UPDATE: How to Blog has MOVED! Please update your bookmarks and feeds! The new address is :
and all new posts and post updates will be made there! Comments and trackbacks at this location are now closed -- please visit the new How to Blog site in order to add a comment or a trackback and see updates to existing posts as well as all new posts from this point forward!
February 26, 2005
Please update your bookmarks to reflect the new, permanent location of How to Blog. Comments and trackbacks on this post are now closed. If you wish to comment on this post, please visit the new site! Thank you!
If you're looking for the flat out easiest way to get started blogging, you're going to have to go with what's known as a 'hosted' solution. That means, you don't need to have your own webserver, know HTML or how to FTP (if you do, you can consider additional options such as WordPress and MovableType - check out my original article comparing blogging tools). This brings us down to two main options: Blogger vs TypePad
Ease of post creation:
Both Blogger and TypePad provide both a WYSIWYG method of composing posts (like a word processor - what you see is what you get) as well as the ability to edit the HTML directly if one so chooses.
Blogger's user interface for WYSIWYG post creation has more options, allowing users to change fonts midpost as well as center text (or align it any way you want) without having to switch to the HTML.
On the other hand, TypePad's edit box is Rich Text compatible, so if you copy and paste something from your browser or word processor into the compose post area, TypePad preserves the formatting (and linking structure) from what you've pasted. That's a big plus. TypePad also gives you the ability to underline, strikethrough, insert files, and create an easy mailto link. Blogger also has only 70 colors to choose from for font color changes without html editing, whereas TypePad gives you a couple hundred to choose from (they look to be all of the standard web-safe colors)
Winner: TypePad has the slight upper hand here
Blogger is free, TypePad isn't. In my opinion, the nominal cost of TypePad is worth it, but if all you're looking at cost than the winner here is easily Blogger.
FYI - I use the tzpepad Pro version, and pay for it by the year (instead of monthly) to save a little extra money. There are two coupon codes for TypePad that I know of thus far. The first is 'movable', which gives you a free 90 day trial of the Plus version (rather than 30 days). The other is 'LAUNCH' (which I haven't tested), which is reported to give you a 10% discount on pricing should you decide to continue with TypePad.
ALSO, there is a free version of TypePad - sort of. You can only access it from a Friendster account (also free), and it requires you to have ads on your blog and has a much more limited set of templates, customizability, etc. When I tried using it to create a blog, I got repeated error msgs when attempting to do basic things (like enter a description for my blog!) so I gave up - this 'free typepad' is a buggy beta at best and not even worth the trouble at this point in the game. If free is where you gotta be, you'd best be using Blogger.
TypePad supports them, Blogger doesn't. Trackback's are a critical way of spreading the word about your blog, as well as letting other bloggers know you've referenced them in your posts. You can use a third-party tool to kluge trackback support into Blogger, but TypePad wins this category hands down. All you have to do is paste the Trackback URL into the 'Send a trackback to these addresses' field and you're done. Third party tools such as WhizBang and HaloScan entail much more effort - you've got to enter your URL, their trackback URL, your blog name, your post title, and an excerpt from your post. To me, that's tedious even the first time I tried it. I'm way to lazy to even consider having to do those extra steps for each and every trackback I need to send (but maybe that's just me - I'm a bit of an efficiency freak and have a pet peeve towards doing extra steps that can be avoided).
Update - typepad does not handle trackback spam very well, so I'm going to need to write a post soon comparing tzpepad to wordpress, which is awesome for handling trackback and comment spam
Again, TypePad supports them and Blogger doesn't. Come on, Google - I've said it before and I'll continue to say it until you implement these features in Blogger - Blogger cannot be considered a true competitive blogging tool without TrackBacks and Categories. Again, winner is TypePad. (Anyone care to start a pool on how long until Google brings Categories to Blogger?)
Neither site allows you to customize the list of where you want to ping (a way of letting the world know you've updated your blog -- see my comprehensive list of where to ping for more info). TypePad will ping blo.gs andYou can workaround it in TypePad by pasting ping URLs into the edit box for Trackbacks, but tools like MovableType and WordPress allow the user to customize your ping list so you don't have to go and paste that list each time you post. Nonetheless, this particular review is limited to Blogger vs TypePad, so the winner is TypePad.
