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November 30, 2016

How to Choose a Blog or Website Platforms

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I have been blogging for almost 3 years now and I have used several website builder and done a lot of research. I consider myself a DIY blogger I handle every aspect of my blog and business myself mainly because I'm cheap (i.e. I don't use graphic designers, social media managers, or writers).  With all the researched I have compiled I felt it important to share my experience.


I hope this is super helpful for anyone considering blogging or switching to a new platform. I wanted to share my experience with Wordpress, Squarespace, and Blogger. WordPress and Squarespace are both optimized to make for a great experience for bloggers, because you don't have to be extremely tech savvy especially if you utilized their forums and instructions.

Wordpress is the most widely used, customizable, optimized, and user friendly platform. Squarespace is not HTML based so once your on Squarespace switching to another platform is difficult, time consuming, and an outright pain. Blogger is optimized by Google but doesn't have the full capabilities necessary for SEO optimization. Moving between platform is simple enough for written content but all other content (like documents, optins, formatting, and photos) not so much.













“You never know what you don’t know until you don’t know.”


My Blogging Backstory with Blogger (blogspot)

When I first began blogging I used Bloggers, because it was easy to use and free. In hindsight what I will say is I wish I would have invested more time into utilizing Blogger. I personally believe there is a lot of functionality with Blogger that makes it a viable platform. Blogger can be a good option for new bloggers who aren't sure if blogging is truly for them.

Blogger is free and still offers the ability to utilize custom domain name. In the past, I used a free DNS host to redirect my blogspot site to my custom domain. Also, you can install custom templates on Blogger here's an example of a template I love.


Cost

In 2015 I spent a little over $400 on Wordpress purchasing 2 custom templates, Bluehost, and the business Wordpress plan (also known as Wordpress.com). Please learn from my mistakes and don't do this. I had no clue what I was doing so I wasted a lot of money and time. Especially considering that Wordpress.com is self hosted so you don't need a third party host. Lesson learned my friend.

Wordpress.com can be expensive which is likely why most bloggers use Wordpress.org along with Bluehost to get the biggest bang for there buck. WordPress as a platform no longer supports third-party templates, therefore the only way to bypass this is to purchase hosting from a third party. Needless to say your best bet with Wordpress is to go with Wordpress.org and Bluehost. If you use my link you will get a special price of $3.95/mo AND it includes a free domain and email for the first year.

Plugins

When researching the benefits of choosing Wordpress you will likely find tons of articles and blog post about plugins. Plugins are like coded widgets you can add to your Wordpress site, in simple terms its typically an upgraded feature that is not otherwise available. Many plugin are not available if you have a free Wordpress plan. In my experience BlueHost customers have access to all plugins directly from the WordPress dashboard. If you use WordPress.com make sure you read this post about which plugins are included with each plan.




Opt ins

The beloved opt ins. I used Icegram which is a free plugin on Wordpress for optin. Squarespace you can create opt-ins on any page or blog post but keep in mind the data can only be exported to Google drive and Mailchimp. With Blogger you will have to use HTML codes to place opt in where you would like them. There is also the option of a header bar Hello Bars is a great option and can be used on any platform. But keep in mind Squarespace already has a similar function called announcement bars.

Templates

One of the major reasons why I loved Squarespace is their templates are beautiful, modern, and classic, best of all they are free with the purchase of your website. But they don't offer alot of variation which means it is easy to spot a SquareSpace site. Most of the Squarespace templates don't include a sidebar which is a real pain. WordPress reigns supreme because you can create a custom website or blog experience despite using a website builder. But Wordpress can be very piece meal, which can be aggravating if your a novice at designing a website.




Click to Tweet

Click to Tweet is best used in Wordpress as a plugin. If you want to use Click to tweet in SquareSpace or Blogger you will have to purchase a Click to Tweet plan because they only allow 5 click to tweet links for free.


Custom Domain Name

The process of redirecting your domain name is very simple as long as your domain carrier offers full functionality. I've used IxWebHosting and GoDaddy they are both fairly inexpensive. GoDaddy is definitely more functional. If your a new blogger then planning to go with Bluehost skip purchasing your custom domain altogether because with my link you will get a special price of $3.95/mo AND it includes a free domain and email for the first year.

Lessons Learned

If you are considering Squarespace give it a test drive with there 14 day trial and determine if its a good fit for you. If you are a truly thrifty DIYer and willing to invest your time to get the biggest bang for your buck check out Creative Market for Blogger Themes and get started with Blogger. If you want to go big and create a one of a kind website check out WordPress. The choice is always your!



By no means am I a tech genius but I pretty good at using Google. I'm so happy to share my WordPress and SquareSpace experience with you all.


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2 comments :

  1. Beckie PorrittJanuary 22, 2017

    This was an interesting post. I'm a new blogger currently situated on blogger. I have spent a little on custom templates. Mine was around £15 all together for a custom design which is amazing so I guess I got lucky! People keep saying I should move to wordpress so it's interesting to read this about other options too.
    Beckie x || www.thepaletails.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm glad to share a different opinion. I thin you should do what works for you. The affiliate programs associated with Wordpress has really enabled its growth and the additions of a lot of technology.

    ReplyDelete