Still Loving Blogger: Yes!

There are many reasons I started with Blogger and am still with blogger. I know that my wordpress friends have access to lots of goodies and certainly that is a good platform, but I want to give you some insights as to why I started my blog here in 2005 and am still here in 2011. In this blog, I'll share the six reasons I'm still with blogger, screenshots of what the back end of blogger looks like now (and some future upgrades, at SXSW Google announced some upcoming changes to blogger and a new user interface) and the things you should do NOW if you have a blogger blog.

Why I've Been Using Blogger for Six+ Years

  1. Google Search Optimization
    When I started blogging in 2005, I was a noob at blogging but had been doing the search engine optimization thing since I started hand coding websites in 1995. Staying optimized for Google's search engine was a headache but I knew that if I went with Google for blogging that it would be optimized for Google. I've not been proven wrong in that my blog comes up quickly in searches of all kinds and doesn't have issues with the Google bot crawling, etc. that I've experienced with the sites that I've hand coded.
  2. Ability to Customize using HTML
    For many years I had hand coded my blog into three columns and yes, I wrote it by hand in notepad. It is nice for a blogging platform to “do it for you” (like wordpress) but I didn't HAVE to have that feature. The fact that I can have direct access to my HTML and copy and paste it into wordpad is a benefit.

    So, when I see something on Timothy Ferris‘, Guy Kawasaki's, or even Techcrunch, I can look at their code (Go to View–> source in your webbrowser), figure out how they did it, and then do it on my own blog.

    The good news for those who didn't understand a thing I just said is that you don't have to do this anymore to have a sweet site on blogger. You can just go into templates and use their widgets and have almost anything. Feed services like feedburner (now owned by Google) can easily add widgets as well.

  3. Ability to Backup
    I use Backupify to back up my Picasa web albums, blogger blog, and my gmail every week. If it is worth having, it is worth backing up. No, this feature isn't FROM blogger but is just one example of how many “plug ins” are available for the platform.
  4. New Features Have Been Coming
    If Bing has taught Google anything it is that competition can come from nowhere and quickly. We've seen super-fast improvements to Google Docs as well as blogger. I no longer have to link all of my about information to www.coolcatteacher.com and statcounter.com has become less vital to tracking my stats. Yes, I sometimes get things later than other people, but that is OK.

    The new user interface announced at  SXSW looks cool and you can see it in their video below. (You'll have to watch a bit of a pitch about how great blogger is at the beginning.)

  5. Cool Tools Interact with Blogger

    I love Zemanta (helps quickly add links and photos to posts), Tweetmeme (the cute Twitter button on the top left), Disqus (my comment moderation service), Twitterfeed (feeds my blog into Twitter), and Networked Blogs (feeds my blog into Facebook), Kindle Publishing (to feed my blog onto the Kindle), Diigo (the bookmarking service that feeds my links into my daily news blog post) and several other tools that don't come to me right now. Because blogger is one of the leading services, I have few compatibility issues. Yes, sometimes wordpress people get things before me, but if I can't hack my site, usually I know the service will be coming to me soon.

  6. Moving Your Blog Takes You Backwards.
    Some people like change for the sake of change. When you're dealing with a blog – even if you know how to move your subscribers using a service like Feedburner – you're leaving all that traffic and conversation behind. It is literally like splitting off part of you. I know people like Doug Belshaw who have had to move but still have issues with links to old posts.  If you do it and have your reasons – do it ONCE but if you keep moving, you'll just not make best use of yourself.

    I don't move because every link and every subscriber are precious. I've spent six years of my life building up the conversation and sharing things that are very important to me. My family has given up time with me for this blog and I'm not going backwards. This blog is very important to me and my life, not just monetarily, although certainly I've received some excellent speaking offers from my work here. Blogging is important to me because it is what I do and who I am. Onwards and upwards – don't go backwards. In this case, moving would be moving backwards. Not going there.

  7. I don't have to advertise.

    Lots of free services are supported with Google ads. I do use Amazon affiliates when appropriate, however, I've made a decision not to sell links nor use Google adsense at the present time. I'd like you to know that I am writing about what I share because it is something I like or believe in. The fact that Google doesn't force me into doing their adsense service is a positive for me. I know the traffic I get means that I'm giving up money, however, I hope that those who read my blog will come see me speak and buy my books when they come available.

    I don't hate Google ads, it is just that contextual ads mean that things contrary to the message of a post can easily appear. For example, when I tested it, I had a page on term papers and had ads selling term papers come up. Sure, I can exclude certain types of ads, however, as an educator, I have decided this is the right move for me, who I am, and the message I carry.

No, I'm not 100% Google or 100% Microsoft or 100% Apple or anything. No zealotry here. I am attracted to whatever works the best and the most affordable price. I don't mind spending money if it is necessary, however, Blogger just works.

Blogger Features “Under the Hood”
For those of you who want to “compare” – let's look at the back end of my blogger blog today, knowing that some of these will change.
 
Posting
I can post blogs or “pages.”Blogs, like the one shown below are individual blogs. You can add up to 10 standalone “pages” like the one I have on the top bar of my blog including Freebies and About Me.

The current blogger interface. The “in text links” and “context recommendations” are from the Zemanta plug in for Firefox that I use to generate links.

Statistics

Pages
Templates

Mobile Sites

Commenting

Disadvantages
Limitations in China

What to do NOW if you use blogger:

  1. Log in to Blogger in Draft – http://draft.blogger.com – this is the ONLY place I log in. It gives you access to the newest features including the ability to mobilize your site.
  2. Log in and review your settings. All of them. 
  3. Make sure you've made your blog go mobile.
  4. Control your own feed.
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