Long time readers may be surprised by a new design when they visit the site this week. After many years of running a travel photography blog hosted on WordPress.com, I have made the long-awaited switch to Blogger. While there were many kinks with the transition, like importing old blogs, dealing with lost comments, and fixing broken links, it was a very important change for many reasons.
Why WordPress.com just didn’t cut it anymore
I had purchased the custom domain of JustInTimeTravels.com and mapped it to WordPress.com, I also paid to have the ability to cusomize my CSS and display large photos at 750pxs wide. It those were not big financial investments, I had definitely put a lot of effort into my blog over the years to get it to where it was. Here are the main reasons for my leaving:
- Poor analytics: WordPress lacked strong analytics and the meaningful statistics that came with Google Analytics, and there was just no easy way to put Analytics on my WordPress.com blog.
- Media bandwidth: Right before I made the switch, I had hit 98% of my media bandwidth on WordPress. I suppose I uploaded too many high-resolution images. In order to keep uploading media, I was told that I had to pay additional money for an upgrade in bandwidth.
- Paid upgrades for just about everything: Between paying for domain mapping, CSS customization, and almost having to pay for a bandwidth upgrade, I was putting more money into the blog than I’d originally anticipated. The other blogging alternatives was simply cheaper and delivered equally good products and services.
- Inability to manage followers: This piece particularly bugged me. I had over 800 blog subscribers who followed me only through the WordPress platform. This meant that they only saw my blog updates when they logged into their WordPress accounts. There was no guarantee that those followers read my blog updates since it didn’t land in their email inbox or reach their RSS feed reader. I simply couldn’t manage their subscription in any way and I saw lots of fluctuations in follower count.
Why I chose Blogger over WordPress.com
Blogger had checkmarks beside all the things that I didn’t like about WordPress.com; here are the main benefits that I want to highlight:
- Support: The beauty of this open platform is the plethora of support and help articles available on the web about how to customize Bloggers with different widgets. While I could get some answers I needed from the WordPress.com forums, nothing beats soaking up all the cool ideas from different Blogger Customization websites.
- Big images: As a photographer, the lack of (free) themes on WordPress.com that supported large image display really annoyed me. I only worked around this by paying to have full CSS customization capability and forcing my blog posts to have a wider display despite the template restrictions. But on Blogger, I can set the blog width and choose to display larger images if I wanted – all without having to upgrade to a Premium Theme!
- Integration with Google products: Ok, I may be a bit biased here but I love Google products – Analytics, Feedburner, AdWords, AdSense , Google+. With a blog on Blogger, all of that integrates smoothly. I can finally put Google Analytics on my blog, link it to the Webmaster Tool, and if I wanted to run ads one day, I could even link my Analytics to my Google Adwords. This is just a whole bunch of nerd talk for “friendlier integration with other key products!”