Blogger or WordPress?

As a blog consultant, one of the most common questions I get asked by new bloggers is whether they should use Blogger or WordPress? My answer as with most answers I give is: It depends. Additionally, most people need a little more information in order to understand what they are really asking.

What is blogger?

Blogger is a free web based blogging platform owned and operated by Google. Blogger allows people to quickly and easily start a blog with no initial cost. Here’s a breakdown of the pros and cons of blogger:

Pros:

  • Free – This is the most attractive feature. Free is always good right? Uh no…nothing is free, see below.
  • The technical details are taken care of – With blogger, all you have to is blog. Google takes care of all the underlying technical details for you.
  • Adsense integration to monetize your blog is trivial. Makes sense right since both products are owned by Google.
  • Fast Google Indexing – Content on blogger blogs is indexed fast. While hotly debated, it’s also theorized that they get higher rankings, at least initially, on Google search result pages.
  • Very nice and easy to use interface – The Blogger interface is very slick, making it easy for even the most technically challenged people to easily create and set-up a nice looking blog. Blogger includes a number of ready made and really nice looking themes.

Cons:

  • Flexibility – Blogger blogs are far less flexible and you’re constrained to what the Google blogger interface will allow you to do. For the things I like to do on my blogs, Google doesn’t work for me. While blogger can be customized, the flexibility on the look and feel of your blog isn’t near as robust on blogger.
  • Upgrading – If you decide to upgrade to a stand-alone blog later, upgrading can be a bit tricky and you might need to pay someone to help you.
  • Not taken seriously – Whether legit or not, blogger blogs are not taken as seriously by the blogging community as stand-alone blogs. Even though blogger now allows blogger blogs to have their own domain names, there’s just something about blogger based blogs that make it seem less professional.

Two additional, and in my opinion significant concerns with blogger, are found in the terms of service and specifically in the area in bold:

6. Intellectual Property Rights. Your Intellectual Property Rights. Google claims no ownership or control over any Content submitted, posted or displayed by you on or through Google services. You or a third party licensor, as appropriate, retain all patent, trademark and copyright to any Content you submit, post or display on or through Google services and you are responsible for protecting those rights, as appropriate. By submitting, posting or displaying Content on or through Google services which are intended to be available to the members of the public, you grant Google a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license to reproduce, publish and distribute such Content on Google services for the purpose of displaying and distributing Google services. Google furthermore reserves the right to refuse to accept, post, display or transmit any Content in its sole discretion.

10. Termination; Suspension. Google may, in its sole discretion, at any time and for any reason, terminate the Service, terminate this Agreement, or suspend or terminate your account. In the event of termination, your account will be disabled and you may not be granted access to your account or any files or other content contained in your account although residual copies of information may remain in our system for some time for back-up purposes

I’m not sure about you, but it doesn’t make me feel real good that Google can use my content however they want without compensating me. Additionally they can refuse to publish your content and it’s based solely on their discretion. Meaning if they don’t like what you wrote, they won’t allow it on your blog. That’s enough to make me not want to use it.

The icing on the cake is found in article 10. They can terminate your blog and account whenever they want. Meaning you could write content everyday for 3 years and Google can just terminate your account meaning unless you’ve made backups, you lose all of your content. Sure, if you go with stand-alone hosting you run the risk, but what makes me a bit nervous is that Google has it’s hand in some many things these days, they could just terminate your blog if you write something they don’t like. For example, I’m a bit vocal about them owning the internet and having so much control these days. I would be a bit hesitant to write that on a blogger blog.

What is WordPress?

Answering this question gets a little confusing as their is a WordPress.com and a WordPress.org.

WordPress.com – Is similar to Blogger in that it’s a hosted blogging service. The big thing with WordPress.com blogs is you cannot run a number of very popular advertising options. For specifics, read their TOS.

