Which free blogging service is right for me?
September 29, 2010 11:54 AM   Subscribe

Considering starting a personal, moderately-multimedia blog. Leaning towards Blogger... but I have questions and concerns.

Additional details: Not paying for anything. My goal here is basically to establish a nice, innocuous, easy-to-administer web presence connected to my real identity (for stuff like prospective employers Googling me). People I know, work with, or am friends with will certainly find it and read it. It probably won't be updated very frequently or contain much in the way of amazing, unique content—maybe photos of my cats if I'm feeling particularly groundbreaking. I don't see myself ever choosing to monetize it.

Any additional advice not related to my list of questions below is very welcome. Assume I have a primitive understanding of this stuff, but a willingness to learn and adapt.

1) I do not have a Facebook account, but it seems Blogger and Facebook communicate with each other somehow. What exactly happens there? Is this something that only happens if I have a Facebook account? If (in some unimaginable, nightmarish future dystopia) something inspired me to start a Facebook account, could I prevent Facebook and Blogger from sharing data?

2) How's Blogger's security—with regard to spam targeting me based on my blog's content, puking my personal info out to affiliated services (see Facebook concern above), etc.? If it matters, my blog is probably going to be connected with my main Gmail, which contains my IRL name.

3) Can I write my posts in raw HTML but still use nice-'n-easy templates for the blog's overall look?

4) Can I completely prevent comments or any other means by which visitors can contribute? Or, can I screen every comment before it appears to anyone but me? I would probably decide to do one of these right out of the gate.

5) How would putting in my own sound clips or video clips work if I went with Blogger? Are images easy?

6) Right now I plan to integrate Statcounter, mainly because I hear that it shows search terms that lead people to my blog. Does it show the IPs of my visitors? If not, is there some other way to see that? I used to have a site that did that, and since I got VERY few visitors (and expect that to remain true of this blog), it was nice.

7) Is there a length limit for posts or comments in Blogger? I (and people I know) can be long-winded... in case you couldn't tell.

8) Considering all of the above, do I want to use LiveJournal (or something else) instead of Blogger? I had a LiveJournal account once and understand its basic functionality.
posted by AugieAugustus to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I haven't used Blogger in years, but the setup you're describing sounds like the exact use case for a Tumblr blog. Free, easy, multimedia (videos, mp3s, etc.), no-comments by default, HTML (or not) for posts, with super-easy theming, no limit on length, etc.
posted by Alt F4 at 12:16 PM on September 29, 2010

It's really dirt cheap to get your own domain and run your own install of Wordpress. I'd recommend going that route. There's a million places that do one-clicker installs of it, and handle the domain name and make the entire thing painless. I think Wordpress will make all that multimedia stuff easy as well.
posted by Blake at 12:19 PM on September 29, 2010

Is there something specific that attracts you to Blogger? Or is it just name-recognition? I think people will be chiming to suggest alternatives just because more of the innovation recently has come from startups like Tumblr, Posterous, even Wordpress.com. Blogger/Livejournal have a perception as being of the previous generation of blogging tech, right or wrong.

Posterous does media-rich blogging quite well (similar to Tumblr), and also makes it quite easy for you to post via email, which you may find allows you to post ephemeral stuff more frequently. If you start with Blogger/Tumbler/Wordpress.com and want to switch, they also have good importing tools to move your blog over.

I would vote against trying to host your own Wordpress (or whatever) install -- you then become responsible for security updates, site maintenance, etc. Let somebody else do it for you.
posted by misterbrandt at 12:46 PM on September 29, 2010

Response by poster: The only reason I was looking at Blogger is because it could be tied in to my main Google account; I figured it'd be easy, and I do grow weary of learning new usernames and passwords all over the place.

I wasn't aware that Tumblr was used for this purpose... I'll give it a try. How about item 6 on my list... does Tumblr allow outside apps?

Having run my own website before, I'm not interested in that level of management.
posted by AugieAugustus at 1:58 PM on September 29, 2010

Regarding point #6 ... yes. As long as you have the javascript code for your widget or stat counter or whatever, you can insert it into your blog's theme. There are some help docs at http://www.tumblr.com/help, but the short answer is that from your dashboard, you'd click on "customize" link in the sidebar, then the "theme" tab, then the "custom HTML" button.
posted by Alt F4 at 2:06 PM on September 29, 2010

Sounds like Tumblr is the one for you.

As everyone says... it's dead easy to post all kinds of material, like photos, videos and quotes, as well as normal text. And it all just looks very good, with no effort by you.

Tumblr does not have commenting out-of-the-box either, so you don't need to figure out a way to disable that.

I have used also Blogger and Wordpress, but for personal light blogging I now use Tumblr. If interested in seeing an example of what you can do with it, my Tumblr link is in my profile.

Feel free to asks follow ups on Blogger, WP or Tumblr if you need anything clarified.
posted by philipy at 5:01 PM on September 29, 2010

N'thing tumblr - it's stupid easy to use, easy to map to a domain name if you want to have www.augieaugustus.com or whatever (check my profile for an example, my website is hosted on tumblr, not much on there but Youtube videos at the moment but it's a good example of a simple and fairly pretty template) and the themes are in their thousands and very, very easy to install and customise.

Also they have a pretty kickass iPhone app if you get into posting remotely etc.
posted by Happy Dave at 4:05 AM on September 30, 2010

Response by poster: After getting used to tumblr's unusual interface, it is indeed looking to be the one I want. Thanks, MeFites!
posted by AugieAugustus at 6:46 AM on September 30, 2010

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