Blogspot vs. WordPress

I need help. I’m currently in the process of setting up a second blog. This one isn’t going anywhere, but I’ve been spending a lot of time entertaining myself with non-Wow things and I’d like to start writing about movies, books and other video games.

I find myself at the same crossroads I was as when I created this blog. Blogspot or WordPress? Initially, my plan was to create the new blog on WordPress so I could do a thorough comparison of the two and then move them both onto the platform I liked best. Now I’m not so sure (no one can beat a Libra on the indecisiveness front).

In my view, these are the main differences between the two platforms:

Blogspot WordPress (basic, hosted)
Custom Themes -Allows you to customize the basic templates
-Allows you to use non-Blogspot templates
-Can only choose from the set of 90 or so WordPress templates
-Only some things are customizable (e.g., headers) unless you want to pay for it
Widgets -Has a set of plug ins you can use
-Can use 3rd party plug ins
-There seem to be a slightly wider range of basic plug ins, but as far as I can tell, no way to add 3rd party plug ins
Stats -Google analytics are now included in the Blogger dashboard
-Can also add scripts for 3rd party stats
-Stats available through the dashboard
-Can’t add 3rd party scripts
Ads -Option to use Adsense and Amazon for monetization – Not available
Comment Spam -I have no hard data on this, but in 8 months I haven’t gotten any spam in my comments – I have seen a number of complaints from WordPress users about comment spam

I find the basic, free WordPress platform a little deficient. When I created this blog I actually made it on both platforms, but when I saw that I couldn’t edit css without paying for it, I went with the Blogspot version.

Now I’m thinking about using self-hosted WordPress. A lot of the blogs I follow have done some really great things with their WordPress blogs, and I want my blog to be pretty too. The problem I’m having is that the free version of WordPress isn’t doing a good job of selling me the self-hosted version.

I’m looking for input from people who have gone from wordpress hosted to self-hosted. Do you like it? How easy is it to customize? Is it worth the hosting costs?

15 responses to “Blogspot vs. WordPress

  1. I've been a big fan of self-hosted WP for awhile. The platform is super flexible, and you can customize pretty much anything you want — and there's a ton of plug-ins out there. The spam happens, but you typically get Askimet with your WP account which does a decent job of filtering out junk.

    You're not restricted to just the stuff WP.com has to offer on self-hosted, you can be as fancy, or as simple as you like. My advice? See if someone has a self-hosted WP installation you can play with for a bit to decide if you like it or not.

    • That’s good advice, thanks. I’ve heard all good things about WordPress I just wish the wp.com stuff gave a better representation of what self-hosted offers.

  2. I haven't gone from hosted WordPress to self-hosted, but I've been using self-hosted forever and I love the flexibility. I use Google Analytics and AdSense on my site, I have used a basic template where I've then edited colours and the header. I've used a completely different template and made significant changes to it. I use Akismet and WP-SpamFree for my blog and any remotely suspicious comment ends up in "spam" or "pending".

    That said, I don't actually earn money with the blog. A dollar, *maybe* two, per month, with about 10,000 pageviews (impressions) a month. Don't rely on AdSense ads to pay for your hosting. The best you can hope for is that it will help defray some of the cost, over the course of a year. (IMHO)

    One of the main reasons I went with WordPress on a self-hosted site was because I was already paying for webhosting of various domains and it was nothing to add a sub-domain and the blog software.

    Hope that's helpful!

    • I have no delusions that I will be making money with my blogs. To be honest, I’m not a fan of Adsense and I don’t think I’ll be using it. I do however, like the Amazon Associates program has, and since my new blog will be about books and movies, it will make sense to use that.

      Thanks for your opinions, seems like everyone loves WP, and i’m just stubborn.

  3. You are totally right with that chart. You can't customize hosted wordpress worth a crap. (I did wordpress.com and then blogspot, then self-hosted wordpress)

    First, hosting is probably going to run… eh $5-$10 a month, give or take. Don't use Justhost. They suck. I use 1&1 and they are good.

    Self-hosted wordpress has the advantages of the better admin panel (blogger admin panel is kinda fail), but you can download all SORTS of plugins and customize easily. The CSS is easier to deal with than the blogger CSS. There are plugins to improve the WYSIWYG editor (yay), all sorts of widgets, and uh… all sorts of crazy stuff that I like to do. I run 50 plugins because I'm crazy like that. I have both wordpress stats and analytics on my dashboard. I can have an unlimited amount of static pages, and they can be nested. Also… big plus… A MOBILE THEME. For the mobile phone users.

    WordPress.com doesn't allow you to run your feed through feedburner. Self-hosted does. You can have footnotes. Better native comment system (you won't need disqus if you don't want it). And you can upload practically unlimited images when you have your own host. As big as you want (picasa downsizes them).

    Downside is that if you F it up, it's totally your problem. You have to back up your own database. You can really screw up your installation if you go mucking about in the back-end too much.

    RE: Spam. Blogger really pushes the captcha, so you don't get spam if you use captcha. I do get a fair amount of spam on wordpress – a lot is from pingbacks (fake pingbacks, that is). Blogger doesn't allow pingbacks, so that is something that you don't have to deal with. Now, almost no spam comments can get through my filters (hah plugins!), but the occasional one does get past. I also close comments after 30 days as the spammers tend to target older posts.

