Blogging Platforms: The Good, The Bad, & The Awesome

Blogging Platforms: The Good, The Bad, & The Awesome

Today I’m going to spend a little time on a few different blogging platforms used by bloggers, and the pros and cons of using each platform. Whether you’re a current blogger looking to change platforms or simply a newbie looking to start a blog, this post will answer many of your basic questions.

Rather than give you details on every single platform–there are more than 40 free platforms after all, not to mention countless other paid blogging platforms–I’m simply going to focus on the ones I’ve dealt with personally. Why is this good? Because I’ve utilized the crappiest blogging platforms in my earliest days, and now I’m on the best–in regards to ease and efficiency–so this will save you valuable mental resources.

Before we move on, make sure you’ve subscribed to my blog (top right above my shiny, happy face) or subscribe via email. After this post, there will be more covering every conceivable about blogging and other topics, and you won’t want to miss it! I wish I’d had an Amberr handy when I started this whole blogging thing to make life easier, so I hope you take advantage of these relatively useful nuggets of insight.

Alright, now for the big 3:

1. WordPress.Org

Hands-down, the very best blogging platform is WordPress.org, which allows you to harness the power of WordPress’ software to build your website and blog. There are feature available for WordPress you won’t find anywhere else.

The Good: Terrific free and premium themes available to increase your blog’s visual appeal, and you have the freedom to do whatever you want–as long as it’s legal–with your blog.

The Bad: Does require some technical know-how of blogging platforms, and it is NOT free to use. You will have to pay for a domain name and inexpensive monthly hosting. If you pick a crappy host and run into technical problems you can’t fix by yourself, you are pretty much screwed. I use and LOVE Bluehost, because it works seamlessly with WordPress, and the only problems I’ve experienced thus far is a bit of speed throttling when my traffic is heaviest. They have excellent customer support, however, and the throttling issues have ceased. 

blogging-basics-tips

Bluehost works seamlessly with WordPress. Click the banner for more details.

The Awesome: If you’re a serious blogger, you are showing potential advertisers, sponsors, and brands you are in it for the long-term and are serious about blogging as a business. You truly own your blog, and you don’t have to worry about your blog being censored or removed or wiped out with a glitch. Your blog is your own virtual real estate, and that feels pretty damn good.

2. WordPress.com

Wordpress--dot-com-blogging-platform

WordPress.com isn’t a bad blogging platform if you don’t want to self-host.

Second in awesomeness is WordPress.com. You get all the pros of the WordPress software with only a few cons.

The Good: FREE blogging platform, and there are tons of great features and plugins to experiment with. Once you delve into the world of plugins, you will never go back. Plus, you can open an account and be blogging in less than 10 minutes.

The Bad: Unless you purchase a domain and yearly domain mapping , you get stuck with rather lengthy, ugly URL’s. For example, this was mine previously: http://amberr-ivyam.wordpress.com (see what I mean, not pretty andtoo long). Also, a little bit of technical know-how is needed to maneuver this blogging platform.

The Worst: If you decide to violate WordPress Terms of Service, they can arbitrarily remove your entire blog, and that would be a nightmare, especially if you had worked on your blog for months or years. Oh, and there are limits to the types of widgets and customization you can do. There are pretty strict limitations, actually, and this does not appeal to my inner rebel.

The Awesome: Freshly Pressed potential and a HUGE blogging network. If you write an amazing post or pretty much just get lucky, your blog might be featured on the Freshly Pressed page, which will give you a ton of exposure for several days. Plus, on WordPress.com, you can network with 40 million other bloggers. As you may or may not know, the only way to be a successful blogger is by being too sexy for your shirt, or by networking with other bloggers. (I’ll give you a hint: very few of you are that sexy).

3. Blogger

blogger-blogging-platform

The blogger blogging platform is very easy, but meh.

I will always hold some fondness in my heart for Blogger, because that was where I “cut my teeth” on blogging. I wrote roughly 140 posts with Blogger until I “grew up” and felt the pull to upgrade and cut the apron strings. Blogger is great for many things, but it is without doubt several steps lower than WordPress.com. Plus, migrating my blog to WordPress kinda sucked horribly.

