Which content management system or blogging platform is best if you want to start a blog? When you’re a brand new blogger, one of the first things you have to decide is how to build your site. One of these choices you can make as a new blogger is to decide between Blogger vs. WordPress.
Today, you’ve got more choices than ever, which is a good thing, to be sure — but it can also lead to confusion and overwhelm. In this article, we’re comparing WordPress to one of the earliest popular blogging platforms, Blogger. Let’s get started with our Blogger vs. WordPress comparison right away.
Blogger vs. WordPress: The Contenders
Side by side comparisons are a great way to assess the strengths and weaknesses of two CMSs. But first, let’s be clear about which WordPress we’re talking about. This article is comparing self-hosted WordPress.org versus Blogger.com, the free, hosted blogging platform owned by Google.
There are a number of differences between WordPress.com and self-hosted WordPress.org sites. WordPress.com sites are much like Blogger.com sites. You don’t own the platform or rent the server. It’s all in someone else’s hands which may not be a good thing on the long run.
Self-hosted WordPress through WordPress.org puts your site in your hands. You sign up for hosting from a hosting provider (HostGator, BlueHost, etc.), install WordPress on that server, set up your WordPress theme and activate plugins, and run your own site. From here on out, we’ll simply use WordPress to refer to self-hosted WordPress websites.
Blogger.com is often the first choice for absolute beginners. Launched in the late 90’s, it was eventually bought by Google and remains one of the most popular free blogging platforms on the web. WordPress on the other hand is a free, open-source CMS. Originally released in 2003 by Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little, it developed over time to become the most popular CMS.
In terms of market share, it’s no contest. WordPress powers over 28% of all websites; Blogger has exactly 1% of that market share, and that figure is actually dropping slightly over time.
But that’s not the end of the debate. After all, just because one solution is right for others, that doesn’t mean it’s right for you. So let’s look at each platform’s performance in several areas: ease of use; brandability, development, and SEO; ownership and control; customization; support; cost; and the likely future development of both platforms.
- Ease of use
- Brandability, development, and SEO
- Ownership and control
- Customization and design
- Support and development
- The future of the platforms
Ease of use
How easy are Blogger and WordPress to learn and use, especially for new bloggers? It’s close, but Blogger probably wins this one. However, that’s only part of the story. Blogger is definitely built to make it easy for newbies to create, launch, and publish a blog. Setup is simple, and Blogger walks you through it step by step in a straightforward “point, click, type” process.
Simply type in your preferred blog name and your desired second level domain name (e.g. example.blogspot.com). Choose one of a handful of themes, and you’re set. You can be publishing your first blog post inside a minute or two.
That same simplicity extends to Blogger’s content publishing tools. For example, you have a few of the usual suspects for fonts — Arial, Helvetica, etc. Subheadings are designated as “Heading, sub-heading, minor heading” instead of <h1> <h2> <h3>, although you can also switch to HTML composition mode for advanced bloggers. This simplicity comes at the expense of flexibility. You lose options, but it saves time so you don’t have to spend days learning a new system.
Although WordPress is easier than other CMSs to master (say, Drupal or Joomla), it isn’t quite as simple as Blogger. You’ll have a bit of a learning curve, although the WYSIWYG post and page editor will quickly become second-nature for anyone who’s ever used a word processing app before. Even if you want to just build a simple blog, you’ll have to pick a hosting provider, choose and install a WordPress theme, and learn how to install and configure at least a few WordPress plugins.
It might not be quite as easy as Blogger to get up and running, but starting a WordPress blog isn’t difficult at all. Today, we have the ease of one-click installation scripts on most major host servers. Installing themes and plugins isn’t really any more difficult to do than the equivalent tasks are on Blogger. So, yes, in our title “Blogger vs. WordPress” fight, the “ease of use” round goes to Blogger but be aware that you’re giving up a lot of flexibility and function for that user-friendliness.
Brandability, development, and SEO
It’s important for a new blog to be well-branded and optimized for search, and in this category, WordPress wins hands down. By default, Blogger gives you a second-tier domain, unless you have a domain name already registered, which you can use.
This means your URL will be something like http://mynewblog.blogspot.com, which doesn’t look very professional and may also fail to inspire a lot of reader trust. With WordPress, you’ll register your own top-level domain (TLD). You can brand your own blog your way, and as long as it’s available for registration, you’ll have a clean, professional looking domain that you control.
Blogger is also slightly more difficult to move away from. You can copy the content and import it into a self-hosted WordPress site but you’ll lose some of your SEO, your search rankings, your subscribers and followers in the move. Plus your data will remain on Google’s servers, even if you export it to a new server. Blogger also doesn’t offer any straightforward way to manage on-page SEO tasks.
With WordPress, you can port your site anywhere you like — change the hosting company, change the domain name (and redirect your URLs) or even move to an entirely new content management system if you like. With a little effort, you can preserve most of those digital assets for your site. WordPress also offers much more robust ways to manage and maintain your SEO advantages.
