Free blogging services such as Blogger (blogspot.com blog), WordPress.com and Typepad are always good for beginners to kickstart their blogging lives. Many wannabe bloggers do not want to complicate things initially and that is why they go for these free platforms, which in a way, makes sense.
Recently, in an attempt to revive, my cricket blog I did a small comparative study of two of the leading free blog platforms – blogger and wordpress.com – and this post is the summary of my findings. Hope this helps many beginners to make a decision on which of these free platforms to choose to get started. (Those who want to set up their own professional, self hosted blog may please read the series on setting up a successful blog)
Blogger and WordPress
Creation – Signup and Getting Started: Both platforms are so easy to get started as the sign up procedures are very simple. You can start blogging in minutes after sign-up and hence both are winners on this aspect. If you already have a Google account, probably, blogger is a dash faster to set up than WordPress.
Ease of use: Though, I am very familiar with the WordPress platform, I think that the blogger’s admin interface is always easier to use than WordPress for those who are seeing for the first time. You may start liking WordPress eventually though. I pick blogger for its ease of use.
Customizing: Via the WordPress admin panel, you can edit style sheets and headers to change the look and feel of your blog. But blogger gives a little more control over the theme as the entire template html can be edited. In addition, the customization that can be done on the theme is dependant on the limited number of themes available in the case of WordPress, where as getting a new theme or customizing an existing one is very much possible in blogger. So blogger wins here!
Extending via widgets: Both blogger and WordPress support a number of widgets/gadgets to support additional features of your blog. Akismet Spam protection is one of the things that stand out as a WordPress widget feature where as AdSense widgets is what blogger can boast off. There are a lot of similar widgets in both platforms though there are variations. I could not pick a clear winner here (and I do not want to do a feature-by-feature comparison of all available widgets, in this post.)
Content organizing & commenting: This is where WordPress rocks!. Having your blog posts organized under categories is one of the key things that WordPress offers. Categories along with proper tagging make the WordPress blogs so optimized, structured and easier to access. Blogger has labels but this does not serve the purpose of categories as they are more like tags.
Another area where blogger lags behind is the way commenting is done. The comment entry form appears in a popup that is not a great usability feature.
Yet another killer feature in WordPress is static pages. Using this you can organize your content into posts and pages where pages usually provide less frequently changing information such as ‘About us’, ‘Contact’ etc. Blogger does not have anything like this.
So in terms of structuring the blog contents, WordPress is the clear leader!
Multiple author support: Both platforms support multiple authors but again WordPress has better control over the roles of authors as administrators, editors etc. This is a very convenient feature where by you could be the main author and administrator and the editor profiles that you create can only edit posts and comments. Wordperss again wins here as well!
Making Money: This is where the decision making usually happens. When you use the WordPress free blog you cannot put CPC ads such as Google AdSense or Bidvertiser or even banner ads and hence you cannot monetize your blog instantly. You still have the option of private ad sales or link sales but they are not always the first things you start with. In the case of Blogger, you can readily use all available advertisement options, AdSense being the preference with most bloggers. As mentioned earlier AdSense set up is so easier in Blogger using the AdSense widget. Moreover, it seems, your AdSense account usually get approved faster if applied for a Blogger account.
The choice really depends on your primary needs. If you are sure that you want to make money out of your free blog, then blogger is the choice. But if you want a great flexible platform with a lot of features to structure your thoughts and blogging is more of a passion – than money making channel – for you, then you should go for WordPress!
Advantages of FREE blogging platforms
- You can get started with blogging in no time after signing up with an account
- Hides a lot of technical complications involved in the platform set up and maintenance if you were to host your own domain for your blog
- No need to worry about performance issues, scalability and security concerns
- Not much Search Engine Optimization (SEO) worries if you were to opt for a platform like Blogger
- Very easy to learn and get started with the concept of blogging
Shortcomings of free blogging platforms
- Not much extensibility options such as plugins. Moreover, integrating other applications and services to your blog could be difficult
- Many advertisers do not approve your publisher accounts if you were to run ads on free blogs
- Cannot be always ported easily to a self hosted domain name later
Hope this short review (intended for the beginners and wannabe-bloggers) was useful. Please add any comments on any major features, of either platform, that is not mentioned here. Also please let me know if any of the other free platforms is better than these two.