Blogger vs. WordPress

In the news you can use category, we have the Blogger vs. WordPress debate. For many new bloggers (and businesses just getting started in blogging), this is actually a big issue. One may be easier to set up, another might not look as professional, the other may look so daunting that no one in the company even wants to consider it – but they know they should.

It is one of the trickiest parts of getting started with a blog (choosing a platform) and the decision shouldn’t be taken lightly. Of course, there are some other options… A blog add-on for Joomla or other open source CMS, TypePad, or any one of other “alternative” blogging platforms.

But for the sake of simplicity (and that these 3 choices are the most advanced and should be, in our opinion, the only options), we’re going to discuss 3 platforms today :

Blogger.com vs. WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org

To really compare the three, we need to break each one down. We need to describe each one, explain the pros and cons of each option, and then give our final verdict. We’ll try to keep this short (because, being passionate bloggers, we know this could get long) BUT since we have already been where you are, and we have already compared the options, we feel it necessary for you to have this information.

So, without further adieu…

Blogger.com

Blogger.com (also known as blogspot.com) is owned by Google, and as such, many believe it will get them faster search engine rankings. While this is completely untrue (far too many people have created useless spam blogs on Blogger for Google to give them any special treatment anymore), the myth does persist.

Blogger is also free and, like many other things in life, you get what you pay for. You can “dress up” your blogger blog by paying for a domain name (like www.my-blogger-blog.com) but if you’re going to invest $10/year, why not take that bit of extra money and get yourself a proper “self-hosted” blog?

But, we digress, many (and we mean many) companies and people start using blogger because “at least its something”, and so it is best if we discuss the pros and cons.

Pros :

  • It’s fast. You can literally have a Blogger blog up and running in under 10 minutes, and have your first post online just as quickly. If time is of the essence, blogger can help.
  • It’s easy. If you can use Facebook, you can use Blogger. No need to hire development experts or get the company nerd to install anything, just sign up, pick a design, and start writing.
  • It’s cheap. Actually, it’s free (unless, as we said above, you buy your own domain name.) This is a big draw for a lot of people.

Cons :

  • It’s fast. Meaning, there are so few options to customize a Blogger blog that it takes no time at all to make yours look pretty much like everyone elses.
  • It’s easy. Almost too easy. See the above about the “cracker-box” style design.
  • It’s cheap – and you kind of get what you pay for. Unfortunately, a “myblog.blogspot.com” domain name doesn’t look as professional as “mywebsite.com”. Their free, basic designs also aren’t as nice as free designs for some of the other options.
  • Unlike one of our other options, this blog has to be linked to from your website. This means visitors (that you worked so hard to actually *get* to your website) are now leaving. On purpose. Because you asked them to. And chances are, they aren’t coming back.
  • The optional blogger navigation bar (across the top of every Blogger blog, unless you disable it) virtually *begs* people to leave your blog. Even worse, if people aren’t that tech-savvy and the site they navigate to next is offensive, they could blame YOU and it could tarnish YOUR reputation.
  • It is hard to move from a blogger blog to your own custom, self-hosted blog at a later date – so if you ever change your mind, chances are you’ll lose traction with your readers (as well as losing blog subscribers, your website address, your design, and possibly your content unless you pay someone to convert and import it for you.)

All in all, we believe that for personal bloggers who don’t want much to do with the technical side and don’t want to invest money in their blog, AND they don’t care too much about the flexibility of the design – in other words, if it is just for you to get your thoughts out into the world – then blogger is a great platform.

It is, however, not a platform we recommend for businesses, professionals, or organizations.

WordPress.com

A slightly better option than blogger, although still imperfect. WordPress.com is like blogger, in that it will let you have a “myblog.wordpress.com” domain name and not have to worry about hosting. Again, you can still buy a “mywebsite.com” domain name for under $10/year and point it towards your wordpress.com blog, but if you’re going to invest… You see where this is going.

Superior to blogger in many ways. WordPress is what you call “open source” – that means that programmers and web developers can create plugins, themes, and add-ons, and make them available for WordPress users. They make many of them available for *free*.

