Review: Free Blog Providers

One of my goals this year, other than driving better than the last year, is to monetize my blog. To achieve that, I realized that getting more traffic or subscribers to my site should be on top of the to-do list. It’s a no-brainer that no one pays for a deserted blog site.

Of course, traffic doesn’t come that easy. Some finger-tapping, networking and a lot of thinking on how to improve the content of the blog site are just some factors that will dictate if who and how many get to be attracted to check the blog out. And after all the countless moments composing posts that at times seem to even interfere with my daily driving, I learned that more factors still have to be considered. Among these are the services from free blog providers.

Free blog providers are to bloggers as point-and-shoot cameras are to photographers. Simply put, both the free blog provider and the point-and-shoot camera are tools that offer beginners of each field the opportunity to experiment and learn the ins and outs of the process. And since I’m still trying to get rid of the urge to dig deeper into the world of photography, I decided that it would be best if I stick to my trusty keyboard, alcohol-enchanced thinking, and try reviewing other free blog providers to see which one fits for me to achieve getting payments thru PayPal once I pursue monetizing my blog.

I first got this idea when I revisited my often-ignored multiply.com account. While checking it out some time in December, I saw that cross-posting blogs is allowed. I learned that multiply blog allows feed from different blog providers which I really find convenient if I want to stay updated with both blogs and photos coming from my contacts without having to leave the multiply network. And these providers are what I have actually reviewed since the start of this year.

Note: I rated these free blog providers by comparing it to WordPress, my current provider. Likewise, I did my best (just within my kill-time periods) to test these blog sites and I’d appreciate comments if I did the right review or not.

***

Yahoo 360! 

Basics:

Appearance. Not so catchy. If you love text this is your dream site, but if you’re a graphics guy forget getting serious with this service.

Dashboard. WordPress need not worry. This service will need more bright minds to even match half of WordPress’ features.

New post. Fair.

Image uploading. Remember, text yes, graphics no — that is, there’s no point loading images here. Though I wonder if I missed the feature that would enable it to load directly from flickr.com.

Categories. Yahoo! does not categorize post. It only has Tags.

Tags. Yes.

Widget. Get WordPress. Period.

Ads. No. period.

Others: Poll. No.

Blogroll. Yes.

URL easy to remember? No.

Members. There could be a lot mainly due to its connection with Yahoo! but I haven’t seen any serious blogger here.

Recommendation: Does saying “Go get WordPress” deliver the message?

***

Blogger Basics

Appearance. I find this somewhere near WordPress’ depending on the capability of the user to design his own theme.  However, if the available themes are to be selected and applied to blogs, I’d be very biased to word- press’ appearance.

Dashboard. Blogger is affiliated to Google but it appears that they copied dashboard features from Yahoo!

New post. Fair enough.

Image uploading. 1 GB maximum space. Can be done thru direct uploading or by linking to a URL.

Categories. No categories, only tags.

Widget. I’ve read that there are available widgets, but I find it hard to use it on mine.

Ads.  If there’s one thing that will make me leave WordPress, this is it. Blogger.com allows one blogger to get paid thru Adsense.

Others:

Blogroll. Yes, it is available. Your contacts will love you for this.

URL easy to remember? Yes. Just the same with WordPress, except for the domain (duh!).

Members. There’s a lot of good bloggers here.

Recommendation: If you want to monetize your blog then this is the place to be. And if you can come up with better themes than the available ones, then WordPress might be a thing of the past.

***

WordPress Basics

Appearance. There’s a lot of great themes to choose from and most of it appears quite cool enough. Graphic-illiterate bloggers like me need not worry about having a boring blog site as there’s almost one theme that will match everyone’s taste.

Dashboard. Constantly getting better than the previous one.

New post. With the dashboard improving, posting a new blog has gotten easier every time (Although, I publish drafts and post thru MS Word 2007′s publish blog feature).

Image uploading. 3 GB maximum space. Images may be uploaded directly, by using a URL or by getting it thru the media library.

Categories. The parent category feature made blogging more organized. WordPress also has a converter from categories to tags and vice-versa.

Widget. Lots of cool widgets available.

Ads. Unfortunately, no. WordPress doesn’t allow its members to get paid.

Others:

Poll. Yes, thru polldaddy.com. I find this a very cool feature.

Blogroll. Yes.

URL easy to remember? Yes.

Members. Most of its members are prolific bloggers. And there was once a WordPress group for Filipinos. Unfortunately, it went out of service for reasons that I still don’t know.

Recommendation: I’m biased, but I think most will agree that this is among the best if not the only best free blog provider. Sign up to word- press if you don’t care about being paid at all.

***

Windows Live Space Basics

Appearance. Yahoo! people can smile now. This is the least of my fa- vorites.

Dashboard. The appearance is a reflection of the dashboard. Need I say more?

New post. Fair.

Image uploading.  Direct uploading only.  I even cannot edit the image once I have my blog posted (I could be wrong, though).

Categories. Yes.

Tags. No? Widget. No. Ads. No.

Others:

URL easy to remember? I have so much hate with this blog provider and one reason for that is because I can’t even remember my own URL after I’ve subscribed and posted my first blog.

Members. Most likely many, but that’s because each one is probably sign- ing up for a new blog name after forgetting what their first URL was.

Recommendation: Good for spammers and bloggers with multiple personality.

***

LiveJournal Basics

Appearance and Dashboard. A bit closer to WordPress.

New post. Fair. There’s also a feature to insert mood options right below the blog. Hopefully, they can come up with a honk-mood rating just like I use in my blogs.

Image uploading.  This one has the most options.  It can upload image directly or coming from a URL, scrapbook or photobucket.

Categories. No.

Tags. Yes. Ads. No. Others:

URL easy to remember? Yes.

Members. There’s also a lot.

Recommendation: As the name implies, most of the users here post articles in a manner like most journals are written. And upon browsing/lurking thru most of the post, I saw that this is the site if you want to let lose some rants and hot air. Paging all bosses, you might find your names here right after you have delivered some tough messages. Hahaha.

***

Mood: 3/10 Honks!

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Author: crisn

I'm Cris Nacionales from the Philippines.

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