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Blogging platforms: How to choose, and what I’ve learned.

Apr 24, 2015

I get quite a few questions from bloggers who are just starting out (YAY! So proud of you!) on how to begin, but specifically, choosing the right platform seems to be a huge hangup.

They usually come in a form like this: 

“I want to start a blog, but I need to take a coding class, right? I’ve heard WordPress is really tricky unless you know some basic coding” 

“I can barely manage to google something. How am I going to set up my own website?” 

“So…Blogger or Tumblr??”

“My friend’s dad use Squarespace to set up his business website. That seems easy–I should do that, right?” 

“Squarespace, WordPress, Blogger, oh my. My head is spinning. I need a drink.” 

The truth is, there isn’t ONE platform that is going to work best for everybody. It really depends on your needs, where you envision yourself going, and how you envision using your website. I’m actually on my third, yes…third platform already, so I feel like I’m pretty well versed on the subject by this point. Here’s what I’ve lean red in my personal experience, and how you can decide what’s best for you.

Blogger: This is the platform I started out with, and truthfully, a baby platform for many bloggers. It’s very user friendly, and I’m glad I started with it, because I had to learn some VERY basic HTML in order to get the social media buttons I wanted on my right-hand column. I think of Blogger similar to how I think of my first horrific job out of college at a staffing company, which I like to refer to as “legal human trafficking.” I’m glad I started there, because there’s no other way but up. My advice? Don’t start here, but it’s better than not starting anything at all!

Squarespace: This is what I moved to after I decided to get serious about my blog. Remember when I told you I started my blog and then got discouraged and basically abandoned it before I picked back up a year later and officially “launched” it? When I finally decided to get serious, I moved to Squarespace. This is what platform you are currently seeing when you visit my site.

The pro’s of Squarespace: 

  • Beautiful, pre-made templates that require ZERO (and I really, really mean ZERO) knowledge of coding, design, or pretty much the internet in general. I think my mom could probably figure out how to use this by herself.
  • AMAZING tech support. They literally logged into my blogger account and transferred everything for me. It was great. I can’t speak highly enough about it.
  • You can do everything in one spot–buy your domain name, blog email (i.e. jess@thegoldengirlblog.com) and hosting, which you typically have to do through someone like GoDaddy. But Squarespace offers it all in one spot, which is awesome.

The con’s of Squarespace: 

  • Virtually the biggest pain in the ass if you ever want to transfer to any other platform. Your photos won’t transfer at all. Yep, that means you have to go through and manually re-upload every. single. photo. you’ve ever published.
  • Often very buggy. I can only use it in Safari (who uses Safari?) because it will randomly shut down in Chrome and cause me to lose all my work.
  • Was not designed for bloggers. Have you ever tried to go to my site and had the page not load, only to look like it’s taken over by ads? That’s because it was never designed to support ads.
  • Not as customizable, no plugins to make your life easier, etc. Can’t compete with WordPress in this department.

As you can probably tell, I’ve outgrown Squarespace, and I’m in the process of moving over to WordPress. (Surprise!! New site coming soon!)  However, that’s not to say that you will ever need anything more than what Squarespace can offer. If you’re not ever planning to offer ads on your site, want a clean, minimalistic design, don’t require a lot of fancy elements to your site,  and don’t want to spend the money to create a professional looking site–absolutely 100% go with Squarespace. I will shout it until I’m blue in the face, I really do love so much of what Squarespace is about. If you’re building a website for your business, this is definitely the way to go. (i.e. a restaurant, photographer, etc.)

However, if want a more complicated design, an in-depth functionality, and the possibility to monetize in the future, you want to go with WordPress from the get-go, and save some time later.

The pro’s of WordPress: 

  • Completely customizable in terms of design and functionality.
  • Lot’s of awesome plugins that help you and make your life easier.
  • Pretty much any techy add-on is made or designed to be compatible with WordPress.

The con’s of WordPress: 

  • Completely customizable in terms of design and functionality. (Yes, this can also be considered a con!) Because if you don’t want to spend the cash on a pre-designed template (those run about $70+) or hire a designer, quite frankly, your site will more than likely look like total crap.
  • It’s a total bitch to import your content to another site. Why haven’t they created a seamless way to do this?
  • There is ZERO tech support.
  • You have to get hosting elsewhere, which really isn’t a big deal, but its still a bit of extra hassle.

Overall, what I’d say is that, if you have a little bit of cash (like $70) to spring for a pre-made, pretty template upfront, go with WordPress. It might take a lot more tinkering around and googling 100 different questions on the front end, but in the long run, I think you’ll be happy with the result!

What are your experiences with blogging platforms? If you’re looking to start a blog, have you been leaning toward one or the other? 

main image via Style Me Pretty 

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