WordPress or Blogger: Blogger vs. WordPress

Ok, so you’re trying to decide which blogging platform is better between WordPress or Blogger?  I’ll cover some of the advantages and disadvantages of each, and different scenarios where one is better than the other.

First, you need to be aware that there are two different types of WordPress:  1) hosted and 2) self-hosted.

Hosted WordPress means you’re using WordPress.com and you just create an account on their site and basically let them handle all the technical stuff.  You sign up and instantly have a site.  Your URL (web address) will look like http://yourname.wordpress.com (you can use your own domain name too, but this is how it is by default).

Self-hosted WordPress means you have your own website hosting account and domain name.  So you register a domain name (like yourname.com) somewhere like GoDaddy, then you sign up for a hosting account somewhere like HostGator, install WordPress (either manually by downloading it from WordPress.org or through a one-click install option provided by your hosting company), and you’re responsible for the technical side of things like updating WordPress.

Blogger is pretty similar to hosted WordPress, the first option listed above.  You go to blogger.com, create an account and everything is hosted on their site.  By default your website address will be yourname.blogspot.com, but they also have an option for using a custom domain name (yourname.com).

The big question is:  Are you setting up your new site to make money or is it just for fun?

This will have a big impact on which route you choose.

Money-Making Blogs/Websites

If your goal is to make money from the site, in most cases the answer is pretty clear that you’re better off going with self-hosted WordPress.  Not that it’s your only option, but often is the best one.

Why?

If you want to make money from your blog/website, you need to have control over your site.  You need to be able to set things up exactly the way you want, not being stuck working within the boundaries someone else has set.  Self-hosted WordPress is the most flexible option and has the potential to work just about any way you can imagine.

  • Blogger has a couple ways to monetize your site, primarily through Google Adsense, but also Amazon Associates program.  I looked through their terms of service and content policy and didn’t see anything that would prevent you from using their service for affiliate marketing or other typical methods of monetizing a blog.  The main downside is that you’re limited in what you can do to with the layout/look of your site.  They have some nice options built in, but you are limited to what they provide.
  • You can use WordPress.com (hosted) for business purposes, but mainly just for relationship-building purposes, like a realtor or lawyer who gives tips to their potential clients in hopes of getting their business.  That’s pretty different than directly making money from your blog.  WordPress.com (hosted) does allow certain types of ads on your site, but there are so many scenarios that can get your site removed, often with no way of saving all the hard work you’ve done in creating your site, and it’s just not worth it.If you want to do affiliate marketing, which is how a lot of bloggers make money from their sites, you definitely don’t want to use WordPress.com (hosted). WordPress.com lists what types of blogs are and aren’t welcome on their service and it specifically mentions says affiliate marketing blogs are not allowed on their service.  They also don’t allow sites that they consider to be “SEO blogs”, written more for getting search engine traffic than providing value to users.  That’s understandable, but where do they draw the line between that and a site that’s just properly search engine optimized?  I don’t want to find out.
  • On a self-hosted WordPress site, the sky is the limit.  As long as you’re not doing anything illegal, you can do pretty much whatever you want with your site.  You have complete control over how it looks and how you make money with your site.  Besides all the free themes (templates/designs) available, there are lots of “Premium” (usually meaning you have to pay for them) WordPress themes available.  So you can often find a design you like.  And if not, you can have one custom-made.  Granted, unless you find a theme that’s exactly what you want, it does require some technical skill to get a site customized, but there are lots of tutorials online or you can hire someone to help you or do it for you.  Plus there are tons of plugins that you can add to your site that will do just about anything you can imagine – things that you’d otherwise have to hire a programmer to build.  So you can have a powerful site using things other people have already created.

Personal / Just-for-fun blogs

If you’re looking to build a site that you don’t intend to make money from, here are some pros and cons of each:

  • Blogger.comPros: If you just want easy, this is a good way to go.  The interface is pretty self-explanatory and easy to figure out and use.  So if you just want to get started quickly, Blogger is a good option.  If you already have a Google account, such as Gmail, you don’t need to create a new account but can use the same login.  My first real blog was on Blogger.  I wasn’t too picky about how it looked and was fine with just going with one of their pre-made templates.  I didn’t need to do anything too fancy with it, I just wanted to get started.  Another benefit was that I would sometimes get some traffic to my site from people searching on Google’s Blog Search.  You have a fair amount of customization available with the look of your site and customizing it is pretty easy, and if you’re more technically inclined you can even edit the HTML of the template.  Even if your primary concern isn’t making money from your site but you wouldn’t mind making a little here and there, or at least have the option to do so, it’s easy to add Google Adsense to your site.Cons: If you’re more picky about the look of your site and have something more specific you want, or if you’re technically inclined and want more control over your site and like to work “under the hood”, you might prefer WordPress.
  • WordPress.com (hosted)Pros: Also quick and easy to sign up.  There are lots of themes (designs/templates) to choose from, including some premium ones that you have to buy.  If you like control, it does seem to give you more control over Blogger.  There are lots of options.  It basically is like the self-hosted version of WordPress, but with a lot of the popular plugins and features already installed.  It’s easier to get started with than the self-hosted version of WordPress.  One nice feature is that if you want to get started easy but think you may later want to move to a self-hosted WordPress site, it does provide an Export option where you can export your data and import it into your new self-hosted site.Cons: I think there is more of a learning curve with WordPress than Blogger.  It has lots of features and options, but that can overwhelm new users.  It can take a while to figure out out to make it do what you want.  Some of the basic tasks are pretty easy to figure out, but other things can take a while to figure out.  The first time you log in and see the menu that stretches from the top of your browser window, beyond the bottom, full of options, it can be a little overwhelming.  Also, if you decide you want ads on your site, like Google Adsense, well, you can’t.  Also, WordPress may sometimes show ads on your site.  If you don’t want ads on your site you have to pay to upgrade.  If there are specific WordPress themes or plugins you want to use, if they’re not installed by default, it’s not possible to install them on your site.
  • WordPress self-hostedPros: This is the most flexible option if you know exactly how you want your site to look or if you want complete control over it.  There isn’t much you can’t do with it.  You can use any theme (design/template) you want, any plugins you want, and if you feel so inclined, you can edit any code you want and make things work however you want.  Or you can build your own from scratch or hire someone else to.Cons: As with WordPress.com, the self-hosted solution also has quite a learning curve.  Some of the menus are just not very intuitive and you can spend a long time hunting for something that seems like it should be simple.  In addition to that, there is some expense involved.  You have to buy a domain name and pay for web hosting on an ongoing basis.  Getting WordPress installed on your site takes more technical skill as well.  Fortunately, some web hosts have one-click install options available to make it easier, but it’s still a little more work than just signing up on someone else’s website like Blogger and hosted WordPress.com.

Did you find this helpful?  Or do you have something to add?  Please let me know by leaving comments below.

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