On to the pros and cons…

Pros :

  • It’s fast, like blogger. 10 minutes and you’re setup.
  • It’s easier than blogger (at least, we think so.) If you can use MS Word, you can create some pretty neat looking blog posts.
  • It’s cheap. Well, free, just like Blogger. Again, unless you want to buy a domain name.
  • It’s easy to migrate to your own site one day, if you choose, because WordPress.com and WordPress.org use the same platform.
  • It has literally hundreds of themes and plugins available to customize your blog, so yours doesn’t have to look like everyone elses.
  • The search engine optimization benefits to WordPress are huge compared to any minor favouritism on Blogger or other platforms (we don’t want to seem like we’re picking on Blogger here!)
  • The walk-through and step by step instructions provided by WordPress are second to none (in other words, if you’re scared… WordPress is the way to go. They’ll show you how to get set up in 10 simple (yes, actually simple!) steps!)

Cons:

  • The same problem as Blogger.com – you get what you pay for. It being free, it isn’t as customizable as other options.
  • Easy to switch, yes, but it is easier not to have to switch at all.
  • You never own your URL, so if you cancel your account, someone could point it to *anything* and damage your credibility.
  • Not as customizable as WordPress.org
  • The search engine benefits are lesser than a WordPress.org blog.
  • You won’t look as professional with a “myblog.wordpress.com” domain name, unless you go buy a domain name and forward it to your blog.
  • And again, when visitors go to your blog – they have to leave your website.

We think WordPress.com is far better than Blogger.com as an option, and if your blogging budget is a big fat $0, then this may be the best option for you. But if you’re willing to invest under $100/year, you could use something like…

WordPress.org

This is a self-hosted solution. That means you get a web hosting account (from someone like Namecheap.com) and a domain name (again from someone like Namecheap.com), install WordPress software yourself (see? Self – hosted!), customize it to your heart’s content, and watch it roll.

This site, along with many of our other web properties (like DoYouDroid.com) and client sites (like SmootherTransitions.ca) are run on self-hosted versions of WordPress. It is what we would recommend in almost every single case. And it can be so much more than a blog…

With a WordPress.org installation, you can run not only a blog, but add-on a regular business website, contact form, online store, map to your location, portfolio/client list, and anything else you think you would want online.

Make it interact with Facebook, Twitter, and any other social media automatically… Add a dash of graphic design style, a touch of security features, and a pinch of flexibility – and you have self-hosted WordPress.

Without delaying it anymore, let us take a look at the pros and cons of WordPress.org…

Pros:

  • You can build an entire website with it, not just a blog. The blog will be integrated seamlessly, and visitors never have to leave your site.
  • With all plugins and extensions available, you can add anything from a mailing list to a paid members area to an online store to your blog with just a few clicks.
  • Another benefit of the plugins available is the interactivity with other web services – in less than 10 minutes, connect your blog with Facebook, Twitter, Google, FourSquare, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr, and a lot more (including mailing list servers like MailChimp and payment processors like PayPal!)
  • You can customize it beyond your wildest dreams. Start with one of the tens of thousands of free or paid themes available, change a few lines of code with the help of some nerds like us, and VOILA – instant custom website. Some themes are so flexible, making the site look completely custom is as simple as changing a few options – no coding required!
  • You can do whatever you want with your own website – from selling advertising to installing programs to track website visitors (including where they came from, how long they were on your site, and what they looked at.)
  • The only limit to wordpress.org is your own skill (or your budget, if you outsource your blog development!)

Cons:

  • It isn’t free. This is a minor drawback, since your biggest cost is going to be around $60-$80/year for hosting and $10/year for a domain name. If you’re not willing to spend under $100/year on your blogging strategy, you might want to look at whether you really want to blog or not.
  • And if you want advanced customization and don’t have the in-house resources, you’ll need to hire someone like us to help! Although of course, this help is also not free.
  • It is a bit more difficult to implement. Sure, if you have a hosting account with Fantastico (which most hosting accounts have) it takes less than 5 minutes and just a few clicks. If you don’t, or you don’t know how to use it you can install WordPress in just a few clicks, following a tutorial online (like this one we wrote for a client site!)
  • It can be a bit daunting if you don’t know what you’re doing, which can scare some people away from even trying.

Our professional opinion is, if you’re going to use a blog for business purposes, it is worth doing right. Whether you use our tools to teach yourself WordPress, hire us or another organization to coach you, or hire us or another organization to create it for you, WordPress.org – the self-hosted version – is really the best option for your business.

Join the conversation!
Let us know what you think of our comparison in the comments below!