Free blogging platforms – Blogger or WordPress.com?

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 Blogger vs WordPress free blogging platform comparisonthe 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.

Final Verdict

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.

Happy Blogging!

Comments

  1. WordPress is still the way to go. I’m only using bloggers for most of micro niche sites but I’d not trade WordPress for anything else on my main blog. Anyway, great stuff, Ajith.

    Yan

  2. Simply great guide for an intermediate blogger

    Abhishek’s last blog post… 26-11 Another Bad Day In Indian History

  3. Ajith – That is a great guide to the pros and cons of Blogger and WordPress. I think someone would really think long-term though about what they want to do. If they think they may eventually go to self-hosted, I recommend doing to right from the beginning. Transferring the blog is do-able but is such a pain in the neck.

    I’ve never had a blog on either platform though. I do know that I don’t like commenting on Blogger blogs because of the way comments are handled.

    Kim Woodbridge | (Anti) Social Development’s last blog post… How to Exclude a Category From the Sidebar List in WordPress

  4. Hussein :

    Blogger.com is better than WordPress.com because you can fully customize your blog in blogger.com unlike in wordpress.com that you have very limited power. But still WORDPRESS.org rules.

  5. Hi Ajith,

    I like both platforms. However, I’m still not entirely bought on WordPress because of it’s database vulnerability. I’ve read about more WP hacks than I have Blogger hacks. I don’t even think I’ve read of any Blogger hacks, actually. Hmm.

    I know there are ways to protect against a WP blog being hacked into but they all seem far too technical.

    Plus there are the constant WP upgrades. I know they’re necessary but…well…they’re pretty frequent, aren’t they?

    Have a good week, you.

    2ThePoint’s last blog post… I Was Wrong, SurveySavvy Love Me!

  6. Ajith

    I recently looked into this and I fiund blogger had more templates you could use for monitization. I preferable don’t like using these free thing only to direct traffic to my blog. You have really given a good explantion here.
    Thanks

  7. @Yan, like you I would not trade WP for anything else to setup my self-hosted blog… However, if you were to set up one of those free blog accounts, not sure if WP.com is the one to go for. Especially if you want to monetize.

    @Abhishek, thanks buddy… Hope you are getting a break from the terror coverage on TV :)

    @Kim, definitely self-hosting is the way to go for long term :) And I am glad that you hate the blogger way of commenting as well 😀 Hope Google works on it soon enough.

    @Hussein, yes… Blogger’s template editing is so easy. Yes, WordPress(.org) platform rules for sure.

    @2TP, you just brought in two important points. Database vulnerability is one of the key problems with many blog platforms and Content Management Systems. I had faced this issue with my PHP Nuke site. But I thought, it happens only on self-hosted blogs and not necessarily the free WordPress.com accounts… And yes, I haven’t really heard blogger a/c getting hacked.

    As for the, WordPress frequent upgrades 😆 you bet, it can be a pain in the ‘…’ It’s too frequent. I am still sitting on 2.5.x though 2.6.5 final release is already available and 2.7 beta as well.

    @Bruno, yeah like you and Hussein said, template customizing is one of the great powers of blogger. And yes, driving traffic should not be the only criteria and SEO optimized platforms are not always the way to go.

    Thanks a lot everyone for your views :)

  8. Sire :

    I did my very first post from a self hosted WordPress blog. I do use blogger and some of the community blog sites but more as promotional tools than anything else. For me WordPress is definitely the ultimate platform, especially because there is so much support for it, not to mention the plethora of plugins and themes.

    Sire’s last blog post… ProBlogger Plea To Amazon Associates Program

  9. @Sire, those who already know about the tricks and pains involved in setting up a professional self hosted blog or those who are willing to get consulting help for the same would definitely go for self hosting from the very beginning. But 90% of the bloggers or even more are those who consume free services :) and believe it or not some of those blogs are excellent…

    (My personal preference, like yours, is self hosted blogs only)

  10. WordPress is blogging platform for you if you have a self hosted blog. i have tried both free blogging platform. I was disappointed to learn that i could not monetize my xyz.wordpress.com blog so xyz.blogspot.com is the next best thing 😀

    Blogging from Scratch’s last blog post… Site is for sale and November Income Report

  11. Sire :

    Yes I agree that there are very good blogs out there which are on free platforms and that is because they are talented writers. The thing is the potential for these bloggers, SEO, monetizing etc by self hosting would be worth the extra effort.

  12. @All of you inspired me to write my new short post on setting up a professional self hosted blog :)

  13. Sunil :

    Just to add a point, if you are open to a non open source option (like WordPress), Windows Sharepoint Services (free with W2003) has most of these features (and much more). It has platform dependency, but rest are all very fast. Attractive option for the less technical guys around.

  14. @Sunil, Sharepoint is definitely a good option for information portals and doc management systems. The problem is not about the sharepoint as such but the hosting. Usually Windows hosting services do not come cheaper where as LAMP (Linux/Apache/MySQL/PHP) is more or less the standard for most mid-size blog-forum-wiki sites and it comes real cheap and performs well.

    Another thing is about the enhancements – e.g. If you want to run small DB applications on your blog (e.g. like D$ tools that I have), you will need MS SQL Server. Most hosting providers charge heavily for MS SQL DB connections and they also limit the number of DBs etc.

    (In fact, my first hosting service was a Windows package and I had to satisfy with Microsoft Access beacuse SQL Server would cost me a lot)

  15. diyet :

    WordPress is definitely the ultimate platform, especially because there is so much support for it, not to mention the plethora of plugins and themes.

  16. @diyet, WordPress self-hosted definitely is ‘the platform’. But we are talking about the free one (wordpress.com) here. But you bring in a very important point – support availability. The number of forums, blogs and help channels dealing with WordPress is just mind blowing!

  17. Linn :

    i have seen many posts for bloggers vs wordpress..

    i think this is is one of the coolest posts i ever read.

    i myself use self-hosted wordpress, because wordpress i think is basically the best tools for bloggers. just my 2 cents.

    great post.

    Linn’s last blog post… Yahoo! Answers Monetization e-book FREE download

  18. @Linn, thanks for the compliments. In fact many of us are on self hosted blogs but there a million out there that are using free blog spaces… This post goes to them :)

  19. optimizacija spletnih strani :

    I prefer wordpress, very cool post, thanks

  20. Technorino :

    I personally love using wordpress but have found blogger to be very easy to use.

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