The layout of my blog is one of the most important, if not the most important element when it comes to attracting an audience to follow and read my posts. This is where first impressions are made which not only controls the popularity of my blog, but can also control my own opinions and outlook on blogging altogether. It's simple - if I feel dissatisfied with the look and feel of my blog whenever I go online, I'm much more likely to neglect it and post very rarely, whereas if I get that sense of pride and achievement whenever I look at it, I'll post at every opportunity possible. Although I've now been blogging for just over a year, it's pretty much taken me that whole year to find my blogging niche and it's safe to say that during that time, I've had a taste of every platform under the sun to establish what it is that I'm looking for when it comes to presenting my blog in the best way possible. I'm still working on a few things, but I wanted to put together a post of the pros and cons from the ones that I've tried to help you choose what is right for you.
First up is Blogger - this was the place where my blog was born in January last year. I spent a good few months trying to work out the theme and style that I was after and it treated me very well, but as soon as I wanted to start doing more complex things with my blog, I found it quite restricting and not very supportive. For example, when working with multiple images I just found it impossible to present them in any other way than just underneath the text. Unless I'm being thick and there is a way to solve that?
- It's free to use.
- Your blog is backed up automatically - and if deleted, it can be restored within 90 days.
- You can map your existing domain name for free.
- It's really easy to navigate which is great for beginners. Blogger was my best friend when I was just setting up my blog and getting my head around everything.
- You can access the back-end and change/add custom codes (although, only to some extent).
- You can upload your own templates/themes and install from third-party sites too.
- You can set up ads on your blog to make money from your site.
- Connecting to Bloglovin or any other social media accounts is an absolute breeze.
- As mentioned above, it's great for beginners - but if you're an advanced blogger, you may struggle with how much it limits you. There isn't an option to upgrade your account or install extra plugins.
- You don't technically own your blog, google does.
- Images are compressed when added to a post which drops the quality - as well as the fact that it's extremely difficult to work with multiple images and present them any other way than just underneath/above text. This was one of my main issues as I wanted to create posts that were set out with different sized images and have the option to put them beside text boxes.
- The selection of default themes Blogger has to offer is very basic.
- You run the risk of your blog looking like everyone else's due to the limited design features.
- As your blog grows, blogger doesn't grow with you. As soon as I wanted my blog to start looking more visual and have the same functions of a website, I realised blogger wasn't for me.
I then decided to move to Squarespace which is a platform that I hadn't heard much about before, but after doing some research and seeing some of my favourite bloggers using it and having major blog envy, I wanted to give it a try. I loved how clean and professional it made my blog look (more like a snazzy little website) but I felt the negatives weighed out the positives. My main issue was the fact that I was paying for a service that didn't even offer me the ability to change any back-end coding which is important to someone who wants to change the styling/fonts/etc to make their blog look different to anyone else's when using a popular theme. I also found that my followers didn't grow in the slightest while I was on there...
- You can create a really clean, beautiful looking site without a huge amount of experience.
- There is a much wider choice of themes to choose from that can be customised to your taste.
- There are handy little widgets that aren't available on other sites (such as blogger).
- You can map your existing domain name for free.
- Really simple to use. Offers a design system that uses 'building blocks' so you can design your own layout within your chosen theme (e.g. widgets and functions can be added wherever you desire).
- Great for publishing posts with multiple images. It keeps the quality of your photos, allows you to resize them within the posts and lets you position them anywhere you'd like on the page.
- The Squarespace mobile app is free and great for editing/posting on the go.
- Transferring a blog from another platform is done with a single click. Although, you may need to go through and re-format each post to make sure they're set out correctly.
- You'll need to pay a monthly subscription to use Squarespace (it works out at around £14 per month, depending on the subscription that you choose).
- You're unable to modify/access the back-end code.
- You can't upload your own templates/themes.
- If you're moving content from another platform, you'll have to reformat every single post.
- It was a massive ball ache connecting to my Bloglovin account - I had to email the support team who kindly sorted it for me, but it took around 3-4 days altogether.
I've now decided to take the plunge and move to a self-hosted Wordpress account which I have to admit, was such a lengthy process but well worth it once your site is up and running. If you're debating the move, I would completely recommend to go for it (before you've written hundreds of posts as it'll make your life just that little bit easier). I love the fact that I now have full flexibility to customise my blog to my heart's content and there are so many handy little plugins and widgets that create short codes if you're not fully confident with coding.
- It's free to use.
- Full HTML access to modify absolutely anything on your site.
- There are thousands of plugins and 3rd party widgets to download.
- A huge variety of themes to choose from, as well as the ability to upload third-party themes. I think I paid around £40 for a Pipdig theme which is completely worth the investment.
- Unless you're using the standard Wordpress site YOU have full ownership of your blog.
- A self-hosted Wordpress blog will give you full control over the look and content that you publish on your blog.
- The support forum is amazing. If you need help with anything, just type it into google and someone would've already asked/answered your question before, no matter how ridiculous you think it is.
- A really simple process when connecting Bloglovin and social media accounts.
- Moving content from an old blog is an extremely lengthy process (it literally took me around 10 days, 20 different YouTube tutorials and the urge to pull my hair out around 200 times moving my content from Squarespace and even still there were chunks of posts missing that I had to copy and paste back into my new site) - just bare in mind that you'll have to create databases, play around with the code within your websites files and upload it all to a web host site. Stressful doesn't even cut it.
- Difficult to get your head around if you only have a small amount of knowledge on coding.
Which platform is your favourite? Are you thinking of making the move?