Recently, a couple of writers had a discussion on creating/building a website/blog on Facebook. Where to build, who to go with, where to blog, what’s the difference — all of these questions came up. Most of these writers are my friends and what they know about blogging could fill a shot glass. (That’s okay because they have me <grin>)
I’m also starting to work with writers who are new to blogging and want to start building their platform. Questions about blogging come up often.
This post is for them and other writers who need help building a blog to help create their platform. I’m here to help. Just call me the Blog Doctor.
No, don’t call me that. That’s rubbish.
Here’s a break down to the blog/website debate. You can create a site out of blogging platforms, two in particular — WordPress.com and Blogger. You can do the same with WordPress.org but for now I’m limiting it to these two since they are the most common. They are also perfect for the beginning blogger and for those who want to do this as cheaply as possible until they can do something bigger and better later.
I’ve blogged on both WordPress and Blogger and they have their plus and minuses. Which to chose will depend on what kind of blogger you hope to become. I’ve broken down the formats on the characteristics bloggers tend to use the most and what will appeal to writers.
Ease of use
For me Blogger wins this one. If you are a Google person, Blogger is extremely easy to use. You can respond to comments or approve comments straight from your email. Your readers can follow your blog through Feedburner, which you can then use to cater to them if you’re into email newsletters (I am and here’s where you can sign up for mine.) It’s easy to get a Gmail address with your domain (which looks good on a business card), insert a video from your Youtube channel, and installing Google Analytics is a breeze. One of my personal favorites are the big, simple buttons — a pencil to write a post, pages to view blog posts — that are across the top of the page. It’s like that through your blogging experience on Blogger, everything is streamlined and everything clear and easy.
That’s not to say that working with WordPress isn’t easy; it’s just not as easy as Blogger. One thing that I do like is that you have this groovy menu on the side as you’re blogging. It’s easier to get from one area of the blog to the other in one click. It’s also easier to put your posts in categories since the menu is right to the side of it. However, all this information does make the screen a bit cluttered, but I’m one who likes a lot of information right at her finger tips.
BUT it’s annoying that WordPress.com does not support Google Analytics. It does have its own analytics, which is easy to get to and read but it does have its limitations. I really hope that WordPress fixes this in the future.
I’m not always near a computer when I get the time to blog. I usually have my lovely iPad with me, especially when I’m traveling. I’ve tried both the WordPress app and the Blogger app. To this I say neither. I use the Blogpress app which can be used for both. It’s easy to use, posts can be saved locally or at the blog site, and it gives you lots of great space to write.
However, I have broken down and gotten the WordPress app on my phone. I don’t blog on my phone but if I’m taking my own picture for a post (which you should do to avoid getting sued) I go ahead and put it in the post and save it as a draft for later. Yes, the app is pretty easy to use and works great in a pinch.
Theme/How it looks
This one is a bit of a Catch 22. Although Blogger sites are easier to manipulate, there’s not that many cool themes to chose from. However, WordPress.com has lots of cool themes to chose from but are not easily customizable unless you pay extra for them. The even cooler themes also cost extra. It depends on what you want to do and how you want to grow as a blogger.
This one is easy. On Blogger you’ll pay $10/year for your domain. On WordPress.com you’ll pay $18/ year (it use to be $15).
This characteristic is probably the one that drives me the most batty. After so many years with Blogger and being a lover of Picasa picture uploading, all my pictures were at my disposal. Not so on WordPress. I have to go find the picture and either copy the link or download it to upload it to WordPress. It’s annoying and something I’m just going to have to deal with.
Why I moved from Blogger to WordPress
Other than needing a clean start, I know that I will eventually move to WordPress.org (the blogging standard) but I wasn’t ready yet to make the commitment. After having researched, I learned it was easier to move a WordPress.com blog to the .org than it was to move Blogger. Not that it can’t be done, it’s just easier.
I also like how my site is laid out on WordPress better than Blogger. The menu works better for my readers and the layout is clean yet stylish. However, I do miss Blogger’s ease of use and Google Analytics.
Another thing that I am LOVING on WordPress is that more people are finding and following the blog in a shorter amount of time. But Blogger has Google Plus which automatically lets other plusers know that you have a post up.
What do I recommend?
At the end of the day, when I work with writers on their platform, especially writers who will have to do a lot of things on their own and have never blogged before, I recommend Blogger. I do tell them the pros and cons, we go over what the standards are and where they eventually want to go with their blog. When it comes down to it, however, the writers I work with chose Blogger for pricing and ease of use. I don’t blame them. That’s where I started.
Want more info about WordPress.com vs WordPress.org? Here’s a great post by Alta Peterson at Meghan Ward’s site. She’s got some stuff I didn’t even know about!
So where do you blog? What would you recommend for the beginning blogging writer?