Blogger v WordPress

I am not, nor do I claim to be, any sort of web development/design expert. Even after having spent the better part of a year building this new blog I still consider myself a reasonably clueless amateur equipped with just enough foolhardy stubbornness to avoid defeat. As such, although I did consider writing a detailed post about my experience, unfortunately I feel in no way qualified to offer in-depth advice to anyone on the intricacies of website crafting or blog migration. There are already numerous on-line articles about the subject written by much more competent folk than I. That said, I do feel somewhat obligated to share my acquired knowledge (scarce as it may be) with any of my readers seeking straight-forward information about DIY’ing a WordPress site from someone who has had the experience. So if you do have a specific question please feel free to ask and I’ll do my best to answer.

So although I may not have an expert opinion to offer on the matter, I do feel reasonably confident expressing a personal one…

When I first mentioned my proposed move from Blogger to WordPress, and since the launch of this new site, the most asked question by far has been “Why WordPress?”. Again, there are already numerous on-line articles about the subject, though if you’re keen to hear some points from the perspective of someone you can perhaps relate to then please read on.

Note that the following views expressed are based solely on my personal experience having used both WordPress self-hosted and Blogger blogs. If you are seriously considering changing or choosing a blog platform I recommend seeking information from various sources first.

:: I initially switched from Blogger to WordPress for cosmetic reasons (no, not the make-up kind). Don’t get me wrong though, I could have created an aesthetically lovely site in Blogger though for whatever reason I had quite a specific design in mind and whilst Blogger is customisable to some extent it just doesn’t offer the flexibility of WordPress. Blogger guards many of its files whereas WordPress grants almost unlimited access. This allows for total freedom in the modification and addition of content. If you’re planing to work with a designer then file access may be reasonably inconsequential to you, if you’re planning to self-design then some knowledge of coding is necessary (HTMLCSS and for WordPress, probably PHP also – note, even if you’re not planning to design your own site I believe some knowledge of HTML and CSS is still beneficial). If you’re not too fussed about a totally customised site then both platforms offer numerous ready-to-use, well-designed templates which can be personalised. There are just more options (in terms of features and functionality) with WordPress.

:: WordPress is supported by a vast community of generous and passionate volunteers who offer amazing free content, services and advice. Most noteably, Plugins. Plugins are software components which can be easily used to extend WordPress to do just about anything. There are thousands of awesome free Plugins though also some powerful paid ones. I use them mainly for cosmetic reasons, such as creating dynamic slideshows or galleries. My little Shop was also created using a fantastic free Plugin.

:: In most cases having a Blogger blog is completely free. Having a self-hosted WordPress site means paying for hosting. This can vary from as little as $10  to as much as $500 per month! Choosing the right host is one of the most crucial steps in establishing a new website – it took me a few weeks to make my decision. The cost involved in hosting is generally reflected by the amount of traffic you receive. Most hosts offer plans based on average daily page hits (for example, if you regularly have around 5,000 daily page hits then monthly hosting might cost you $20/if you’re closer to around 50,000 daily page hits hosting might cost $200). It’s a tricky balance – you don’t want to pay more than necessary though if you choose the wrong host/plan you risk having a slow-loading site and even crashes!

:: WordPress offers unlimited static pages (static pages are stand-alone pages such as that used for About, Contact, etc). When I  first looked into redesigning my blog on Blogger the amount of static pages you could have was limited to 20. For me this was frustrating. I’m not certain whether Blogger has now lifted this cap.

:: Maintaining a WordPress site comes with a greater level of personal responsibility. Blogger handles pretty much everything on your behalf – storage, backups, hosting, security, etc – so all you need do is concentrate on writing awesome posts. Because WordPress sites are self-hosted, you (or your trusted designer) are responsible for ensuring these finer details are properly managed.

:: There is more choice with WordPress though just remember that isn’t necessarily always a good thing! If you’re indecisive by nature or daunted by options WordPress can be overwhelming. In this instance the simplicity of Blogger is its strength.

In summary, the shuffle to WordPress was the right move for me. I’ve really enjoyed both the challenges and avenues it’s presented. Both platforms have their pros and cons. There is nothing definitive which makes one clearly better than the other. The right platform is the one which best suits you. Remember, you can always establish a trial blog to sample a platform before making a final decision. If I had to make recommendations; for casual or hobby bloggers – Blogger, for serious or fastidious bloggers (or those with an interested in web development/design) – WordPress.

