When starting a blog you have a number of options… As with most things in life, there isn’t really a right or a wrong solution. Each option has some major advantages and disadvantages, of which we’re going to now talk about.
Blogger.com provides possibly the easiest way to start a blog. Unlike other blogging platforms which require you to have web space and install blogging software, with Blogger you simply visit the website, create an account – and then build your blog using a point and click web interface.
It’s very simple and best of all free. You don’t even need to have a domain name or web hosting. You can literally have a blog online in around fifteen minutes – and they also provide themes and layouts so that you can customize your blog and make it look a particular way.
So – Blogger.com certainly has its advantages and it can sometimes be a good solution. If you feel uncomfortable with setting up a hosting account and want to get a new blog online as quickly as possible then it can provide a decent solution.
So why is it then that it isn’t really recommended? There are several major drawbacks to Blogger, one of which can be serious and might not rear its ugly head until several years down the line.
One of the main problems is that you never actually own your blog. Blogger.com is owned by Google and essentially all you are doing is borrowing their website to host your blog. You are bounded by their rules and decisions – and thus they can come along at any time and shut down your blog.
If you’ve spent two years building your blog and writing posts then it’s just too bad. You will lose it all – and there generally isn’t a lot you can do about it. You might think “well, I’m running a legitimate blog, they’re never going
to shut down my site” – but this isn’t necessarily so. I have seen cases of successful, popular and legitimate blogs being shut down for seemingly no reason. I’m sure there WAS a reason of course, it just seems that way.
But that’s not the only issue. One of the biggest problems with Blogger is that it’s fairly inflexible. Sure, they provide you with some templates, layouts and widgets to choose from – but there is nothing like the range available for other blogging platforms such as WordPress.
SquareSpace is an increasingly popular blogging platform and is definitely worthy of your consideration. Unlike Blogger or WordPress (covered next), SquareSpace isn’t free and attracts a membership fee. They host the whole thing (so it could still potentially be vulnerable to deletion, although I’m told this isn’t really a problem on SquareSpace. Important: You would need to look into that yourself though!)
At the time of writing, prices start at $12 a month for a 20 page website and 3GB storage. The site is extremely easy to use and has the benefit of being pretty customisable. Where SquareSpace really excels though is in security. There is generally much lesser risk of your blog being hacked when compared to other open source platforms such as WordPress.
You might like this added security, the ease of use and the back up support provided. You may however be turned off by the price. So – SquareSpace is a good solution but it still remains a relatively niche player when compared to the daddy of them all – WordPress.
WordPress is probably the most popular blogging platform and it’s the one most people use – so this is the one we’re going to concentrate on primarily during this report. You can see an example of a WordPress blog in the screenshot below: Why is WordPress so great? It’s extremely user friendly, you own your own blog (unlike Blogger where it can be deleted by someone else) and it’s extremely customisable.
With a WordPress site you can pretty much do anything with it… From a simple blog, right through to a complex e-commerce store incorporating many features, WordPress can usually be adapted to suit what you require. There are literally thousands of different templates to choose from. Some are free and some are paid – but there is nearly always something which suits your needs.
There are also thousands of widgets and add-ons which can be added to your blog to improve functionality and even make you money. As with anything, WordPress isn’t perfect though. WordPress is often said to be vulnerable to being hacked. I’ve had it happen myself and it’s something you need to take seriously. To minimise the risk, make sure that you regularly back up your site and install the latest updates when they come out. WordPress is always being updated, with bugs and security hole fixes. Don’t let that put you off though. I’m a huge fan of WordPress and (in my opinion at least) it remains the best solution.