The Good: Sign up and you can have a blog post up in literally five minutes. Hosted by Big Daddy Google, you can have all your Google services nicely integrated, and there are some pretty decent free themes to choose from.

The Bad: Even the very best blogger theme will never trump a really good WordPress theme in terms of look and functionality. Also, blogger blogs are most heavily associated with those quirky mommy bloggers, many of whom will blog for breast pad coupons and organic diaper rash creme, and call it “income”. Not every mom or mommy blogger fits into this box, so put the pitchforks and torches away and relax…

Anyhoo, I digress. If you opt to not  purchase your own domain on Blogspot for $10 a year, you’re stuck with an unattractive, long URL. For example:  http://locamommyblogger.blogspot.com (hideous, right?)

The Worst: If you violate Google’s Terms of Service, your whole blog can disappear forever. I wouldn’t be overly concerned about this for the most part, because I’ve seen some pretty shameless, raunchy blogs in the blogosphere, but it is way scary to think of losing months or years of hard work.

The Awesome: You can do whatever you want in terms of adding badges, widgets, etc. to your Blogger blog, and customize it to your little heart’s desire. It’s also easy to add Google Adsense or other ads, too. 

This wraps up the blogging platform segment, but I hope I’ve provided some help for some beginning bloggers out there. If you currently have a blog, which platform do you use and what do you love/hate about it? Share it in the comments! 

Please share this post with others who might need help choosing a blogging platform. Thank you!

 Another helpful blogging post? A is for (Google) Analytics.

One other quick thing: I do recommend having a Tumblr, which IS pretty cool for creative media posts and other fun things. 

I love to connect with my readers. Please follow me on Twitter @amberrisme, “friend me” on Facebook at Amberr Meadows and Like a Bump on a Blog, connect with me on LinkedinPinterestCircle me on Google+, and follow me on Tumblr and Instagram

Please make sure to visit my homepage and subscribe to my blog for more great posts on travel, blogging, social media, humor, writing, and more!

 

63 Comments

  1. Nicely done. I use blogger because I have no patience for learning the wordpress platform, but I’m well aware that it’s a lame option by comparison. My longterm goal is to build my own website with integrated blog-comment programs, but which is all mine, always…. First though.. .MONEY!

  2. Very nice, not to mention informative post.  I’m a blogspot blogger and I have my own domain, but I don’t know how to link. I’m technologically challenged.
    I followed you on twitter.
    Pamela
    http://www.thedeathwriter.blogspot.com

  3. I’ve been shamelessly seduced by wordpress. I bought my domain, went live and had my blog up within 24hrs. Designing it took longer. You’re right. You have to be a little internet savvy to get it to work correctly. BUT. Once it’s up and moving…all systems are go! I love it. And I love, love, looooove all the templates out there. My Graphics heart just *SWOOON*.

    I was a former Blogger too. And it was great for what it was, but it really started getting pretty funky with posts in the last 8mos or so. HORRID to get them to format correctly. And heaven forbid you cut and paste from Word. Oy!

    I have a Tumblr too. That’s my shameless and snarky side with a side of smexy. LOL I have a lot of fun over there. ESPECIALLY since I’m a huge tv shipper. There’s so many over there.

  4. Wisdom!

    I wish I would’ve read this a year ago before I hopped all around the blogosphere and landed on wordpress.org!

  5. Lovely analysis, Amberr. All newbie bloggers should read this before setting up for real.

    —Damyanti, Co-host
    A to Z Challenge April 2012

    Amlokiblogs

     

    Twitter: @AprilA2Z

                 #atozchallenge
     

  6. This was a great summary and I read it with interest as I’m on Blogger. But like you said most of the serious bloggers I know have moved to WP.org. I dread the day I move all my stuff. Will need to hire someone.

  7. I’ve only ever used Blogger and I like it for what I do.

  8. Thanks for the informative post. I’m on Blogger, but I’m well aware that WordPress is better and I fully intend on switching over there when I get around to it. I even went to a Wordcamp recently, my husband develops websites on the WP platform, and my sister is a WordPress plugin developer (she has a great plugin called Formidable Pro), so I kind of feel traitorous remaining on blogger. I’m not so keen on paying for hosting though, but the drawbacks of the free one might discourage me, so . . . I’m not sure.

