So you’re ready to start a new blog, but not quite sure where you’d like to park said blog? If that sounds like a predicament you’re facing, keep on reading, friend. We’ve compiled lots of information on three of the more popular blogging/website platforms available today in hopes that it might help you decide where to start that new blog you’re dreaming up.
Blogger is a free service. You sign up at blogger.com and can use your existing Google account if you have one. Blogger is owned by Google, so all your content is stored on the Google servers. This means you won’t need to secure hosting like you do with WordPress, and you don’t need to worry much about bandwidth (it’s Google we’re talking about, after all).
Blogger is relatively easy to customize. It’s what I started on twelve years ago and how I learned to code in the first place. There is truly a tutorial out there for pretty much anything you could think of, as Blogger has been around for so long (though the same can be said for WordPress). You can control the layout and design through Blogger’s simple editors, and you can even see the changes live on your blog using their Template Editor. Their post editor is easy to use, and comes in both a visual editor and an HTML one (for those with a little more advanced skills). You can upload your photos on Blogger and they will host them for you for free.
There are many, many Blogger templates available across the web, on Etsy, Creative Market and, of course, our own site. So if you don’t have the knack for designing your own site, never fear. You can secure a premade template relatively inexpensively, and you won’t have to pay a monthly fee to maintain your site. Even custom Blogger templates tend to be much cheaper than custom WordPress themes.
Blogger provides a limited number of widgets. It’s in this way that Blogger really doesn’t stack up to WordPress. I’ll get into it more in a minute, but WordPress has nearly unlimited widgets that can be added to your blog (both a blessing and a curse). Blogger has a variety, but they fall short for people who have very customized needs.
Since Blogger is owned by Google, you can rest assured that they’ve got the SEO angle covered well. You can set up a custom domain with Blogger fairly easily (you can even do it right through the Blogger interface which makes setup effortless) and security isn’t nearly the risk on Blogger that it is on WordPress (which, again, we’ll get into in a moment).
The major difference between Blogger and WordPress is that you’re basically renting an apartment from Blogger and owning a house through WordPress (in a roundabout way). Yes, Blogger can deem your blog spammy and shut you down, though I have literally never met a single person this has happened to, so this talking point that WordPress fans use is a little dramatic.
WordPress.org is different from WordPress.com, so for the remainder of this post, please keep in mind that I’m referring to WordPress.org when I say WordPress (WP.com is quite worthless in my opinion and not even worth mentioning here). WordPress.org is an incredibly powerful self-hosted blogging platform (technically a Content Management System, so you can host entire websites on WP, but today I’m just focusing on blogging platforms). This means that you’ll need to secure your own hosting.
To secure your hosting, you’ll want to keep in mind what the purpose of your site will be and how much traffic you anticipate driving. If you’ll be driving a lot of traffic, you’ll be using more bandwidth. If you end up driving a ton of traffic to your site, you might find that your web host suspends your site if you aren’t paying enough. More web hosts allow unlimited bandwidth now, so you’ll want to look into that if you are planning on having a lot of traffic on your blog (or if you may ever have a post go viral).
Bluehost is one of the most common shared hosts around, and you can secure hosting very inexpensively (usually anywhere from $3.95 to $6/month). Keep in mind that you’ll need to pay for a year upfront. This is part of the way they keep their costs low. We aren’t huge fans of shared hosts, though, and recommend using something more expensive, called managed WordPress hosting. This will run anywhere from $30 a month and up, but you will typically experience significantly less problems and downtimes using managed WordPress hosting than you will with shared WordPress hosting. We recommend using WP Engine or FlyWheel if you can afford spending a little more and anticipate a fair amount of traffic.
Keep in mind that if you use certain hosts, you’ll have to install WordPress on your server yourself. Many web hosts now offer one-click solutions, making the installation super easy.
An awesome upside of WordPress are the plugins. Like I mentioned, Blogger has most of the common widgets that bloggers find themselves needing, but WordPress has almost unlimited options for plugins. From commerce to contact forms to instagram widgets, you can find nearly anything you set your mind to. While adding advanced items in Blogger means digging into code and hoping you can make it work, with WordPress, it often involves installing a plugin and following some simple directions. However, you do have to be careful. Too many plugins can cause issues and many third-party plugins can put your site at real risk of being hacked. Which leads us to our next point…
The biggest downside to using WordPress, in my opinion, comes from security risks. Since WordPress is used by so many, it’s an easy target for hackers, especially since it is self-hosted. While I mentioned above that I have never personally known anyone who has lost their Blogger site because Blogger booted them, I have personally known more than a handful of friends or clients (including my husband) whose sites have been hacked and went POOF, goodbye. Third-party plugins can be risky, so I stick to using only those that are highly reviewed and when possible, have many reviews. It can take a lot of time, energy and potentially money to fix a hacked site.
Like Blogger, you can easily purchase a premade theme to use on your WordPress blog. These are typically a little more expensive than Blogger themes. Securing a custom WordPress blog is almost always infinitely more expensive than a custom Blogger template because it takes much more work to develop.
WordPress SEO isn’t fantastic out-of-the-box, but there’s a well-respected plugin that’s considered the gold standard called Yoast SEO. If you set this up properly, you won’t have any issues with SEO on your WordPress blog.
While Squarespace is more of a platform for full websites, I’ve seen more people turning to Squarespace lately to run their blogs. Squarespace is almost a cross between Blogger and WordPress. While it is not technically self-hosted like WordPress, you do need to pay a relatively hefty fee to Squarespace to store your site there. This ranges from $10 to $40+ monthly, depending on your needs. You can use your own custom domain on Squarespace (and even purchase it right through Squarespace).
Squarespace is an extremely user-friendly interface that allows anyone to customize a blog or website. While it has a bit of a learning curve, I think it’s more intuitive than anything else I’ve ever seen and most people tend to pick it up fairly quickly. Unlike any other blogging platform, Squarespace has beautiful templates right out-of-the-gate. You can create an account and be up and running within hours. The downside is that they don’t have a ton of templates to choose from, so you may end up finding many sites out there that look just like yours. It’s very difficult to change anything on their templates aside from the colors and fonts. If you want advanced functionality or to add features not offered by Squarespace, you’ll have to pay a developer to do it for you. Both Blogger and WordPress are much more customizable than Squarespace. Squarespace hasn’t been around long enough to find endless tutorials across the web like you can for WordPress and Blogger, so you may find yourself stuck. But, on the other hand, their forum and support are both awesome and will allow you the opportunity to at least ask for help in making the changes you’re after!
Squarespace has a lot of built-in functionality and integrates with popular services like GoDaddy, Google Apps, Aviary, Dropbox, Getty Images, Mailchimp, Google Fonts, Typekit, Vimeo, YouTube, Flickr, Disqus, Stripe, ShipStation, Xero and much more, making these things very easy to use in conjunction with your site.
You can easily edit the appearance of your posts and pages with drag-and-drop editors and “blocks,” which is the signature Squarespace feature that makes altering your site so easy. Think of these like the widgets, gadgets and plugins of the other platforms mentioned here. With their blocks, you can easily add galleries, videos, photos, lines, forms, buttons and more right to your posts or pages with the click of a button.
Squarespace manages all updates, hosting, widgets (called blocks on Squarespace) and more themselves, meaning you can realistically ONLY deal with Squarespace, even for your domain, custom email and more. You also won’t face the security risks or hassle of manual updates that you do with WordPress.