Blogger.com, WordPress.com or WordPress.org – Which One Should I Choose?
Posted on 12th March, 2008
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:
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.
|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.