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Blogger.com, WordPress.com or WordPress.org – Which One Should I Choose?

March 12, 2008 by  

I received an email from a reader recently asking me about the differences between Blogspot and WordPress and which one is better if one wants to setup a blog with its own domain name.

This is probably one of the most common questions asked by newbies when starting out their journey in the blogging world. I’m posting my answer here for the benefit of those who may have similar questions.

BlogSpot aka Blogger.com (I’m going to use this term to refer to this service) is a hosted blogging service. Hosted means, you don’t have to worry about spending money on web hosting because they will take care of that for free.

You can setup your own custom domain name (like Sabahan.com) instead of opting for the more common blogname.blogspot.com address setup on Blogger.com. Using your own domain has the inherit advantage in that it can be used as a branding platform while helping your blog appears more credible to your readers.

While you won’t get the full control and freedom as when using your own hosting solution, it’s still a better choice if setting up your own blog software, dealing with hosting fees and all the setup hassles aren’t your cup of tea.

To learn more on how to setup your own custom domain name on Blogger.com, click here.

WordPress itself can be divided into two categories; one is WordPress.com which works like Blogger.com and the other one is WordPress.org, a site where you can download the open source WordPress software and host it on your own server.

If you register with WordPress.com, you blog address will be like mynewblog.wordpress.com. Like Blogger.com, you can use your own custom domain name with your WordPress.com blog.

So you may buy the domain name mynewblog.com and ask WordPress.com to automatically move your blog over and redirect all your links and readers to the short and sweet mynewblog.com instead of mynewblog.wordpress.com that carries an amateurish notion all over it – at least that’s how my first impression would be like.

Click here to learn more about domain registration and mapping with WordPress.com.

So to recap we have four options to choose from when one wants to setup a blog with Blogger.com and WordPress. The following shows the possible blog addresses for each service:

 

Blogger.com

  • Mynewblog.blogspot.com
  • Mynewblog.com

WordPress

  • Mynewblog.wordpress.com
  • Mynewblog.com

 

Back to the original question, which one is better if your goal is to setup a blog with its own custom domain name? To answer that question, we need to understand what each service has to offer. More importantly, you need to ask yourself why do you want to start a blog.

I have to admit that being a user of WordPress from WordPress.org for nearly all of my blogs; I might be a bit bias when it comes to answering this question.

So both Blogger.com and WordPress.com is free which is good but there are some fundamental differences between those two.

While I have several blogs hosted on blogger.com, they are why I call experimental blogs which were setup when I was just testing the water. I find blogger.com doesn’t support as many features as WordPress.com.

As an example, the absent of a function to help you create static pages (for your About Us page, Contact Us page etc) on Blogger.com is rather frustrating as I think those are some of the most important pages a blog should have. OK, there’s a work-around but it’s for the average users, too complicated of a solution at best.

The post timestamp feature in WordPress allows you publish your posts some time in the future. This is useful when for example you plan to go out of town for a couple of days, you can prepare some blog posts that will be published at specific intervals throughout the day without your intervention. This feature is simply not supported on Blogger.com.

If you want more control over your template, you can tinker with the underlying template code as much as you wish. This is however not possible with WordPress.com, except the rudimentary ability that allows you to customize your headers and colour scheme. Even then, that’s only possible if the template itself supports customization.

The ability to create categories in WordPress puts it ahead of Blogger when it comes to organizing your posts. It’s an alternative to sort your posts besides the by date option.

I can go on and on talking about the advantages WordPress.com has over Blogger.com, IMHO, WordPress.com emerges as the clear winners on a features by features comparison.

Some of you may wonder if WordPress.com is better than Blogger.com than why the later seems like a more popular choice among bloggers? I think it’s more popular among new and amateur bloggers rather than among those who consider themselves as serious bloggers.

Now, I know that there are many exceptions to this but I did say earlier that I could be a little bias against other services besides WordPress didn’t I? ;)

Blogger.com is owned by Google.com and last time I checked they are making use of their advertising muscle to the fullest promoting the service via AdWords. So that could easily contribute to its popularity.

Now let’s us compare WordPress.com to WordPress.org to find which one is better.

First and foremost, WordPress.org gives you more control and freedom on your blogging activities since you are hosting it in on your own server. You are not bounded by any terms and condition that could work against your blog.

If you want to make money from your blog, you should cross WordPress.com off your list right away. Their Term of Service states (take note the bolded text)

the Content is not spam, and does not contain unethical or unwanted commercial content designed to drive traffic to third party sites or boost the search engine rankings of third party sites, or to further unlawful acts (such as phishing) or mislead recipients as to the source of the material (such as spoofing).

What I know for sure is that writing paid reviews would risk account suspension. However the term “commercial content” is so general it could be interpreted in many different ways. Does it means you are not allowed to promote affiliate programs, put AdSense ads in your blog, sell books via your Amazon affiliate links or review products or services for your companies?

As the boundaries between content and advertising become increasing blurred, you are at the helm of WordPress.com by letting them dictate your blog’s future as you continue to monetize your content.

From a technical perspective, WordPress.org offers many benefits over WordPress.com as you can see from the table below. However WordPress.com wins hands down for convenience.