Searching of your blog by your sites visitors
Search is built into Blogger's navbar, which is not surprising since they're owned by Google. TypePad has no built in method which allows visitors to search your blog, so even though they have Categories, a large blog can easily become hard to navigate. Fortunately, I figured out how to add search to your TypePad blog, but as far as having the functionality built-in, the obvious winner here is Blogger.
Adding images to your blog
Super easy to do with TypePad- they'll even let you upload a zip file of images if you have a lot you want to add at once. Impossible with Blogger unless you either A) use Hello BloggerBot (and even then, it publishes each image as an individual post, rather than allowing you to incorporate images within your post) or B) know HTML and have a webserver where your images are hosted - in which case, why are you even bothering with Blogger?
Typepad is the clear winner here.
Update - Andrew from Blogging on the Free Web wrote up a great commentary on this post, and recommends using Flickr for hosting and posting of images to Blogger. I just checked it out, and I actually think Hello BloggerBot is better to use if you're going to try to post images to Blogger (the main reason being that you can host an unlimited number of images, whereas Flickr's free account only allows you 10MB of bandwidth transfer per month, and that includes uploads! If you have to pay a monthly fee, may as well plunk it down for TypePad, in my humble opinion).
Display of images/photos in your blog
Again, TypePad is the clear winner here. Not only do they host your images for you, but when you upload your image, you can easily customize the settings to chose whether or not to wrap text (with the image on the left or the right), create a thumbnail (smaller version of your image) to display with the width you specify, either in pixels or percentage, and allow you to link to the full size version of the image in a popup window. Furthermore, TypePad even has a Photo Album feature, and templates which are designed specifically for those with a lot of images. AND, you can have multiple photos within a single post. Blogger makes each picture its own post. Blogger is a BIG loser in this category.
Blogger has a very limited set of templates, all of which are two column designs. If you want to make any modifications to the template you have to edit the raw HTML and you've got no WYSIWYG interface for examinging the changes you're making.
TypePad has more templates (all of which are easier to modify), a slicker look, and various options of how your blog will display, including the option of three column layouts, mixed media based templates and more.
Winner - TypePad by a mile
Customization of how your blog displays
If you're not comfortable mucking around in code, you can forget about making any changes to how your Blogger blog appears, beyond switching amongst the few predefined templates that are provided.
TypePad, on the other hand, let's you fully (and easily!) customize the look and feel of your blog, allowing you to change the color and font of each element of your template, as well as what content (archives, categories, about me, link lists, etc) you want to appear AND in what order (with a drag and drop interface, no less). Customizing your templates to get your blog to look exactly how you want is a piece of cake - and no need to know HTML to do it. TypePad has a 'design' tab in the control panel that let's you customize every element of your blog template - from font and color used for posts to the size and color of a headlline to the border style (if you want one) for any particular section, etc. It is extremely user friendly and intuitive to use. Furthermore, the 'layout' tab allows you to drag and drop where you want your blog elements to go (Archives, Categories, TypeLists, etc). This is a really nice touch. And if you do want to get into the nitty gritty of the html for the templates, you can modify not only that of your index page, but also of your individual post archive pages, category archives, etc.
Once again, TypePad wins this category hands down.
Email your posts to friends
Well what do you know - Blogger actually has a feature that TypePad sorely needs! In the Blogger interface, click "Settings", and then select the Basic tab (default). Choose 'Yes' in the checkbox for "Show Email Post Links". This allows your blogs visitors to easily email posts from your blog to your friends. TypePad has no such built in function.
Winner - Blogger
Archiving of Posts
With Blogger, you get one choice: no archive, daily, weekly, OR monthly.
With TypePad, you can choose any of the above AND you also can archive by Category.
Winner - TypePad
Blogger has none (yes, none!) - there's no way without using an outside tracking tool to even know if ANYONE has viewed your blog. How fun (not) is that? Now, you can use third party tools to implement free stats for your blog, and Andrew pointed out that, "Blogger Help points to a bunch of stats add-ons. I'm using StatCounter, which was simple to add to this blog and is working fine."
