Jeanne (at A Peaceful Day) asked recently about the pros and cons of wordpress; I wanted to answer her question thoroughly, but I’m also guessing other people might have the same question. So I’m sharing my thoughts about a few blog hosting sites I have personal experience with.
I’ve blogged at homeschoolblogger, blogger, and wordpress; I also briefly created test blogs on tumblr and typepad, but in my limited experience, neither of those two allowed for enough customization to suit me. (I may be more particular than most as far as that goes, though.)
On homeschoolblogger, I was able to do quite a bit of customization, and the community there is friendly. In fact, I still have some blog friends I met there! But I don’t like the ads. The kicker for me to leave was when a friend’s blog was deleted without warning because she announced a move to a new web host, and they deemed that inappropriate content.
Overall I have been very happy with blogger, and they have recently even added a few features that I have always liked on wordpress, like “pages.” So I’d still recommend blogger. No problems there, and ease of use is high on my list of pros for blogger.
WordPress.com is a free blog host, just like blogger. The only con for me in regards to wordpress is limited customization of themes: only some of the themes allow for a custom header, and there is no way to change width or things like that unless you purchase upgrades. But there are many themes to choose from, so if you can find one you like, go for it! Both blogger and wordpress have the same basic features, but here are some of the things I like better about wordpress:
- How I view comments! I can see all my comments, for one individual post, or for all my posts, right in one spot on my dashboard. I like that!
- Contacting commenters! I have it set where you have to enter an email address to comment, but it does not show up anywhere other than my private dashboard. This allows me to email commenters directly to answer questions, etc.
- Comment moderation! I comment moderation set, BUT once I have approved a comment from a particular person, I do not have to approve comments for them in the future. I like that, too!
- Less spam! There seems to be a much better spam-catching system.
- Image uploading! It’s different than blogger, so if you switch, it may take a little getting used to, but I like it better. I can easily get to any image I have already uploaded in my “media” on my dashboard, and can even to minor editing (like cropping) right there. There is also an option to add a photo caption when you upload; I don’t always use this feature, but I do like it!
- Tags on posts that you can use in addition to categories. Not all themes display tags, but they are handy.
- Word count; there’s very seldom any reason I’d actually need this feature, but I like it anyway. It shows up as you type your draft.
Another important note: it was super-easy to import all of my blog posts and comments to my new blog. Just a click of a button. Super cool!
With both blogger and wordpress (and probably other hosts) you have the ability to purchase your own domain name, which allows you to do away with the “.wordpress” or “.blogspot” part of your URL. On blogger, a custom domain name is about $10 per year, and on wordpress, it’s about $14.
The option with the most flexibility and options is to have a self-hosted blog. What the heck is a self-hosted blog? It means you have your own domain name, but you also have your own web host (GoDaddy is a popular one), rather than being hosted by a blog-hosting site like wordpress, blogger, typepad, or any of the others. Web hosting services usually charge around $5 (or more) each month, but you have unlimited flexibility and more storage. It also enables you to have your own email account, like email@example.com. We already have our own web host, because of hosting our business website and blog, so Ken and I just purchased domain names (from Network Solutions), and then used wordpress.org (different than wordpress.com — see below!) to create our new blogs.
WordPress.org is a free “publishing platform.” You download and install it after you have your own domain and web host. It has all the features of wordpress.com, plus more! You can download and install all sorts of additional themes (many free; even more available for purchase); you have customization limited only by your knowledge of CSS (similar to HTML); you can download and install all sorts of fabulous plug-ins, too. A few I like: the one that shows my Google Analytics right on my dashboard, and the CommentLuv plug-in to link to commenters’ most recent post.
I hope this post was helpful!