So, you’re not serious enough about blogging to host your own blog? You’d rather use a free blogging service? Are you sure? You can get a domain and hosting for only $3.99/month. No? Okay, then I guess we can get started.
LiveJournal has been around since 1999, providing blogs mainly for people in the 13-20 age range. Personally, I’m not a fan of LiveJournal, but I’ll keep this review unbiased.
- URL Format: you.livejournal.com.
- Domain Allowed?: Not for free accounts, though the ad-supported “Plus” account allows the use of a domain name (which costs $5-7/year, and I highly recommend).
- Major Flaws: Transfer speed of free blogs is limited at peak hours. Very limited theme support.
- Any Ultra-Cool features?: No.
- Themes: Very limited. Some color changes mainly. To create your own theme, you must have a paid account.
- Ads: No ads in the basic free plan, though there’s a “Plus” plan which offers more features in exchange for some ad space.
- Ease of use: Not great.
- Rating: 2/5
WordPress.com, is based off the very nice blogging software available at WordPress.org. WPC offers blogs that have some of the features of the WordPress blogging software, though the feature-set is not really comparable.
- URL Format: you.wordpress.com or domain.
- Domain Allowed?: Yes.
- Major Flaws: Really limited themes.
- Any Ultra-Cool features: Free OpenID URL (your blog’s URL).
- Themes: Choose from small selection. You cannot create your own theme, though if you pay you can edit the CSS.
- Ads: None. You cannot add your own, for lack of theme support.
- Ease of use: Fairly easy.
- Rating: 3/5
- URL Format: you.blogger.com or domain.
- Domain allowed?: Yes.
- Major flaws: Atom instead of RSS (though Feedburner, another Google service, can remedy that). Limited themes, though the least limited compared to the others.
- Any Ultra-Cool features: N/A.
- Themes: Limited, though the least limited compared to WordPress.com and LiveJournal.
- Ads: No ads. You can easily add your own and make a few cents.
- Ease of use: Really easy.
- Rating: 4/5
Blogger, it seems, is the easiest to use free blog provider….Though you can’t compare it to the self-hosted WordPress system (which isn’t that hard to install). If your on a really tight budget, and need to use a free host, I suggest using Blogger. Get a domain, if you can afford $6/year. If your blog starts to gain popularity, and you decide to give WordPress a go, you’re covered. WordPress can import posts (and comments) from Blogger, and you can re-point your domain to the WordPress installation.