Whose Blog Is It? – or – Why I’m Not on WordPress

a free blog is good enoughI’m half Czech. And Czechs are notoriously frugal (okay, fine – we’re cheap!) as well as practical. So if there’s an easy and inexpensive way to do something, I’m there.

That goes a long way toward explaining why I began my blogging career on Blogger. That is, this go-round of my blogging career began on Blogger. Many years ago, I started a blog on Earthlink’s free platform. I think I made four posts over the course of several months before giving up.

Anyway, the point is that when I started blogging again, I knew that I wanted an inexpensive platform with a template that would be stupid easy to set up. In reading up on the subject, I learned I could go one of three ways for a professional-looking blog: I could get a free WordPress account; I could buy a domain and have somebody build me a website using a WordPress template, and park my blog there; or I could get a free account at Blogger. WordPress, even the free version, seemed to be overly complicated to me (and still does). The paid WordPress didn’t seem cost-effective for an author who was just starting out; I didn’t want to pour all of my meager earnings into a website when I could be using the money for other things.

Blogger had a friendly interface. It took me only a few minutes to customize the look of my blog. The whole thing just made sense to me. So I set myself up there, published my first post in August 2011, and have been blogging every week there (more or less) ever since. And when I created Rursday Reads as an offshoot of my main blog, I set that up at Blogger, too.

In short, I’m happy with Blogger. It meets my needs, and it’s my favorite price. So what’s the problem? The problem is that folks keep telling me I shouldn’t be happy.

This blog post lists the most-often cited reasons I’ve heard for moving your blog to a website that you pay for – the bottom line being control. On Blogger (as well as on the free WordPress site), you must abide by their terms of service. That means if you want to post pornography, you need to include an “adult content” opt-in notice on your blog or Blogger will put one there for you. Blogger also reserves the right to pull down, without notice, any blog that violates their terms of service. (This actually happened to me when I started Rursday Reads. I had to convince them that I was running a review site and not a bookselling site. To Blogger’s credit, they were very responsive, and my site was restored in a day or so.)

The thing is, I don’t have a problem with any of that. I’m not interested in selling my books on my blog. In my mind, that’s not what the blog is for. It’s for talking to my readers. And I don’t ever plan to post porn on my blog, so that shouldn’t be a problem.

There’s also the issue of “professional appearance,” which I couldn’t figure out for the longest time. I thought they meant the way the blog pages look. But no, they’re talking about the URL. Apparently yourblog.blogspot.com or yourblog.wordpress.com doesn’t look as professional to some people as yourname.com. This is something I have trouble getting worked up over – and anyway, Google is now selling custom domains for $12 a year (only in the US right now) that you can slap on any site, including your Blogger blog.

But the thing that really gets them going is that Google, which owns Blogger, could shut it down at any time. Which is, of course, true – any company can shut down at any time. Restaurants regularly go out of business. So do bookstores (ahem). Even your self-hosted site could go dark if your service provider goes out of business.

Google has owned and operated Blogger since 2003. If they shut it down, I’ll move. Until then, I expect to keep doing the cheap and practical thing, and stay right where I am.

Author: Lynne Cantwell

Lynne Cantwell grew up on the shores of Lake Michigan. She worked as a broadcast journalist for many years; she has written for CNN, the late lamented Mutual/NBC Radio News, and a bunch of radio and TV news outlets you have probably never heard of, including a defunct wire service called Zapnews. But she began as a fantasy writer (in the second grade), and is back at it today. She currently lives near Washington, DC. Learn more about Lynne at her blog and at her Amazon author page.

62 thoughts on “Whose Blog Is It? – or – Why I’m Not on WordPress”

  1. Lynne, nice round-up of the issue. I’m happy on Blogger, too, and have no plans to change. The long URL? Meh. Not an issue for me. I doubt most people even read the URL, just click on the link and go there. At least I’ve never gotten any complaints.

    1. I think you’re right, Melissa. I see the whole “but you don’t want X word in your URL” as a vanity thing, more than anything else. If I were building an e-commerce site, then I could see their point. But all I’m doing is chatting with my fans.

