Blogger for Authors

This is post is part of the ‘Choosing the right blogging platform – For Authors‘ series started two days ago. Here i’ll be reviewing the suitability of the Blogger platform as a medium for blooking, or writing a book on a blog.

The Blogger platform has got it pretty good after being acquired by Google and coming out of a second beta. It’s a simple platform, free, instantly available, and very user friendly. The interface has only 3 tabs – posting, settings and template, keeping options easily accessible and providing a simple flow to any first-time blogger.

Ease of Use

Blooger is amongst the easiest blogging platforms to use. You start off with creating an account, choosing a theme and then you can immediately start posting with a simple interface.


One of its biggest attractions is the fact that Blogger is widely supported. You can post with it through email, phone and services like Flickr and Technorati work with Blogger (almost) seamlessly. Setting are very easily tweaked – a button here, an option there.


You can’t go wrong with Blogger’s default templates – they’re all clean, and beautifully done – both inside (code) and outside (looks). It turns out that the Blogger team hired Stopdesign to do their themes, and a look under the hood of these templates shows just how good these guys actually are.


The main problem with this, however, is the fact that after awhile it all becomes bland. Here is where the ease of use of the Blogger platform shines through. Templates are created in a one page xHTML document, although clever Blogger users have been known to create Flash and Ajaxified Blogger blogs. It’s flexible to a certain degree – but you can’t deny that your coding options are pretty limited. :(

On the up side, it’s incredibly easy to edit or create a template – for beginners, load up Minima and start tinkering. Extra templates can be found here and here, but bear in mind the design elements i talked about in my Writing An Addictive Blook series – particularly the point about fonts needing to be big enough for readers to be comfortable with.


Here Blogger scores less marks. A result of all that ease-of-use is that the Blogger platform is static, or severely limited. With the new Blogger (right out of beta) some of the old platform’s issues have been addressed, but unfortunately there’s bound to be a limit, what with it being a free service and all. What am i talking about? Well, let’s take a look at Blogger’s feed options for example.

By default Blogger offers both Atom and RSS, but what are your options for customizing these feeds? Can you exclude certain categories of posts from ending up being published in your feed? Can you edit the way your feed is presented? No, i thought not. And while Blogger has ‘linkback’ it doesn’t have trackback – the standard used by WordPress and Movable Type blogs.

Of course, a lot of these options aren’t really necessary to a blooker, or any author looking to publicize his/her work, but i’m just showing you some of the limitations you might face throughout your blogging years with the Blogger service. However, if you delve deeper into the community of nice, polite Blogger ‘hackers’, you’ll start coming across many ingenious ways (Feedburner and Haloscan, for example) to overcome some of Blogger’s more glaring faults. But more on that in another post.


Blogger users have a pretty good help guide, and the community is even better. Problem with your Blogger blog? Post the code to the Blogger forums and a solution sould present itself quickly enough. The user written guides to Blogger ‘hacks’, using flash and creating templates is pretty comprehensive – the aforementioned forums has an extremely high concentration of code monkeys, who just love tinkering around with Blogger.


There was a slew of posts not too long ago about why Blogger sucks – the usually opinionated blogosphere were extremely outspoken on the way Blogger swallowed up drafts and failed to publish at times, as well as the speed at which the entire platform now runs. While disturbing, i’ve never actually experienced such problems throughout my 4 years of using Blogger, but i’ve had friends show me enough screenshots to believe in the existence of such issues.


Blogger should have ironed out those bugs by now – it is mostly stable. The scheduled downtimes are clear and Blogger makes a point to display the expected time (in GMT) on every account page; not-so-subtly warning errant users to quickly post and finish their work or face the loss of data during maintenance. This can’t be avoided, unfortunately – Blogger likes change and there always seems to be a downtime coming up.


No matter its drawbacks – Blogger is perfect for writing blooks. It may not have trackback or total control over all design elements, but what it does it does well, with a great user-interface and such ease of use anyone with half a brain can immediately pick it up and start writing.

Read the next in the series: reviewed!

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Category: Blog Platforms · Writing Web Fiction