This is a super in-depth review based on my personal experience.
I have used Blogger, WordPress.com, and WordPress.org for multiple personal blogs in the past 5 years.
There is no dearth of blogging platforms to start a blog.
But these 3 options are the most popular and widely discussed when it comes to starting a blog.
In my opinion, they rightfully deserve to be in the top 3 blogging platforms because of several features and functionalities they offer.
I will walk you through the basics of using each platform and their pros and cons in this detailed guide.
We will start by introducing these platforms and then do a complete comparison to determine which is the best option for you?
- Blogger (Blogspot)
- WordPress.com (Free)
- WordPress.org (Self-Hosted)
Blogger is a blogging platform owned by Google itself that allows you to start a blog for free.
All the blogs on Blogger are hosted on Google servers which means it’s more reliable than any other blogging platform out there.
Despite being a free blogging platform, it gives more freedom and flexibility than any other free blogging platforms out there.
All you need to start your own blog is a Gmail account.
The time required for basic setup is less than 15 minutes.
1. Just go to Blogger.com and sign in using your Gmail account
2. Start a new blog by clicking on the top left corner and use any default template.
The domain is the virtual address of your blog. Just like www.blogfundas.com is my custom domain address.
3. Google gives you .blogspot domain for hosting your free blog. So your blog’s domain address would look like yourblog.blogspot.com
Blogger is the free blogging platform while, Blogspot is the free domain registrar or domain service provider.
You can also purchase your custom domain from Godaddy or Google domains for 10-15$/ year and link it with your Blog.
I recommend you to purchase your own domain as .blogspot.com is not good for SEO.
Customization and Functionality
Blogger offers simple and easy to use themes to design your blog.
You can choose any of the default options or download Blogger themes from other sites as well.
Gadgets on Blogger are somewhat similar to plugins on WordPress and can be used to add some additional features.
The customization options are very limited and there’s not much you can change unless you want to dig into HTML file and make the changes yourself.
And even if you know a bit of coding, there’s not much you can change as almost all blogger templates are very restrictive as far as design, customization, and functionality are concerned.
One, sad part is a major disadvantage in SEO despite Blogger being a Google product.
Some of the reasons you will never see a Blogger Blog ranking in the first page of Google for competitive keywords are as follows:
1. Permalink(URL) structure which contains a date by default
2. Not enough flexibility to manage heading hierarchy, categories, and tags
3. Lack of any simple and easy way to manage even basic SEO settings.
It’s completely fine if you don’t understand any of these things at this point, but there’s nothing worse than putting so much effort on your blog and knowing about these things later.
This fact is further acknowledged by almost all the bloggers who started on Blogger platform and later switched to other platforms.
Despite its limitations in customization, functionality, and SEO,
Blogger still remains a great choice for casual blogging and people who are looking at the easiest way to start your own blog.
1. Easy to Use
2. Zero Cost of Initial Investment.
3. Reliable and secure Google servers which means your data and blog remains safe.
4. Able to withstand high amounts of traffic
5. Freedom to choose whether you want to show ads on your blog or not.
6. Good for beginners and casual blogging
1. Limited options to design and customize your blog.
2. Limited functionality.
3. Not suitable for other means of monetizing your blog other than Display Ads.
4. Rare to find a Blogger website showing up in search results.
WordPress.com is a blogging platform which provides a four-tier pricing structure from free to 300$ per year.
It is a commercial entity and its objective is to make money, either by showing ads on your free blog or by charging you for more features and functionality.
WordPress.com is fundamentally different from WordPress.org, which we will see further.
Setup is relatively simple and takes less than 15 minutes to set up a basic blog on this platform.
You can go to WordPress.com and create your blog by following a few simple steps:
1. You need to sign up with your email and create an account.
2. Select a type of website that you want, eg. Blog, website, portfolio, online store etc. ( This can be changed later)
3. Choose a theme that you like.
4. Choose a domain. The free domain given by WordPress.com looks like yoursite.wordpress.com
You can choose a custom domain and remove wordpress.com from your blog by subscribing to their paid plans.