  2. “I could buy a domain and have somebody build me a website using a WordPress template, and park my blog there”

    I don’t think you have to have (hire?) someone to setup WordPress. At least not on all hosting sites. Some of them make it easy to install WordPress yourself without knowing a bunch of technical stuff although to be fair, WordPress does require a little more tech savvy than Blogger. I have sites using both options (one on Blogger and the other WordPress on my own hosting account). There are definite advantages of each. Mostly it comes down to simplicity (Blogger wins, although WP doesn’t have to be that much more complicated) versus capability (with the WP site on a host you pay for being better than the free), at least that’s the way I see it. 🙂

    1. It’s good to get both sides without the hype, Al. 🙂 I concede that WordPress is better for some things. And you’re right — you can buy a domain from GoDaddy, for instance, and use their onsite tools to build a website. They may or may not be on the WordPress platform; I can’t remember. (Full disclosure: I bought lynnecantwell.com from GoDaddy a couple of years ago. Right after I bought it, I poked my head into their DYI website-building tools section, and got so dizzy from the options that I had to back out.)

      Interestingly, while I was writing this post, I sprang for Google’s custom domain deal and assigned my blogs to the new domains. Immediately, I started getting spam from website developers who would be more than happy to build me a site for several hundred bucks apiece. O.o

    2. The only real problem with self-hosted WordPress is that the process forces you to choose a theme at the beginning, before you know what it is you need *from* a theme, and it’s not as easy as they say to switch themes after you’ve set everything up. Other than that, it’s not any more difficult than Blogger, IMHO (and I’ve used Blogger, WordPress.com, *and* self-hosted WordPress — I’m the antithesis of a techie, too).

      1. Meg, I would agree about the theme. Even among the free themes, which is all I considered, there are a lot of choices. Fortunately, I found one that worked for me without a lot of hassle.

  3. WordPress also has the custom domain name option, although I believe it costs $18 per year versus the $12 at Google that you cited.

    Having never used Blogger, I can’t make a direct comparison, but WordPress and I click quite well. It doesn’t seem at all difficult to me, and I prefer the appearance of WordPress sites so that was the right route for me.

    1. I suppose part of it is what you get used to. Maybe if I’d tried WordPress first, I wouldn’t be so cranky about the whole thing. 😀

      But then again, I don’t generally like the look of WordPress sites. They seem too austere to me. So I dunno.

  4. I think the nut of it is that you have many options to choose from for your blog. I chose WordPress. I’d like to say I did as much research on it as I did for some of my stories, but that wasn’t the case. I looked through the blog sites I frequented and found a mix of WordPress and Blogspot. I somewhat arbitrarily chose the free WordPress path. I was happy with the free site and had no problems setting things up. I recently decided to upgrade my blog page. It wasn’t necessary, but as part of that process I moved to a paid host ($3.95/month). For the most part I’m happy. My one regret is that I seem to have botched the transition a bit. I did the porting myself (it wasn’t too bad), but I’ve lost well over half my followers. The traffic is much the same, so perhaps they weren’t really following me that closely. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

      1. Lynne, it’s a multi-year deal through Bluehost. I’ve even seen cheaper deals ($2.95), but I can’t remember the hosting company. I’ve had a few technical issues, which were primarily on me. Other than a little bit of a wait, their tech support line was top notch and successfully talked me through.

          1. The super-cheap hosting with BlueHost requires something like a three-year commitment, but it may be refundable. The issue with the cheap hosting is that a ton of blogs will be put on the same server. With BlueHost I found my site had slow loading time and even went offline a handful of times due to server over load. Once I upgraded to a dedicated server, those issues stopped.

  5. I never figured WordPress out and finally gave up in frustration. Life is too short. Blogger is so user-friendly it’s a joy to use. But I gave up Blogger-blogs some time ago and instead keep one on my website. WordPress is a bully, imo. On blog after blog I am unable to “like” a post, and on some I’m unable to even make a comment *unless* I have a WordPress account. I’ll die and go to hell before setting one up just on principle. Usually, I can comment on (but not “like”) a WP blog *if* I have a Google+ account and a Blogger blog. I set those up, and now people are directed to a blog that in turn directs them to my real blog on the website. That’s how much I hate bullies.

    1. LOL, Candace! I feel the same way about comments on WordPress blogs. I do have a WordPress account, but even so, I usually can’t “like” a particular blog post on a WordPress blog. And I’ve always found it hard to figure out how to follow one — you’re practically forced to sign up for the newsletter. Urgh.

      Also, with Blogger, there’s a nifty feature you can turn on that integrates the comment section of your posts with Google Plus. I wrote about it last year: https://indiesunlimited.com/2014/02/13/adding-google-comments-to-your-blogger-blog/

  6. I started out on Blogger and had no issues, but then was swayed to convert to WordPress by several posts landing more or less simultaneously in my inbox all of which said WordPress was so much more professional, yada yada.

