WordPress or Blogger – Which Is Right For You?

There is no surer way to write a post which will garner all sorts of comments and traffic than to pick  a topic which is open to debate. And fierce debate is preferable to mild “meh” debate.  A topic which brings out displays of loyalty from supporters of one product over anohter – sort of like Coke vs. Pepsi.

Well geneabloggers, being the easy-going and helpful lot that they are, don’t often engage in debates or fiercely embrace one product or service over another.  I, however, am beginning to suspect otherwise when it comes to the choice of blogging platforms – namely WordPress vs. Blogger.  Or Blogger vs. WordPress.  Take your pick.

Why choose? Why fight? Why be loyal to one over another?  Don’t most of us have more than one blog anyway (even a secret private blog that no one else knows about)?  Why even write about this?  I’ve been asked to offer up information for some new bloggers and for those who have been following various geneabloggers and are now considering taking the plunge for themselves.

Note: As a matter of disclosure I should warn readers that I am blogidextrous – meaning I can blog in both Blogger and WordPress with ease.  I currently have 11 blogs (“stop me someone please!”), 6 are on Blogger and 5 are on WordPress.  I only have a preference for one over the other depending upon several factors and the goals I hope to accomplish with the blog.  So here’s how I see it:

Blogger

Blogger is now owned by Google and appears to be popular with geneabloggers.  In fact, I think more geneabloggers use Blogger than WordPress.  I believe the main attraction is its ease of use and the fact that the adding of “gadgets” is more visual than WordPress or other platforms.  Also the fact that it is a Google product and can work seemlessly with Google Reader, Google Docs and other Google applications is responsible for its wide adoption as blogging platform.

Blogger also seems to have better themes and templates already developed.  And while Blogger has amazing, ready-to-add gadgets that aren’t available on WordPress (at least on the free version), Blogger blogs always look like blogs and almost never can hold themselves out as websites the way WordPress can.

Advantages

  • Ease of use; many users can have their first post up in about five minutes
  • Adding gadgets is easy
  • More flexibility on themes and templates; you can add third-party templates for free
  • Use of scripts in gadgets; you can use javascript and others in your gadgets
  • Can submit posts via e-mail
  • Can have a private blog limited to Google account holders only

Disadvantages

  • Cannot import posts from a non-Blogger blog or another blog
  • 1GB limit on image storage unless you sign up for Picasa Web Albums
  • Cannot set up “excerpts” for posts
  • Cannot easily edit comments

Gadgets/Widgets

  • Page Header (customize your banner – must do this by editing template in WordPress)
  • Profile (WordPress has About)
  • Blog Archive
  • Search (uses Google search)
  • Followers (no equivalent on WordPress)
  • Blog List (intensive setup in WordPress unless you use Google Reader feed)
  • Subscribe link (no equivalent on WordPress – must set up Text widget with FeedBurner or other code)
  • HTML/Javascript (cannot add scripts on WordPress)
  • Picture
  • List
  • Text
  • Labels (must code Label Cloud in CSS by hand while WordPress has ready made widget)

WordPress

WordPress definitely has a different vibe and “coolness” factor to it compared to Blogger.  If Blogger were PC, WordPress would be Mac – make sense?

I tend to use WordPress on the blogs that I host on my own through a paid hosting account (GoDaddy has a very reasonable package and they even install WordPress for you as well as handle all updates).  With the paid version (which is what Geneabloggers is) there is so much flexibility that you can actually make a blog look like a website.

However, I’ve had great success with my free WordPress blogs: Heller Highwater is a blog I started in September 2008 as a “help site” for the 1100 employees of my firm that were suddenly terminated without warning.  I’ve had as many as 15,000 hits a day on the blog and now average 2,400 a day.  I’ve not found any limitations that couldn’t be overcome since it is a free version and not a hosted version.

WordPress does have an increased geek factor and requires a bit more knowledge in terms of using an FTP application to upload files, plugins, etc.  If you are open to learning these functions, not only will you have a great looking and functioning blog, you’ll also pick up some valuable skills.

Advantages

  • Import from Blogger and other blogging platforms; in fact before Blogger had its own backup mechanism many geneabloggers would set up a private WordPress blog to store backups of their Blogger blogs
  • 3GB image storage and can use .ppt, .doc, and .pdf file formats
  • Easy to build photo galleries within posts
  • Many third-party developed free widgets and plugins (most require hosted (paid) version of WordPress however)
  • Can have a “static” post – a post that always remains at the top of the blog
  • Can create an excerpt for each post
  • Can set up users as Admins, Editors, Authors, Contributors and restrict rights and access to certain functions
  • Excellent comment spam handling (via Akismet); on my Heller Highwater blog I’ve had 5,200 spam comments blocked since September 2008!

Disadvantages

  • Cannot edit templates unless you have the hosted (paid) version of WordPress
  • Cannot use any scripts – period
  • Cannot post via e-mail
  • Private blog not as easy – can restrict to 35 invited WordPress account holders (free version of WordPress); however you can have individual posts be private or password-protected

Gadgets/Widgets

  • Archives
  • Akismet (comment spam blocker – no equivalent in Blogger)
  • Calendar
  • Recent Comments
  • Recent Posts
  • Search
  • Tag Cloud (no need to edit CSS template like Blogger)

Other Platforms

Other blogging platforms, which I have not used, include TypePad, Live.Journal and Moveable Type.  If any geneablogger has used them I’d appreciate your feedback either in a post on your blog or in the comments here.  Also, if you want to write a guest post on the topic here at Geneabloggers, let me know.

Rather Fight Than Switch?

So let’s hear it from other geneabloggers out there – tell us if you use WordPress or Blogger or even another blogging platform and why you made your choice.  Or if you are contemplating moving your blog from one platform to another, let us know that too!

Want To Learn More?

I’m considering running a series of webinars (to be stored on video for later on-demand webcast access) on both WordPress and Blogger.  Or perhaps even a once-a-week “troubleshooting clinic.”  This would be a free service and I think it would be helpful to the Geneablogger community.  Let me know if you have an interest and what day of the week/time this would work for you.

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About Thomas MacEntee

What happens when a “tech guy” with a love for history gets laid off during The Great Recession of 2008? You get Thomas MacEntee, a genealogy professional who’s also a blogger, educator, author, social media connector, online community builder and more. Thomas was laid off after a 25-year career in the information technology field, so he started his own genealogy-related business called High Definition Genealogy. He also created an online community of over 3,000 family history bloggers known as GeneaBloggers. His most recent endeavor, Hack Genealogy, is an attempt to “re-purpose today’s technology for tomorrow’s genealogy.” Thomas describes himself as a lifelong learner with a background in a multitude of topics who has finally figured out what he does best: teach, inspire, instigate, and serve as a curator and go-to-guy for concept nurturing and inspiration. Thomas is a big believer in success, and that we all succeed when we help each other find success.

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