5. Create your username and password and verify with your email account.
Customization and Functionality
I would like to say this upfront that I am not a big fan of WordPress.com
It gives you a taste of using WordPress.org but it comes with many limitations and restrictions unless of course, you want to pay for it.
You can choose from multiple free themes and publish blog posts by using a very easy to use a text editor.
Almost, every good feature that you might need for your blog like a simple Yoast SEO plugin that’s available for free on WordPress.org is a paid feature on WordPress.com
Better looking and more functional themes are priced from 50 dollars to even 120 dollars, but they still don’t come even remotely close to the features and functionalities provided by some of the free themes on WordPress.org( Self-hosted)
Sure in exchange they let you host your blog for free and provide a quick and hassle-free way of starting a blog, but you need to pay at almost every stage and for every new feature.
It still would have been fine, if after paying you got the complete autonomy and ownership of your blog, but that’s not the case with WordPress.com
You can check the comparison with WordPress.org to understand this better.
WordPress.com is better than WordPress.org in one department and that is, simplicity and ease of use.
You can get started with your blog in no time and if you are looking to just start a casual blog, WordPress.com will give you most of the things that are required for casual blogging.
WordPress.org outperforms WordPress.com in every department, but it takes a little time to get used to all the features and freedom it offers.
1. Very easy to use and setup
2. Hassle-free setup process as it’s hosted by WordPress.com
3. Easy maintenance as WordPress.com takes care of all updates
4. Secure and reliable
1. You don’t have complete ownership as it is hosted on someone else’s platform.
2. Limited features and functionalities compared to WordPress.org
3. High premium for almost every additional feature and upgrade.
Difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org
I know you might be wondering what’s the difference between these two despite sharing the same name.
WordPress.com and WordPress.org are both owned by the same parent company Automattic.
WordPress.com is a blogging platform that lets you host your blog for free and charges for any additional features you might need.
It is a commercial entity, so it’s understandable that they want to generate revenue in one way or other.
On the other hand software available on WordPress.org is a free-to-use and open-source project.
This software is technically called, the CMS (Content Management System) that can be used to create almost any type of website.
It is used by almost all the top bloggers and even this website uses the same software from WordPress.org
It’s popularity solely depends on the number of people who use it and the community of developers, designers, and coders who are continuously working to make WordPress.org better each day.
The software available on WordPress.org is a free and open-source software that can be used to build every kind of website.
30% of the entire websites on the Internet are using this software, including the one you are using right now.
Even though the software is free to use for anyone, but you still need to purchase your domain address and hosting to host your website.
You have complete autonomy, freedom, and flexibility to create and run any type of website you want.
The time required to set up a basic blog is less than 60 minutes if you are doing this for the first time. You just need to watch a video and follow the steps.
1. Buy a custom domain address for your blog from sites like Godaddy, Namecheap or Google Domains for around 10-12 dollars per year.
2. Choose a good hosting provider like Siteground or Bluehost to host all your content. Think of hosting as a bucket in cloud which stores all your site images, files and blog posts and makes it available to visitors in a fast and secure way.
3. Install WordPress with one-click by logging into your hosting account’s C-panel.
4. Choose a theme you like to design your blog.
5. Install plugins to extend the functionality and to do cool things on your blog.
6. Publish your first blog post.
How to Start a blog in 2018 (Detailed Guide)
Customization and Functionality
You get complete freedom to customize your blog as you want in WordPress.
There are thousands of free themes available for you to choose and design your blog as you wish.
Similarly, you can use plugins to do a lot of cool things on your blog without writing a single line of code.
Plugins are just like apps on your phone, which allow you to do a lot of things which your phone doesn’t allow.
You completely own your blog and are not at the mercy of any other blogging platform.
As it gives you so much flexibility to do things, it takes a bit of time to get used to the platform.
