Google’s Blogger was my first blog host when I started blogging in October 2007 (not really all that long ago) and the one that I keep coming back to no matter what other ones I have tried.
Many of my fellow bloggers have pointed out to me that I have moved around way too much, trying out new or different blog hosts, blogs, themes, widgets, etc., to create what many would consider a successful blog and I have to agree with those observations. However, all of this what I call evaluating alternatives to Blogger has given me a unique view of what makes a good blogging platform for me.
Product Name: BloggerCompany Name: GoogleType: Web Application
Website: “Blogger makes it simple to instantly publish to the web. As the world’s largest blogging platform, Blogger enables millions of people across the globe to communicate with and engage their audience. With Blogger, you control who can read and write to your blog, whether you limit it to a few friends or let the entire world see what you have to say.” Google Press Center: Product Descriptions.
Below is a screenshot of my Blogger Dashboard:
How much does it cost? Free for a @blogspot.com blog and you can create a custom domain that will cost you $10.00 per year that includes Google Apps.
Is Blogger easy to use or is there a learning curve? Blogger is very easy to use for your basic blogging needs. You can immediately start using Blogger and have a post to your blog within a few minutes of creating an account. However, as you become more sophisticated about how you want your blog to look and interact to others, Blogger will grow with you and you will spend a lot of time learning how to use those more advanced functions.
What I like: Blogger has come a long way in the three plus years that I have used it.
The price is definitely right, the ability to earn income i.e. monetize your blog, by showing advertising on your blog you can. Google allows you to have control of how you use your blog and what widgets you can use as part of your blog without paying extra for those features or having them “blocked” by the blog host provider.
With the still relatively new Blogger Template Designer you can create a custom theme to satisfy how you want your blog to look.
If you do not like the results of the Template Designer you can find a theme that you can use from a vast library of Free Blogger templates and if you know a little about HTML coding you can adapt/modify those templates to meet your needs even more (I learned what little I know about HTML or CSS by doing this). You can create blog theme that meets just about any criteria and if you need/want to you can have one professionally designed at a reasonable cost.
Although my blog’s statistics don’t mean a lot to anyone but me and it really doesn’t mean that much to me, I do like to keep track of the number of page views a post gets and how many overall my blog has. I use this as a measure of how this blog compares to other blogs I have had and to do my week in review post.
I do not like Blogger’s blogwriter/editor, this has been an ongoing frustration for me since I started blogging with Blogger. Blogger’s newest blog editor, will work as your basic blog editor for your individual Blogger blogs, however, it doesn’t post to multiple blogs easily. I don’t use it much because I can’t get it to space correctly between paragraphs and I don’t trust it to format my post the way I want it to.
I guess I am a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to how my posts look and I think they look unprofessional if the spacing is screwed up. I guess that this is why there is a secondary market for blog editors and there is such a variety. I truly think that if Google simply put Google Docs as their blog editor software instead of what they presently use, it would work better, be one less thing to learn and be more accepted by those who use Blogger and probably use gDocs any way.
If you are attempting to import your old blogs from a different blog host, you “can’t get there from here” you have to do the import manually which is a pain in the butt, see my BLOGGER – MANUALLY IMPORTING BLOG POST PROJECT for further information on this issue.
Sometimes with Blogger there are so many choices and it is too easy to make changes, that you find yourself, constantly tweaking the appearance, what widgets you use, in attempting to get things just so. Or in my case if you find yourself bored, you go and tinker with your blog, which doesn’t help give the appearance of stability to your readers.
Do my students have easy access the product? Now that Blogger is available in our Google Applications, it becomes more attractive as a student blogging platform at my school.
Do I currently use Blogger in my classroom? Yes, I use it for my classroom blog and have a Blogging Lesson plan developed that I plan to use during the last quarter for my 7th grade students.
I also use One Foot in Reality as my professional blog to reach the Special Education community and other educators who I interact with online.
How does Blogger apply to Special Education? Blogger allows Special Education teachers to provide multimedia lessons to students very quickly and easily. It is an alternative to a Learning Management System such as Moodle.
Blogger provides a way to provide authentic feedback to students on how they are doing and can help teach civility in commenting or disagreeing appropriately with someone else when commenting or reviewing comments on a blog. There are many different things that blogging can teach a student and any medium that helps students to read or write more is worth attempting with students.
Special Educators are finding that there are a number of other Special Education teachers who blog. After reading these blogs and participating in the Twitter #chats (#spedchat) many what to add their experiences and insights about special education to the conversation and find that Blogger is one of the ways for them to add their thoughts to this community of educators.
The reality is that Google’s Blogger is the one blogging host that I keep returning to after seeing if the grass is greener on the other side. Google lets me “own” my blog and so far they have not attempted to say what I can or cannot have on it, limit what it looks like, let me earn money with it or charge me too much money for their services. Google does all of the back end management (which I found to be a pain in the butt with my self-hosted WordPress blog) and I can focus on how my blog looks and writing better blog posts. It took a long time for me to understand what I was looking for in a blog host and in my experience so far, Blogger has met or exceeded my expectations, if they would do something with the stock blog editor.
Blogger may not be everyone’s first choice and I know that there are some out there that swear at it as much as I swear by it. I guess sometimes the first choice you make is the right one, at least in this instance, starting with Blogger was a good choice, I just wished that I had stayed with it for the entire time. I wonder where “My Thoughts” would be today if I had.
Recommendation: Blogger in my opinion is a very good option as your blog host, it would be great if the blog editor was better. I have returned to Blogger after trying other blog hosts and finding that they do not do what Blogger allows me to do with my blog. I do recommend Blogger as a blog host based upon my experience with it so far. Personally, I have had good luck with it.
FTC Disclaimer: No one has paid me or provided me with services or products to write this blog post. I have written this post based upon my experience with using this product and they are simply my thoughts about it.