Are Free Blogging Websites Really Bad, or Are We Just Repeating What Everybody Else Says About Them?

by Chris McGinty of

I was trying to find a way of
easily searching Blogger from their own website. This seems like a simple and
intuitive, mutually beneficial feature to have prominently displayed on the
user dashboard. It would help users find other blogs on Blogger’s website,
which might create a community. If the feature exists anywhere, I can’t find it.

This put me on the path of trying
to figure out what I was doing with Blogger, and I kept coming across an odd
theme. One writer claimed that Google never links to Blogspot. It’s as though
they’re attempting a reverse nepotism by not linking to their own website, so
no one believes they’re abusing their power. Then as I was listening to people
on You Tube talking about the dos and don’ts of blogging, I noticed that practically
every one of them said the same thing, no matter how diverse the rest of their
list was. It was something like, “Don’t ever use a free blogging website for
your blog. People find it unprofessional and will click away.”
I don’t know what the source of
that wisdom is, so I don’t know if it’s right or wrong. If there was exhaustive
(or maybe even mildly taxing) research that showed that a majority of users
didn’t read free blogs, then maybe it’s right. If it was made up by the sales
force of one of the professional blogging software companies, then maybe it’s
wrong. Maybe people click away from free blogging websites because the bloggers
aren’t as consistent posting to something they didn’t pay for. Maybe the
content is below average because the bloggers get less practice writing
compelling material. But maybe people are using a logical fallacy where they
used a free blogging website and didn’t get results, but when they invested
some money in their own setup they got a little more serious, which led to
better results. In that scenario, it wasn’t the platform, but their level of
I’m not invested in a belief
here. I’m not going to take the side of free websites because we use one. If
there was hard evidence, I would do a segment called “Chris Convinces Nathan… To
Get Real Blogging Software.” But all I have to go on are a number of people
repeating something. That’s not a bad thing by itself, but I have a few of
points to make about what these people are saying.
They’re Saying It On YouTube –
It’s hard to hear someone say, “Don’t use a free platform,” when they’re giving
you this advice on a free platform. In fact, the number two repeated advice of
what I heard was to use Pinterest to promote your blog. I believe Pinterest is
also a free platform. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, HotGrandmasWant…
um, you get what I’m saying. Those are all free platforms. Why then is it ok to
use those free platforms, but free blogging websites are a no go? The answer is
probably in my second point.
What If Blogger Was Instagram
Size? – It’s probably correct that in the current online environment there is
no advantage to using a free website, except the low cost; but if we all woke
up tomorrow and Blogger was as big as Instagram, every single one of these
people would be setting up a free blog to drive traffic to their primary blog.
I can say this with certainty, because if having blogging software was by
itself a traffic magnet then these people would only need YouTube for video
purposes, and they wouldn’t need other social media to get attention. We just
don’t refer to other social media as blogging platforms, but in their own way
they are. A blog is just a form of web content, just like Snapchat videos.
This Blog Is Great, But… – I just
feel like once someone finds your blog that they’re more likely to judge it by
their enjoyment of the content. As long as my Malware software doesn’t spring
into action, I’m not really all that worried about where the content is housed.
In fact, I’ve blocked suggestions from some major websites, because I start
reading an article and they want me to subscribe to finish reading it. That’s
very professional, on the other extreme side of professionalism, where someone
is saying, “But we’re not seeing any direct money from this.” I just have
trouble with the idea that someone would find a blog that they like, but decide
that they’re just not coming back until the author is willing to invest in
WordPress, like they have a vendetta against free blogging websites. And if
that really is the case, I guess they can go read other blogs. I really don’t
The Traffic Snare – I’m not being
aloof to make you think I’m a rebel. I just view traffic in a different way. I
would rather have 4 followers who get great enjoyment and benefit from reading
my work than to have 4 million followers who maybe check in once a year when
they remember they subscribed. I truly mean it. I’m not saying that I wouldn’t
want to continue to increase my number of followers, but I am saying that I
would prefer slower growth if it meant a stronger community around my work. I
don’t believe it’s the platform, but rather the work. They suggest following up
on comments and likes when you’re creating web content, and I’d rather not get
into a traffic trap where I spend my whole day DMing people who don’t want to
hear from me. I’d rather have meaningful interactions with people who gain
something from my work. You may have heard of the 1,000 true fans concept. If
not, look it up. If you were part of a social network that had only 1,000
members, but they were super supportive of your work, it would be better than
trying to keep up with millions on Twitter who barely remember you exist from
day to day – which brings me back to my first point.
It’s interesting to me that
Google+ failed recently, and using Blogger feels isolated because it doesn’t
have a simple way to connect with other bloggers on the same platform. It’s
almost like Google has no idea how to run a social platform. Before you point
to YouTube, they didn’t create YouTube, and YouTube doesn’t have the same
social elements of Snapchat. There are people who have created communities
through YouTube, yes, but Snapchat pushes the social element harder. Maybe it’s
not just the content creators that need to think of social media websites as a
form of blogging, but that blogging websites should maybe start thinking of
themselves a little more as social media.
Chris McGinty is a blogger on
Blogger who wasn’t the one who chose Blogger to be his blogger haven, but he’s
also a blogger who doesn’t mind being a blogger on Blogger.

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