WordPress.org – This is the site for the open source blogging software called WordPress. WordPress can be downloaded (for free) and installed on your own server. WordPress press is an awesome piece of blogging software and is the software used by most of the blogs on the internet. This site, Side Income Blogging is hosted at A Small Orange and is running on WordPress.

The advantages and disadvantages of WordPress.com are the same as blogger. Here are the advantages/disadvantages of self hosting and using the WordPress.org software:

Advantages:

  • Full control – This option gives you full control of how your blog looks. If you’re technical, you design and build your blogs look from scratch. If not, you can download any of the literally thousands of pre-built themes available on WordPress.org. Additionally, the WordPress software contains a “plugin” feature that allows you to install plugins to WordPress that extend and enhance it’s functionality. There are plugins for everything and new WordPress plugins coming out daily.
  • Free Software – As I mentioned above, WordPress is free. You’ll only need to pay for your domain name and your hosting. There are no additional expenses required.
  • Your content is your content – You own your content. This is a huge benefit in my opinion, as your content is what makes your blog. You should always maintain ownership and copyright for you content.

Disadvantages:

  • Set-up – Installed WordPress from scratch can be a bit daunting, especially if you aren’t technical. Fortunately, many hosting companies support a “one click install” feature that makes installing WordPress really simple. If you aren’t technical, I suggest that you look for a hosting company that provides this feature.
  • Hosting Issues/Problems – In a self hosted environment using WordPress you’re bound to have some technical issues related to your hosting company every so often. Having to deal with these problems is a con, especially when compared to hosted plans such as Blogger or WordPress.com. This isn’t a huge deal, as the companies I recommend provide great support, but it is something additional you’ll need to deal with.
  • Site Maintenance – Again, since you’re self hosted when running WordPress, you’ll have to deal with upgrades backups, etc. Fortunately with WordPress, there is an auto update feature that handles 99% of the upgrades you’ll need and there are numerous plugins for performing upgrades, performance tweaks, etc.
  • Higher Cost – Compared to Blogger or WordPress.com, being self hosted is more expensive as you’ll have monthly hosting fees to pay for. Generally these are small for small blogs, ranging from about $5 upwards to $15 a month or so. Not a significant cost, but something to be aware of.

Considerations

Deciding on the right choice for you and your blog can be tough. Here are a few things you should consider:

How technical are you? Self hosting and using WordPress requires a fair amount of technical knowledge. Nothing that couldn’t be learned of course, but it is enough to where this should factor into your decision making. Fortunately there are lots of blogs (like this one) that will help you.

Are you blogging as a hobby or professionally? What are your goals or intentions for your blog? Are you just playing around or are you serious about blogging. If you’re just playing around, than blogger or WordPress.com are great options. If you’re serious though, I’d highly recommend going to the self hosted option.

Do you plan to monetize your blog (i.e. place ads on it)? If you plan to monetize your blog, the most flexible and best long term decision is to self host. This gives you the most flexibility for adding the various types of ads and affiliate offers available. Remember too that WordPress.com doesn’t allow many types of ads.

What is your budget? While the cost for self hosting is minimal, for some even paying a small monthly fee is too much. You need to factor into your decision how much cash you have available to put into your blog initially. Reserving a domain name and getting a hosting plan is typically going to run you around $50.00.

The Bottom Line

So I’ve provided you with lots of information and hope you’re not asleep at this point. The bottom line is:

  • If you’re planning to blog professionally and make money blogging I would strongly recommend self hosting using the WordPress software. If you’re not technical, don’t worry, just head over and following my Start a Money Making Blog series. This series will take you step by step through the process of getting your blog going.
  • If you’re just playing around and blogging as a Hobby, than Blogger or WordPress.com would be a good option for you. Both of these are great options for family blogs, sharing information with friends or even running temporary blogs.

The right or wrong choice really boils down to what you think is right for you. While many will say there are clear cut rules, there aren’t. There are many very successful and professional blogs running on Blogger.com and there are many small personal blogs that seldom ever get updated running stand alone with WordPress. Make the decision that feels right for you.

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