Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Picking A Blogging Platform: II

Continuing our look at blogging platforms, we're looking at paid services. And today, we're looking at

Yes, we looked at a little while back ... when we were looking at free platforms. But there's a paid version of Sort of. is not WordPress

We convered this before, but we need to cover it again, because it confuses lots of people: is not the same as WordPress.

Here's the difference. WordPress is a blogging software application. If you have WordPress, you still need a Web host. is a service of Automattic. It's a free blogging service that runs a version of the WordPress software called WordPress MU.

Yes, WordPress is a platform. So is WordPress software is free. But it doesn't include hosting. is a blogging service that includes hosting, but has limitations. Earlier, we talked about using as your blogging platform. And we will again.

Here's why we're talking about it again. Is Free, But...

Yes, you can use for free. But there are some functions that you can buy as an upgrade. And that's what we're going to focus on today.

Reviewing briefly, the free version includes:

  • Categories

  • Nested categories

  • TrackBacks

  • Spam filtering via Akismet

  • Schedule posts

  • Extended posts ("Read the rest..." kind of thing)

  • A large selection of templates (50, as of this week)

  • Widgets (in most templates)

  • Image hosting (within total disk limit of 50 MB)

There's also lots you can't do with the free version:

  • You can't edit your templates

  • No JavaScript (which means limited SiteMeter functionality, no blog rolls, or anything else that requires JavaScript

  • No ads. The Terms Of Service (TOS) don't explicitly forbid it, but the FAQ says no ads

The free version of serves most bloggers' needs. But not all. That's where the "paid version" comes in.

Paying For Upgrades has upgrades available. For a yearly fee, you can get functionality added to your site. But right now, only a few upgrades are available.

The first upgrade offered was custom CSS. It costs $15/year for this. If you're really, really good with CSS, you'll love this. I've used it, and it's quite powerful and effective for templates that are designed with this feature in mind. The bad news is that most templates weren't built with this in mind. The verison of the Sandbox theme is very customizable, I've found.

The next is unlimited private users. This only matters if you want to have a private blog. By default, WordPress will allow 35 "members" of a private blog. The $30/year upgrade gives you unlimited members.

You own domain name will cost you either $10/year or $15/year. If you already own your domain name, then it's $10/year. If you need to register a domain name, $15/year covers that, too.

The latest upgrade is extra disk space. Since you can upload images for your blog to their servers (but currenly can't delete them), you may run out of space eventually, since the limit is 50 MB. You can add from 1 GB ($20/year) to 10 GB ($90/year).

Currently, there are no upgrades that address the JavaScript limitations, HTML editing, or ads. You still can't have that, even with paid upgrades.

Worth It?

Is it worth it? Well, maybe. Personally, I find that you can get all these features, and more, for less with another hosting service.

But, if you only want one or two of these features (say, domain name or custom CSS), then it's probably cheaper to go this route than a standard Web host.


We'll continue to look at paid services for blogging. And we seek your input on paid blogging services.


  1. Good info...but I always recommend that folks get their own hosting and remain in control. You never know when someone will change their TOS and decide what you're doing isn't ok anymore...

  2. Colleen:
    We haven't covered platforms that are separate from hosting services. Like WordPress or MovableType. That begins soon, tentatively scheduled next week.

  3. Dreamhost, baby! Except for those crashes, but, ever host probably goes through that. Been awhile since had an issue.

    I forget who Greta at Hooahwife uses, but, I saw alot of the available stuff when I was fixing a theme, and looked pretty good, too.

    An intereseting free one is Tripod, by Lycos. Only real downside is the popup banners and sidebar ads they require. Some can be annoying.

  4. has better templates than Blogger, in my opinion, and better spam protection. I just moved over to from Blogger last night. There are easier to use services available, but for the money, is laudable.


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