Have you ever fallen in love with something unexpected? Not?someone, but something? That’s exactly how I feel about WordPress. When I switched almost a year ago, I did it not knowing half of the things I know now and did it out of obligation to keep up with the next best thing?for bloggers. Almost a year later, I?have a serious love affair with WordPress. When I sit down to plan out post ideas, WordPress topics are the easiest for me to come up with. Maybe it’s my desire to help other bloggers or maybe it’s just my love of blog design. Whatever the reason, I decided it was time to find a way to help bloggers overcome the fear of switching to an unknown platform and also provide a resource for those who may already be using WordPress but don’t feel like they have it completely figured out. Over the next six weeks, I’ll be taking a look at WordPress basics and hopefully providing some insight into making the transition from Blogger (or Squarespace) to WordPress easier and less overwhelming.
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It’s pretty easy to find lots of resources out there that tell you why you should switch to WordPress. But sometimes, I think as bloggers, we want all of the facts up front. Instead of sitting here and telling you why you should switch to WordPress, I think it’s better and helpful to just simply read what the?differences?between WordPress and Blogger are and hopefully those will help guide your choice.
The biggest difference you’ll hear talked about in reference to Blogger and WordPress is the issue of ownership. When people refer to WordPress, they’re most likely referring to a self-hosted WordPress blog. What does that mean? Self-hosting means you have purchased hosting (for example, mine is from Bluehost*) or in other words, you’ve purchased essentially a locker that stores all of your sites files and information. When you use a site like Blogger or WordPress.com for your blog, you’re basically borrowing a locker from a larger company (Google and WordPress in this case). Because you’re borrowing space, technically anything you put into it belongs to the person who owns the locker. This is why people talk a lot about owning your content in reference to WordPress.
Another big difference I’ve noticed over time is in reference to permalinks. If you aren’t sure what a permalink is, it’s basically the specific URL for each post you write. If you have a Blogger blog, look at one of your recent posts. Here’s what you’ll see:?yourdomain.com/2015/08/your-post-title.html.?This is the default permalink structure for Blogger and as far as I know, it can’t be adjusted. However, with WordPress (self-hosted or regular) you are able to choose between a few different options. So when I switched to WordPress, I dropped the date structure and most importantly the .html at the end of each permalink. Concise permalinks are better for SEO and more visually pleasing in general.
With both platforms, you have the option to edit your own coding. For some reason, it seems that people are more likely to experiment with Blogger HTML than WordPress CSS, and the WordPress version seems to scare a lot more people. But the good news is that there are options for getting your hands messy with coding on either platform. Blogger’s coding found within the template is HTML based whereas WordPress is run off of themes that allow you to edit the CSS coding.
Both are options you can learn with some time and patience and both give you the flexibility to make slight design changes without having to redo an entire blog design. If you’re the type of person who just needs to try something to figure it out, I highly recommend not trying out a new editing trick with your LIVE WordPress site. CSS is a bit finicky and if you forget a symbol, you can potentially break your site from the front end (it’s still completely in tact on the back end and is fixable). I’ll be writing an entire post on HTML in reference to WordPress in this series, so be sure to come back for that!
WordPress and Blogger both have options when it comes to plugins or widgets for added features on your blog. The main difference is that there are thousands of plugins and only a handful of preset widgets on Blogger. This makes it difficult for those with little HTML knowledge to be able to add in their own widget that may not be a preset one found on Blogger. With WordPress, there is literally a plugin for everything which makes it a bit easier to add in your own unique features.
Labels vs. Tags/Categories
Blogger only allows for adding labels to posts, which are essentially the same thing as?tags on WordPress. WordPress allows for two variations of categorization within each post, a category and a tag. Each post may have one or two categories (overall themes to the post- a blog should have 5-7 of these they stick to) and an unlimited amount of tags. Tags allow for a more concentrated way of searching through similar posts, for example searching through all posts tagged with “WordPress” will give you a more refined list of posts than searching through my “blogging” category that may have posts that are not tagged with WordPress.
This is where the biggest difference between the two platforms is found.?Running a Blogger blog can be 100% free, if you wanted it to be. I don’t recommend doing it 100% freely (meaning without purchasing things like a domain name, logo, or blog design), but it is possible. Self-hosted WordPress sites will never be free, but that isn’t a reason to run away from them. One benefit to a free blog is that there is no reason you can’t quit blogging at any time. You can also quit any time with WordPress, but you will likely lose out on money you’ve already paid for your hosting.
Blogger templates and designs that are premade or custom made tend to be cheaper than WordPress ones. Why? WordPress has a lot more customization possibility within its coding so adding in fun features often takes more time and therefore requires more of an investment.
Self-hosted WordPress blogs require semi-regular updates to the theme, plugins, or WordPress in general. These are such simple updates to make that they almost aren’t worth mentioning, but they do pose a difference between WordPress and Blogger that is important to a lot of people. On Blogger you’ll never have to update anything unless it is by choice (like switching your blog design or logo).
Primarily these are the biggest differences between the two platforms. When reading those, there may not be a definite or easy choice for you, but hopefully learning more through the coming weeks will help you decide which blogging platform is best for you!
What are the biggest differences that you see between Blogger and WordPress?
If you have specific topics or questions about WordPress, please leave them in the comments so I can try to cover it during this series!