    I’m doing the A to Z challenge too. That’s how I found your post. My blog is here. I’m a mom and a blogger, but I certainly don’t like to thing of myself as a “mommy blogger.” Heaven forbid.

  9. heh heh… my fav line:  
    “I wish I’d had an Amberr when I started this whole blogging thing”… 
    Lucky for me I *DO* have an Amberr, & how happy I am for it!!! I’m on WP & use Bluehost as well, but I can’t take credit for having made a smart choice (that would be Mr. Andi-Roo). Good to know I’m on the right track — hoozah! :)

    Andi-Roo
    /// @theworld4realz

    http://www.theworld4realz.com/

    [email protected]

  10. I own my own domain and make a website using iWeb. It’s easy to set up but there are some technical limitations. For example, I wanted to use a blog template for my blog, obviously, another blog template for a news section, which would have updates about the site and my career, and another one for a reading section where I occasional add readings of my work. This worked okay for a while, but when I amassed many entries it started to refuse to update. After ages fiddling, I figured out if I deleted one of the blog templates I could use the others ok. So now I have no news section.

    I own my site though, I have complete freedom and the layout is pretty attractive, I think. I’ve made it in the theme of someone scribbling on their desk.

  11. I actually stopped after WordPress.org. It’s what I use for all my blogs. I also use it to create websites for small businesses. It’s very dynamic and flexible. Anyone can use it, but the more you learn the more you can do.

  12. I love my wordpress.org (so so so so much) and I have a few techie friends to get me through it. Jimdo, Joomla, and Droopal are the three other options for platforms that I hear about most often. Joomla I haven’t looked at and I don’t know anyone who uses it. Kaitlin, of “A Georgia Peach Abroad,” is on droopal and loves it. I started with Jimdo and ended up putting that site to the side for now—I’ll go back to it if I establish a store with pet merch (thinking about this for the future). Great analysis, A!

  13. We are currently on Blogger, not even 2 months into the existence of our blog.  We are switching our website hosting to Hubspot this week, which means they will also be hosting our blog and we will be using their blogging platform.  I haven’t even seen it.  Any idea if it’s any good?

    • I didn’t even know hubspost had a blogging platform. Is their a link to their services? I would like to check that out. 

  14. Oh, I’m on Blogger and I’ll just stop right there.  You are right on, it has been a great start, but I do need more.  I do have plans to move to my own self-hosted WP site…but scares the poo out of me.  I need to find some time, I was going to transfer all by myself, but then got cold feet and ran.  It’s on my list of things to do and I know it will be well worth it.  Good post!

  15. I started with wordpress and it’s worked great for me so far. I think eventually I will move up to wordpress.org when I’m ready…Thanks for the info! :)

  16. I had a blog or two on Blogger, and just didn’t like the interface. WordPress is more complicated, but I like the flexibility and the interface better.

  17. Ciara left a comment, but she left it on the Triberr comment system which won’t show up here, so I copied her comment to add and reply to: 

    Ciara Ballintyne has left a comment on your post.I like Blogger. I know you’ve tried to talk me into wordpress, but I am put off by needing the technical know-how. I don’t have it, I don’t want it, and I don’t have the time to learn it. I do have my own website, and both my blogger blogs link to and from the website. I bet most people who visit don’t even notice the URLs change. yes I could use wordpress with the website I have, but dad manages my website, and I have to get him involved for major changes. Without learning some stuff, I’d be dependent on him to make posts. Using Blogger, I can post them myself. And last but not least, I like my blog layouts. I’ve invested lots of time in them and I’ve seen plenty of wordpress blogs that look crappier than my blogger one. So it may take you some time to bring me around to your point of view ;-)

  18. Very helpful again Amberr because based on your personal experience. Thank you
    I like Blogger Dynamic Views.
    I find WordPress.com a bit intimidating.

  19. This is a great post! I’ve been using Blogger since 2006, so now I’m just too darn comfy to switch. But I do agree with what you’ve written here, and sometimes I get a surge of energy and think, “I WILL switch my blog to a better platform today! This is the day.” But then something distracts me, usually a hunk of cheese or the like, and it’s gone. Motivation is so fleeting.

