Phew! Its been a busy couple of weeks but I’m back with the Tuesday Review. These days when trying to make it in the handmade market or in any craft or art such as writing or as an SRA (Self Representing Artist) it seems you can’t get anywhere unless you blog, tweet, stumble and facebook. In fact these tools not heard of even ten years ago are now seen as vital.
With Facebook, Twitter, Stumble and Linked in its fairly straightforward, but what about blogging? Do you blog? Are you using the best platform? What are you blogging about? Do you have a website or do you use one of the multitude of blogging platforms? Today I want to talk about two of the most popular blogging platforms, WordPress and Blogger. As someone who has used both over the last couple of years I thought I would share my thoughts on which is the best.
Of course as you are here you can see I use WordPress and personally I do feel like I am on the best platform for me. Since beginning TBH here I have had nearly 1000 hits and the blog has only been going a matter of weeks, so it does feel like my visibility is better. At Blogspot I never hit 200 and I was there substantially longer. This however could be down… well no could about it … is likely down to content, my old blog was less a crafting blog and more about me, more personal. I’ll talk about content at a later date in a series of articles I’m researching at the moment for TBH about marketing and the handmade market.
What I want to talk today about is functionality. Which platform offers the best space for the Crafty writer. The first thing you would notice when using both platforms is Google’s Blogger is by far the best for widgets, there is a seemingly unlimited choice of slideshows, links, newsreels, rss feeds, insects that run away from your cursor, countdowns etc so if you like widgets it is definately the place to be. That said WordPress is no slouch and there is widgets available, if much more limited in choice.
What this does mean however is wordpress has a much cleaner look. Especially when you team the smaller number of widgets available with the fabulous array of themes (themes are templates that are applied to your blog to give it a specific look) you can get when designing your blog and your blog is clean, fast, well set out. Crisp and professional. In comparison I found Blogger tended to look cramped, both in my own blog and on some others I’ve seen. Widgets everywhere, and the content all squeezed in together.
I also find WordPress’s dashboard is altogether easier to use, everything is clearly signposted and it is here that wordpress really comes into its own making it possible not only to see at a glance how many visits you’ve had, where they came from, links that have been clicked, comments that have been left, but it is logical and easy to use. Blogger is by no means difficult but like the end result I found it a little cluttered with less information than you would expect. That said Blogger does have most of the functions that WordPress does, you just have to root around a bit more for it.
Blogger does for the most part seem to be the crafty blogger’s choice, with most of the blogs I follow being there. This might be because people genuinely like it better, its easy to use, has hundreds of thousands of widgets and of course has that wonderful follow button. You can see who follows you and follow them back, its a community right there on front page. WordPress doesn’t have this, if you are a wordpress user you can subscribe to a blog you like at the touch of a button, if you are not a wordpress user you pop your email address in and will receive updates when someone posts. This is the rub, many of your readers won’t particularly want to do this because it clutters up their inbox. Understandable, but at the same time once you know someones posted you can just pop along and read if you choose and delete the email. I’m lucky in that so far I have a healthy number of subscribers and so far haven’t had anyone come back and unsubscribe so hopefully I’m not clogging their electronic arteries with too much guff.
I find WordPress is easier to search than Blogger. They have a fabulous homepage featuring the best of the latest posts as well as tag searches. Blogger I have difficulty with, pop a search term in the search box at the top of Blogger and it just searches your own blog. Not being a technical whizz (yet – the course starts september) it is likely I’m doing it wrong, but frankly if I ‘m doing wrong so are others which adds to my ‘less logical than wordpress’ conclusion there.
Another bugbear of mine is the reliability of Blogger. More than once I’ve had a problem using it, bugs in the system, the latest problem taking weeks to sort out, leaving me unable to comment or follow anyone. What a nightmare for any avid blogger. It was the reason I moved to WordPress which so far has been quick, efficient and reliable.
Ultimately it is personal choice. I prefer WordPress because I think it has a cleaner crisper look, its much easier to search WordPress for other blogs of interest and therefore easier for people to find you and so far seems to be the more visible of the two if I go by the stats. I find WordPress easier to update and feel it looks nice when you have. That said Blogger has those darned widgets and the follow button and of course that whole wonderful community feel while wordpress can sometimes feel a little like your typing in a blank space. Literally.
Where do you blog? Which do you prefer?