When anyone starts a Blog, they have to make a decision of what Platform to use for their website. When I faced that choice, I chose to go with Blogger.
This post is aimed at people planning to start a Blog or people interested in my choice of Platform and a bit of behind the scenes knowledge of Must Contain Minis.
My choice to use Blogger was quite simple. At the time, I knew of just two platforms for what I wanted to achieve – Blogger and WordPress. There are other platforms out there that I don’t know as much about them so I will be focusing on the strengths of Blogger.
While my experience with Blogger is quite positive, I do plan to migrate to WordPress to see what the other side of the equation is like. You will likely notice some changes over the weeks to come.
Why I Chose Blogger
The primary reason I chose to run my website on Blogger was price. Blogger is free. When I started Must Contain Minis, I did not know where the website would go. I planned to write reviews, but I had not yet a plan for the monetization of the site. Free was the right price for me. I looked into WordPress too, but the options that I want cost roughly $8 to $15 a month. That isn’t a lot, but it is still money out of my pocket.
The second reason I chose Blogger was because I looked at the Blogs that I liked and many of those sites were on Blogger. Some of the Blogs include…
- Wargaming Tradecraft
- Oldenhammer in Toronto
- The Man Cave
- Rabbits In My Basement
- A Year of Frugal Gaming (no longer active and has broken links)
- And many, many more…
Admittedly, since I started my own site, I haven’t had as much time to read other people’s work, but I still enjoy checking them out when I can.
When I started, those were the two main reasons that I was drawn towards Blogger instead of WordPress or other platforms. Since then, I have learned more about the advantages and disadvantages of using Blogger.
Disadvantages of Blogger
The primary disadvantage that I find of Blogger is not the platform itself, but rather the perception of it to others. That negative perception is actually from other Bloggers on the web and not my general readers or perspective sponsors. I find that Sponsors and Readers don’t care how a website is powered so long as the content is solid and the site looks good.
That said, there are plenty of people out there that make some very negative complaints about Blogger while propping up their preferred platform. Some of their complaints are valid, but some of the complaints are unfounded. One thing that I keep in mind while listening to their criticisms of Blogger is that most of these naysayers actually make money from affiliate links to Web Hosts, books about their platform, and courses on how to Blog better.
When people strongly push for you towards their platform, you have to sometimes wonder where their motives lie. Their push has had me look at WordPress several times since starting my site on Blogger. In all honesty, you have to wonder what difference it makes to them what platform I use. My guess is that they can’t sell me their services if I am on Blogger and that is part of the reason for the push. My advice is to not discount Blogger simply because of the perceptions of others. Below I will address some of the misconceptions about Blogger that are broadcast around the web as truths.
While I find some concerns about Blogger are unfounded, other concerns are completely fair.
One of their main criticisms of Blogger that I find legitimate is that the platform limited in customization. They are right on that one. There is plenty that I would like to do to the site in terms of layout and coding but cannot. An example having code not working as easily as it would on other sites is that I have yet to figure out how to make Amazon OneLink (a service that will send users to the Amazon Store of their country from my affiliate links) work on my website.
I also love the “Magazine” layout that Blogger offers, but using it takes away my ability for sidebars (which I want for advertising and navigation purposes) so I use a “simple” theme instead. Likewise, there are specific things that I would love to do with my website pages that I have not yet figured out how to do in Blogger. These changes that I would like to make include adding pictures to every link in the Reviews Page and / or automating the creation of those links.
Depending on your viewpoint, it could also be problematic that Blogger is tied to your Gmail account. If you wish to change your email address in the future (if you get married, picked a bad user name, or for other reasons), it is not as simple to migrate your Blogger account to a new email address as it might be on other platforms.
Misconceptions about Blogger
One of the scariest things that people tell me about Blogger is that they can shut down your account at anytime. What many people don’t understand is that the same is true of any other Web Host out there if you don’t follow their Terms of Service, pay your “rent” for that space, or if they plain old go out of business. Google also states in their Terms of Service that if they intend to shut down any of their services that they will give users advanced notice so that they may move their files.
People also tell me that Google owns anything that I upload to the site. That is not true either. The copyright and ownership of Intellectual Property on those materials remains with the Blogger. It states so right in Google’s Terms and Conditions Page.
So if you hear anyone tell you that you don’t actually own what you put on Blogger, you can let them that is not true. Unfortunately, this is one of the misconceptions that flows around freely in new-blogger help groups as truth when it is in fact wrong.