    I love your new blog look, by the way!

  20. I am a wordpress girl. The framework is the easiest I know of to deal with. I even learned enough of WP code that I have been working on designing my own theme. It is taking forever because I don’t really have the skill set, I just patch stuff together. 

  21. Thanks for the tips – I’ve been considering switching from WordPress.com to WordPress.org but have resisted because of so many things. First, I understand nothing is free so the cost is not too much of an issue… except that I am getting my basic stuff for free at wp.com. And until I really get the whole blogging concept, I prefer practicing without paying for it. Kinda like the no-pass, no-pay smog test station on the corner, you know? Anyway, lots to consider – thanks!

    Becky

  22. Superb post, and very neat breakdown of the basics! I’m a total wordpress.org fan because “Your blog is your own virtual real estate”, and really does feel darn good! :P

  23. I love a good post about blogging!!! I am on Blogger and it suits me, for now. I agree that WP is amazing! But I’m not ready to take the plunge since Blogger hosts my site for free. Scary that it may be shutdown though. WP.org won’t do that?

    • Lisa, WordPress.org is where you can download the WP software to run on your own site, so in that sense, it’s not free.  The tradeoff, as Amberr says, is that you can have it hosted at WordPress.com, much as you do on Bogger, but you have less technical control.  (Here’s the page at WordPress.com on hosting: 
      http://wordpress.org/hosting/ )

      I do know people who’ve started out at WP.com (free blog) and eventually switched to hosting their own.  

      My own opinion is that it’s worth learning to do, and many host providers have tools to help you get started more easily than would have been the case 5 years ago.  

      The costs are: domain name (say $10 a year), privacy for the name (so people can’t get your address or phone off the whois info, another $10, say), and the monthly fee for your hosting service ($10 is a reasonable midrange).  That’s around $140 a year, or $12 a month, or about 3 grande lattes.

  24. Excellent advice Amberr! I even learned a few things! 

  25. What a great blog entry! I am enjoying the theme of the challenge here, I’m learning things and I always like that.

    I am a WordPress.com user, I haven’t had many problems except when I schedule my posts and they post at different times then I plan, which just may be because of the fact that something is off on the times (either I have it set up wrong, or theirs is just way off).

    Cara

  26. I’ve only had experience with Blogger and have been pretty happy for the most part.  All the platforms seem to have their own annoying quirks, especially for those wanting to leave comments.  I suppose there are pluses to most of them as well.  I had no idea there were so many platforms out there.

    Lee

    Places I Remember

    Wrote By Rote

    An A to Z Co-host blog

  27. Good post! Great way to compare serbices before you start a new blog.

  28. I’m seriously considering the move from WP.com to WP.org, but I’m a bit scared. A site I used to follow via the WP Dashboard recently moved and now I can’t follow them that way (so they say). I’m worried I’ll loose some of my followers and I don’t have a lot to loose. What was your experience with your followers when you migrated?

  29. I definitely want to move from WordPress.com to wordpress.org – but I find hosting sites intimidating. I tried it with my expatsisterhood site – and a friend set it up for me.

    Do you know of great tutorials (I’m talking the “for dummies” versions) that can help me move from a .org download to upload onto a webhost? Once the site is uploaded, I think I’ll be fine.

  30. I first put up a WP site up for my original music http://philipquintasmusic.com a few years ago by following some pretty specific instructions by a former mentor of mine.  There used to be e-commerce hosting and a pretty sophisticated auto-responding system associated with it, but that was pretty expensive so I dumped all that fancy stuff.  I never understood how to add posts or anything else to modify it myself so it just kind of sits there (sad really).  Then I decided I was going to go at blogging just for the sake of writing experience and I setup a couple of different Blogger pages, however, I never got very far because I didn’t know how to mingle online.  Now I’m in limbo as to what to do with the random ideas I come up with that don’t “fit the mold” of my current “focused” blogs (which I rarely post to).  I am not sure how to proceed, but am confident I’ll find a niche that is home for me.

