I wanted to get this article out so anyone who doesn’t have a blog yet can get rolling with a little advice on that very basic of questions: where should I blog?
Here’s a run-down of their pros and cons.
Also known as Blogspot. You may have used Blogger in the distant past and been displeased. Google heard that displeasure some years ago, and have since whacked Blogger into shape.
- Easy to use, mostly works. You can start blogging in literally under a minute if you already have a GMail account.
- There are third-party templates available, and professional designers who will work with Blogspot templates.
- You can have Blogger give you a real domain name for your blog, rather than using blah.blogspot.com—this will cost you about $9 a year.
- Blogger is one of the least friendly platforms where comments are concerned: not easy to moderate, not easy to post, and no spam filter. Edited to add: But it does have the best-working captcha (word validation) out there, as C-Squared below reminds me.
- Google can delete your blog permanently or shut you down at will. Or someone else’s will.
- If you ever want to move your registered domain name away—say your blog gets nuked—good luck on getting either Google or GoDaddy to return any of your emails.
LiveJournal occupies a special niche in the blogosphere, because it’s one of the few blogging places that offers so much in the way of networking features. Community blogs, friending, sharing of media, etc—before social networking descended upon us all with MySpace, there was LiveJournal.
- Community atmosphere like no other blogging place. Join in the fun!
- Many, many stock templates which won’t start looking disturbingly familiar after visiting a few LiveJournals.
- Best visual editor of them all.
- LiveJournal’s single-post URLs are not search engine friendly.
- LiveJournal now belongs to the Russians. Take that as you will; they’ve started maturity filtering.
Ah, yes. WordPress is generally considered the king of blogging platforms; anybody who wants to become a serious blogger will eventually need to use WordPress.
WordPress is powerful and flexible, with a ton of third-party extensions as well as a ton of third-party themes (free and for pay). You can make WordPress do just about whatever you want, except for some tiny niggling annoying things, but what blogging platform doesn’t?
WordPress comes in two main flavors.
You pay someone some money, they give you a WordPress site. Or you have your own web host, and you get WordPress set up there.
- Many useful extensions out there, like the wonderful Akismet comment spam filter, post popularity tracking, and scheduled backups of your installation and database.
- Many pretty themes out there, nestled on top of one of the most flexible theme engines around.
- Advanced features for blogging, like pages (my About page isn’t a glorified post, for instance), pagination of individual posts, and the wonderful “cut”, aka “Read more”.
- Visual editor is very bad, though usable.
- You need to install a lot of plugins initially, because WordPress out of the box is rather bare bones and, in some ways, highly annoying until fixed with plugins. And you’ll need to do some theme hunting.
- The full WordPress experience requires a little cash—your own webhosting.
For those who don’t wish to dish out the money or the time, there is:
This is WordPress for the masses. WordPress was originally designed to run as a web application on one of your own hosts, rather than being hosted centrally like Blogger or LiveJournal. WordPress.com changed that.
But nothing’s perfect, least of all WordPress.com.
- You get much of WordPress without paying the money or the setup time.
- You’ll have access to plenty of plugins and some amount of themes from the get-go.
- You can pay WordPress.com some money to get a real domain for your blog, rather than just blah.wordpress.com—same deal as Google.
- No third-party themes for you. And WordPress.com doesn’t have even half as many themes as LiveJournal does. You can pay $15 and thus be able to make some CSS changes, but they won’t be as radical as getting a real theme.
- No other plugins for you. Want to try something out, like a better widget for displaying recent comments? Sorry.
If You Have to Choose One?
Are you brand new to blogging? If so:
Do you not care about site metrics, but do care about community? Pick LiveJournal.
Experienced bloggers, there’s only one choice: WordPress.
… you’ll end up with WordPress anyways. *grin*
Not to worry, though. WordPress allows you to import easily from Blogger or LiveJournal, in case you change your mind later.
The Floor is Open
Got Experiences to Share?
Do any of you have experience with some of the other platforms out there, such as TypePad? Have you been bitten badly—or blessed beyond your wildest imagination—by any particular blogging software?
If so, please comment!
Anything you’d like me to address in a future column (like the one on this coming Wednesday)? Leave a comment here, or contact me privately.
I’ve got plans for Wednesday. Oh yes.
Until then, keep up the writing faith!