When I first set up my personal/academic blog I was uncertain about which platform would suit my needs, so I found myself jumping ship a little. I started off posting the occasional review on a Tumblr account and then, after deciding to set up a dedicated blog, moved to Blogger – the platform previously known as BlogSpot. Eventually I found myself abandoning Google’s platform and moving to WordPress, but in the time that I hosted my blog on Blogger I managed to get a good feel for its advantages and disadvantages.
Blogger has certainly been designed with the beginner in mind. The sign up process is incredibly stream-lined, and there’s nothing to trip you up if you’re not especially technologically minded. The only down side when you sign up is that it makes it obligatory to have a google account. Since a lot of us are now using Gmail anyway it isn’t too much of an inconvenience, but it can make the job of signing up a little more complex, as you have to sign up for two accounts instead of just one.
A lot of features have been stripped back for the Blogger platform, and this means that when you first sign up nothing seems too overwhelming. If you’re not desperate for a host of added features, simplicity can be a real benefit – and it allows the content of the blog to speak for itself.
The basic customisation on Blogger is actually very good. It allows you to play around with colours, fonts, background images, headers and other similar features: all the design essentials that can help give your blog a personal feel. This can’t be taken for granted, as some other platforms make you pay for features like font customisation.
However, when I was using Blogger I soon became frustrated by the lack of templates to choose from. Although you can make basic cosmetic changes it sometimes feels difficult to differentiate your blog from others with the same template, and there’s no way to make your design unique. There are only 8 templates on offer, with a small number of extra layout options for each choice. Customisation of text is similarly limited: there are plenty of basic options, and initially it is very easy to make sense of, but eventually you can begin to feel constricted.
Essentially, Blogger is a very good introduction to blogging – and if you value simplicity over other blogging features then it’s ideal. However if you want to get serious with your blog then it can quickly get frustrating. I made the move to WordPress because I wanted to buy a custom domain name, and while Blogger will allow you to use one, they won’t help you set one up. Once I started using WordPress I found that the wider customisation allowed me to make my blog feel more personal, which in turn made me more motivated to post regularly and build a site that I was proud of. However I was also glad to have learnt the ropes on Blogger, and their user friendly set-up left me with a strong foundation in the blogging basics. Personally I would recommend WordPress for those serious about their blogging, but that is not to dismiss the virtues of a little simplicity!