Which is the best website or blogging platform for you? Blogger vs Tumblr vs WordPress vs Joomla


Find out which is the right website/blogging platform for you

I’m often asked by readers:

“Which is the best blogging/website platform?”

It’s a very good question. There are a vast array of excellent (and free) choices on offer.

If you haven’t had the chance to take the ‘What kind of online entrepreneur are you?’ test yet you can do so here.

It’s a simple checklist that might help you clarify your goals.

Now onto business…

All of my top picks are free and I haven’t just selected them for this reason. In my opinion these really are the best, most user friendly and in some ways powerful options out there. The top 4 to make the cut are Blogger, Tumblr, WordPress and Joomla.

Some of the world’s most successful websites are run on these platforms as you’ll see in the examples below.

So which one’s right for you? Let’s start with Google’s offering.

Blogger – Google’s Quick n’ Easy Solution

Blogger is Google’s free online blogging platform. It’s quick to set up, can be accessed from anywhere and offers a straightforward ‘straight out of the box’ blogging solution which you can have up and running in minutes.

Advantages: Speed, ease of use and instant integration into the Blogger community. Google owns blogger which can’t be a bad thing when it comes to getting your site indexed by the search engines.

Disadvantages: Even though you can use your own domain name with Blogger (for example www.yourname.com) Google still hosts the content which gives them ultimate control over what happens with it. While they’re not going to start tinkering with your posts, if they don’t like what you’re writing about you could potentially be shut down.

The Sartorialist is a popular ‘Blogger’ based blog (www.thesartorialist.com)

Perfect for: Single issue interest blogs (on a wide range of topics from news to sports) and tapping into a large ready made online community.

If you primarily scored A’s in the quiz then this is a good choice.

Money Making Potential: You can add Google AdSense ads and affiliate banners on a Blogger based site with relative ease, but the true level of customization on offer leaves a little to be desired. And although you can integrate payment tools such as Google Checkout and PayPal, if you’re looking to make an online shop you’ll need a more powerful platform. Blogger is great if you want a hobby site, but if you’re serious about creating a long term money making website you’re better off looking at one of the options below.

Tumblr – For the Hip, Social, Creative Crowd

I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for Tumblr. It’s a free blogging platform with a focus on simplicity, clean minimal lines and image display. A lot of designers, crafters and trendy types have got a Tumblr account to showcase their work, put out their ideas and connect with like-minded users. It’s also worth nothing that many of those joke, ‘one issue’ websites you see going viral very quickly are hosted here (see the example on the side). You can create an attractive, minimalist blog on Tumblr in just minutes.

Advantages: Fantastic for displaying photos, videos and short posts and if you’re after a creative online scrapbook or Twitter-esque journal this is a very strong option. The social sharing aspect on Tumblr is also excellent – you can easily put ‘share it’ buttons at the bottom of posts. One of the great perks of the Tumblr community is that they’re very online savvy and if you consistently post engaging content and tap into the right creative niche you can build up good, loyal followers quickly.

Photoshoplooter Tumblr Blog
Photoshop Looter was set up on Tumblr the day after the London Riots (www.photoshoplooter.tumblr.com)

Disadvantages: Again, while you can use a custom domain name with Tumblr they host all your content. Even though their guidelines seem a little more relaxed than Google/Blogger’s when all is said and done you’re still entrusting your content to a middleman. I would argue that the Tumblr platform isn’t ideally suited for longer, more text heavy posts.

Perfect for: Artists, photographers, Etsy/Folksy craft sellers and also anyone who’s after something between a Twitter account, a social networking site and a blog. Short posts and lots of images suit this platform perfectly.

If you primarily scored A’s in the quiz then this is a good choice.

Money Making Potential: It’s easy to use AdSense with Tumblr but as with Blogger the options for customization are a little on the narrow side. This is not necessarily a weakness of the platform – the framework is very attractive – but if you’re hoping to build a burgeoning online business empire your best bet is to plump for one of the self-hosted blogging platforms.

WordPress – Insider’s Edge Top Pick

I love WordPress. I’ve set up dozens of websites using all of the platforms featured in this article and WordPress is by far my favourite. While you can set up a site on WordPress without a custom domain or hosting, the real magic happens when you ‘self host’ because it puts you in complete control.

(Note: WordPress is free but when if you decide to self host (recommended) you’ll need to buy a domain name and a hosting package with one of the many web-hosting company’s out there).

WordPress is part of an enormous open source community. Developers have created thousands of free and premium ‘plugins’ which you can easily install and use on your site in seconds. Plugins are like little tools which add functionality to your website. It could be something that runs in the background and helps automatically filter out spam comments or something more visible. Like a plugin which rotates banner adverts automatically in your side bar… or a plugin which adds social sharing buttons at the end of each article… or ads a payment facility. The list is endless.

Advantages: You can self-host your website on WordPress meaning all the traffic you receive is yours and your editorial content is entirely under your control. At the same time you still add new content using the WordPress ‘back end’ which is fantastically user-friendly. Customizing themes and pages is straightforward and you can create professional looking (and functioning) websites with relative ease. You can usually spot a ‘Blogger’ or ‘Tumblr’ website, there’s a certain ‘look’ to them – whereas you’ll have a hard time distinguishing between a well presented WordPress site and a custom built big brand website that’s cost millions of pounds to develop.