    Now I’m on WordPress ( have been for a few years) and can definitely confirm it is a site spawned by the devil himself and is inhabited and controlled by techie gremlins. I have difficulty even getting onto my own page as admin… and can’t for the life of me figure out how to add more than three widgets. If you haven’t converted to it yet, then DON’T, unless you have both lots of time to figure it out and (at the very least) moderately high tech skills.

    1. I totally agree, Dianne! The widgets are the other thing I hate about WordPress — the descriptions are all written in some arcane language, plus I couldn’t figure out how to install any of them. I don’t want to have to run to a tech person every time I want to tweak my site, y’know?

  7. Gee, I’m half Czech too. I’m on Blogger too. So much of all this sounds so familiar? 🙂 My Murdockinations.com blog is perfectly happy there. Best of luck to you and as always….

  8. Great post, Lynne!
    I started on wordpress.COM, and when I wanted to open an online store, I switched to wordpress.ORG. Yes, there is a huge difference. I use LaughingSquid to host my website. Monthly fee is $6. I use Askimet to shield myself from spam. Monthly fee is $5. Since opening my little store, I’ve had two customers and sold less than $100. Profit of maybe $10. I wouldn’t make the same mistake again. Maybe as my author journey continues, I will reap the rewards of these planted seeds. I don’t know. But there’s been so much frustration and time I could have been writing instead spent on learning how to use WordPress.

    1. That’s exactly my thinking, Annette. I do offer signed copies of my dead-tree books on my blog, and I also have links to my books at Amazon and iTunes. But I’ve made almost no money from them.

  9. My only problem with Blogger is that a couple of years into my blog, I suddenly couldn’t access it, and as it turned out I wouldn’t *be* able to access it until I upgraded my computer because of software issues, something that wasn’t in the budget for at least a year into the future at that time. So I moved to the freebie WordPress, which was a PITN to set up, but at least I could use it. Then my ISP went belly-up, and I had to find somewhere else to host my static website, anyway (I’d been hosting it on my ISP’s servers and just linking my blog to it, and my new ISP didn’t let me do that), so I just bit the bullet, bought a domain name from GoDaddy for $10 a month, found a webhosting service (the oddly-named A Small Orange, which I *highly* recommend — champagne service on a beer budget and very patient with non-techies) which charges me $5 a month, and I’m settled now.

    1. I’d probably still be with Blogger if they hadn’t booted me out because of my old software, but now I’m rather glad they did, because it pushed me into a situation I’m much happier with now.

      1. I was gonna say. 😀 It sounds like you had to go through a lot of grief to get to your happy place, Meg, but I’m glad you got there in the end. 🙂

  10. I hope all these Czech people have read my Ripple in Czech translation as Vlnka! It’s still the only language she has been translated into, much as I soon hope to expand her into other languages.

  11. Lynne, I have a Blogspot…and I’d have more than one if Google would let me! I find it fun and easy to use. I have a domain name and a regular website, but it’s not interactive because I set it up on iWeb. I’m not sure where I’ll go from here. Thanks for your input!

    1. You bet, Linda. 🙂 You most certainly can have more than one Blogger blog — and you can link between them by setting up a tab on each blog that redirects to the other blog. That’s how I’ve got mine set up. 🙂

  12. I ended up using Twenty-Thirteen, after pretty much throwing my hands up in despair. It’s worked quite well for me, actually (I, too, was looking for free only). Especially after I learned to customize it. You can take a look here, if you like: http://mmjustus.com. I’d love to know what you think of it.

    1. Meg, I like the way your site looks. I went with Blue Planet, which is similar, to 2013. When I was on the free site I used Titan and thought Blue Planet looked better.

  13. Thank you, Lynne.

    I’ve been agonizing about switching to WP, but the truth is I am too quite happy where I am, on Blogger.

    I wish I’d thought of having my name in my blog’s URL, but back then I didn’t know it was important.

    I did get a domain from GoDaddy to have that yourname.com presence online, put together a very basic website and linked it to my Blogger blog.

    I think I’ll just stop right there and be happy 🙂 The one thing I’d like to figure out is how to make my website ‘home’ page the default one instead of the ‘blog’ page…

    And it’s very subjective of course, but I think I prefer the crispier, no frills look of Blogger, too.


      1. It might be that I myself won’t be able to fix that, the help articles seem to suggest that I need to have hosting to be able to fix that.
        I’ll try to get GoDaddy to help me.

        Any advice here is greatly appreciated, though.

        It’s Sasha 🙂

  14. -grin- I have my issues with WordPress.com but I find the same difficulties with Blogger as you find with WordPress – how to follow? how to like? sometimes even how to comment?

