Blogging Platforms Compared

Note: This post is Blogging 105, part of the Blogging curriculum at Social Media University, Global.

In developing the curriculum for Social Media University, Global I had originally planned to have Blogging 105 be about the pros and cons of and WordPress, with Blogging 106 and 107 providing the same analysis for Blogger and Typepad/Movable Type, respectively.

If someone wants to write those posts (106 and 107), I would be glad to have you join the SMUG faculty as a visiting professor. But given limited time (and my increasing satisfaction with and WordPress), I will focus on why this platform is both a great way to get started with blogging, and also why it provides flexibility for growth as you become more serious about it.

I have limited experience with both Blogger and Typepad. They’re both fine, and their major advantages from my perspective is that you can embed flash-based widgets, which is something you can’t do, for security reasons, on That lets you put all those sharing icons like this:

…at the bottom of your posts. I had a friend describe as “Digg-proof,” which is a limitation, I suppose. You can overcome it by moving to a WordPress installation on a rented server, however, so it’s not a crucial deficiency in, from my perspective. And I guess it helps with security, so some malicious Flash application can’t bring down thousands of blogs Benefits

  • It’s free, and comes with 3 gigs of storage for photos and documents. No credit card needed to get going. No 14-day free trial. You can start now in about 30 seconds, and could quite possibly blog long-term without spending a penny.
  • If you’re nervous about starting, you can make your blog private and get hands-on experience without anyone seeing. (Or if you want to get experience in a blogging playground, check out the Training Wheels blog, where I would be happy to make you an Author.)
  • It’s Open Source, so lots of unpaid programmers are adding cool features really rapidly.
  • You can embed YouTube or Google videos (and some other types), as well as slide shows.
  • If you want to use as a podcast server, you can pay another $20 a year to upgrade your storage to 8 gigs, and to enable you to upload mp3 or video files. (More on this soon.)
  • Bandwidth is unlimited and free. If you can upload it to, your blog visitors can download it. It doesn’t matter how many of them visit.
  • You can create workflows for an editorial process. You have a hierarchy that runs from Contributor (can write posts but can’t publish) to Author (can publish and edit own posts) to Editor (can edit anyone’s posts) to Administrator (can do all of the above plus add or delete users and change blog design.) So if you want people to be able to write posts but want a quality check before they go live, you can have that process built into your publishing tool.
  • URLs are in plain English, and you can edit them for search engine benefits. For example, I have given this post a URL that ends …global/blogging-platforms-compared/. Google looks at that URL and deduces that this post might just be about comparing blogging platforms. So if anyone searches on those terms, I’ll be likely to come up higher in the rankings than if I had a Typepad URL like …/blogging-platfo.html
  • Upgrade costs are minimal. For $15 a year you can customize the look and feel of your blog, as we did here and here and here. For $10 a year you can map your blog to another domain or subdomain (see the same examples, as well as the domain name you see in your browser right now), although it may cost you another $10 to register a domain name (like I already mentioned the $20 a year fee for 5 gigs of extra storage, and for $30 you can have an unlimited number of private users. Add it all up and you’d have a hard time finding a way to spend over $100 a year on a fully featured blog. A comparably equipped TypePad blog would be at least $300 a year, and more likely $900.
  • If your blog becomes wildly successful and you want to start offering Google Adwords or Flash-based applications, you can transfer your blog from to a server you control (and that you can rent for maybe $10 a month.) Just update your server’s IP address with your registrar, and you can make the move without losing any links.

As I said earlier, I would welcome as a visiting professor anyone who would want to explore the pros and cons of either Blogger or Typepad in a guest post. Or if you have experiences with any of these platforms that you would like to share in the comments, please do!

Otherwise, what are you waiting for? Get started with now.

Intro to Blogs

Note: This Social Media University, Global course is cross-posted as Social Media 105 and Blogging 101.

Many people have misconceptions about blogs. Some of this is based on misinformation or disinformation from the mainstream media about mysterious “bloggers.” Like we’re a completely different breed, if not a full-fledged new species that should be prevented from procreating.

In essence, a blog is just a Web site that allows comment and conversations. Thanks again to Lee LeFever for his “plain English” overview:


The best part about blogs is that if you are reading this, you can have one. And it won’t cost you anything, except perhaps two minutes of your time. But we’ll let you prove that as part of your homework assignment.

So, if you don’t already have a blog, SMUG can help you get started. You can pay to have a TypePad account if you wish, or you can get a free one from Blogger, a Google service. In the spirit of academic freedom, SMUG doesn’t require that you use for your blog. But we do recommend Why?

  • It’s free. Not a 14-day free trial, but completely free for the basic service.
  • You get 3 GIGABYTES of storage at no extra charge, and there is no limit on bandwidth, which is pretty impressive.
  • SMUG uses Everything you see here (except for our domain name) has been accomplished without spending a penny, and with no support from an IT department. So if you see something you’d like to replicate on your blog, you can just ask the Chancellor (see box at upper right, or put your questions in the comments) how to do it. does have some limitations on the kinds of scripts or widgets you can embed. And you can’t use Google’s AdSense program to monetize your content. (If you’re seeing Google ads on this blog, they’re from, not SMUG.) But then again, the service offers an astonishing level of benefits at no charge to me, so I think it’s great.

If you really think you’re going into blogging as a for-profit enterprise, you might consider TypePad. Or, you could start on, register your own domain (like I did with and use domain mapping. Then if you decide you want to move on to full-blown WordPress on a leased server for maximum customization, you can move it and re-map without breaking any links or losing Google juice.

Homework Assignments:

If you don’t already have a blog:

  1. Think a few minutes about a name and URL for your blog. But don’t think so long that it keeps you from taking the plunge and actually starting. If you later decide you don’t like your URL, you can always get another blog on They’re free.
  2. Get a timing device of some kind. It can be an old-fashioned analog wristwatch, or better yet one of those digital athletic ones. If you have some kind of stopwatch function that would be ideal. But don’t spend any money for it (you could even use the clock function on your computer, if necessary.) We just want to get a rough idea of how long step four takes.
  3. Start your timer.
  4. Start your blog on In the curriculum for the SMUG Blogging major we will be working through lots of lessons that will use WordPress as the blogging platform. So if you use WordPress instead of Blogger or TypePad it will all look more familiar as you doing your homework. Click here to get a preview of what it will look like when you start your WordPress blog, and click here to actually sign up for your account.
  5. Stop your timer.
  6. Add a comment to this post, including the URL of your new blog and how long it took you to get started. Was it two minutes or less?

For All Students:

I plan to create a post of SMUG student blogs, so if you don’t want your blog listed there, please also indicate that in your comment.

If you already have a blog:

You’re one of our advanced students, so help please help your classmates by sharing your experience. Leave a comment below indicating

  1. what blogging platform you’re using,
  2. what you like and dislike about it,
  3. how long you’ve been blogging and
  4. your URL.