Free Blogging Platforms

On the message board, someone asked about using Blogger/Blogspot.  I expanded my thoughts on the blog experience subject here in case anyone is thinking about trying another blog for other purposes or whatever.

SB.com, scrapjazz, (2Peas has closed), have a great idea and a wonderful community blog system (some with recent upgrades) but it is limiting (no stats, no categories, no outside commentators, no tag clouds, no rss) to some people who may want more features.  SB.com also no longer allows public viewing by visiting non-members to member’s blogs.
Here is a basic run down of what you can find for free (some with ads) on the net.

Blogger/Blogspot and WordPress offer more blogs per one email account, most others it is one per email account.
Why do some people want more blogs? Because some people have blogs based on a particular interest only, or only for a set of people (friends or family).
Some you can upgrade and pay an annual subscription fee to get additional perks.

I have not linked up this article, you can just type in the name in a search box (Google or Yahoo) for the site to come up.

And YES!  I have tested all of the sites below software systems by opening accounts and playing with the controls and deleting a few.
A few you cannot delete on your own — you must strip down the site post by post, comment by comment and your url lives on as long as the site is up.
Some you need to ask the site administer to delete for you if they get around to it.
Usually, anything you have put on the net, can be found again years later if you can remember the URL of the site at The Wayback Machine Internet Archives.

The following are basic details but for more details on comparing Blogger/Blogspot to WordPress, read this article.

Blogspot or Blogger is easy to use although periodic problems persist. The beta version has a drop and drag system to design your blog.  I like how you can create drafts and save them then load them when you are ready.  Just remember the date you write them is the date that will appear in your blog when you publish. EX: You wrote a draft on Oct 20th, but have just decided to publish today although you have entries after October 20th, it will appear as if it were posted on October 20th even though it is November 18.

You can add categories and tags also.  You can select the type of archive you want.

Blogger also allows pre-dating automatic posts (posts that you date in the future and automatically posts to your blog at that specific time and date.)
Use Microsoft LiveWriter (free program download) to write then publish posts offline. (LiveWriter can be used on most blog services.)

There are now sticky posts based on a future date.  The post will remain at the top till that date arrives.
You cannot select any previous posts to become a sticky like at WordPress,  or SquareSpace.

Uploading a header is easier than it use to be!

With some playing, you can customize your css template but you need to know what you are doing.  There are plenty of help blogs out there but support at Blogger is not that great — a common complaint.

You don’t have to fill out much in your profile if you don’t want lots of people visiting if they do a search and your key words come up directing them to you.

To get people to your blog, just post the URL in your signatures on message boards or in email groups (if they allow that) or on a profile page if you are a member in another group.

You can always delete comments by spammers but now they have word verification to prevent bot spamming. You can also moderate your posts.

The downside is that Blogger/Blogspot does not have direct albums (They use Picasa but you can link to one or add a Flickr or the like badge), limited stats (plenty of free ones that you get a copy paste code with on the net).

There is no limit on bandwidth but there is a limit on how much you can upload to Picasa.  (In 2012, Picasa took away image stats.)  Note: Picasa has closed — images are with Google+ but can only be shared with Google+ circles and not elsewhere.

You can have 10 stand alone pages with your blog (recent improvement).

You can delete your blog and have more than one blog on one  Google (only) email account.
You can also transfer posts from one Blogspot/Blogger blog you own to an other you own.

The difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org.
Wordpress.com is the software on the site your blog sits that you use.
Wordpress.org is when you use/buy the software and use it on your own paid webspace/domain.

WordPress has many pre-made templates, each with their own font, is easy to use and has categories, stats, and a search feature but no photo album (add a link to yours on the navigation bar), and limited widgets, but you cannot customize much (blog banner, HTML nav bar) on a free account.  All you need is a working email address and a user name. You can now make your blog private and keep it out of a search.
Sticky posts — choose any at any time and bring it to the top of your blog.
Customized URLs.
Make a website with the unlimited page feature or just a blog, or a combo of both (like stamphenge at wordpress).
Plenty of support/help available!
Update 09: You can now create galleries and slideshows from your uploads.
Update 1/08: They added 3GBs of space to every blog (it was previously 50MBs!)
Update 10/08: They added many more templates and you can now have sticky posts (important posts that remain at the top of your blog entries, choose any one!).  Important to note: not all templates allow stickies.

Ads do appear on your blog from time to time but you don’t see them, your first time visitors do. Regular visitors don’t see them.  If you wish to have ads removed, it will cost $30 (approx) to remove them in addition to the $15. for customizing the CSS and any other upgrade you wish to buy, annually.

Other similiar  blogs that offer various services, free and  optional paid upgrades:

Weebly — another WordPress type site that you can not only use as a blog but develop a website also.  Now, you can create a website with WordPress however, at Weebly, they allow you to put in meta tags per page you create so that your pages get into a search.  Their system is drop and drag WYSIWYG editor and then you open boxes to add what ever the box was you dropped and dragged.  If this system is too much for you (suppose to provide ease), then just use WordPress.  Weebly now offers cafeteria style features and you just pay for what you want.  Recently went through a huge re-vamp and no longer offer expired WP themes but themes of their own.