TypePad keeps a running list of how many hits your blog has received, how many visitors you've received in the past 24 hours, which pages those folks looked at, as well as the referring URLs so you know how they found your site. While I'd like more than 24 hours worth of referral logs to look at, 24 hours is better than nothing. But again, I could also use StatCounter (or similar) to get more detailed stats if I wanted to use a third-party.
Winner - TypePad
Both tools provide you the option of being notified by email when someone new comments on a post.
Both provide you the option of turning off commenting in your blog, or on a post by post basis.
My Blogger blogs haven't gotten much traffic or comments, so they haven't attracted any comment spammers yet so I don't know how Blogger handles Comment Spam, but I CAN say that TypePad gets rid of my Comment Spam almost as fast as the spammers post it.
Winner - TypePad
Number of Blogs
This is an area I forgot to address initially. As Andrew pointed out, "Blogger lets you have as many blogs as you want. Basic TypePad restricts you to one, and Plus to three. You have to go to TypePad Pro to get unlimited blogs."
If the main hurdle preventing folks from switching over to TypePad is cost, a bunch of bloggers could conceivably band together and share a single TypePad Pro account where you can have unlimited blogs and unlimited authors, thereby drastically cutting out of pocket expenses. (But then you'd all have to settle for your blog URL being a subdirectory rather than having your own domain or subdomain, and coordinating payment would be a hassle, even if you chose the cheaper method of paying once annually.)
I'll have to continue work on this article at a later time, but as you can probably guess, my choice for the best blogging system that is hosted for you (meaning, all you need is a web browser and you can be blogging away) is TYPEPADBookmark with del.icio.us, add to Yahoo!MyWeb or Digg This!
This is SO great! I can't wait to read more. I just switched over from Blogger to Typepad, and it's great to see that someone else agrees that T is better than B. (I don't know why most of my blogpals are all "you won't find anything better over there..."--fear of change, maybe.)
Added you to my Typepad People list, and hope to become a regular visitor. This is all really helpful...
Posted by: Esther | Mar 3, 2005 3:18:06 PM
Hi Emily, I just now read your comment on my post concerning your site. I'm still searching, but I want to thank you for offering this excellent treasure on the Internet. Luc (The Bit Cruncher).
Posted by: Luc Geurts | Mar 13, 2005 2:38:05 PM
Luc and Esther - You're both quite welcome! Thanks so much for the great feedback :) Emily
Posted by: Emily from How to Blog | Mar 13, 2005 3:00:21 PM
Thanks for this article, Emily.
I just knew someone else had already done the research. You're really filling a niche.
Posted by: Tom | Mar 18, 2005 4:17:23 PM
I agree with your conclusions, which is why I use Typepad.
But, I do run into limitations, and sometimes Typepad can be slow, which can lose readers.
Thanks for sharing what you've learned and are learning with us. I've bookmarked your site, and will be reading more of it as I have time.
Posted by: ACE | Mar 19, 2005 9:40:51 AM
thank you so much for doing this comparative analysis. I was having nightmares on choosing the free versus the paid blogs. Now I know I have to go with typepad as I was searching for the category setting and you have answered my questions
thanks so much
Posted by: Chiraz | Apr 7, 2005 8:17:58 PM
Your site is fantastic. I have been thinking of making the switch to typepad. I am currently on blogger. I have recently tried blogsome.com which uses Wordpress, but it is full of bugs. The picture uploading appears flawed.
As to the problem of uploading files on blogger, I have solved that problem, though it is tedious. I simply made a separate blog for pic uploads, then I insert image with the thumbnail and link to the larger picture in the body of my post. Its tedious but it serves its purpose.
Posted by: Taiwantroll | May 29, 2005 7:59:23 AM
Another your welcome to all of those with kind words regarding my site and this post in particular. I am so glad that my research is helping others in their blogging adventures! Thank you all so much for the feedback! And I promise to be adding much more to this site as time permits (I've been unbelievably busy with work lately and there is only so much computing I can do per day due to my RSI..)
@Taiwantroll - I shot you an email, but you should really check out TypePad's free trial (use promo code MOVABLE to extend the free trial to 90 days) since it has a lot of built in templates to choose from that incorporate photos (with thumbnails) into the site automatically.
