Choosing a Blogging Platform

When you decide to start your own blog, there are many choices to be made. The very first choice is which platform to use. The most popular blog platforms are Blogger, WordPress.com, and WordPress.org. This article will explain the basic differences of these platforms and the pros and cons of each.

When choosing your blog platform, you’ll need to determine whether you would prefer a hosted or non-hosted blog platform. A hosted platform is one that is housed on the platform’s server. In other words, if you have a Blogger blog, your blog is hosted on the Blogger server; if you have a WordPress.org blog, it’s housed on the WordPress.org server.

A non-hosted site is a blog that is housed on your own server (usually a third-party you pay to host your site; I use Hostgator.com and I like them a lot). For example, if you use WordPress.org as your blogging platform, they do not host your blog for you. You will have another company host it. Paying for a host isn’t very expensive — Hostgator starts at $3.96/month.

There are pros and cons to both hosted and non-hosted blogging solutions.

The pros of having a hosted site (like Blogger or WordPress.org):

  • A hosted site makes it extremely easy for you to start a blog and see if you like it without spending any money up front. Both Blogger and WordPress are free.
  • Hosted sites are generally extremely user-friendly and fairly intuitive (meaning it’s easy to figure out which link to click to do certain tasks like linking or italicizing text).
  • Hosted sites also offer WYSIWIG editors. (WYSIWYG stands for What You See Is What You Get.) Most platforms offer a way to type your blog post and see how it will appear when it’s published. They also offer a tab that allows you to see the HTML of your post if you need to see the code.

The cons of having a hosted site:

  • Blogger and WordPress.org don’t offer domain names by default. For example, if you create a Blogger blog, your URL (or domain) will be similar to http://BloggingBasics101.blogspot.com. Unfortunately, blogs without a customized domain (e.g., http://BloggingBasics101.com) can appear to be less professional. This is a bias in the blogging community. Having your own domain, such as http://BloggingBasics101.com instead of http://bloggingbasics101.blogspot.com, shows people you’re taking this blogging thing more seriously. The good news is that you can install a custom domain on both Blogger and WordPress.com!
  • You will generally have less control of your HTML or CSS. Blogger allows you to change various parts of your HTML, but not everything.
  • Theme customization is limited. Both Blogger and WordPress.com do come with over 100 theme options, but if you use a hosted platform (like WordPress.org), you’ll find literally THOUSANDS of theme options (some paid, some free).
  • WordPress.com does allows limited advertising on your blog, but you have to have a certain amount of traffic. You also can’t run sponsored posts or affiliate links. That could hinder your blogging for profit dreams.

The pros of having a non-hosted site (via WordPress.org):

  • You have control over how your archives are managed.
  • You have control over all of your HTML and CSS.
  • You have control over permalinks. This means that instead of the platform choosing the name of a post, you choose a name. This will help not only with managing permalinks, but with managing your SEO (or search engine optimization).
  • There are many plug-ins for the WordPress.org platform that allow you to do everything from managing advertising to managing and responding to comments more efficiently.
  • You own it all, you control it all, you do it all. The great news is that there thousands of websites that can answer all your questions

The cons of having a non-hosted site is that you are going to need to start getting comfortable with HTML and CSS so you can work with your templates and customize your blog. The good news is that plugins and widgets are abundant and are an easy way to add functionality to your blog (like a search bar or managing ads) easily — without needing to code anything!

It is widely regarded in the professional or semi-professional blogosphere that if you have a WordPress.org blog you are more serious about your blogging. Blogger or WordPress.com are low men on the totem pole. However, as I mentioned, many bloggers do very well on Blogger blogs. Blogger is also an excellent choice for beginning bloggers because it is free and easy to use. I recommend it for those of you just starting out who aren’t sure if you want to stick with it or not.

36 Responses

  1. Carlos June 9, 2009 / 2:15 am

    by far the most brief and most useful explanation about blogging platforms I’ve found on the internet yet. Thanks!!

  2. admin July 11, 2009 / 11:58 am

    John,

    You’re right. Since this article was written, new upgrades are available. Thanks for pointing that out. WordPress MU has made a big difference in this area. I’ll make the updates now. Thanks!
    Melanie

  3. Doug Caldwell August 3, 2009 / 6:23 pm

    As one who started with blogger I appreciate your candid comments. Recently I have started to use WordPress for the reasons you cited. Better yet I will share your comments with my job networking group to consider starting a blog as one means for landing sooner than later. If you update this post you might consider posterous.com for newbies, just send an email which is an easy way to move into blogging. Or with a phone call which I blogged here; http://bit.ly/Thq5X.

  4. syam August 21, 2009 / 6:16 am

    Thanks for your info. I’ve learned a lot from this post.

  5. syam August 21, 2009 / 6:32 am

    Thanks for your info. I’ve learned a lot from this post.
    I love wordpress, because simple and userfriendly for me :)

  6. mary joyce lising September 17, 2009 / 1:24 am

    There’s a lot of blogging platforms to choose but for me wordpress and typepad was very easy to use.

  7. Rahman Mehraby December 29, 2009 / 12:46 pm

    Thanks for the post. It’s very essential to learn about the points you’ve made as I’ve seem many who cannot differentiate between a web dev software and a CMS like WordPress.

    I use wordpress for blogging and feel really satisfied as its interaction with search engines is concerned.

  8. Simon Quirke June 26, 2010 / 2:22 pm

    When we discuss the merits of Free Blog vs Self-hosted Blog you need to determine your goal. Why are you blogging ? If you’re blogging for business and making money, Free Blog is not your best option. On the other hand Self-hosted Blog gives you the opportunities promote your name, and create your brand. With your Self-hosted blog you can do advertising wherever and whatever you want.

    When we talk about the blogging platform, just look at the poll results on problogger.net . And you will see WordPress is leading for the last few years.

  9. David July 15, 2010 / 3:06 pm

    Although it’s not as popular, posterous is much more efficient.

  10. anonymous November 12, 2012 / 10:27 pm

    What do you think/what do you know of blogspot? Would you recommend it to a total beginner?

  11. Rebecca Corlew July 12, 2013 / 8:33 am

    Thank you
    This was very informative
    I am just starting my blog

  12. Alanda January 14, 2014 / 4:37 am

    Hello Melanie, I enjoyed reading your article. I’ve been thinking about blogging and just like you I don’t have a niche. My question to you is what would you suggest in my situation?
    I am a single parent and full time college student, I am currently not employed( my son has Torticollis and a curvature in his spine) so it gets pretty hectic on my end with the multiple appointment he has during the week. I wanted to know if what platform would you use if you were starting over and with little to no funds. I don’t too much care for a domain name right now since I can’t decide on what I’d call my blog.

    • Melanie Nelson January 14, 2014 / 7:14 pm

      Hi Alanda,

      Thanks for stopping by. I think Blogger or WordPress.com are both suitable for your needs right now, especially with how busy you are. They’re both free, so there’s a low (no) cost for entry. If you decide you don’t like blogging or don’t have time for it, then you aren’t out any money and you can go on your way. If you *do* love it, though, then eventually you can move over to WordPress.org.

      Good luck and happy blogging!

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