Being a complete newbie it’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the new information, but if you take it one step at a time you can have a blog that you always wished.
WordPress gives you complete control over the design, functionality as well as the SEO of the site.
If you are serious about blogging and want to make money from it, you will need to integrate your blog with many additional features at some stage like Email Marketing Softwares, Pop-ups to collect Emails, Landing Pages, Adding various social media sharing options etc.
You can easily do all of that and more with WordPress.
This is the reason, it is preferred by almost all bloggers who are serious about blogging and earning from it.
1. You get complete autonomy and ownership of your blog.
2. Freedom to add as many features and design as you want.
3. Assistance and support from a wide community of people who use and work on WordPress.
4. Daily backups if you use good hosting like Siteground.
5. Trusted by all the top bloggers.
6. Regularly updated
1. Starting a blog is not completely free as you need to pay for Domain (10$/year) and Hosting (50$/year)
2. All the new features can be a bit overwhelming as a newbie.
3. Takes little time to get used to the platform.
Let’s do a quick comparison of three blogging platforms based on certain key attributes required for blogging:
You get a free .blogspot.com domain on Blogger and freedom to add custom domain without paying anything extra to Google.
Similarly, You can get a free .wordpress.com domain on WordPress.com but it charges you for adding custom domain.
You need to purchase your own custom domain for using WordPress.org (Self Hosted)
You can host your blog for free on Blogger and WordPress.com
You need to pay for hosting beforehand while using self-hosted WordPress version (WordPress.org)
Ease of Making money
Blogger gives you the option to show ads on your blog without asking for any additional fees. Limited ability to use other monetization methods.
WordPress.com asks you to subscribe for premium plans before monetizing your blog. Limited ability to use other monetization methods.
Self-Hosted WordPress version gives you complete freedom to use any monetization method for your blog.
Design and Appearance
You can choose any free theme on blogger and make your blog look decent. Limited Customization possible.
There are some good looking themes in WordPress.com as well. Limited Customization possible.
You can choose any free or premium theme and get more freedom to customize and design your blog on a self-hosted version of WordPress.
You can do very limited things to add more functionality on your Blogger blog.
Ability to add more features is available at a higher premium in WordPress.com
The self-hosted version of WordPress gives you more freedom to extend functionalities of your blog compared to any other blogging platform. It has the ability to scale and grow with your needs, which is lacking in free-platforms.
Ownership and Autonomy
Blogger gives limited ownership and autonomy of your blog.
WordPress.com also gives limited ownership and autonomy of your blog.
WordPress.org gives you complete ownership and autonomy.
You have an option of portability in Blogger, but you might risk all your SEO advantage and traffic that you have earned. It means all your effort of months is wasted.
WordPress.com allows you to export your blog posts to self-hosted version. But the process is not hassle-free and there’s a similar risk like Blogger of losing all your SEO standing and traffic by making a switch.
By using the self-hosted version of WordPress, you have complete freedom to move your site anywhere you want. You can change hosting, domain name and even the CMS that you are using.
Google Servers are extremely secure and reliable. So, your blog remains safe on Blogger.
WordPress.com also has safe and reliable hosting, which keeps your blog secure.
Security depends on your hosting and you when it comes to self-hosted WordPress blog. If you choose a good hosting provider, your blog will remain secure. Some good hosting providers do daily backups of your site, to keep it secure.
All the three blogging platforms mentioned above are some of the best options that are available today.
I hope this guide helped you understand each of these platforms and the various pros and cons associated with it.
I have used each of these platforms at various stages of my blogging career.
You are free to choose what you want, but if you want my opinion here’s what I’d say:
In case, you are a casual blogger not interested in making money from your blogs, you can choose either Blogger or WordPress.com
If you want to make some money for your efforts but not interested to pay anything upfront, you can get started on Blogger.
If you are willing to have a committed relationship with blogging while having all the freedom and flexibility you want, choose WordPress.
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