Posted by: Emily from How to Blog | May 31, 2005 12:06:39 PM
You have very interesting stuff here... I am trying to create a SIMPLE blog to post pictures and stories to my family, as I am studying abroad. I am using Blogger with the simplest settings and template, and I want to add pictures to it. I am using Hello, and I have successfully done it. But the picture gets “inserted” as a new post, instead of as part of the last post, and I am not sure how to change this. I would like to know if it is even possible to do it, and may be to insert pictures in a previous, old post. Can you help me?
Posted by: Jala' | Jun 5, 2005 1:19:23 AM
Interesting set of comparisons. I'm waiting for blogger to add categories too (but at least now we have pictures!!) In the meantime, I know of 3 ways to integrate categories into blogger using del.icio.us and technorati tags. Check out my post on Freshblog for the scoop.
Posted by: John | Jun 26, 2005 3:47:18 PM
Your first hand knowledge and autonomous insite is exactly what I am looking for.
Could you please tell me if I have a URL, but no web site, can I use my blog as my site content by using TypePad, or should I go with a MoveableType hosting partner to accomplish "blog.mywebsite.com" vs. "myblog.typepad.com"? Please keep up the good work! As my eventual blog will help "buyers" as yours does, we have that in common.
My wife and I, as you do, have three cats (all abysinian), and I left Long Island years ago too.
Posted by: Bill Kelm | Jun 30, 2005 5:33:30 PM
Thanks Emily. :) Wish I had the know-how to switch from Blogger. I think I'll give John's integrated categories a try first...
By the way, I just opened a geocities website (just for use of the filemanager) and never set one up so that I could store blog photos. I simply log in to geocities, upload my files, and highlight and copy my links so I can insert them in my posts with minimal html. This goes really quickly... although I am sure you pro-bloggers can beat me with lots of tricks I don't know. I was busy raising little ones when the blogosphere hit warp speed... so I just opened my first blog a few months back.
Posted by: heather | Aug 24, 2005 10:35:47 AM
I am not sure what to do and maybe you can help a girl out. You can see I have several blogs on fragilemusings.net but it's frustrating working thru several blogs when I'd like to have it all in one but categorized. I found blogsome but am curious about wordpress or whatever. Can you direct me in the best direction. You can email me...that's fine if you'd rather. I'm really lost. Ps. Whatever I do I'd like to be able to upload all my old posts from blogger and use my current domain.
Posted by: muse | Aug 25, 2005 9:24:52 AM
your comments and blog have been an invaluable resource to a newbie blogger like myself. mega kudos and best of luck. looks like you're going to leave a nice footprint in the blogging world!
i actually have an article on my site comparing some of the blogging resources (but you go into much more detail) and it is how i found your site and i'm glad we agree! i decided to go with TypePad, paid, not Pro, for many of the reasons you outlined here. I tried WordPress, which was my first choice, but it unfortunately was buggy and didn't run well on my server, I also tried b2evolution and Blogger. TypePad for me was like "Blogging for Dummies" yet gives a very polished appearance right out of the box. So far I'm enjoying the experience. I just wish there was auto trackback, customizable pings and the email to friends option. I'd go PRO if they offered that solution!
generation 80s retro radio
javajane's world: misanthrope musings from a gen80s chick
Posted by: javajane | Oct 7, 2005 7:56:36 PM
hi, i randomly found your site through google. i like your review. i was starting something similar. i just switched from xanga to blogger. i did consider typepad for a split second, but i wasn't sure about forking over the dough just yet. i do wish that blogger would offer categories, but at least i can google my own blog now (as opposed to xanga). i may have to reference you in my blog in the near future.
Posted by: smhyla | Oct 17, 2005 5:48:05 PM
Taiwantroll's comments above that Blogsome picture uploading is somehow flawed might be news to the thousands of users that have managed to fiture it out. Indeed after he made the comments above he went back to using Blogsome for several months (with lovely pictures I might add) before buying his own domain. He forgot to come back here and set the record straight.
Blogsome is still the host of choice for those who wish to be able to edit their templates, have categories, comments etc.
Posted by: Roger | Nov 11, 2005 3:43:33 AM
what about audio and video posting? Because Blogger has a phone # to call and leave a message that is posted on ones blog. Quality is bad, but easy to do.
Posted by: Robbie | Dec 30, 2005 3:21:24 PM
The comments to this entry are closed.