    Here's my website info page: http://murlocparliament.com/about/website-information/

    Also, see http://blogazeroth.com/viewtopic.php?f=27&t=3 for how to convert blogger to wordpress. I have a post at the end for troubleshooting (if your comments don't all come through.)

    But the bottom line is that you get… 75% of the features of self-hosted wordpress for free with blogger, as long as you are willing to fight with code a little more. Whether the slick back-end and ease of plugins is worth the hosting costs is up to you.

    • Very helpful, thank you.

      When I was new to blogging, and self-hosting wasn’t something I was terribly familiar with, I wondered why people were singing WP’s praises when it seemed like there was very little you could do with it.

      I should have mentioned that WP has a better native comment system in my chart. I really don’t like the Blogger one. I’m not really clear on what Feedburner does though.

      You use a ton of plugins! I’m really interested to see all the plugins available to self-hosted WP for myself, they look fun. I have a feeling if I do go over to WordPress I’ll spend more time fussing around with widgets and css than writing actual posts. 😛

      • <3 Zel for all her guides and info and for casting an eye over my blog while I was moving to self-hosted. She's a star!

      • Feedburner is nice because when someone clicks on your feed address it looks… like real text and not like garbled. Feedburner is something you can use RIGHT NOW with blogger. Can use with wp self hosted. Cannot use with wordpress.com (you can create a feedburner account but cannot direct all traffic through.)

        Let me give you an example:
        My feed: http://feeds.feedburner.com/MurlocParliament
        Your Feed: http://cannotbetamed.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default

        See? It's a little more subscriber friendly to feedburner it. Also you can get neato stats for subscribers, blah blah… it will tweet out your updates.

        I have a lot of plugins that do various dumb things. If you want to do something, chances are there is a plugin for it. Like… I have an advanced grid series. Whenever I post a new post and tag it "advanced grid" I want the newest in the series to be linked to my "greatest hits" resource page. I don't want to have to manually add a link every time I post a new post to the series. Well, I got a plugin that automatically lists post in a given category, under a given tag, whatever. Also: email contact form! I love that one. I have one that allows users to report bad comments (haven't had any bad comments reported, but it's there). A plugin that does the wowhead popups so I don't have to use code (again, something that can totally be done in blogger, but takes more effort). Uh, I have a plugin that allows subscribe to comments by email (which would be built in to disqus or ID if I used them). Another plugin that highlights author comments (which I think is nifty, but also would be included in disqus or ID). UH… a plugin that creates my lovely archive page http://murlocparliament.com/postsindex/ A dynamic widgets plugin so that I can have widgets selectively appear on pages (i.e. I don't have the author names widget appear except if you're on the about page or one of the other author pages). And yes, I spend WAY too much time playing with my plugins than I should.

  4. I went from another (local) blogging hosting platform to WP self-hosted and I honestly don't know why anyone would want anything else. It's complete freedom to do anything.

    The others have detailed it already, so I won't, but if you want to play around with an install I can set one up on a subdomain. I think you can see my email address, so write if you're interested.

  5. I can't add anything meaningful to what Zel and others said, but for what it's worth I found self-hosted WP to be pretty easy to customise, especially with child theme support, and pretty easy to set up. The sheer range of plugins and themes amazed me, so it's definitely worth browsing those if you want to get yourself excited about the possibilities!

    For comment spam, Akismet deals with the regular comment spam for me (one mis-classification out of about 400 spams) although I don't have the pingback problem Zel has had. It comes pre-installed but not activated (it's a couple of clicks to activate it) so you shouldn't need to worry about regular spam.

    You can also get google analytics installed, but the WP-Stats plugin covers hits, pages, referrers, clickthroughs and search queries, which is enough to be getting started with, I think. Especially combined with Feedburner.

    For me, I've been paying for hosting for 10 years for various reasons, so adding a domain name on top doesn't make much difference. It's not terribly expensive in the grand scheme of things though, but you do need to be willing to take on a bit more responsibility and time.

    • I think I'm slowly getting the message that everyone loves self-hosted WP 😛

      Good to hear some reassurance about spam prevention. I've looked into a few hosting options and the cost doesn't look too bad. I think I will play around with it over the weekend and look around for some theme and widget ideas.

  6. Hey there! I see you’ve finally moved over to a self-hosted WordPress site! 🙂

    How do you feel it compares with Blogger? I’m very interested in following suit with everyone else and getting a self-hosted site, but there’s one thing I’m worried about: I know with Blogger than you can REALLY customize the visuals of your blog if you want to. I’ve helped friends set theirs up and I’ve managed to make them look very different from the original themes — and not just using CSS.

    I was wondering how visually customizable a self-hosted WordPress blog is? Can I really get in the nitty gritty and do what I like, or will I be forced to stick with a theme and only edit the CSS?

    Thanks for letting me know! (Maybe you could update this post with your own thoughts now that you’ve made the move? 🙂
    JohnnyW recently posted..My Woody Allen-athon- Part 1 1969 – 1975

    • I am liking WordPress much more than Blogger. It is very customizable, though it does take a little more work and technical knowledge than customizing Blogger. You do need to work with a theme (though you can make your own if you know how), but between css, plugins, built-in theme options and the php editor you can do pretty much whatever you want to change the look of your WordPress blog.