I hope this little summary of Blogger v WordPress (in my humble opinion) has been somewhat helpful. Like I mentioned, if you’re seriously considering changing or choosing a platform do some research first. There are loads of really thorough on-line articles about the subject. If you’d like further clarification or information about anything I’ve mentioned please feel free to ask – I’m more than happy to try and help.

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27 Comments
  1. nicky mullis says:

    Thanks for your opinion! I enjoyed your article as I am currently starting a WordPress blog…and oh my do I feel overwhelmed but I do think it is the right choice for me. Love that “Shop” plugin. Thanks!

    • The Painted Hive says:

      Hi Nicky
      Thanks for the comment. I agree it can be daunting though if, like you said, it’s the right move for you then in the end you’ll have no regrets!
      The JigoShop plugin is pretty ace. I did have a few brick-wall, head-banging moments when setting-up the shop though overall it’s been awesome.

  2. Thanks for the info, I am working on my blog as we speak and I have to day I have never been so confused in my life! I finally did my first post yesterday (as lame as it is). truthfully the minute I saw yours I wished I had chosen a different theme for mine–I love your page layout and I admit, I am going over you blog with a fine tooth comb trying to absorb all of your amazing setup ideas–HOWEVER, I keep getting sidetracked by your beautiful content! at this rate my blog will have one post for the next year!
    Beautiful Beautiful job!

    • The Painted Hive says:

      He, he. Hang in there Karen :-)
      I did only have one post for months during the set-up of this blog – it does take a lot of time and energy.
      Your site looks great! I built mine on the Genesis framework too though I used the very basic Free Sample Theme so I could totally customise it. I was lucky to have a friends help during my ‘learning’ phase though.
      Remember, I’m here to try and help if you ever have questions.

  3. jenn says:

    Thanks for the information.
    For over a year now I have been wanting to start my own blog. I have created a website
    for my classroom but that seemed so much easier since I was on a free teacher website community.

    Your information was really helpful. Was there or is there a specific place you began?
    I am more afraid of the “rules” – where to get blog design or can I just design myself, using fonts,
    material etc. Is it true that the ad’s help pay for blogs?
    I took this year off from teaching and started a blog is on top of my list while I do all my DIY projects in our home. I just feel completely lost as to where to begin.
    sorry for all the questions.

    • The Painted Hive says:

      Jenn
      Starting a blog on Blogger is easy. You could head on over there now and begin a ‘trial’ blog straight away if you’d like to get a feel for how it all works before actually beginning your ‘real’ blog. There are lots of good on-line articles about customising Blogger and a helpful Blogger forum too. If you feel lost perhaps it’s the right place for you to start?
      WordPress takes a bit more preparation, though again, there are lots of good on-line articles about setting up a WordPress site – just try Googling it.
      In terms of design elements, if you have an image editing program you can create your own. There are also lots of great free-to-use graphics available on-line (again, just try Googling).
      At this stage I’m not really qualified to comment on ad revenue as I’ve only just began offering sponsor spots. I know many of the big blogs make a living through advertising though, and I imagine smaller blogs could offset most of their blog costs through sponsorship.
      Good luck with making a start! If you still feel completely lost you could always consider approaching a designer. Otherwise, I’m here if you have further questions :-)

      • jenn says:

        Thanks so much for all your suggestions! I can’t wait to try them out!

  4. Laurie C. says:

    Great information! I was certainly one of those who asked you about the move and questioned my own interest in switching over. After reading about your experience I realize I need to stay right where I am, though my subconscious is screaming for a challenge. There is a lot of appeal in having all that creative control, but since I have a service based business the time (and need) simply is not there. Thanks so much for sharing and I love your new site! Beautiful!! Congratulations on an obviously successful move.

    • The Painted Hive says:

      I can certainly understand your hesitation in taking time out to migrate and re-design your service-based blog. If in the future you find you still have itchy feet you could always begin building a WordPress site. Just keep it private and work on it slowly then migrate only once you’re ready.

  5. Jo-Ann says:

    Love your WordPress site – it is very well done! I have a couple of questions, you mentioned the slide show and I was wondering where you are using it in your site? I would love to fine something different and the normal one provided – it is so ugly! Also where did you find your plug-ins? Is there a specific site that you can go to?

    Again beautiful site and love your content. I will definitely be making the one regarding the IKEA cabinets – that is gorgeous!!

    • The Painted Hive says:

      Hi Jo-Ann
      WordPress has a Plugin dedicated directory (http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/).
      You can also try using Google to find something specific.
      The slideshow Plugin I’m currently using is called Meteor Slides (http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/meteor-slides/). It’s great! I have it in my sidebar (under the ‘Favourite Posts’ heading) though there are options to place it basically anywhere on your site.
      If you Google “WordPress slideshow plugins” you will find heaps of options. Many of the free ones are great though some of the paid ones are amazing.

