking about starting a blog, and you’re not sure whether you’re ready to commit or invest the money in your blogging venture, Blogger is a great low-risk option. However, if you know what you want in your blog, and Blogger’s limited customisation options are feeling restrictive, a self-hosted WordPress package will give you the freedom and control to design your blog exactly as you want it. And if you change your mind and decide you want to move your Blogger blog to WordPress, there are many services available for making the switch hassle-free (Beautyholics Anonymous is an experienced beauty blogger who offers some great packages)
Michelle has *almost* finished her PhD in chemistry. When she’s not busy slogging away at her thesis or in the pole dance studio, she’s blogging at Lab Muffin and Polish or Perish, or buying too many beauty products.