When I started this blog, it was with Blogger. Six months later, I migrated all my posts and comments to WordPress, and I have never looked back. A friend of mine did the same thing, and I started thinking.
I have never heard of someone migrating the opposite direction: from WordPress to Blogger. Why?
Because despite all the good things that Blogspot has going for it, WordPress is simply a better platform. Since I have experience with both platforms, I thought I would do a “post mortem” breakdown of my experiences with WordPress and Blogger.
- It’s simple. Very simple. It’s newbie friendly. If you know nothing about blogging, Blogger won’t overwhelm you. Now, personally, I think that Blogger is probably too simple. Initially, you will love that it is point, click, publish as you break in your blogging chops with it. But if you’re looking for a real modicum of control with your site, you won’t get that from a Blogger account. If you want something that requires very little initial know-how, though, it’s your best bet.
- Google owns it. Like my calendar, email, and documents, I thought accessing my blog through my catch-all Google account would be a great thing. It was for a while, but it turned out to just be a “meh” thing because as awesome as automatic picture hosting at Picasa was, I found that it being tied to my other services provided no real benefit. It does have the benefit of Google’s network, though, which means it’s very stable.
- You can put ads on it. Unlike WordPress.com (the free version of WP), Blogger addresses allow users to use their Google AdSense accounts or other services to monetize their blog. Unless you’re getting a lot of traffic, AdSense pays squat anyway. But still, the fact that you can do this on your blog is nice. Pennies add into dollars eventually, after all.
- Using your own domain name is free. If you own your own domain name (bjkeeton.com, for instance), you can toss it up in Google’s Blogger Dashboard, and your URL is changed, backlinks and permalinks, too. They all redirect automatically with a 301 so you don’t get penalized in search engines. WordPress.com charges $10 a year for that same service. Now, you have to pay for the domain registry with WordPress and Blogger, but once it’s yours, it’s yours on Blogger. No extra fees.
What WordPress Has Going For It
Let me preface this by saying that I never used WordPress.com for a blog. I have only used WordPress.org’s self-hosted software, so there may be differences of which I am unaware regarding WordPress’ free sites.
- Comments are easy. Gordon said it best in a comment when I first migrated to WP: “Commenting on blogger is like getting your teeth pulled out.” He’s right. Unless the blog admin has it set, there is no default way to just sign in with your name and URL to leave a comment. You have to login, captcha, and then post. WP simply lets readers toss a name/email and say what they want to say. No verification, no nothing. It really makes the communication part of blogging paramount.
- WordPress helps build a community of readers. Part of how WP does this is through its comment system. That aside, the dashboard also allows bloggers to see incoming links to their site, allowing them to enter into cross-blog communication much more easily. Given that I see blogging as a way of communicating with people, this point is very important to me. My blog would be nowhere without its readers, nor will yours. Being able to communicate and enter into dialogues as easily as possible is important, and it is something that WordPress allows far more easily than Blogspot. You will want to know who links to your site because you can then build relationships with them, potentially swap posts, or even just keep up with who’s talking about you.
- Customization abounds with WordPress. Installing a new theme/template/widget in Blogger is like scratching out your eyes and trying to put them back in with your feet. When I was on Blogger, I had to edit XML and fine-tune one piece of code until I got it just right in Blogger for every new feature I wanted; however, in WordPress, if you want something, you can search for and download a plugin (from the search directly in the user dashboard!), and it will often have its own options page for options to customize it to your liking. If you want a new theme, you just upload the zip file and it is automatically installed and ready to use. No fuss, no muss. (By the way, I think that WooThemes, affiliate link, has the best WordPress themes after using some free ones and Thesis.)
- The developer community for WordPress far exceeds that of Blogger. If you want to do something with WordPress, someone else does, too, and they’ve already written a widget/plugin for it. The same goes for themes and templates. Searching for Blogger themes (even premium themes) can be a headache and a half, and there is no guarantee you’ll find one that has all the features or styles you want. It’s gotten better over the past couple of years, but it still like few people spend the amount of time on Blogger templates and plugins like they do WordPress. There may be an equivalent number of Blogger and WP themes out there, but the quality of the WP ones shines through immediately.
- Stat tracking. Free vs. free, what little I know about WordPress.com wins out based solely on stat tracking. WordPress.com blogs come automatically with software that tracks your incoming visitors, page views, and links. Unfortunately, the self-hosted software doesn’t provide visitor information, so I have to use Google Analytics to find that stuff out, but most premium themes (Thesis and WooThemes, affiliate link) have a place for that so I don’t even have to mess with code like I did with Blogger.
I’ve had a much better experience in my time with WordPress than I ever did with Blogger. WordPress is far more robust and professional than Blogger is, and it is more conducive to building a community than Blogger.
If you’re just starting out and your plans are to blog for family and friends about what your cat did or random thoughts you might have every now and again, then Blogger will be fine. If you plan on blogging for an audience and want to connect with them, WordPress is the way to go.
So to answer my initial query: why does no one migrate from WordPress to Blogger? For the same reason one doesn’t trade in a 2010 Porsche 911 Turbo for a 1974 Ford Pinto. It’s just not done.