Sunday, April 19, 2015

A to Z of Blogging: P - Platform

One of the biggest challenges in starting a blog is, perhaps, deciding which blogging platform to choose. There are many options available: Wordpress, Blogger, Typepad, LiveJournal, Wix, and Tumblr, to name just a few. Some of these blogging platforms are free, some are paid, and some offer premium services in their paid versions. They all have different sets of features and require varying degrees of technical skills to use them.

Most popular of the lot are Wordpress and Blogger, and there’s a never-ending debate on which of these two is better. To be completely fair though, the debate should be between THREE and not TWO. Wordpress.com and Wordpress.org are two separate blogging platforms.

My own blogs are all hosted on Blogger. I have made some professional websites too on Blogger, to save on hosting costs for my clients. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you should go for Blogger too. It works for me, but, it might be totally wrong for you.

In this article, I will let you decide which of these three blogging platforms is best for you based on your specific requirements.




Which Blogging Platform Is Best For You?


I am giving details of the three main blogging platforms in use today: their usage cost, pros and cons, as well as what type of blogs they are most ideal for. Hopefully, these details will help you pick the most suitable blogging platform for your blog.


Wordpress.org

  • Cost:
    • None for the software.
    • About $80-90 a year for domain and hosting.
  • Pros:
    • Easy to post, upload and customize.
    • Thousands of free themes and plugins.
    • Full customization control. 
    • Better support for advertisements.
    • Search Engine friendly.
    • Excellent support from community.
    • Storage space only limited to hosting plan purchased.
    • Provides four user levels.
    • Can password-protect individual posts.
  • Cons:
    • Setting it up on own hosting requires moderate levels of technical skills.
    • Hosting being from some third-party, is not as secure and reliable as hosting on Blogger or Wordpress.com.
    • Also more prone to malware attacks.
  • Ideal For:
    • Professional bloggers and business owners. 
    • News curation blogs.
    • High traffic blogs.
    • Multi-user blogs with varying access levels.

Wordpress.com

  • Cost:
    • None for subdomain blog (i.e. xyz.wordpress.com).
    • $13 a year for mapping your own domain.
    • $18 a year for buying a domain through them.
      (Rates are at the time of writing this post.)
  • Pros:
    • Free reliable hosting on Wordpress.com servers.
    • Easy to setup (can start blogging in 5 minutes).
    • Easy to post and upload content.
    • No coding/design skills needed.
    • Hundreds of default themes.
    • Many built-in plugins and widgets.
    • Excellent support from community.
    • Provides four user levels.
    • Can password-protect individual posts.
  • Cons:
    • Limited functionality, unless you pay for upgrades.
    • Have to pay for own-domain mapping too.
    • Restricted to default themes and in-built plugins and widgets.
    • No access to template code to modify the HTML/CSS.
    • Cannot add javascripts.
    • Limited support for advertisements to monetize your blog.
    • Limited storage space for all content – text and images.
  • Ideal For:
    • Personal blogs.
    • Low-to-medium traffic niche blogs.
    • Multi-user blogs with varying access levels.

Blogger

  • Cost:
  • Pros:
    • Free reliable hosting on Google servers.
    • Can setup with your existing Gmail user ID.
    • Easy to post and upload content.
    • Free own-domain mapping.
    • Thousands of free third-party themes that can be used in place of default themes.
    • Allows full access to template code to modify the HTML/CSS and add “hacks” for various plugin functionalities.
    • Supports javascripts.
    • Better support for advertisements.
    • Search Engine friendly.
    • Unlimited storage space for text content.
    • Fully customizable with some webdesign skills. Or you can also get your custom blog design from a professional, at a one-time cost.
  • Cons:
    • Very few default themes and widgets.
    • Moderate coding/design skills needed to make any kind of customizations.
    • No option to self-host (not even a paid one).
    • Only two user levels.
    • No option to password protect individual posts.
    • Limited storage for images on Google Picasa.
    • Doesn’t work that well with heavy traffic.
  • Ideal For:
    • Personal blogs.
    • Low-to-medium traffic niche blogs.
    • Minimum budget blogs.
    • Multi-user blogs not requiring too many access levels.

My preferred blogging platform, at the moment, is Blogger. All my blogs are single-user blogs, with moderate traffic. Plus, I have design skills, so I can customize my blogs any way I want, at no extra annual cost (besides the domain name).