People will also tell you that professionals don’t use Blogger and that you can’t win sponsorships if you are on the platform. That is not true either.
I was able to obtain sponsors for my website before I even had my own domain name. That is right, companies were willing to work with me when my site URL read http://mustcontainminis.blogspot.com. It is the content and presentation of your website that companies care about the most.
Many people also have the thought that if you are on Blogger, you can’t get a custom domain. That is not true either. You can buy one through Google or through a third party. I chose to go with a third party so if I ever choose to migrate off of Blogger, that I can retain my domain name without having to worry about how to get it from Google.
It is true though, that having your own domain name (like https://mustcontainminis.com) makes your website look more professional. The thing is though, all of this can be done through Blogger.
Some people even lead you to believe that you can’t monetize on Blogger. That is not true either. They have AdSense built right into the backend so that adding ads to your site is super easy once you reach a certain threshold of quality traffic and content. I have also been able to monetize my site through affiliate marketing links.
I will admit, though, that I had issues with AdSense when I switched to my custom domain name (which resulted in about a month’s worth of lost ad revenue). I believe that the issue there was to do with my coding skills, and getting Blogger, the third party URL provider and AdSense all talking to each other. I got some help through the domain name provider and everything worked out.
Finally, some people say that all Blogger sites look the same. Many of them do, but there are also many quality sites out there too. You can choose one of the many pre-defined templates, make your own (if you are good at coding) or pay for a 3rd party one. Yep… people make theme templates for Blogger just like they do WordPress. Personally, I am okay with a “Simple” theme so I can focus more on the content and links of my site.
Advantages of Blogger
Blogger’s key advantage for me is that it is free. If I end up with too many images on the site, I can pay to increase that limit – but that is all there is for the cost of my website. Well, that and the cost of my custom domain name. I don’t have to worry about which plan to buy or my traffic going over a certain volume per month. That piece of mind is worth something on its own.I can also embed video clips into my posts at no extra cost.
Blogger is super easy to use and set up. Just focus on your writing and content and Blogger takes care of the rest. Starting up AdSense was also extremely simple.
While WordPress has more customization and widgets available because it is an open source program, it is said that Blogger could be more secure because it is not open and it is housed on Google Servers. Being hosted by Google also means that the site has plenty of uptime with very little downtime.
Finally, I don’t need to know a lot of technical information to make Blogger work. The server end is taken care of at no cost to me and I don’t have to worry about server updates or anything along those lines.
Is Blogger Right for Everybody?
Is Blogger right for everybody? No, but I don’t think people give the site enough credit. It does what it was designed to do very well and that is to run online Blogs.
If you plan to run a complex website or webstore, then there might be better options out there for you than Blogger. If you plan on just running a Blog (or in my case a miniature wargames Review, Showcase and Battle Report site), then Blogger certainly can be good enough.
While I have been very happy with Blogger, I am planning to move very soon to WordPress simply to see what the otherside of the coin is like and for better coding and customization options.
Why I wrote this post
The reason I wrote this post is because there are too many people out there spreading misconceptions about Blogger as truths.
The day that I heard that Google owns any Intellectual Property that I upload to the site and that they can shut me out without any reason, I was up in arms and planning to move immediately. A year later and my site is still there and I found little reason to worry.
It turns out the copyright issue is absolutely false and the shutting down the site possibility could happen with any provider that I rent web space from. To simply state that everyone should be on WordPress is wrong.
There are multiple solutions out there. If you want a free or low-cost site, Blogger is an excellent solution.
Summing It Up
When starting up a website, there are many things to consider with one of the first considerations being what platform to use. Blogger and WordPress seem to be the most popular options at this point of time with many people steering towards WordPress for various reasons.
I chose to go with Blogger instead and set up a nice professional and monetized website. The reasons I chose to start with Blogger was simply because many of the sites that I read are on Blogger and because Blogger is free.
Sadly, there are a lot of misconceptions out there about the Blogger platform and I hope that this post helps clear up some of those misunderstandings. Both WordPress and Blogger have their advantages.
The main advantage that I see WordPress having over Blogger is that it offers better options in coding and layout. WordPress is an Open Source program and therefore has more options.
Which of the two would I recommend to someone just starting out with a Blog? Either, but if you are on a budget, Blogger is an excellent solution.
If you choose Blogger and change your mind later, you can migrate. My understanding that the Migration is a lot of work and will mess up the formatting of the website. I should know for myself next week. Hopefully the migration will not be too disruptive on this site.
Thanks for reading and…
Until next time, Happy Gaming Everyone!!!