My Story

Selecting The Best Blog Platform

August 24, 2016

Hello, my dear readers! How I missed you so! In a moment I’ll discuss my experience with blog platforms Blogger, Squarespace, and WordPress, but first, here’s a little catch-up from the last few months…

Best Blog Platforms

Credit: StockSnap

 

We have entered our third year of living back in the US, and it finally feels good. Our first year in California was so disorienting, it was hard to get my feet on the ground. Last year felt more comfortable, but this year we are confidently bounding into the new school year.

Since April, I have focused on our home remodeling project. If you’ve remodeled before, you know how all the little decisions (and big ones) add up to make the project as a whole.  While there is still a little more to do, this house is shaping up to be our favorite yet (our fifth house since we’ve been married). All of my pent-up home decor creativity finally found an outlet after renting for four years. My last niggling decision has been cabinetry knobs, which I finally ordered today. Yay!

The rest of the summer was filled with traveling, writing my book, and simply enjoying the kids and our lazy mornings together. Did you have a good summer too?

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At the beginning of the year, I decided to combine my two blogs into this one. I struggled as to which platform to use, and I had trouble finding what seemed like honest advice on the internet about the different options. Here’s my take:

 Blogger

Blogger icon

Pro: This is where I first blogged. It was free, which was perfect as I had no idea if blogging would be for me. The blogging community contained countless blogs with mostly small followings. Bloggers were very engaged in comments and contests. Everyone blogged for the love of it. Blogging felt like a virtual hug with a strong community. (Free)

Con: Blogger uses a standard template with little room for creativity or add-ons. Many of the blogs look more or less the same. Clever Suzanne of Privet and Holly got around some of this by buying a template through Etsy. You do not own your domain name, and a Blogger blog could disappear if Google discontinues the platform one day. No customer service available.

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Squarespace

Squarespace icon

Pro: Well-designed templates, and more user-friendly than WordPress. Although I didn’t get very far with Squarespace, I don’t think I would have needed to hire a professional to help set up the blog. You own your domain. Good customer service.

Con: In December, I set up my new blog with Squarespace partly due to curiosity about all the buzz. But I quickly discovered Squarespace is really designed for websites, not blogs. For a blog, the landing page needs to be the most recent blog post, not a menu requiring an extra click. Yet if I need a website in the future, I wouldn’t hesitate to start with Squarespace. ($$)

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WordPress

WordPress logo

Pro: WordPress is considered more professional than Blogger and offers countless templates and add-ons (called Plugins) to probably meet all your needs. Although WP doesn’t provide customer service, the web hosting provider (i.e. Bluehost) offers limited assistance. There are many experts for hire and free forums to assist with problems. You own your domain.

Con: Wow, I totally underestimated how different WordPress was from Blogger. Hiring a professional with coding skills is practically required to set up a blog. For my second blog, The Happy Camper Studio, I selected a free template but had to pay someone to add a comment box. For this blog, I think I paid $40 for my template yet I needed help with the blog merge, formatting, and other small things which required coding knowledge. Plugins are useful and often free, but they are designed by independent developers like apps – some work well and others do not. Although there is a free WordPress version, ‘everyone’ seems to recommend paying for the platform (which I chose). (Free – $$)

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The Verdict

I miss the community vibe from Blogger, and I spent no time on the nuts-and-bolts of my blog. I just opened the blog and wrote = bliss.

For this blog, I really gave the platform a lot of thought. I wasn’t completely happy with over-simplified Blogger or really complicated WordPress, so I tried user-friendly Squarespace. But their templates didn’t meet my blogging needs (but I imagine they’ll offer blogging templates one day).

Although it was frustrating to merge my Blogger blog with my WordPress blog, ultimately I prefer the look and long-term adaptability of WordPress.

I hope this information helps someone out there considering blog platforms. I’d love to hear your thoughts about your blogging experience!

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