Ξ December 7th, 2009 | → 0 Comments | ∇ Author: NGPriest |
Seeing how “notorious” have I become by blogging, lots of my friends got tempted to open their own blogs as well. The first question that they threw at me was usually: “How do I blog?” which then leads to “Which blogging platform should I choose?”. I know there are a few blogging platforms out there but the most popular ones are Google Blogger and WordPress. If you are not familiar with WordPress, there are actually 2 different types of “service” that WordPress offer: a free online blogging service like Blogger (@WordPress.com) and a self-hosted WordPress, i.e installing the WordPress system on your own web space (download @WordPress.org).
Lots of bloggers always have the arguments about which platform is better (we actually had this conversation when the Melbourne bloggers met for the first time at the airport for Nuffnang Blog Awards 2009). Personally, I’d say those arguments will never be valid unless if you have already blogged using each platform for at least a month. I actually switched from Google Blogger 2 years ago to a self-hosted WordPress and I’ve never regretted my decision since then.
Blogger vs a self-hosted WordPress
I don’t want to include WordPress.com service here because I found that the service is very lacking (especially once I realised that a self-hosted WordPress has way much more “unlocked” features compared to the online WordPress.com service). If you don’t want to spend any dime yet, go for Google Blogger instead of WordPress.com. Blogger allows you to install third party ads code such as Google AdSense and Nuffnang (WordPress.com doesn’t). And yeah, that reason is good enough not to choose WordPress.com over Blogger.
Why you should be blogging with a self-hosted WordPress
When you blog with Blogger, Google practically owns your blog posts. If something goes wrong (ex. the service is discontinued or if your account ever gets banned by Google), your years of hard work will be gone with it. I hope that you back your posts up regularly if you are still writing at Blogger. With a self-hosted WordPress, your posts are yours and stored at your own web space.
You can’t create categories on Blogger. While this is okay for personal blogs, a more niche-focused blog like mine (a Technology blog) needs categories. It allows your readers to easily browse through your previous posts that interest them.
I find that the “Archives” is not really useful in a blog. It’s a good indicator about the blog’s time line but in my opinion, categories make much more sense to have. Unless of course, if it’s a personal diary blog.
- Static Pages
With WordPress, it’s easy to add custom pages such as “About me”, “Contact”, and other pages. All WordPress themes automatically display all pages so you don’t have to do anything to display your new pages on the blog.
- Multiple pages in a post
Not everyone has a fast speed internet connection. Having a long post with massive images won’t help your new visitors to like your blog. If it takes too long to open your blog, they might as well just leave and find the information they want on another blog. A self-hosted WordPress allows you to easily split your post into multiple pages (as many as you want). This makes the post neater and tidier.
I couldn’t find my “perfect” theme when I was on Blogger but I found heaps of great WordPress themes back then. Even though Blogger themes have now started to catch up, I still find lots of better looking WordPress themes out there. On a self-hosted WordPress, you also have a complete control on the theme as you can modify it to your liking. In fact, there is no “ultimate” theme. You just have to find the theme that satisfy most of your “requirements” and tweak it.
- Full control of everything
- WordPress is open source. It means that the source code is freely available to anyone, including yourself as the blogger. You can modify or tweak your blog to whatever you want it to be; its layout, its CSS, and even add your own code if you know how to write a PHP script. If you freaked out reading this, don’t’ worry. You don’t need to know all of this to be able to blog at a self-hosted WordPress. It’s just a big bonus if you do but you can always find these codes on the net to be used on your own.
- Newer features every few months
WordPress gets an update every few months. They listen to bloggers who’ve been using WordPress and more great features are being added to it. It’s like getting a new toy to play around with every now and then. I’m quite surprised to find that there haven’t been many updates to Blogger since I left it 2 years ago.
It caches your blog posts intelligently so that you can survive a sudden massive traffic spike. I’m not going to explain in detail here how it works but in a nutshell, it reduces the load on the server significantly. Massive traffic slows the loading time of your blog down and sometimes can take out an entire server.
- AntiSpam Bee
Get rid of that annoying CAPTCHA! This plug-in automatically throws away automated comments from bots alike. Spend less time validating comments without annoying your readers too much. I can’t remember how many times I wanted to comment on a Blogger’s blog, only to find that the blogger doesn’t allow anonymous comment because he/she wants to avoid spam comments!
- Subscribe to Comments
Your readers can selectively subscribe to the comments that they wrote on your posts. Whenever someone replies to their comment, an email will be sent. This encourages your readers to keep on coming back to your blog for more discussions.
- WP- Greet Box
Automatically displays a message depending on where the visitor is coming from. For example, if a visitor comes from Twitter, the message (you can modify this) will display your Twitter profile and also a retweet link in case the visitor wants to retweet the post. This works for Digg, StumbleUpon, Facebook, and other supported social media sites.
- All in One SEO
Easily tag your post with keywords and even change the title of the post dynamically. For example, your reader will see your post title as “I’m loving my new camera!” where as the post is actually searchable and titled as “Photos taken with Ricoh CX2 Camera” in search engines. This increases the potential of search engine visitors but not at the expense of having a catchy title. There are other SEO (Search Engine Optimisations) settings on the plugin too.
- Many many more on the WordPress plugins repository!
- Other great features
WordPress is not without flaws, though. It takes time to learn and to tweak. The good news is, you don’t have to but you’ll be missing a lot if you don’t.
If you just want to find an easy to use blogging platform, go for Google Blogger. However, if you are really serious about blogging, then get your own domain name, a web host, and install WordPress on your own web space. Nowadays, it only costs you around $7-10 a month for a good web host and a domain name anyway. Never pick the WordPress.com service, sorry to say. You might as well install the self-hosted WordPress on your own if you do. The online service has too many limited features that it’s not really worth the effort in setting one up.
Go for a self-hosted WordPress even if you think that you are only blogging as a hobby. You’ll never know what your blog is going to become. Trust me, I’ve been there 🙂 your “blogging career”!
If you have any questions about WordPress, please leave a comment here so we can have a nice little discussion.