My Personal Reasons for Choosing WordPress

I’ve been asked this question many times — Why WordPress? To help answer that question, I’m posting my response to a personal email I received a couple of weeks ago. Hopefully this will explain why I chose this platform. It doesn’t mean that other platforms are bad, it just depends upon your reasons for blogging, and each blogger must chose the platform that is best for their purposes. For me, WordPress is the best choice for a number of reasons.

Specifically, this reader had asked why use WordPress, since Blogger now allows custom domain names, so I begin by addressing that in my reply. I corrected a couple of spelling errors and clarified a few phrases, but other than that, this is the direct response I sent to that reader:

For those who aren’t blogging to make money or build a large audience, Blogger is probably fine. I used it for a couple of years and am still involved with a group blog that is hosted by Blogger. But my reasons for choosing WordPress are more than just domain names.

Optimization — It’s not that I hate Blogger as much as I just love WordPress. I do a little coding from time to time to tweak things on my blog. There are certain SEO tactics that just don’t work on Blogger. For instance, Blogger is heavy on the code-to-content ratio, which means it hinders search bots from finding the actual content. Yes, Blogger blogs do rank well in some instances, but over all, WordPress is king when it comes to SEO. Interesting, since Google owns Blogger. I once hosted a guest blogger at On Blogging Well and by the end of the day, my post ranked ABOVE two of her own blogs (hosted by Blogger) for her name. She had been blogging on those blogs for over a year, but my post ranked #3 on page one less than 10 hours after it posted, with her two blogs coming in at 4 & 5. That’s very important if you have a message to spread widely or if you’re wanting to monetize your blog.

Part of it is perception. I’ve been reading a LOT of blogs about blogging since I started this site, and within the blogging niche, Blogger blogs are simply considered amateurish. I’ve seen some amazing looking Blogger blogs, so I know you can do a lot more with them than you could at one time, but most of the pro-blogger types claim WordPress is the only way. I don’t give many Blogger tips because I don’t use it enough to give out advice for that platform. There are some Blogger blog tip sites out there, though, which is good.

A lot of it is control. There are just certain things you can’t do with Blogger that you can with WordPress. It’s so flexible. For instance, with Blogger you don’t have access to your entire database. Yes, you can use the export feature as a makeshift backup, but that’s not really your entire database. Using a MySql database backup system, I can take my entire blog and upload it into a blank WordPress directory and it will look IDENTICAL to the way it looked when I downloaded it. If you simply use the export function, (and I’ve had to do this), there is still a lot of work to get links to work, images to display, etc., but a complete database upload works perfectly.

But in addition to that, the main thing I have against a hosted blog is that you don’t have full control over your blog. In fact, you don’t really “own” it. You may own the copyrights to it, but if the entire blog can be deleted by someone other than you without your knowledge or consent, then it’s not really yours. Blogger, being owned by Google, is probably fairly stable, but some freebie sites come and go. I’ve even read of more than one blogger who lost their entire blogs — and a few were even on Blogger — because they were flagged as being a SPLOG (spammer blog).

Yaro Starak, one of the most respected bloggers in the pro blogger arena, tells about his friend Steve, who was making about $2K/month average on a Blogger blog. Even though Steve was working legitimately, Google flagged him as a Splogger and deleted his blog. Poof — it was gone. He contacted them, but was told, “Well, it’s been deleted. Sorry.” Because my blog is self-hosted on a shared server, there is the possibility that someone on that server could be flagged for illegal activity & yes, the entire server could be confiscated for investigation (VERY rare, but it has happened — not to me, though). Because I have an auto-backup of my entire database, within minutes I could have my entire domain transfered and my site uploaded to another host.

Anyway, that’s just a few of my personal reasons for moving away from Blogger. When I did move (and the blog I had there isn’t active any more), I didn’t know what I was doing — had no idea what SEO was or really anything about blogging other than I’m a writer and I knew writers were supposed to have a blog.

As far as the expenses involved in self-hosting (via a shared server), it’s not free, but it’s pretty cheap. The domain name reservation is about $8/year, and you can get hosting from HostGator for as little as $5/month, so for an investment of perhaps $75/year, bloggers can have peace of mind. (Yes, you can pay more than that, but the basic packages are probably sufficient for most blogs.)