Jigsy — easy to use drop and drag site.  Developed by Bravenet and what Bravenet uses for their own clients.  Limited one free site, 7 pages, 50MBs storage, limited bandwidth.  They do have a blog feature also.  Many designs and templates, most free. Good for you and a few friends for limited use.
Pro accounts $8.25 per month and you can build many sites.  Sometimes they offer a special rate for a limited time and a good price if you buy in a bundle.

GoogleSites offers not only a site but also a blog in addition to the traditional Blogger.
These are free with a Google Account.

Other popular sites that are very reliable:

Live Journal — lots of templates, ads, and to remove ads, a small annual fee or pay one lump sum fee for a lifetime of no ads ( lump sum only offered a few times per year) on your blog and customizing rights and other perks.
Photo albums (now for free accounts) but no files. Paid accounts have access to CSS to change things around. The neat thing about Live Journal is that you can belong to communities and have direct access from your blog to the community whether to visit or to post.
Select blog posts and pictures to create a book that you can customize and order.

Tumblr — micro blog site now owned by Yahoo.  You need third party applications for stats, albums, and any other perk.  Simple and easy to use, lots of templates/styles to choose from for customizing.  Some templates offer free standing pages. Free and no ads, yet.

Bravenet has a neat little blog/journal/website (templates or easy to customize) with a tagboard and if you have a free account (ad supported) you can add a message board, web pages, you get a photo album.  With all the features they offer, you can build a nifty little site, ad supported and limitations for free accounts.
The Bravesites are just like Jigsy mentioned above(Jigsy is part of their company also) – extremely easy to use.
Update 6/2011 — Bravenet has increased photo album uploads and added many new features/perks.  Ads remain on free accounts.

Tripod or Angelfire — Has gone to a drop and drag system 9/9/08. you can choose one of their templates or you can customize your own.  They have categories.  There are ads on the top and bottom of the blog page. You can also have albums associated with your account or use an album you have elsewhere (like here) with a link.  Too much traffic or use up your 20MBs of space, you will need to pay. I cannot figure out how they archive posts!
Common complaint: no support even if you pay, pop up ads.

 

A few other interesting free blog sites with photo albums and additional file storage:

Blog.com — uses WordPress templates,  most of the same traditional features (limited upgrades) and blatant ads on the sidebar if you are blogging for free, pay annually and ads are removed.  Pay for other upgrades. Important to note that there is a site space limitation there, it is very tiny compared to just coming on to the real WP.

Thoughts.com — (Update: Not sure what is going on there.) is a community based blog site.  You can upload photos, music, videos.  Limited customizing. Limits on URL postings. Can select privacy.  Has message boards and you can PM other members.  Posts can be rated and it shows how many reads it has.  Also, you can email an entire post to anyone on the net.
Upload and share photos on other sites by posting the URLs (like at Photobucket).
Update 10/10: Many upgrades including customizing and pages but also many bugs that have to be ironed out.  Lost some previous perks.

My Space —  The place to be if you like lots of visuals on your page.  A basic link to your blog may be the better idea if you are going for a clean look. My Space recently (6/08) added a bunch of new tools for members to use.

ZoomshareNow a paid site. you now get 100 standard web pages (up from the original 4 to 10): main, blog, links, albums, calendar, and 250MBs of file space (so you have to link to your main page a table of contents) plus a chat room of your own. Free email right on site. You also get 300MBs of download transfer per DAY (better than the former Geocities limit). If you want other features (like no ads) you can pay.  The blog has RSS.  You can customize a  template or you can choose one of the many they offer. Daily limitation of bandwidth transfer unless you pay.  Also, anything in the files comes up with a bar at the top and a digg button.  If you have a free account, and someone diggs you, then your site is shut down because of overuse of bandwidth till, well you get the picture.

A few others with some perks, lots of ads and/or some issues:
Posterous – closed 4/13 — another micro blogging site.  Add third party widgets, customize their limited template selection.  Post by email.  Some stats.  Posterous was bought out by Twitter.  In July 2012, Posterous went down and when they came back up, lots of things did not work and they have not been fixed by 12/12.  does not look good for a future.

OrcutClosed 9/14 the Google Facebook.  If you have a Google account, you can have an Orcut account.  They have photo albums so if you need storage and don’t want to use Picasa, try there and mark your albums “for friends only” and have no friends.

MSN Live Spaces — closed. has improved, you get categories, HTML boxes, you can customize your template (drop and drag), you get photo albums and people can post comments, and statistics although you can add your own, you can also add music and lists plus some other widgets. Your blog can be public or private. You are limited to 30 MBs of space compared to the other sites I am talking about that has unlimited space.  An additional 1GB in files is available. You need a Hotmail account to sign up.  Go to the MSN main page and click on “Spaces” to get yours. LiveWriter is a good tool to download to create your blog posts and offers other options to use on your blog.
There is an issue of non-members ability to comment.
Update: Now only LiveSpace members can post to other LiveSpace Blogs — no OpenID.
Live Spaces will be closing down on Dec 31, 2010 (no more adding to your blog) and close for good on March 16, 2011.  Migrate to WP or download your blog in a zip file. Photo albums are a part of SkyDrive so they will remain with your HotMail account.

