July 18, 2013
Bloggers: Should You Use Blogger.com or WordPress?
Blogger.com (also known as Blogspot) and WordPress are the two most commonly used blogging platforms today. Blogger.com was a pioneer in the blogging industry, allowing users to set up accounts and blog for free beginning in 1999. Blogger.com was purchased by Google in 2003, which enabled it to grow using Google’s resources. Today, Blogger.com has an undisclosed number of millions of users blogging on their system.
WordPress began in 2003 as the successor to another (now relatively unknown) blogging system. It has since become the blog platform of choice for most blogging professionals. There are currently over two million people who are active users of WordPress.com, and there are millions of others who have downloaded various versions of the WordPress code.
Using the Blogger setup mandates that your blog be hosted on their servers. In comparison, blogs running on WordPress’ platform can be hosted at WordPress.com, or the WordPress software can be downloaded and used on your choice of web hosts. Below are some of the key features of Blogger.com versus the two versions of WordPress setups.
** Blogger.com Features **
** WordPress.com Features **
** WordPress Self-Hosted Features **
** Who Uses Which **
A quick perusal of a few the various blogs running on the Blogspot.com domain versus those that use one of the WordPress setups (accounts on WordPress.com and self-hosted blogs using WordPress software) indicates that Blogspot.com is more commonly used for people who blog about their families, pets, and other personal kinds of topics. Compared to WordPress users, Blogger.com users are typically not “professional” bloggers, although there are plenty of Common Joe bloggers who monetize their Blogspot blogs and make a living doing it.
Self-hosted WordPress blogs lean more toward professional entities who have an IT person or department who handles their maintenance. They are often more formal. Because WordPress.com is similar in its functionality to Blogger.com, blogs using WordPress.com are similar to Blogger blogs in content, naturally more casual or personal than self-hosted WordPress blogs.
** Cost **
Blogspot accounts are free. So are accounts on WordPress.com. However, if you want to do any significant customization of your WordPress.com-hosted blog, you’ll have to pay to upgrade to their Custom CSS membership, which costs $14.97 per year. WordPress.com accounts can be upgraded to give you additional disk space($19.97/year for 5GB up to $89.97/year for 25GB), unlimited user accounts for your blog($29.97/year), and the ability to add videos (Blogger.com naturally has this support built in.) to your blog ($59.97/year). If your blog runs on the WordPress platform downloadable from WordPress.org, your costs are dependent upon your hosting account, which could cost as little as $5.00 per month or as much as hundreds of dollars monthly.
** Flexibility **
Because WordPress is open source software, it gives experienced bloggers much more flexibility when it comes to customizing a blog. When you download and install WordPress, you have full access to the database and the PHP, CSS, and image files that comprise the WordPress blogging platform. In contrast to Blogger’s platform, having development access to the entire system allows users to be as creative as they want to be. This flexibility does not exist to nearly the extent with accounts that are hosted on WordPress.com. One bonus that WordPress.com does provide is the ability to host files other than simply images. MS PowerPoint files, Word (.doc) and Open Office (.odt) word processing files, and PDF files can be uploaded and stored for use on a WordPress.com account.
Although Blogger allows and encourages users of their setup to customize their blogs adding Google gadgets and changing layouts, I’ve found that there is a lot of guesswork involved when trying to figure out how to manipulate their XML schema, which is used to customize templates beyond adding gadgets and changing layouts. When I customize blogs hosted on Blogger’s system, I often feel like I’m abstracted from their lower level setup. Some of Blogger’s XML tags are documented, but that documentation is sparse. When I’m customizing a Blogspot blog, it’s as if I’m throwing my work over a wall, and then checking to see what I get back. This interface can be frustrating.
A comparison that is noteworthy between each of these blog platforms is the ability to categorize posts. Greater flexibility exists with both WordPress.com-hosted blogs and self-hosted ones using the WordPress software than with Blogger.com. Categories are created using Labels on Blogger.com blogs. This setup does not allow for sub-categories on Blogger account. Sub-categories are a natural part of both WordPress.com and self-hosted WordPress blogs.
** Ease of Use **
For the layman blogger, getting started with blogging on Blogger’s platform is the simplest of tasks. You simply create an account, choose a template, and start writing away. The interface is very straight forward for users of Blogger. WordPress.com are similar, slightly more complicated. WordPress self-hosted blogs require a user to download the software, upload it to a server, configure database settings, and run the installation program included with the software. This process is pretty straightforward for someone with IT experience, but for most other people it is a little intimidating.
Once a blog is setup with any of these platforms, using it is simple enough regardless of which one you choose. However, of all the interfaces, Blogger.com is probably the easiest to understand and navigate.
** Security and Updates **
WordPress has had a history of vulnerability to hacks. To minimize that risk, it is recommended that users of WordPress be vigilant about maintaining their sites. Specifically, WordPress blog owners hosting their own blogs are encouraged to keep up with current updates.
Blogger users can essentially allow the Blogger development team to worry about hacks. Because the blog data is kept on Blogger’s servers, there is much less likelihood that Blogger sites can be hacked.
** Which One’s Best for Me **
If your intentions are simply to publish your information to the world without hassling with intense customization and continuing updates, Blogger.com is the way to go. Because most run-of-the-mill bloggers fit into this category, Blogger has the largest number (although nobody knows how many that is) of blogs in the Internet today.
If you have the resources and desire to be more sophisticated in your blogging habits, WordPress is what you should use. Accessibility to the inner workings of WordPress allows it to be used for much more than just a simple online journal. I recently talked to someone who told me his company uses WordPress software as a content management system, performing many of the functions of a CMS such as Joomla.