That doesn’t mean WordPress is perfect. Things can go wrong, which can end up costing you time, money, or both. No site is 100% secure from hackers, malware, and other vulnerabilities. WordPress is far and away the most popular CMS in the world today, which makes it a tempting target for many hackers. Even your hosting company’s servers aren’t immune from getting attacked.
Of course, you can minimize the risk by making full, frequent backups and following best practices when securing your site and updating files. But that’s no guarantee something won’t go wrong. And with WordPress, you’ll be in charge of fixing it, or getting it fixed. Blogger, on the other hand, will take care of issues on its platform, as long as it’s being actively managed.
Ownership and control
Google-owned Blogger offers limited tools in order to make life simpler for the majority of its users. And for those users, that’s a good thing. They don’t need the bells and whistles, but they do appreciate things being kept simple.
The resulting sites do what those casual bloggers need them to do: provide an easy, straightforward way to publish their writing, images, and other content on the web. It’s connected to Google so it’s easy to use. Your Gmail account ports right over and gives you immediate, automatic access.
The biggest drawback to Blogger, however, is that everything is Google-owned. You can’t choose your own hosting plan, so you don’t host your files. Google does. And that means Google can pull the plug or change the rules on you any time they like. You’re not in the driver’s seat of your own blog. If you plan to build a profitable, sustainable online business, whether for affiliate marketing, niche content marketing, or any other business purpose, you can do a lot better than Blogger.
WordPress is open-source, so it’s easy for developers to add new functions and features. With thousands of plugins available on the WordPress repository and elsewhere, you can change, revise, and add to the default WordPress site in lots of ways. It’s not hard to add an e-commerce storefront, for example, or create an attractive portfolio to showcase your work. You can even set up an attractive membership site behind a paywall.
You own your digital house, and you’re responsible for maintenance and upkeep of the software (your hosting provider should take care of the hardware, depending on the plan you sign up for). With WordPress, your site truly belongs to you. Assuming you haven’t stolen the content from someone else, your content and your files all belong to you. It’s the superior foundation to support your future business and take your website to the next level.
Customization and design
Blogger has a limited number of themes — eleven at the time of this writing. You get some point-and-click tools to fine-tune colors and layout, but you can’t make your own or choose something altogether different. You’re restricted to whatever Blogger decides to make available to you.
By comparison, there are thousands of free and premium WordPress themes. And if none of those options quite suit your purpose, you can hire a WordPress designer to create a unique theme for your site — the equivalent of custom couture for your website. With WordPress, you can modify and customize your site’s look and layout to your heart’s content, either through a new WordPress theme, in the Dashboard code editor, or via FTP access.
Support and development
Blogger also offers limited support options. There are searchable help files and basic documentation, as well as a searchable user forum. But you can’t hire an expert to create a new theme or add new functionality to a Blogger site, because you can’t grant them server access.
Compare that to WordPress and its robust, active community of users and developers who frequently and happily help each other out. You can also find assistance in the form of video and text tutorials on a number of blogs and sites devoted to WordPress issues.
WordPress itself might be open-source and free, but running a self-hosted WordPress site isn’t. You’ll have to pay for hosting, and even the least expensive plans can cost $70 a year or more. You can spend even more if you want to add premium themes or plugins. And in some cases, you’ll have to hire a professional developer to achieve a particular site goal, and that can cost you $30-$60 an hour and up. On the other hand, Blogger is totally free.
Case closed? Not quite. If you’re using your blog to make money, then any expenses you incur in building or maintaining your site might be tax-deductible as business expenses. And it’s absolutely true that smart investments in your website can pay huge dividends.
The future of the platforms
Apparently, Blogger hasn’t had any major updates in awhile. At the same time, Google has already proven it has no qualms about killing its projects. It’s true that Blogger’s future depends entirely on Google’s corporate plans and goals.
Meanwhile, WordPress, as an open-source piece of software, has attracted a whole galaxy of skilled, dedicated developers. They’re part of the team, as are its millions of committed, happy users. Does this mean Automattic (the company of WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg) couldn’t pull the plug like Google could with Blogger, if it wanted to? Basically, yes. WordPress’s future is quite bright.
Conclusion: Blogger vs. WordPress
For casual bloggers who use their sites purely for personal reasons or as an occasional creative outlet, Blogger is an acceptable choice. But even for those casual bloggers, WordPress offers superior benefits: customization, control, support, and flexibility. You’ll pay more for it, but that’s an investment that can bring a huge return on the long run.
And if you’re any other kind of blogger, with plans on monetizing your site, or putting it to any serious purpose, WordPress is absolutely your best bet. It’s worth the time, cost, and effort to master, because it helps you achieve your blogging goals. Have you used both Blogger and WordPress? What are your thoughts about the advantages and drawbacks of each platform? What is your favorite blogging platform? Share your experience in the comments below.