So as you know from my first post on this “Google Blogger vs. WordPress, Blog Wars Part 1: The Test“, I am reviewing and evaluating several different blog engines, with an emphasis on Google Blogger and WordPress (.com and .org). You can see my previous post to see the different blogs in action. And I’m sure this is going to be a large post, just reviewing the Blogger and WordPress blogs, so I will have a “Google Blogger vs. WordPress, Blog Wars: The Other Options” post following this one where I’ll talk about the other blogs I looked at. But for all intents and purposes, it came down to Blogger and WordPress (2 ways).
I wanted to decide which type of blog would work best for my needs and which one I would recommend to others. It turned out to not be quite that simple. Each of the 3 main blog engines (Blogger, wordpress.com hosted WordPress and self-hosted WordPress) had some serious advantages and some serious drawbacks. So as it turns out, rather than recommending one above all others, I will give an overview of each, what is good and bad about them and why and for whom I would recommend each particular one.
And to make a long story short, I recommend Blogger for people who want someone else to host their blog, don’t want to pay for a web hosting service and/or who want a quick and easy blog that takes hardly any maintenance or technical know-how.
For people who want the all-around best solution, who have their own web host and like to get ‘techie’ (and know how to do installs, use unix and ftp, etc), it’s definitely WordPress from wordpress.org. This is the most flexible, you have the most control over it and your data and it will do almost anything you want if you find the right plug-ins or code. But you have to have the know-how and desire to use it and it is only as good as you make it. And you have to have somewhere to install it like a web hosting service.
Google Blogger: I personally give Google Blogger the edge over WordPress.com hosted WordPress for anyone who doesn’t have their own web host and/or wants an easy and quick blog. I think it is good for:
- Anyone who doesn’t have a lot of programming, moving files, installs, bits and bolts of how things work experience
- Anyone who wants an easy setup with the most features for a blog hosted by the blog provider and the most options for adding plugins and html code easily.
- Anyone who wants to have their own domain name, but use a blog hosted by the blog provider. In other words, who wants to buy a domain name like say, http://www.allaboutme.com (costs about $10/yr) but doesn’t want to have their own web hosting service where they can put and maintain their own data and blogs (costs about $10/month). Redirecting is free in Blogger, it costs $10? (10 credits) in WordPress.com
- You might want to have commercial usage on your blog. WordPress.com’s term of service prohibits ‘commercial usage’ (although its unclear to mean exactly what they mean). It appears OK on a Google Blog (see this post from the Blogger Help group).
The one thing that seems to keep a lot of people from recommending Google Blogger is that it does not allow you to back up your posts. Therefore, if anything happened to Blogger, you could lose your data. Also, you can’t move the data to another google blog if you wanted to. And looking at the hacks to backup your data, there really isn’t a good way to do it. Except…
What you can do is to create a WordPress.com blog and import your blogger data into your wordpress blog. It is very easy in WordPress.com to import posts and comments from other blog engines, basically just point and click. Then you can export the data from your wordpress blog into a file of your own. You can’t reload that file back into Google Blogger, but you have all your data and can recreate it in wordpress easily. Which is better than losing it all. And if you use a redirect to your own domain name in Blogger, if something happened, you could change the redirect to point to your WordPress blog (for $10/credits per year, I believe). It’s a work-around, but I tried it and it works just fine.
There is some concern about losing your rank if you move (which I don’t totally understand about rank and all yet) but here is a post that explains things you can do to help with that, called “Moving from Blogger to WordPress without Losing Traffic and Page Rank” (Actually, when I qit blogging on all my blogs and switch to one (clear.bluedei.com), I may have to figure out what all this means.) Also, as I understand, Blogger (as would be expected) integrates very well with Google Adsense, which I gather is a way to make money from your website, with advertising, I guess.
Also, if you start with Blogger, you can choose later to go to WordPress. You can’t go the other way because Blogger doesn’t have an import or export function. For the life of me, I don’t know why.
WordPress on wordpress.com: This is the most middle-of-the-road bet. It doesn’t really do anything as well as any of the others (except for import/export) but it doesn’t have anything really wrong with it either. Many people would recommend it over Blogger. But it seems that it is mostly because Blogger doesn’t provide a way to back it up and my work-around takes care of that, in my opinion. One thing that I really like about wordpress.com is that they provide an easy to use stats page that tells you how many page views you’ve had each day, which pages were viewed, how people got to your site and what they clicked while there. The one thing it doesn’t tell you is who actually viewed your site. You have to use another stats package like sitemeter or ActiveStats to see that. And Google Analytics will not give you as much information using wordpress.com as it would if you were using Blogger because it requires some code to be added that you cannot add to WordPress.com blogs.
This appeals to all the people that Blogger and would be a better choice if:
- You really want to be able to export your data and import it back into WordPress easily, or want to be able to import posts/comments from other blog engines.
- You plan to go to a WordPress blog that you host yourself and you just want to get started now with WordPress.com and then import your posts and comments into your own hosted WordPress blog.
- AND you don’t plan to have to have commercial usage on your blog. wordpress.com’s term of service prohibits ‘commercial usage’ and you are supposed to use wordpress.org (your own hosted site) if you do…
- UNLESS you are a big business and want wordpress to host your blog using their VIP Hosting Service that costs $600 to setup and $300/month hosting fee. If you have that kind of money, you can decide if that is worth it. Briefly looking at it, I would think not. For that kind of money, you have many, many options. But if you have that kind of money for a blog, I doubt that you are reading my post :)
Self-hosted WordPress from wordpress.org: This is, in my opinion, the very best option for:
- anyone who is ‘techie’ (understands files, uploading, ftp, unix, etc) and
- who likes dealing with the bits and bolts, likes installing, maintaining and customizing their own blog and templates and all and
- who has a host server to put their install on.
- who wants to be able to do pretty much anything they want to their blog, wants to add all sorts of plug-ins and who wants to really ‘pimp their ride’.
Self-host WordPress offers the most options and is the most flexible of any of the choices. Really, it is about the only option I’ve found for being able to have total control of your own blog, outside a CMS (content management system) like Drupal, which is extremely more powerful than just a blog engine and requires a lot more knowledge and programming know-how.
Some drawbacks of it are that you have to have a host to install it on (either your own, or from a web service that costs about $10/month) and you have to install and maintain and customize it yourself so you have to have some experience with these things and you have to want to do it or it will just be a hassle and frustrating. And your blog will only be as good and functional as you make it. It comes as basically vanilla and you have to add everything to it.
You also have to be sure your host is stable and has good backups in case something happens. The other blog engines are as stable and well-backed up as google.com and wordpress.com can make them so it doesn’t vary so much. But your own host system can be very good or very bad, depending on who you are going with.
Also, I tried exporting from my wordpress.org blog to import into my wordpress.com blog (as if I had a problem with my web host and had to move) and it didn’t move my extra pages (like about me and books I am reading). Nor of course, any of my plug-ins or customization. So it is important to save your plug-ins and files. Since they are just files on a server, you can back-up any or all of it any time you want.
Here is an article that talks about the differences between Google Blogger and self-hosted WordPress from wordpress.org that has some good information. It is part one, but for the life of me, I can’t find part two. It still has good info.
So to me, it comes down to Google Blogger for flexibility and ease of use vs. self-hosted wordpress for control and customization. And that is a choice that depends on what you are looking for and how much you want to do.
I will post my reviews of the other, less well-known blog engines in my next post on this subject.