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Blog tips: Choosing a blogging platform (Comparison table)

Today I'm starting a new section here: Blogging tips. This next April I will be celebrating this little blog's 3rd blogoversary (can you believe that!!?) and even though 3 years of blogging do not make me an expert by any means, there are things that I know now, that I wish someone had explained to me way back when I first started. So I am going to use a few post that I had already written for my Design website and I am going to update them and share them here (along with some new content of course!) because I know that they can help some of the ones that are just venturing in the Blogging world.

In this new section I am going to cover the most frequent questions I get asked by my clients, but if you have a special topic you'd like me to blog about, just mention it on the comments and I'll try my best to cover it.

So to start, I am going to talk about blogging platforms, I will cover the 3 most popular ones with my clients (Blogger, WordPress.com and WordPress.org) When starting a blog or when having a re-design most bloggers question what platform they should go with, and to be honest it's about band-with, size, investment and flexibility. So it depends on what is more important to you, so to help out I worked on a comparison table that will cover some of the most important points.

So to start, note that there are two different WordPress, one is the free software you install in your own Host (.org), you are in charge of installing and updating, the other is self-hosted, meaning it's run and updated by WordPress.com, you have an account, log-in and start blogging.

WORDPRESS.ORG WORDPRESS.COM BLOGGER
Cost Free software, but you need to pay web hosting and domain* FREE FREE
Level of customization allowed FULL: You can transform it to look like a website or blog, set up slideshows, add PHP, Javascripst, etc. MEDIUM: You can customize the CSS file purchasing an upgrade normally $40/yr but it will only change the style sheet and fonts – so you can NOT run a custom theme . FULL: You can transform it to look like a website or blog, set up slideshows, add PHP, Javascript, etc. but the capabilities are more limited.
Set up level You will need to set up a database and then install the WordPress software in your host. Only requires you to set up an account. You can have multiple blogs under the same account. Only requires you to set up an account. You can have multiple blogs under the same account.
Software updates You have to manually update the software and plugging, you will get a notification on the dashboard when a new version is available. The update is automatic for the software, no plugging allowed. Automatic updates and usually they will notify you in the dashboard when new features are added.
Allow Pages Yes, Unlimited Yes Up to 10 pages
Supports widgets** Yes No. Does not support 3rd party scripts or most html codes. Yes
Custom Domain

Yes, you HAVE to set it up with a custom domain.
www.yourcustomURL.com

 

Yes. You can link your domain (www.domainname.com) to your blog paying about $15/yr. Your default link is something like
www.yourblog.wordpress.com
Yes. You can link your domain (www.domainname.com) to your blog for FREE. Your default link is something like
www.yourblog.blogspot.com
Good for Advanced bloggers that want more control or flexibility with your blogging.
Individuals that want to build a personal brand.
Small companies.
New bloggers that are not too interested in tweaking your blog or getting all the latest and greatest features and plugging offered by self-hosted options. Bloggers that don't have the resources to manage a custom installed blog. New bloggers that are not too interested in tweaking your blog or getting all the latest and greatest features and plugging offered by self-hosted options. Starter businesses that need a web presence but don't have the resources for a hosting plan.

*Most hosting providers cost anywhere from $3-12 dollars a month and they almost always come with a free domain name (in case you don't have one already) I recommend: Blue Host, Fat Cow Host, Host Gator and Go Daddy.

**Widgets are HTML or PHP code added normally on sidebars or footers. Example: Google Friend connect, BlogHer, PassionFruitsads, Counters, Google Adsense, etc.

To wrap things up my advice would be… If you are considering to start a blog with serious aspirations and consider advertising or blogging for profit, I would recommend you to go with a self-hosted option (WordPress.org) The set up and Design can be a little tricky, but with patience a lot of Google or just by hiring a Designer to handle all that for you (*wink* + big wave!) you can end up with a very profesional blog or website.

If you blog as a hobby and have no plans of monetizing in the long run I would suggest you to consider Blogger or WordPress.com – the set up is super easy and there are a variety of very economical templates, as well as some free ones (I offer a couple of Free templates in my Website and premades in my Shop) and while they might not have quite the same level of features, for someone that does not need much they are perfect!

And that's it my friends! I hope this helps you undertand the differences a little better and if you are hunger for more check out this post by Darren from Problogger.

I hope you have a wonderful day!


