If you have a Blogger blog, no doubt you are aware of the 24 hours of downtime Blogger experienced last week. For many, it prompted some serious thought about switching from Blogger to WordPress. Over the course of the next few posts, I'm going to explain how I would go about moving from Blogger to WordPress if my blog was currently on Blogger and I wanted to switch.
Let me be clear from the start, though, that I do not think the move is ideal (or necessary) for all Blogger blogs. Every blogger needs to make their own decision based on their own situation. My goal here is to create a sort of "decision tree" type series in which (I hope) you will be able to decide what will be the best choice for you.
First, we need some background…
Before we get started, though, I think it's imperative to have a good understanding of how a blog works and what moving from one blogging platform to another actually means. Sometimes we blindly follow the crowd or react to an unpleasant situation and really don't have any idea of what exactly we're doing. I'm of the opinion that it's always best to have some general background before making a decision. For that reason, I'm starting at the beginning. I'll be speaking in the most simple layman's terms I can muster (so if you're a geek and think some of my analogies or examples are not precisely correct, remember I'm going for broad understanding here. And by all means, if you can help me make it more clear, leave your thoughts in the comments!).
What is a blogging platform and what does it do?
In a nutshell, a blogging platform is the software you use to create a blog (or website). Any blogging platform does (basically) two things:
- Provides a user-friendly place for you to enter the post, article or information you'd like to communicate to the world.
- Then, takes that post, article or information you've written and makes it available (i.e. publishes it) on the internet so others can read it.
And with any blog comes a host
Another vital component to the blogging process is your host. You may not realize it, but if you have a blog, you have a host. Your host stores your blog's files for you (on a server). So, you send your posts to your host via your blogging platform and your host "serves up" or, makes your blog accessible to the online world. Make sense?
Who hosts your blog?
If you use a free blogging platform like Blogger, Google (who owns Blogger) hosts your blog for you.
If you use the WordPress blogging platform, you have two hosting choices:
- Go to WordPress.com and sign up for a free blog. WordPress.com installs the free WordPress software on their server and hosts your blog for you.
- Go to WordPress.org and download the free WordPress software. Then, purchase your own hosting and install the WordPress software on your server. This is a self-hosted WordPress blog. (And if your host offers one-click WordPress install, you can skip the downloading part. It's simple.)
So if the WordPress blogging platform is so great and WordPress.com will host my blog for free, why don't I just sign up for a free WordPress blog at WordPress.com?
Well, you get what you pay for, as they say. And free always has trade-offs. WordPress.com will indeed give you a free WordPress blog, but in exchange, they will severely limit your ability to customize your blog and most importantly, they will not allow you to monetize — that is, make money with — your blog.
A self-hosted WordPress blog, on the other hand, has no such limitations since it belongs to you and you are hosting it yourself. It's absolutely the better choice.
Wondering how to switch from a WordPress.com blog to a self-hosted (WordPress.org) blog? Check out the tutorial in this post.
What are the pros and cons of a Blogger blog?
The pros of a Blogger blog:
- Easy to use.
- Monetization is allowed. Plenty of people make an income on their Blogger blogs.
- Google is generally trustworthy and has the resources to deal with unexpected hiccups in service.
The cons of a Blogger blog:
- You don't own your Blogger blog, Blogger does. They're providing you a free service, remember? They can (and do) remove blogs for unknown reasons more often than you think. (This happened to my husband's blog, in fact.) Granted, this is not the norm, but it does happen.
- If there's an outage, you're at their mercy (as we saw last week). Customer support is painfully slow at best and virtually non-existent at worst.
- Blogger is limited compared to a self-hosted WordPress blog.
What are the pros and cons of a self-hosted WordPress blog?
The pros of a self-hosted WordPress blog (remember we're not talking about WordPress.com blogs here):
- Expandable, customizable and flexible. I'm continuously amazed at what people can make WordPress do.
- A huge community coming up with useful plugins and resources all the time.
- You own your blog and maintain control.
- Because you are a paying customer, your host has a vested interest in keeping you happy. Therefore, support is only a phone call or chat away.
- The benefits are well worth the cost (which will run you about $10 per month or less for a starter blog).
The cons of a self-hosted WordPress blog:
- It costs. Personally, I think $10 a month is extremely reasonable, but I realize for some $10 is still more than doable.
- Because there are more options, there's a bigger learning curve with WordPress than Blogger.
There's no need to be intimidated by WordPress. Maybe this analogy will help…
When it comes to switching from Blogger to WordPress, the most common thing I hear from people is that they are afraid to switch because WordPress is so intimidating. Let me put your mind at ease with the following analogy…
Imagine you have lived in the same small town your whole life. You have done your grocery shopping at the same small, local market for years. You know where everything is. You know what to expect. You're comfortable shopping there.
Now imagine a SuperTarget opens up in your town. SuperTarget has groceries too. In fact, not only does it have all the same groceries your local market has, it has a bunch more stuff as well, like clothes, housewares, toys and greeting cards.
How would you feel walking into SuperTarget for the first time? Overwhelmed? Probably. Intimidated? Maybe. Do you know where everything is at first? No. But once you walk down a few aisles and visit the store a few times, you'll become familiar. You'll start to learn how the store is set up and you'll know where to find the things you need (and more). The point is, groceries are groceries, whether you get them at your local market or SuperTarget.
The same is true for blogging platforms. All do essentially the same thing. Sure, some are fancier than others. Some make blogging quick and easy and don't have a lot of bells and whistles. Others have more options.
Blogger is like your small, local market. WordPress is like SuperTarget. Sure, there's a learning curve. And yes, you'll have to get used to some new things. And things might not be where they are in Blogger. And it's true that for some people, WordPress might be overkill. But in the end, Blogger and WordPress are very similar in that they both do the same thing — help you publish your blog — just like your local grocery store and SuperTarget do the same thing — help you buy groceries.
There's no need to be intimidated by WordPress. Sure it's bigger, but if you're like many bloggers who have switched, you also might realize it's better.
Next time we'll talk about whether or not the switch is right for you and if so, the resources I recommend to do so. Read Part 2 now…