Which blogging platform do you use? Blogger? Wordpress.com? Wordpress.org? Any other? Are you happy with it? Would you have chosen differently if you knew better?


This is my 16th post for 2015 AprilAtoZ.
Link to the previous post: A to Z of Blogging: O - Originality.


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12 comments:

Arlee Bird said...

Great overview of things. I'm sticking with Blogger for now since I mostly know what I'm doing and don't want to have to learn a whole new system. WP bloggers are extremely loyal to that platform. I'm sure they're both just fine once you know what you're doing.

Arlee Bird
A to Z Challenge Co-host
Tossing It Out

Sanch LivingLife said...

As you might know, I started out on Blogger, bought my domain on blogger and then moved to WP.org. I will admit Blogger html was easier than WP Css but apart from that, I do like WP a lot. It's pretty easy to use too.

Shilpa Garg said...

I loved Blogger when I was a newbie. For a tech-challenged person, it was simple and easy to use. I moved to self hosted WordPress site 2 years ago and I am loving the interface, customization, the plugins, and the tech support is simply amazing!

Vinay Leo R. said...

I don't know about the cons of wordpress. org site, but I agree with the pros. Being one who likes customization, it suits me and I'm having fun :D

I wouldn't say "many" builtin plugins and widgets at wordpress. com site. It has a fair few, and some useful ones at that. And though hosting is reliable on .com sites, there's also the T&C one has to be careful with. I've had my account suspended once for some minor break in that. And my friend has too. And it's not limited support for ads, its nil, unless you buy the option. They show ads on your posts, but you can't choose them and there's no monetization as far as I know.

Blogspot of course, is reliable. But with the modifications these days, I don't find it as customizable as before. When I first started blogging, I could create my own templates, but it's more difficult these days, I feel. More customizable than wordpress .com but not as much as wordpress .org

at the moment, I prefer Wordpress .org, but I have to explore hosting plans later when it's due for renewal :) if I can't find a plan that's friendly for my wallet at that time, might just opt for renewing the domain and host on blogspot or something.

the little princess said...

That was enlightening...I didn't really know what set these platforms apart...looks like blogger is a pretty good platform for me...! I am not so much of a tech person, and in spite of that handicap, I managed pretty much on blogspot!

Chicky said...

I agree, Arlee. Both platforms are just great. It all depends upon how we make them work for us. I'm a loyal fan of Blogger too at the moment. Don't see any reason to shell out a lot of money to do the same thing on Wordpress.

Chicky said...

Sanch, I agree. Wordpress dashboard is easier to use in some respects. I especially liked how you could remove a widget from the layout, and it went into the inactive widgets list, with all the settings intact, in case you wanted to add it back on some day.

And the Wordpress mobile app is so much better than Blogger's mobile app. Although I couldn't find a "sync" option in the Wordpress app. A post saved in drafts via the Wordpress app didn't show up in the website dashboard. Maybe I was doing something wrong.

The best thing about Wordpress is definitely its community though.

Chicky said...

Leo, I was checking out hosting on GoDaddy last year. Even they had their T&C. I don't know about Wordpress.com's T&C, but, Blogger is pretty clear on what you can do here and what you can't. Why did you and your friend get your accounts suspended?

Oh yes, I noticed. Wordpress.com displays its own ads below the posts sometimes. I think we can put our affiliate links though, can't we? HTML is allowed in Wordpress widgets as well as posts.

And yes, the new templates in Blogger are quite difficult to customize beyond the template designer screen. That's why I'm still using one of the older blogger templates here. The lighthouse one, remember?

Well, I'm a hardcore Marwari. I cannot spend thousands of bucks every year for hosting when I'm getting what I want on Blogger! :P

Chicky said...

Shilpa, I agree. The tech support from the Wordpress community is great.

Chicky said...

Princess, yeah. In the end, whatever works for us is the best for us.

Parul said...

Great comparison there.. I started with WP and hence I am super comfortable with it. Though I haven't bought the domain yet, I still have a long way to understand what is the difference between self hosting and just buying a domain.

Chicky said...

True, Parul. WP is easy to use. Self-hosting is when you rent space for storing your blog content on a third party computer server (like GoDaddy), instead of on the server of WP or Blogger. Just buying a domain is simpler. You just buy a www.xyz.com and all your visitors see that in the address bar instead of your wordpress/blogspot address.

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