About Joy

Joy Kelley is a Chilean Designer & lettering Artist. Mom to 3 little boys. Crafter. Pattern lover. Color obsessed. Lemon pie dependent. And the hand behind the HowJoyful Studio & HowJoyful Shop

16 replies
  1. Angel Y.
    Angel Y. says:

    Great post! I agree with self-hosted WP being the way to go but it’s so great that there are plenty of options to choose from. What a great table! Thank you for sharing.

  2. Annie - The Ranting Latina
    Annie - The Ranting Latina says:

    This table’s awesome and a great resource! Bloggers of all sizes will appreciate it.. However, I’d add that the “Good For” section kind of makes it sound as though self-hosted WP Blogger was the absolute best-est for those who care about having a nice-looking site, but there are plenty of advanced bloggers and companies w/a Blogger presence and beautiful Blogger websites. The way I see it, it’s all a matter of taste and comfort level, since both can be fully customizable (as you mentioned). Thanks for sharing!

    • Joy
      Joy says:

      I think Its definitely about taste, there are huge bloggers that are perfectly comfortable with a Blogger powered blog, but others that need more specific features (like different structure for different pages or categories) always end up migrating to WordPress because blogger still does not support this (and others) kind of features. When I started they didn’t even supported pages! (that was my reason to start with self hosted WordPress), so at the end it’s about what features you need your blog to have =]

  3. Kathy
    Kathy says:

    Great post, thanks for the tips!

    I’m still kind of new to all this, but I would love to learn more about how to create your own template for wordpress. I have my design almost finished in photoshop, but it’s pretty complicated to turn it into a working template for wordpress (hosted on my own domain). Maybe you can help with some tips/tricks?

    • Joy
      Joy says:

      Hi Kathy, the coding process can be very tricky, if you are starting from scratch I would recommend you to read the Digging into WordPress book (http://digwp.com/book/) it has a lot of resources for people that are just starting in the coding world =]

  4. Lisa
    Lisa says:

    Great tips – although I don’t know how you can beat wordpress as a blogging platform with all it can do.

  5. Anna
    Anna says:

    WordPress.org is for me, just can’t be beaten in terms of the freedom and flexibility you get from all those plugins! Having said that…I have had quite a few techy hurdles to overcome and did need support in setting up. It took much longer than I thought it would to get everything just right. So, I can totally understand why someone would want to start with something like wordpress.com or blogger – I think the most important thing is to just get started and build momentum! So, I’d say – either go with WordPress.org (and get a professional, like you, to support in getting everything set up) or go with Blogger or wordpress.com. I say this because it’s so easy to get excited about the idea of starting a blog, but then stop everything because you feel out of your depth. This is a really useful comparision chart, and i’ve linked to it from blogbods as i know that’s where the newbie bloggers lurk. Wish i’d had it when I set up my own blog!

  6. Mer Santiago
    Mer Santiago says:

    Blogger is less hassle platform if you are just starting out but as you expand your interest in blogging plus the improvement of your site, WordPress got the flexibility to push your ideas in a more professional setup.

  7. Abhi Khatri
    Abhi Khatri says:

    Hello Joy, I like your blog very much. Will you please make a backlink to my website. I am a new blogger and hope you will help me.
    Thank you in advance! :)

  8. Karyn
    Karyn says:

    Thanks Joy, that was really helpful. Just wondering if you can give me a bit of further advice. I’m wanting to start a travel blog – mostly with the idea of keeping my family and friends up to date on my travels. I’ve never blogged before, but I do work with computers for a living so pretty confident that I wont find things too complicated. I want to be able to do things like photo albums and blogs and calendars or a world map with my trip plans – which blogging platform would you recommend for me, and how easy will it be to set up this kind of customisation without having to pay for things?
    Thanks! Karyn

    • Joy
      Joy says:

      Hi Karyn!

      If you are looking for something very simple and with no payments I would definitely recommend you to go with Blogger, you can easily customize it and add code for calendar and trip widgets ( unlike in WordPress.com ) the set up is very easy and you can even get your own domain inside blogger.

      Hope this helps! XO

  9. Laurie
    Laurie says:

    I know this if off topic but I’m looking into starting my own weblog and was wondering
    what all is needed to get set up? I’m assuming having a blog like yours would cost a pretty penny?

    I’m not very web smart so I’m not 100% sure. Any recommendations or advice would be greatly appreciated.
    Many thanks

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