I am by no means an expert at blogging or anything computer but after helping a couple of friends build websites along with answering questions from readers about hosting, domains, and WordPress, I thought maybe it was time to pull together some resources for how to start a blog. Or a website if you just want to have an online presence for your business.
There really is so much to think about that I thought I’d break this down into a series of posts because it just becomes completely overwhelming otherwise. Who needs a total brain fry when you’re about to do something this awesome, right?
When I was starting out, I researched tons of sites who have the whole process in one post and it made me so confused that I wound up hiring someone to do everything for me. And I kept doing that every time I needed to change something until I finally spent a solid couple of weeks (okay….more like months) learning how to do things on my own. This mini-series on blog building is my attempt to keep you from spending the time and money that I did in the first few years of blogging. You can totally do this!
Today we’re going to chat about which blogging platform to choose. Although there are a few other choices out there, I’m only going to be talking about Blogger and WordPress since I’ve had experience with both and almost all of the bloggers I know choose one or the other.
BLOGGER VS WORDPRESS
I started blogging back in 2012 when DIY/home/creative blogging was a simpler and much less competitive thing. I did a ton of research at the time and was convinced that the blog would never be much more than a hobby while I was on mat leave. Clearly that’s not the case since we’re going on our 5th year over here with two full time blogs, a design business, affiliate marketing relationships, and my own Etsy shop.
After ample research, back in 2012, I was convinced that Blogger was the platform for me. I’m tech phobic, the thought of coding scared the (yoga) pants off of me, and I couldn’t wrap my head around things like widgets and plug ins.
Blogger is owned by Google and if you have a gmail account, (and who doesn’t really?), it’s as sample as going to Blogger and hitting the new blog button. So enticing. Blogger also has Adsense and Google Plus built right in which is kind of great for beginners as well. And, of course, Blogger is free. That’s pretty enticing for new bloggers who want to get started and not spend any money. You can see why I jumped all over that and stayed there for three years.
Bottom line? Blogger is a great, easy to use site, that is perfect if you’re looking to do nothing more than some creative writing and picture sharing. If you’re writing to share pics and posts about your cute kids for your extended family to read, Blogger’s a great and free resource. However, if you want to build a long term website, use affiliate marketing, advertise, or monotize your blog in anyway, Blogger is not a good option. Even if you think you’re never going to do much with your blog….never say never.
BLOGGER PROS AND CONS
- Easy to set up and user friendly
- Built in AdSense and Google +
- Secure platform- No need for back ups or site security worries
- Owned by Google and not by the author. You’re site will always read MYSITE@blogspot.com
- There is always a risk that Google could shut your site down without warning as they are the actual owners of your site
- Limited storage and photo storage
- Limited themes and supports although you can buy some on Etsy and other places.
- Difficult to transfer to another platform (It made me cry. A lot. And it took months to put my site back together even after paying someone a substantial amount of money for the migration process.)
- More difficult to monitize
- Affiliates, advertisers, and sponsors are often unwilling to work with bloggers who do not own their own domain. (ie those on Blogger or WordPress.com)
Let’s chat about WordPress. Despite my 3 fine years with Blogger, I truly wish I had bellied up to the WordPress bar from day one since and every blogger I know says the same thing. I feel kind of awful saying this since Blogger was pretty good to me for so long. But still…true story.
There are two versions of WordPress. One is WordPress.com and is free. Much like Blogger, you don’t own this version of your website and you’ll always be MYSITE@Wordpress.com. We’re not even going to go here for the same reasons, I’ve already talked about. You want your own website.
I made the transition to WordPress last summer and the process of moving from Blogger to WordPress nearly broke me. I thought the learning curve on WordPress would be the difficult part, but I was totally wrong. It was fairly easy to figure out and there are a zillion good articles, videos, and tutorials on how to get going on WordPress. I probably read and watched them all in the first few weeks.
The part that broke me was losing my design template along with the formatting for the hundreds of posts that migrated from Blogger. Total disaster. I’ve spent months trying to find and replace photos that didn’t make it, fix the broken links, and get my site back to looking like it’s supposed to. I’m still finding lost links and missing pictures when I write a post and link to an older (pre-WordPress) post. So. Much. Crazy.
Truthfully, WordPress has been a dream to use and I wish I had come here from the beginning. Free and easy as Blogger promised to be, it really isn’t when you think about the cost of losing and repairing everything when you make the switch to WordPress. Because you will. Everyone does eventually. Unless your dad is the only one reading your site. Then you’re golden.
WORDPRESS PROS AND CONS
- The site is yours to do with what you will. Blogging, website, even selling your own products directly on your blog can all be done with WordPress
- Countless ways to customize using different themes and plug ins
- Media storage is amazing. Every time you post a picture, WordPress keeps it in your media library. You can search for a picture by post title or date whenever you need to.
- Once you’ve learned how to navigate, WordPress is insanely easy to use.
- WordPress isn’t free or even cheap.
- It does take time to learn.
- WordPress sites require back ups (learned that the hard way!) and maintenance through updating plug ins and new versions
As someone who’s used both Blogger and WordPress, I’m always going to suggest WordPress even though it costs money and takes some time to learn. You don’t know where your “little blog” is going to take you so why limit yourself?
Don’t rush off and sign up with WordPress or Blogger just yet. In our next article, I’m going to talk about domain names and from there we’ll move on to setting up our site with WordPress. Yes, WordPress. If you’re not already a subscriber to this site, be sure to do it today in our subscribe bar on the right hand side or at the top of our page. You’ll get an email a new article in this series is posted so you don’t miss a thing.
And while you’re waiting for our next piece of the series, you can grab a notebook and start brainstorming blog ideas, names, and designs. Start browsing your favorite blogs and make a note of what inspires you.
While your brainstorming, check out these blogging resources (affiliate links included. Read our full disclosure policy here):