WordPress.com
WordPress.org
Pros
Cons
Pros
Cons
It’s free Limited themes choice Ability to upload themes You need to pay for you own web hosting
It’s easy to setup No control over the code whatsoever Ability to upload plugins Requires some technical know how for setup
Upgrades, backups and security are handled automatically in the background You can’t install third party plugins Complete control to edit code as you wish Software upgrade has to be done manually
Use SSL so that no one can get into your account if you connect via Wifi Terms of service may restrict your blogging freedom and ability to make money from your blog Great community that could help you along the way Your site could be down if you server can’t handle huge traffic spike

 

So if you are serious about blogging, and plan to monetize your content then go for WordPress.org. Otherwise, any of the free options; Blogger.com or WordPress.com will serve you just fine if you just want to learn about blogging.

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29 Comments »

Comment by pinolobu Subscribed to comments via email
2008-03-13 01:28:52

I was at wordpress.com till early 2007. It does not allow adsense to be put in.

Gaman, perhaps you can give your 2 cents about blogging software: WordPress vs Moveable Type. tq

Comment by Gaman
2008-03-13 16:52:33

Sorry I am not familiar with Moveable Type.

 
 
Comment by Kay Kastum Subscribed to comments via email
2008-03-13 01:40:53

That’s one awesome explanation. There’s so many successful blogger who uses free blog platforms. But it’s WordPress for me. Can’t live without it. It’s so easy, almost flexible and lots of plugins.

 
Comment by Edrei
2008-03-13 15:46:31

That’s assuming you make money via ads. There are people who make money without ever using ads on their blog or having their content being commercialized. Like me for instance, I don’t have to pay for webhosts because of the content I write. As long as I write quality content, it pays for itself and I do get money in the process. A lot of successful bloggers do work this way as well. Lorelle on WordPress for instance started on WordPress.com. Now she blogs for Blog Herald as well.

But that’s beside the point.

There are a few things about WordPress.com and the Standalone WordPress you didn’t mention.

WordPress.com has an integrated social network, which is a little like LiveJournal. It’s good if you’re a blogger that wants exposure. The more you blog and interact within the WordPress.com community, the more exposure you’ll get.

Stand alone WordPress is easy as well as free BUT, if you’re really serious about it. Get someone to walk you through installing it on your own (as opposed to the more popular let someone do it for you or the one click install options). The more you’re familiar with how the standalone works, the less problems you might have in the future.

Comment by Gaman
2008-03-13 16:47:27

That’s assuming you make money via ads.

Actually I am talking about monetizing content in general and ads is just one of them. And I assume your blog isn’t on WordPress.com.

Like me for instance, I don’t have to pay for webhosts because of the content I write. As long as I write quality content, it pays for itself and I do get money in the process.

Yup, I mentioned about branding. Anyway, I am sure many readers (newbies especially) do not mind if you could elaborate more on how do you “get money in the process”. :)

 
 
Comment by mudin00
2008-03-13 17:21:04

I used blogspot from August 2003 till June 2006. After that I moved to WordPress.com till Sept last year. And now hosting using the open source wordpress.org.

I don’t know how to explain, but definitely Worpress is the superior one!

 
Comment by Jewelle Tan
2008-03-13 22:50:19

Gosh, NOW I see this! I just started my wordpress blog because I never knew that I could have custom domain using blogger and besides everyone seems to talk of only WordPress.

 
Comment by Edrei
2008-03-14 15:40:58

I’ve been working on WordPress for a long time (both in learning and tweaking the codes) and before this (back in the version 1.5/2.0 days) I used to write a lot of tips and updates on my blog about WordPress.

The side effect of that was people began offering money to help them install, maintain servers and otherwise tweak or teach them WordPress. After that I got picked up to be a member of 9rules due to my content and because of that, I started to know people who offered to host me due to my need for it then and the exclusivity of the 9rules membership.

That’s how I get hosting for free and earn a little money on the sidelines. It all starts with content and building a community out of it.

Comment by Gaman
2008-03-14 18:55:22

Good for you. That’s one of the ways how one could make money from blogging in general. On the other hand, this topic is not about making money, rather how to select a blogging service that suits your needs ;)

Anyway, thanks for the explaination.

 
 
Comment by Steve Wong
2008-03-15 01:29:07

Very clear and well organised explanations!

Frankly speaking, after few month of blogging, now only i know we can use custom domain names on wordpress / blogspot platform…

Thanks for your effort!

 
Comment by walski69
2008-03-16 13:30:03

For those venturing into blogging for the first time, my personal recommendation would be Blogger. It’s a lot easier to get started (IMHO), and lately has become pretty feature-rich. There are also loads of templates that one can choose from, as compared with WP.

However, once you advance into the hosted-blog territory, WordPress.org would probably be a better choice – if for no other reason, a few features available on the Blogger-hosted version are not available once you transcend into the hosted world.

Just my two-bits on this, btw… I actually tried both Blogger and WordPress concurrently when I started two years ago, and found that Blogger was more conducive for newbie bloggers. And as I became more comfortable with direct HTML/xHTML script manipulation, Blogger became my platform of choice – WP really sucks in this area.