  31. I have used and enjoyed WP.com for about 3years now, but your comment about their TOS has me a bit concerned. I may be ready to make the leap up to WP.org. Scary, tho. In some future post, might you talk a bit about that kind of migration?

    • Rabbi Ruth, I will probably talk about it in the future, but it is kinda techie-ish, and someone else might have covered it better.

  32. Great post, Amberr.

    I’m a first-time blogger and using Blogger. My blog site has been up and running for 2 weeks now and it has 800 page views so far. Is that stat all right, or should I try harder? Do you happen to know what happens to my Blogger URL once I upgrade to Google+? Will I retain the “blogspot” on my URL? I’m afraid an upgrade might prevent access to my original URL. Big Daddy is a little bit persuasive about this upgrade thing.

    More power to you!

    • RRI, if you upgrade, you’ll need to purchase a domain name that is exclusively yours which means the blogspot will be gone from the URL. Since you’re only 2 weeks in, you’re at an ideal point for making a move should you choose to. I had months of posts, and two migrations for me was painful and very time-consuming. You can always do a redirect from blogspot to your new URL so you don’t miss key traffic. Do what is comfortable for you.

  33. Hello. My name is Sheniqua, and this was an interesting post for me. Unfortunately it did not give me the definite choice to make. Therefore, I have decided to do an experiment. I am new to blogging, so I registered two free blogs one with blogger and one with WordPress.com. Both blogs will be on the same topic. The only difference will be the platform. In this experiment I plan to evaluate and see which platform performs better and helps me reach my desired goals. I hope to see you there. Maybe this experiment can help others make a choice as well.

  34. Sev, all in due time. I have no doubt you’ll be successful.

  35. Pam, don’t feel bad. I am somewhat challenged myself even still.

  36. Taryn, I am shamelessly seduced by WordPress, too. :-)

  37. Andrew, better late than never, right?

  38. Maria, you can hire me. I’ll help you :-)

  39. Mary, you have to do what works for you, and I see how Blogger works for your purposes.

  40. Lisa, I hate to be thought of as a mommy blogger, too. I am a mom who has a blog, and very little I do here is about my kiddo.

  41. Andi-Roo, Mr. Andi-Roo sounds like a cool dude. :-)

  42. Matthew, come back and leave your link! I want to see for myself.

  43. Seth, me, too. I will never go anywhere else, either. Wish I’d come up with WordPress!

  44. Katie, I’m just crazy about WordPress, I guess. Fits my needs, and it’s good to know you have techie friends to help you when you need it.

  45. Luftig, I had no idea either. I’ll have to check it out.

  46. Tara, good luck when you do. I like your blog wherever it happens to be.

  47. John, those are two reasons I love WordPress, too!

  48. Ciara, you have a good thing going on for your purposes. You’ll change when and if you get ready. I have no doubt.

  49. Chloe, WordPress can be intimidating, but when you are ready for a change, you’ll do it. I am happy to read you wherever you are.

  50. Susan, that sounds a little like what I’ve been doing, too.

  51. Veronica, Glad you enjoyed the breakdown. More is coming!

  52. Wp.org will not do that. Always make sure to keep a back-up copy of your blog, too.

  53. Dave, thanks for giving Lisa a comprehensive breakdown. Very awesome of you!

  54. Thanks, Irene!

  55. Cara, I am so glad you like it. I fell off, but I’ll be back with more of the series this week!

  56. Thanks, Woodtop!

  57. Alaskagirl, I picked up Jetpack and my feed remained the same so I didn’t experience a loss. I had already purchased my domain, but I imagine it would be sucky to lose a lot of followers unless you email them in advance to tell them you’re making a change. It’s a hassle but well worth it.

  58. Janet, I’m not sure if there is a specific one—I did the “trial and error” manual. I still make mistakes, but less than before. Good luck!

  59. Philip, it sounds like you have some very good ideas, and you’ll figure out a way that is best for you and works.

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Amberr Meadows

About Me

I’m an Atlanta, Georgia Social Media Manager, blogger, writer, and brand ambassador with a passion for travel, photography, social media, blogging, creativity, and great books. I'm a thinker, dreamer, lover, and compassionate soul. Expect a heavy dose of humor lightly sprinkled with sarcasm. Welcome!

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