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The Top Consideration When Choosing a Free Blogging Platform
Ed Kohler
When people first start blogging, they often choose to go with one of the popular and free blogging platforms, such as Blogger, LiveJournal, or even a MySpace blog. However, there is one very important thing to consider when choosing a free platform for a blog: exportability.

Before getting into that, should you use a free platform at all? In many cases, the answer is "Yes" since it allows you to get up and running in a matter of minutes with little technical know-how. You can focus on creating content and finding your voice rather than dealing with hosting issues and script formatting.

Back to portability: The reason portability is so important is because you may one day decide to change blogging platforms. This may be because you really like a feature that's offered on Wordpress but not Blogger, or you find out that nobody uses MySpace anymore (we're not there yet). When that happens, it would be nice to be able to pick up and leave with all of the posts you've created to date. And ideally, all of the other content created on your blog should come with you too, such as comments.

Many blog platforms offer an import script that helps you transfer your blog's content from a previous platform. It's in the best interest of blogging platforms to create import scripts since it makes it MUCH easier for people to move.

For example, below is a list of blog platforms Wordpress currently supports imports from. Notice the large variety of different specs in the right column:

Wordpress Import

Here are a few things worth noting:

1. You can't import your LiveJournal blog's comments, so you'll lose them when you switch.

2. You can't import comments from a Blogger blog if you use a 3rd party comment application like Haloscan. This is a common problem for experienced blogger blog users.

3. Where's MySpace in the above chart? This one is huge. The only way to import a MySpace blog as of today is to export an RSS feed from MySpace then upload it to Wordpress. HOWEVER, MySpace truncates posts in your RSS feed, so you'll only be able to retrieve the first 200 characters of your 10 most recent posts! That's something worth thinking long and hard about. You could manually copy/paste your previous posts over to your new blog, but you'll still lose all of your blog's comments when you do that.

So put some thought into which blogging platform is right for you before you start putting time and energy into creating posts on that platform. Pick one that plays nice with others and respects their contributors.

My recs: As of today, consider using either Blogger or Wordpress.com's free blogging platforms if you're looking for a free blogging option. Both are very popular, widely supported, and play nice with other platforms.



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Comments

1. Posted by: 60 in 3 on June 22, 2007 11:14 AM:

And if possible, host your own blog rather than go with someone else's hosted service. Hosting your own gives you complete control over your data and configuration. It sounds a bit intimidating at first, but believe me, it's easy.

When I first started blogging, I went with MySpace. However, I quickly learned that I wanted more options and more control over what I could and could not do. I switched to a self hosted WordPress blog and couldn't be happier.

The whole process of getting a domain and setting up a website took less than 1 hour of work, and I am in no way a web expert. So if I can do it, anyone can, and I'd be happy to help anyone else who wants to do the same.

Gal




2. Posted by: redwall_hp on June 22, 2007 9:26 PM:

Ah, free blogging services. I used Blogger once for my first blog. I switched to a self-hosted Wordpress installation a few months later. Personally, I'd say Blogger is better than Wordpress.com, though the software offered at Wordpress.ORG is the best blogging software around. The Wordpress.com service may be based off Wordpress, but they have severe limitations (you can't use your own design!!!). My advice? Get a domain and some free/cheap hosting, and install Wordpress. You'll never need to switch to anything else. I wrote a tutorial here, if anyone's interested.




3. Posted by: Rakesh on June 23, 2007 7:30 AM:

I like blogger. This is basically for the reason I don't have to worry about domain name and hosting. Sometimes, finding a good hosting is a big problem. I have that experience. I changed my hosting many times because of their downtime. So, i have decided to go ahead with blogger. I have seen many successful blog on blogger.com. It is personal choice anyway. If you know JavaScript, you can make blogger work for you.




4. Posted by: Rakesh on June 23, 2007 7:31 AM:

I like blogger. This is basically for the reason I don't have to worry about domain name and hosting. Sometimes, finding a good hosting is a big problem. I have that experience. I changed my hosting many times because of their downtime. So, i have decided to go ahead with blogger. I have seen many successful blog on blogger.com. It is personal choice anyway. If you know JavaScript, you can make blogger work for you.




5. Posted by: ram on June 23, 2007 6:46 PM:

Wordpress is the best blogging software available so far.




6. Posted by: Melissa on June 24, 2007 11:44 AM:

I like Blogger and I considered changing. I tried all of the software and found nothing I liked better. Plus, Google is indexing my blog well :-)




7. Posted by: Katy G. B. on June 24, 2007 11:27 PM:

ditto Melissa,
especially with all its new features, and its open source. for something that's just for blogging, i.e. no social network and etc., there's nothing better than blogger.




8. Posted by: Mike Elliott on June 25, 2007 8:49 AM:

I got started with Wordpress and have been using it since March with absolutely no complaints. I may move to a self-hosted platform if needed one day, but so far, Wordpress has met all my needs.




9. Posted by: Tall Can on January 25, 2009 5:08 PM:

Is it still functionally impossible to export MySpace blogs? I don't want to copy and paste but it seems I have to and my comments are history.




10. Posted by: sourcinggate on February 4, 2010 7:39 PM:

The information is very important.




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