So far, I’ve no immediate plans to go hosted anytime soon, but if and when I do, it’s very likely that I’ll go WordPress… unless Blogger tweaks itself, too.

 
Comment by What Sells Online
2008-03-16 23:54:47

Excellent post, and I like the comparison chart. I’ve been using Typepad for a while, but have realized that it has many limitations, despite being a paid blogging platform. I’m currently working on using WordPress for my blog, and getting my own hosting.

On blogger, I think if you are just starting out on internet marketing, Search Engine spiders from Google tend to visit blogs hosted by Blogger.com faster than other blog hosts.

I totally agree with you on the limitations of Blogger.com. In the long run, it’s always better to have your own blog domain name, and your own blog host for greater flexibility.

Cheers,
Samantha
What Sells Online!

 
Comment by eshark
2008-03-17 15:29:45

I got both hosted with WordPress.org for my blog design + WordPress.com for my ‘aramaiti’ blog. Never try blogger, but what I’ve noticed blogger have quiet number of users around, while wordpress have wide range of plugins + themes development going on. I would say WordPress is my choice.

 
2008-03-25 06:11:01

I recommend going with a web host that will automatically install WordPress, that way you get the benifits of hosting your own WordPress blog, but don’t have to go through the hassels installing it. It’s like getting the pros of both WordPress.com and WordPress.org.

 
Comment by titan
2008-03-25 16:52:39

I can said, i prefer wit wordpress.org. I’m become more familiar with this one.

 
Comment by Felex Tan
2008-04-02 08:41:10

I upgraded my blogspot.com to dot com and i just need to pay $10 for 1 year subscription.Recently many bloggers talk about how good wordpress is,then i went to try it,i found that it is quite complicated at the 1st place,perhaps i use blogspot,in terms of functions,there are some differences.Normally,i can edit html at blogspot but not for wordpress as well as page element,i add on link,blogroll easily at blogspot.But for wordpress,you need to subscribe hostng service,the cheapest that i found is $6.95 from Bluehost.It depensd on what do you want,both have their strenght and weakness,find a balance point,then you will know which one is a best for you.

 
Comment by Steve Yu
2008-04-05 01:02:28

I am a ex-Blogger.com user myself and just switch to own hosted WordPress blog. And blogging with wordpress is just great as compared to Blogger. So if anyone feeling like blogging, don’t hesitate to spend some money on domain name and web hosting. :D

 
Comment by Etavasi Subscribed to comments via email
2008-04-22 22:35:44

Well me i like to use blogger. It is free and we can use edit their code. Then wordpress we need to buy then we can customize it. hehe.. but there is nothing wrong if we have a money.

 
Comment by Yan Subscribed to comments via email
2008-05-07 01:07:15

Once you go WordPress, you’ll never go back. A little investment on domain and hosting is necessary for anyone who is serious about blogging.

Pardon me for being a little biased here but choose WordPress.org and choose wisely.

 
Comment by Yen
2008-05-22 17:54:48

I use Blogger and WordPress and I think when you want to be with google users you mast use only Blogger! But I like WordPress much :)

 
Comment by Etavasi Subscribed to comments via email
2008-05-26 18:31:23

I just want to ask about the term of “serious blogger” what is serious blogger ? Pity of me i think so :) i just use blogspot as my blog platform. WordPress is good but i think we only can customize the CSS if we use own hosting and domain. So i just use blogspot.. for free :D

 
Comment by Philip
2008-06-02 13:59:44

Thanks for the useful info. I’m about to move from WordPress.com to WordPress.org.

Thanks again, and you have a wonderful blog!

 
Comment by thaibittorrent
2008-06-03 00:16:17

I thought wordpress is the best flexible blog to manage and plugin.

 
Comment by fivekitten
2008-12-13 03:44:29

FYI: I wrote WordPress.com to clarify this, and they said they only allow amazon.com ads. For me, this is the singular reason why blogger is better than wordpress.com. However, I’m just starting to play with wordpress.org now. I have no doubt it’s the preferable choice of the three – but comparing free software to free hosted blogs is a little like comparing apples to apple pie.

Having blogs on all formats with a link going to your primary website or blog is good for search engine results if the topics are related.

I felt blogger was great for a first experience in blogging, and it was a great learning tool. But for personal blogs, for branding and no ads, WordPress.com is nice. But I hate not being able to upload your own theme.

 
Comment by babyhanna
2010-03-03 20:31:09

very interesting post. tq for sharing. im new to wordpress.org but found it very easy to use.

 
2010-04-26 09:11:48

I just wrote an article similar because I was thinking about making the switch – http://www.inspiredtowrite.com/2010/04/giant-leap-moving-from-blogger-to.html

However, two of the negatives you mention about Blogger are no longer true (post date and static pages) and actually after thinking about it – I think I am going to stick with Blogger… If I did switch it would be to the .org version and since this is more money and work, I will hold off — for now.

Thanks!

 
Comment by tribalstylemedia
2011-09-13 11:06:42

Thanks for citing the differences. I liked your comparison chart.

 
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