    The real reason I stay with WordPress.com though is branding. Search engines know where to find me now, and so do readers. Can’t give that up. 🙂

    1. SEO is another problem, of course — although I’m pretty sure Google let me redirect my Blogger URLs to my new ones. I’m confident that if you wanted to change platforms, you could make that part of the process easily enough. 🙂 Thanks, Meeks!

  15. I’m a happy member of the Blogger community. 🙂 Saw the $12 domain offerings, but didn’t see a name I wanted among them.

    1. J.P., if you click through on the link in my post, you’ll get to the Google Domains page. Once you’re there, you can plug in your preferred domain name and see if it’s available.

  16. For what it’s worth, I’ll proudly proclaim that I love WordPress. It can take a while to master, but it allows lots of customization for users who want that.

    1. Jeri, I too am a WordPress fan. I wanted to respond to your Bluehost being slow comment. Speed is somewhat subjective and I have a relatively slow (xDSL) connection. That said I notice that my website is a little slower than other pages (except FB, which is painful sometimes). I use Firefox, which is often the problem and I keep too many pages open introducing the bane of my internet experience the unresponsive script message. Back on topic, I suspect Jeri’s right that the cheaper hosting service is a bit slower, though I’ve never had it go down.

  17. The choice of which software to use is always going to be down to personal choice, but if you’re using the default domain names you are taking a risk. No matter how helpful these companies have been in the past there is always the chance they’ll decide that for some reason (right or wrong) they are going to cut you off and prevent you using the url. You can easily setup a new blog with a new url of course, but think of all these links that will no longer be working:

    — links from within print books
    — links from within eBooks sold before you had a chance to change them
    — links from any business cards / bookmarks etc you’ve given out
    — links from any reviewers or other people that have blogged about you

    It’s already incredibly difficult to get people to go to your link, do you really want to risk losing those? $12 or $18 a year sounds reasonable to prevent that happening.

    1. Thanks, Simon. See my response to “Google could shut down Blogger at any time!” in my post above. 😉

      Also, the QR codes on my last round of bookmarks go directly to my Amazon Author page.

      1. I still see a difference though – if my provider goes out of business I just pickup my domain, which I own, and have it hosted elsewhere. If blogger goes out of business and you use the default url then it’s lost for good.

        Linking to your amazon page is a neat way around it, though wouldn’t work for me as I’m not just Amazon focused (I get about 20% of my sales from the other sites).

        Do you find the QR codes work? I’m pretty techy (OK, VERY geeky and work in IT) but it’s one thing I’ve never clicked with. I still see them around though so I guess it may just be me. 🙂

        1. I get sales from other sites, too, but mostly from Amazon, so that’s why I chose my Amazon Author page for my QR code. As for whether they work? I’ve never tried tracking click-throughs, to be honest. My thinking is, though, that the point with a bookmark is to get people to buy books. So I’d rather send them to a sales site with one click than to a website/blog, where they then have to hunt around to find the “where to buy my books” tab and click through. One click vs. multiple clicks? Seems like a no-brainer to me. 😉

  18. I have a WordPress self-hosted blog that I’ve never posted anything on, never even set up yet. My question is this: if it’s called self-hosted, why am I paying BlueHost to ‘host’ it?

    1. Self-hosting actually means hosted on a site / url that you are paying for the use of. In theory you could actually host from your own PC, but that would be a bad idea for many reasons even if it wasn’t blocked by your ISP in some way (as most do)

  19. I found that WordPress wanted too much control over my computer; insidious is the word I’d use. I booted them out, with extreme difficulty, but glad I did. I also think their sites are pretty square.

      1. I think you have a lot more flexibility in the looks of the WordPress sites because there are so many different themes. Finding one that fits your needs can take you forever, though, and can be extremely frustrating.

  20. Thank you SO much for this article, Lynne. You’ve just saved me a lot of trouble and frustration. Blogger makes it SO easy to connect a Google Domain to their blogs, I can’t believe how simple and quick it was. I am moving my sites to a new server – and I have only room for 5 – which means 1 would be left behind – and the $12/year at Blogger made it a no-brainer. Now I just have to copy all my data over. Woot! Thank you. 🙂

      1. It really did. The coolest thing about the Blogger custom URL is that the $12 is for either private registration or public. WordPress is $18/year, BUT if you want a private registration, it’s an additional $8. So Blogger is a much better deal. (I’m not Czech, but I’m cheap!)

  21. I’m on WordPress. I’m starting to get really annoyed with the daily Sucuri warnings that someone is trying to break into my blog. If the hackers want my recipe for cheese grits they only have to ask.
    Great post.

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