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August 24, 2020

Despite WordPress's untouchable position in the oligopoly of content management systems the last decade, there is still a case to be made for Google's Blogger offering. A backend redesign of the service went live in May 2020, breathing new life into the free publishing tool. homepage

Blogger has long been the red-headed step-child among its' competitors, and perhaps unfairly so. I first used the service in 2004, when blogging itself was just really gaining steam among the less techncially-inclined (WordPress would have been version 1.x). Blogger has matured considerably since then. I was pleasantly surprised to see some of the options offered when I logged back in after a near 15 year hiatus. Things have really changed!

The good

  • Custom domain option is free will charge you to use your own domain name, Blogger does not. 'Nuff said.

  • 15GB media storage space

    While nothing is really unlimited, usage calculations for your media library in Blogger are calculated in the same way as Google Drive, meaning it's technically possibly to upload images which do not register in storage calculations. Read more.

  • Hosted and maintained by Google

    If nothing else, they're reliable! No more obsessing over port scanners and bots, or installing security plugins.

  • Free SSL certificate (letsencrypt)
  • Google Maps, AdSense, Analytics & Search Console integration
  • Manual backup & restore function

    The inability to migrate from one CMS to another is vastly overstated in my opinion, in fact maintains a tool to import Blogger websites into WordPress. When you're ready to grow, your content will go with you.

  • Admin RSS "Reading List" feature

    Basically a small RSS reader in your administration panel, quite handy if you're looking for inspiration or want to keep tabs on news in your vertical

  • Supports enclosure links (podcasts, music, etc)

The bad

  • Poor community/official technical support

    Support for any free Google product is relegated to community message boards making the platform difficult for new users/less technically inclined people to utilize

  • Small widget/plugin ecosystem

    Unlike WordPress or Joomla, Blogger does not have a wealth of third-party plugins. While you can embed simple HTML/Javascript widgets from third-party providers, they lack the functionality and "fit" that is found in the plugin/widget ecosystem of competing platforms.

  • Limited theme selection
  • Hosted and maintained by Google

    Depending upon your views on privacy and data collection, this can be more of a turn-off than a selling point. Your data on Blogger is not really yours.

  • No "bring your own" SSL certificate option

    While Blogger does provide a free certificate from letsencrypt there does not appear to be any option to upload your own from a third party provider.

The ugly

  • Third-party themes often outdated or questionable

    A number of the themes I looked at online while researching this article contained tracking pixels and other external code I didn't bother to audit.

  • Templating language can be difficult to learn

    Hope you like regular expressions!

  • No file hosting*

    This is not techncially true, as you can host static HTML, CSS and JS via Google Drive, and share them publically, but you're unable to do any kind of server-side scripting.

  • Software is not extensible

    The biggest issue with Blogger is that it simply not designed to be extensible- meaning the functionality of the software can not be extended with third party code. There is no self-hosted option. There is no equivalent to WordPress's custom post types.

New Blogger Draft interface

In spite of the wonky templating language and relative lack of community support options, the recent makeover to the Blogger administration panel and some backend additions make the service an increasingly attractive option in my mind. In particular, for those looking to quickly establish an online presence without spending much money. And it's not as if there aren't nice websites hosted on Blogger.

Sherman Caine

Sherman is a professional full-stack web developer living in Toronto, Canada, who has been working on websites in one form or another for over 15 years.