There are so many content management systems (or blogging platforms) on the market, many of them offer a free service. Some of them that spring to mind are these:
- Blogger (by Google)
- Live Spaces (by Microsoft, now defunct)
- Movable Type
- Type Pad
The choice is endless and the list could go on – but only two are serious candidates, at least for me. This comes down to personal preference and I encourage you to try them all… but who has the time to do that?
Let me explain the differences.
Before we begin: I’m a WordPress fan myself – excuse me for being biased. It’s the platform with by far the most users compared to the competition, and there’s a reason for it. It’s Open Source, it’s in active development and according to the latest survey 20% of all new .com domains registered are being installed with WordPress.
WordPress has a self-hosted version as well as a free hosted version you can use. Have a look at this article where I explain the differences between those two versions.
WordPress can be used for blogging as well as serious web site building: it’s streamlined backend interface is the same no matter how your site looks for visitors. Therefore you only need to learn one interface and feel right at home with every WordPress site you run. Believe me, since creating a website has become easy, you’ll think of many ideas that could do with good websites.
You can choose from thousands of layouts, you can have web designers create one for you, you can add advertising, a shopping cart, automate posting – in fact the sky’s the limit with WordPress. I say go with that.
I’ve been with Blogger back in 2006 when I wanted to add a blog to my existing static website. It was ugly – but I guess you have to start somewhere.
Blogger is a free Google owned service which has you up and running in no time. The advantage with Blogger is it’s super easy setup and interface, its connection with many other Google services. It’s very easy to activate advertising via Google Adsense on your blog. It also features Google Images and YouTube integration.
You can choose from several layouts and start righting right away, but customisation options are very limited. You can spot a Blogger blog a mile off. It’s only meant to be a journal rather than a website: one of the major differences between Blogger and WordPress is that the latter allows you to create static sites as well as blog posts. Blogger doesn’t do that – all you’ll every write is a time-stamped post which is displayed as such.
You cannot create a shopping cart with Blogger, but you can use it to jot down your thoughts or accompany a project you’re working on. WordPress wins in my opinion due to the extra functionality you’d gain.
Blogger is soon to be changed to Google Blogs and is as of June 2010 hosted on Google’s servers.
And then there’s The Rest
Before blogs became commonplace on the web there were many services on the web – one of them was Live Spaces which was Microsoft’s blogging platform. It’s been shutdown in 2011 and all users have been offered a free integration into WordPress.com.
Joomla and Drupal are endevours just like WordPress, albeit with much less success and a smaller developer community. They both feature static pages and the ability to add functionality to your site via plugins and both support layouts. I’ve looked at both and found the backend to be ugly and tedious to understand. I gave up very quickly (and I’m a techie).
Movable Type and Type Pad are somewhere in between the others. Type Pad is used by large corporations to host internal blogs, and Movable type used to charge people a fee for using their service. I know of their existence but must admit I’ve never had a reason to look further than WordPress.
If you’re looking for a blogging tool, you should use what works best for you. It’s difficult for me to tell you what that is. I’d say try the above tools out yourself and see what you think.
I’d always recommend WordPress over the rest, but that’s maybe because it works for me and 50 million other people. You’ll get huge free support and a vast amount of content to make it your own.
Whichever solution you go with – have fun using it. If it becomes a headache or distracts you from what you want to use it for, look elsewhere.