I hope this explains my reasons for choosing WordPress. Thanks for asking me that question — I may have to convert this email into a blog post! :)

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8 comments ↓

#1 Aggie Villanueva on 01.05.10 at 12:49 pm

I’ve been waiting for this post since you asked my why I prefer Typepad, and I didn’t have an answer! OK, you sold me on WordPress. But what is “MySql database backup system” and how can start using it at my WordPress blog? Thankx once again, Linda, for offering such great help. I just sent Cynthia Vespia to check out your blog.

#2 Linda Fulkerson on 01.05.10 at 1:24 pm

Hi Aggie,

Here’s a link to a post I wrote that told about the backup system I use:

http://onbloggingwell.com/how-to-backup-your-blog/

Now, once you’ve backed up the blog, if you need to use the data, log into your cPanel and click on the phpMyAdmin icon, then use the import function. Note: This should never be done except in case of an emergency or if you’re transporting your blog to a new server.

Another tip — I also make a backup of my actual files on a regular basis using FTP and save them in a folder on my computer & a flashdrive. Sometimes you’ll only need a portion of your backup files and this gives quick access to them.

#3 Roy on 01.06.10 at 3:56 am

Now that you’ve addressed the Blogger vs. WordPress issue, I’d be interested in what thoughts you might have on another route: using Apple’s mobileme and iweb.

#4 Linda Fulkerson on 01.06.10 at 5:28 am

@Roy — I do have a MobileMe account and I’ve played around with iWeb a little, but not enough to know that much about it. From what I do know, though (and those who know more about this, please chime in!), is that it is still a hosted web, meaning that it’s on Apple’s server, which, in my opinion, gets back to the whole lack of control issues.

I’d have to look at it again, but I don’t think users have access to the database files and I’m thinking SEO tweaks are likely limited with this platform.

I absolutely love the other iWorks & iLife products (I used Pages to create “The Blogger’s Checklist” and am working hard to complete “The Ultimate Guide to Blogging Well,” also created with Pages), but I don’t think I’ll be using iWeb.

For those who just want a personal blog without concerns about growing a large audience or possibly monetizing the blog, I think an easy-to-use platform such as iWeb would be an excellent choice.

#5 Linda Fulkerson on 01.06.10 at 5:41 am

Because it had been a while since I’d opened iWeb, I went ahead and browsed through it for a few minutes. I think it would be a great platform to create a simple web, especially because it’s so easy to use, however it doesn’t have much flexibility for bloggers to venture beyond the confines of the pre-designed themes.

That said, there is a great advantage to using iWeb for podcasters due to its easy integration. I haven’t done many podcasts yet on this blog, but uploading podcasts into an iWeb page and using an external link in the main navigation of your blog to that page would work well. The same goes for photo galleries.

#6 Debra Butterfield on 01.06.10 at 9:02 am

Linda,
How have you learned all the technical aspects of blogging? I feel so ignorant and I know that my lack of knowledge on the tech side is hindering me.

#7 Linda Fulkerson on 01.06.10 at 9:28 am

@Debra — The short answer? I’m a Geek. Or at least I’m 71 percent Geek. (I took an online test once, LOL!)

But seriously, I don’t know that anyone knows “all” the technical aspects of blogging. The point of this blog is for readers to take what you need and leave the rest. Don’t get overwhelmed with information that you either don’t need or don’t understand at this point.

I’ve been blogging for a while now and every week (and now, it seems like every day) I add a new tidbit of information. I read lots of blogs on blogging and take notes. I refer to my notebooks when I plan blog posts.

Because blogging is my chosen field of “expertise,” I have to keep up with it. Your blog is about spiritual healing and encouragement, so you likely keep up with current information in those areas. It’s really the same principle.

Today the trend is moving from the information age to the referral age. There is simply too much info for us to each sort through, so readers are seeking trusted bloggers to do the research and distill down the information for them, each in his or her field.

So, if someone wants to learn more about blogging, they can come here and get the nuts and bolts without taking the time to sort through everything. Same goes for your blog about your field and all the other bloggers about their topics.

I hope that makes sense! :)
Linda

#8 Tammie Swaney on 01.06.10 at 6:54 pm

This is a great article. Thanks for the info. I have not explored WP’s full potential. I do feel a bit intimidated. That may slow me down, but it won’t stop me.

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