When it comes to blogging platforms, one of the first providers that will pop in most people’s minds is Blogger. Founded in 1999, it is one of the oldest providers still active. In 2003, it was acquired by Google and that change is still shifting the way users are working with Blogger. On a positive side, it is much more reliable now, but the downside, Google is forcing Google+ to users, and there are others coming and going features which can be unnecessary.
As we said, Google+ brings some downside to the platform. When creating a profile for Blogger, you will have to log-in with your Google account. Besides the somewhat annoying feature where Google is pushing one account for everything they operate, it is fairly easy to get started. Don’t worry, you can pick your blog name, you will not be forced to blog under your real name, but if you want, you can connect your Blogger blog to Google+ profile.
While Google+ integration is forced and sharing content on it is very easy, that particular social network has not really taken off, so sharing on it might not be that valuable. Add the lack of any chance of true anonymity to a blog that could have a potential secret outlet of your thoughts. Although everybody is frowning upon this integration, there haven’t been any (major) problems with Blogger. If anything, creating a profile became an easy 1, 2, 3 process. All you need is to pick a title, domain, template and you are ready to post.
Maintenance and the dashboard
After you create your blog, it will automatically take you to create a new post section. Currently, it is reflecting design features that are spread throughout all the Google services, which means that you will see a lean little machine. If you ever used Google Docs, you will definitively have a bit of déjà vu.
It has all the essential formatting tools that you will need for your blog. Depending on the current Google trends, you will get or lose additional services. If you are a bit advanced, you can choose a second view of your dashboard and compose your posts in HTML. On the right, you will have basic things like publishing, save, preview, labels, schedule and other options.
The part where you manage your blog itself is in a completely different section. By clicking on your blog name on your blogger homepage, you will get to the blog management section. For a new post, you will click on the orange button with a pencil and you will get to the “Create Post” part. However, in the “Overview” section, you can manage your layout, template, settings, posts, pages, comments and see different stats. You can also use the power of Google and create your ads or connect it to your Google+ profile.
It is very user-friendly, but the downside is the picture administration within your posts. You can position them right, left or center and pick the only predetermined size, pretty basic options, especially when it comes to sizing. There is also a limitation to sharing with 15 GB of free storage with Google Drive, Google+ and Gmail.
Themes and tools
There are many templates that you can choose from. At any time, you can switch between them and customize them to an extent, depending on the template. It is a bit limiting in some areas, but that really depends on the template.
There are two ways you can adjust templates, with or without HTML knowledge, so it is adapted to beginners and more advanced users. If you don’t know an HTML, you will be able to customize your blog and immediately see your changes in the preview window below. If you know how to work with HTML code you can apply your knowledge to one of the hundreds free and open source templates on the internet.
One of the big benefits is that you can make your blog mobile-ready. There are templates specifically designed for that, and, if you want, you can choose which one you want to be displayed on mobile devices, or you can stick with the original design. This is a really important feature, in the world where mobile technology is slowly taking over.
Storage, reliability, and uptime
On the Blogger dashboard, you will be able to manage all of your blogs and your reading lists of (Blogger) blogs. Everything on Blogger is free, but you can create up to 100 blogs, which is a fair amount even for the professionals who manage multiple blogs. It is also limited to 100 associates for multiple users per blog. When it comes to traffic and storage room, there is absolutely no limit.
Reliability and uptime are among the best that you can find out there. There is unlimited bandwidth and almost 100% uptime, which means that your blog will always be available online. Usually, if something is Google related, it will be at least a 99.99% reliable, especially when it comes to its better-known properties.
Help and support
The Blogger community is a big one, so if you put your question in any of the search engines, there is a pretty good chance that you will find the answer you’re looking for. Even before you search your questions, you can check your Dashboard for some of the Blogger’s more asked questions like customization of your template, making money with your blog, setting up your privacy options and others. Even if that is not enough, there is an official Blogger Help Center.
Hosting and pricing options
When it comes to hosting and domain names, you will automatically get a “.blogspot.com” extension. These days, the audience is associating that extension with amateur blogs, so if you want to be taken seriously or have any kind of credibility, you will have to move away from that. You will have to buy your own domain. However, Blogger does not sell domain names, so you will have to buy it somewhere else, like GoDaddy.com and then go under Settings and change your domain name.
When it comes to pricing, everything is a bargain because everything is free. There is not much to it, and there are no hidden fees for example for some additional plugins. Sure, they are limited, but anyone can add their own.
Again, this is Google. It is great to have a direct pipeline with the search engine giant because unlike other providers, Blogger blogs get indexed faster and you can instantly see them on Google. But when it comes to other search engines, there is a serious lack of SEO meta tags, which is surprising. You could add them via HTML of your posts, but it is unusual these days that you don’t have a simple way of inserting them. In fact, there are no post tag features at all, which is a bit perplexing.
Another unusual and unfortunate feature is the absence of spam filtering. Sure, you can delete and approve comments, but there is no way of blocking unwanted content through word or IP blocking. You can also set your blog and posts to private or public, but all of that is far from the automatic filtering of spam.
HTML and CSS knowledge
There is absolutely no need for HTML or CSS knowledge when it comes to Blogger. Everything can run smoothly without it, but if you want to play around with either of them, you can do it, and it is completely free. While other providers won’t allow you to customize their templates or add your own CSS without some sort of compensation, Blogger won’t stop you. It is really adapted to beginners and advanced users.
Promotion and monetization
When it comes to sharing your content, there is officially only one social network that Blogger plays nicely with, and you guessed it right, it is Google+. But don’t worry, there are third-party plugins (or “Gadgets”) that you can add and are already listed and you can add your own. You can find them while playing with your template. While it has some basic stats, if you want to dig deeper, the best way is to use Google Analytics.
When it comes to advertising, there is seamless incorporation with Google AdSense. You will get a bit of money through targeted adverts based on your content, but like any free blogging platform, that is not the most profitable way of monetizing your content.
- everything is free
- beginner friendly
- unrestricted HTML and CSS experimentation
- easy to use
- unlimited bandwidth and 100% uptime
- mobile ready
- easy AdSense incorporation
- lack of SEO and tags
- a lot of outdated templates
- limited customizability
- lack of plugin diversity
- rudimentary picture management
- lack of spam filtering
- name with .blogspot.com extension
Blogger is a great place to start, and relatively easy to use. It is completely free and you can somewhat monetize it through ads. Customization options are limited, so in the long run expansion is not welcomed. It’s been present online for over 15 years, so many bloggers are familiar with it, or already have tried it. The pros and cons are that its connection with Google, meaning while one day you can get a great feature the other days you can get something unexpected, or it can be taken from you in an instant. If you are a more advanced user, you can get a lot from Blogger, but it would be the best if you skip it entirely, since it is limited or complicated in more advanced matters. If you are a beginner, or you want a personal or hobby blog, Blogger is enough. If you want your blog to be taken seriously, try some other provider.