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Both Blogger and WordPress.com offer a free way to start a blog. Each has their strengths and weaknesses, but which one should you use if you want to start a blog for free? In this post, we’ll compare what each one has to offer, both the good and the bad.
Didn’t you just say that both of them are free? Sort of. Blogger is owned by Google, and offers a completely free way to start and grow a blog. There are no plans to choose from, and no upgrades that you have to pay for; everything that you can do with Blogger you can do for free. WordPress.com, on the other hand, does offer a few different plans to choose from. The pricing ranges from $0/month all the way up to $45/month, but for this post I’ll focus on what the free plan has to offer.
The registration process for both platforms is fairly straightforward. For Blogger, all you need is a Google account, which you probably already have to get started. With WordPress.com, you can sign in with Google or Apple, or register with your email address. Both platforms offer an easy way to get started with your blog, although WordPress.com opts to give you a step by step approach while Blogger just asks for your site’s name and address and lets you start blogging.
Both platforms don’t advertise a bandwidth limit*, and as both are managed platforms there isn’t any talk about CPU or RAM. Instead, the only specification WordPress.com advertises is the storage available in each plan (features will be discussed in a bit). For the free plan, you’re limited 3 GB of storage. Although this doesn’t sound like much, keep in mind that only things you upload count towards this limit. WordPress itself doesn’t take up any of your space, unlike with shared hosting.
Additionally, you’re probably overestimating how much storage space your website needs. The average WordPress website is only around 1 GB, which includes WordPress itself. So 3 GB should be plenty if you’re just starting out.
For Blogger, storage is handled a bit differently. Images that are wider than 2048 pixels or videos longer than 15 minutes will count towards your Google Drive storage limit. This means that you get 15 GB for free, or potentially more if you’re paying for more Google Drive storage anyways.
* As you may have expected, nothing’s truly unlimited. WordPress.com has a reasonable usage policy, which means that if you use their hosting for a file sharing service, or something else that intentionally uses up a lot of bandwidth, you will get your service cut off.
Both WordPress.com and Blogger offer a large array of features. However, since WordPress.com does have four paid plans on top of their free plan, some of the features are limited or not available at all without paying. On the free plan, you get everything you need to start a blog, including a free WordPress.com subdomain, dozens of free themes, and unlimited posts and pages.
WordPress.com also offers an easy way to configure the layout for your homepage, so your website doesn’t feel like it was made from a cookie cutter. WordPress.com even offers a simple email notification system where your readers can enter their email to be notified whenever you publish a new post. Although far from a full newsletter platform, it is still a nice to have feature for smaller blogs.
Blogger also lets you use your own domain for free, and even sets up SSL automatically. All you need to do is update your DNS settings and Blogger will do everything else in a matter of minutes. Blogger also offers a free email following service via FeedBurner. Additionally, since Blogger lets you modify your website’s code however you want, you can add your own widgets. For example, if you’re not a fan of Blogger’s built-in commenting system, you can install Disqus for free.
Lastly, Blogger offers a way to monetize your website for free. If your Blogger websites meets the criteria for AdSense, you can set up ads for your blog via the Blogger dashboard and start making money without needing to spend any money.
In terms of post editors, WordPress.com wins, by a lot. WordPress.com uses WordPress’s new editor, called Gutenberg, which bases everything around blocks. Although it may seem confusing at first, there’s a very small learning curve and you can start writing blog posts right away. Gutenberg’s UI is also much less cluttered than Blogger’s, which makes a difference when writing long posts. Additionally, since WordPress.com is based on WordPress, you can categorize your posts with posts and tags.
Blogger’s editor, on the other hand, looks a lot more dated. It reminds me of a condensed version of the Google Docs editor. Although Blogger recently updated the UI and made everything look more modern, Blogger’s editor is still much more cluttered. I’ve used it many times, and you can definitely write long posts with it, but it does get annoying to use. Blogger also only supports tags; there’s not really a concept of categories.
Another things to keep in mind when starting with a free blogging platform is data portability. Should you ever want to move to another platform (e.g. self-hosted WordPress/WordPress.org) being able to easily migrate your data is important. Luckily, both WordPress.com and Blogger offer an easy way to export your data. You can find the export option in the respective platform’s dashboard.
If you want to move to self-hosted WordPress later on, then both Blogger and WordPress.com can be imported. WordPress has an official import tool for both, and you shouldn’t have any problems with either. However, since WordPress.com is based on WordPress (I feel like I’ve said that a hundred times), the export format will be in WordPress’s native format which will decrease the chances of your data not importing properly.
WordPress.com also offers a redirection service for your old website. So even if you’re on a free subdomain, you can have that subdomain forward to your new WordPress website, which means you won’t lose SEO or traffic from existing links on social media. Although this will cost you $13 a year, it is more than worth it if you already have website traffic to your old blog.
Both Blogger and WordPress.com are a great option for starting a blog for free. Blogger offers a wider set of features for free, and much more customization options. On the other hand WordPress.com offers everything you need to get started, and their post editor looks much more polished and offers more advanced functionality. Additionally, you’re going to have an easier time migrating from WordPress.com to self-hosted WordPress, if that’s something you plan on doing.
In the end, it’s up to you which platform you decide to use. Let me know which one you prefer in the comments below.