  6. Well, I’d say it looks like you made just the right decision! It’s looking LOVELY!!

    Sarahx

  7. Deb says:

    Thanks for this post Kristine,. I have been thinking about changing to wordpress for a while. I think I need to do lots more research before I start. I love your new layout, the colours are so soft and prettty.

  8. Gretchen says:

    Your blog looks great. Do you recommend using a specific browser when designing a site?

    • The Painted Hive says:

      Hi Gretchen
      Whilst it’s important to cross-check in all browsers (well, the main ones at least) I do recommend designing in Chrome. Chrome offers an awesome set of really handy developer tools which make life easy – well, easier. Read more about it here:
      https://developers.google.com/chrome-developer-tools/docs/elements
      :-)

  9. Fran says:

    May I know which plugin do you use for your shop?

    • The Painted Hive says:

      Sure Fran. It is the JigoShop plugin :-)

  10. Claudia says:

    Hi Kristine,

    I recently moved to WordPress – and did it all myself, as well. I am planning to add a shop to my site. May I ask you what plugin you used for your shop? I would so appreciate it

    Claudia

    • Claudia says:

      Sorry, I wrote the comment before I saw your answer above!

      • The Painted Hive says:

        That’s fine Claudia. Your site looks great!

  11. Deb says:

    Thank you for this comparison. I can see why you want more static pages — the way you are using static pages is very smart. I’ve also used both Blogger and WordPress. With WordPress I’ve used both the self-hosted version on wordpress.org as well as the free WordPress.com. I did want to note that the free WordPress takes care of hosting and you still get plenty of potential for customizable designs. You can also pay a small annual fee to customize the CSS even further. Although you get far fewer plugins for extra features with the free WordPress. For people who want to use WordPress, it’s worth checking out the pros and cons of the .org and .com versions too.

    • The Painted Hive says:

      Thanks for the extra input Deb. I avoided commenting on the free WordPress.com option as I’ve not had personal experience with it. You’re right to suggest that people looking into using WordPress should definitely check it out.

  12. Hi Kristine,
    You did a great job with your site. It looks so professional.
    I’m slowly learning how to use wordpress and moving my blog over from blogger. Loke you, I want to learn myself so I can change things without paying a designer. I’ve had a few bang my head moments, but getting there slowly. The one thing I’m stuck on is creating a thumbnail grid page for my archives by category, so that posts you did a year or two ago are still showcased for people to see (if they want to). I’m also on genesis and have tried googling grid, grid layout, grid archives etc.. but can’t find the right solution. Any suggestions on where I should google next?
    Thought of you when I was in Pt Lonsdale visiting mum for Christmas. It was the first visit down there that I didn’t go into Tenby Store. Did you go this summer?
    Cheers Kylie
    (Stylish Settings – moving to From My Deck, and trying to do it all with 2 kids and moving house. Nothing like be busy right?)

    • Hi Kylie
      Your new site is looking great! Good on you for going down the blog DIY route – I know it can be super frustrating though it is also incredibly rewarding.
      I pretty much customised my entire archives to create the gallery thumbs by year and category. It was a pretty complex process (I can try to elaborate if you’d like though can’t guarantee I even remember how I did it!).
      I think your best bet might be to use the in-built WordPress gallery function or an archive gallery plug-in. The thing with most ‘normal’ thumbnail grid galleries is that you need to manually update the content, so to create galleries where new posts are automatically added (by category as you want) might take some extra research, though there are lots of options (it’s just a matter of finding the best one for you).
      Try Googling “WordPress grid gallery by category” or “WordPress gallery thumbnails” or “WordPress gallery archives by category” or “WordPress archives gallery plug-in” (or similar).
      If I get time later on I’ll see if I can find anything more specific for you :-)
      Kristine
      And yep, we were down in St Leonards for a week over Christmas time. I did venture into the Tenby store ( though, as usual, I just poked around and didn’t buy anything!).

    • Hey Kylie
      Here are some links you might find helpful:
      http://wpmu.org/wordpress-archive-grid/
      http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/grid-archives/
      http://wordpress.org/support/topic/how-did-she-make-an-archive-with-thumbnails-like-this
      They might not be exactly what you’re after though may help give you a starting point.
      Good luck!

      • Thanks so much Kristine. You are a gem. Will check out these links.
        Kylie

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