Mashable WordPress Site
Mashable was set up using WordPress by 19 year old Pete Cashmore in 2005 – it’s now valued at £130 million (www.mashable.com)

Disadvantages: It’s difficult to come up with a cons list here. WordPress constantly evolves and virtually any conceivable feature you’d like to include is catered for via the massive online WordPress community in the form of plugins or customizations. If you’re trying to create a fully integrated commerce shop style website on a massive scale (i.e. you want to sell thousands of different items) you might prefer to use one of the more meaty, technical solutions.

Perfect for: Newbies and professionals alike: budding online entrepreneurs, creative types, bloggers, small to medium sized businesses, news sites… you name it. WordPress is so diverse and customizable it really can be shaped for any purpose. If you install WordPress using the online ‘one click’ software offered by many web hosting packages you could have your custom domain, self hosted site up in a couple of minutes.

If you primarily scored A’s, B’s or C’s in the quiz then this is a good choice.

Money Making Potential: In terms of risk/reward/time investment for me WordPress wins hands down. Bear in mind this is my take based on my own personal experience creating websites. Of course others may find that they can achieve everything they need using Tumblr or Blogger. I like the extra element of control and customization that WordPress gives you – whether you want to be an AdSense junkie, an affiliate marketer, an online shop or an enthusiast with a slick hobby site.

If you want to set up a hosted ‘one-click’ installation using WordPress (i.e. using your own domain) I recommend these guys. They’re based in the UK, offer excellent rates and have strong customer service.

Joomla – A Powerful Platform for the Tech Savvy

Joomla is another open source platform and a very good one at that. If you’re not afraid of dipping into a bit of code and know your way around tables and modules then it’s a viable option for the intrepid web entrepreneur. Customisation is the key here. If you can imagine it, it can probably be done on Joomla – but not without a fair bit of leg work.

Let me explain…

There’s an excellent community of problem solvers and programmers who can help you on your way but again, unless your pretty techie you’ll struggle to get it looking quite how you want it. It’s pretty hard to make a bad looking WordPress site… it’s extremely easy to make a dodgy looking Joomla one. If you’re not familiar with basic html and CSS then realistically you’re going to need help using Joomla. I’ve been working on a start up using Joomla over the past year and though it looks great now it’s taken months of work from a full time web programmer, lots of little coding jobs from freelancers and a fair amount of stress. With that said, the end result can be pretty dazzling and can give you a powerful website that affords you those little extra bits of customization.

Quizilla Joomla site
Quizilla is a Joomla site that gets more than 200 million page views a month (http://quizilla.teennick.com)

Advantages: This is a serious platform and there are very few limitations to what the framework will allow you to do if you’ve got the technical know how (or money) to code it. Adding and customizing articles is relatively easy but inserting images in posts is a bit of a ball ache. Joomla really comes into its own as a membership platform. You can give registered users different layers of access, for example paid members could get your premium content.

Disadvantages: While you shouldn’t have too much trouble installing a Joomla website, getting it to look how you want it to needs a fair amount of time and expertise. I wouldn’t recommend this for newbies.

Perfect for: Pretty serious web entrepreneurs with a bit of technical know how. If you want to create a heavy duty site that offers member options then it could be the way to go… but be ready for a fair amount of leg work and maintenance.

If you primarily scored C’s in the quiz then this is a good choice.

Money Making Potential: If you’ve got the technical knowledge there’s very little you can’t do with Joomla. You can place adverts in modules pretty much wherever you want and the powerful membership option is a real boon.

The Best of the Rest: Drupal, Livejournal, Typepad…

There are a number of alternatives to the above, here are my top 3.

Drupal – Like a supercharged Joomla. Drupal is another free platform for the tech savvy. If you have thousands of pages on your website and you’ve got a lot of time and resources to pour into your venture, this might be the one for you. Some developers argue that its powerful CMS (content management system) has the edge on Joomla’s.

If you primarily scored C’s in the quiz then this is a good choice.

LivejournalLivejournal is a blogging or journal sharing community. It’s not really a viable commercial prospect, more a place to share your thoughts, feelings, rants and raves. Worth considering if you’re wanting to write an online diary/connect with like minded folk. The basic version is free and paid (ad free) accounts cost $19.95 a year.

If you primarily scored A’s in the quiz then this is a good choice.

TypePad – 5-10 years ago TypePad might have made the above list. They offer a paid blogging/website platform which is easy to set up and run. The main reason for choosing TypePad is the customer service. If you have a question or query they’re generally very good at getting back to you and helping you find a solution. On the flip side the TypePad community is much smaller than the WordPress community and as I mentioned earlier you have to pay (around $8.95 a month) to host your site with them.

If you primarily scored B’s in the quiz then this is a good choice.

Honourable mention…

If you want to set up a quick one page website as an online flyer, a party invitation or a site poll take a look at this:

How to set up a simple website in 20 seconds

It’s free and incredibly user-friendly.

If you’re interested in setting up your own WordPress site I’ll be covering this in more detail over the coming weeks from installing it to choosing the best plugins and setting up different Ad Revenue income streams.

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6 responses to “Which is the best website or blogging platform for you? Blogger vs Tumblr vs WordPress vs Joomla”

  1. I think it also helps if you can look at the type of support you receive and how that will help you as a blogger. I love WordPress and everything I do now is wordpress related.

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