Blogsome Closed — uses WordPress templates, a few templates they have are discontinued ones at WordPress, basically, the same basic features as WordPress plus more. Unlike WordPress, you can customize your blog here without having to pay. Downside: images are not showing up, branding appears in your sidebar, no containers to use. Main page still exists but all blogs have  been discontinued. You can no longer log in.

Blogdrive — your-user-name (at) blogdrive — this is an interesting site.  The blogs are simple and there are many (144 plus) templates to choose from in almost any theme you can imagine and they are so easy to upload into your site. I thought they were very nice and you could do a lot with them, even customize your own with their great tutorial. You get a contact link, calendar, a chat box, and HTML boxes on the side bar. The main problem I had there was the long and very slow download of pages.  No categories or tag words or clouds, archives seem to be on pages and linked to the calendar.  As I was surfing around, I found more abandoned blogs and some people stating that there were difficulties posting or getting into their accounts.  I am writing about this because, I thought it was a nice site and there is potential but I am not sure if you would have any problems as described by so many people.

Blogdrive has recently added one line ads to each free site.
Cost for an ad free site is around $20. a year and reasonably priced.

Update: People are not happy with this site and many have moved to others, unknown staff, no help, spam, trouble signing in.

Zorpia.com —  Update: NOT what it use to be, completely changed. Similar to MySpace a neat little place.  Choose a template (limited assortment) or you can customize, they give you albums with slide shows.  You pick a user name and it will ask you to import your address book and send out a few invites.  You cannot get to the next level of getting an account if you do not open up your email account and import then send out invites to contacts. They give you a guest book. RSS is included.
Zorpia has a free ad supported account and also an annual fee account.  For $18. a year (at the time of this writing), you can be a Royal Zorpian, get a few more perks, and have no ads on your site.

Xanga — very nice clean site similiar to MySpace, wide selection of templates and customization.  They come with a photo album too and a few other perks.  To remove ads and get more space it is $24. a year.
Rumor has it that Xanga is spam ridden.
Update: paid service only and lots of issues.

eBloggy — nice site, nice templates (a few but you can use Blogger codes) but you must maintain your account every thirty days or they delete it without you getting a warning.  They ask for donations.
Default archives are listed as page numbers. You need to know lots of coding in order to customize and have your page work. Very little help or support if you need it.
No photo album, no RSS feed, no permalinks unless you code your page to have them.
Update 1/14: Closed down without notice. (should that surprise me?)
Update 2/08: They have recently started to highlight and link key words in your post to advertise various services and products!!!  They offer no paid plans to rid you of this ugliness.
Update Spring 09: There seems to be no support and you can no longer visit other blogs randomly because they took away the community, the updated blogs, and the search.

tBlog — very nice, easy to use, templates and custom HTML allowed on your template, choice of three editors to post an entry, community categories, ads are now present, instant stats, photo album.  Cannot make a blog private. Cannot delete a blog you started without contacting the site administrators. They are very fast putting your posts into the Google Search.
Update — not accepting new users, trying to move the site to a new URL.
Update — now attach linked words in your posts to ads elsewhere on the net. Not good. Open for comments, invite spammers. Limited control on comments.  No support, mystery owners.
Update – pretty much down and out but existing blogs still can be viewed.

 

Other blog services that you pay annually for (no freebie sites):

Terapad Officially closed. Update June 2011 — 30 day free trial and then as low as $4.95 per month for space and bandwidth. No more free blogs.  Interesting site with 2GBs of space and 10GBs of bandwidth download a month**.   You get lots of features here but ads do appear on your blog (fixed on the left side and top like at Blogger) unless you subscribe to their service ($14.15 per month) to have them removed.  There are many templates to choose from that if you can CSS code, you can customize.  You get content and editors management, WYSIWYG editing, Pro Blogging tools, a search blog feature, a photo album, calendar, categories, RSS feeds, stats, a discussion forum, contact page, a PayPal Ready Shop, permalinks (although very clunky), email a post (a few lines then a link), add to digg or del.i.cio and a few dozen more all free!  I liked lots of the features they had.  Commenters can leave a link to their site on your comments, this is a nice feature especially if you offer a challenge blog and people post pictures on their blogs so you can view their work. View using Firefox and you don’t see the ads on the sidebar.
Downsides: Anyone can comment. Comments cannot be approved or edited allowing spam.  Posts show your email address in searches as the person who posted the entry.  Not good.
Turn off your comments to prevent the spam– you lose all of your comments on every single blog post!
Bandwidth is generous however, it can be eaten up with a heavy customized background OR lots of pictures which will cause an 8 hour no access shut down of your blog. Heavy branding on free and regular paid accounts. Pro accounts have no ads or branding.

Also paid services: Typepad, SquareSpace, Movable Type, WordPress.org.

Gone but not forgotten: Sampa, Yahoo360, LiveSpaces, Shoutpost, Eons, BlockStar.

I hope this helps someone.  Sometimes you just may want some more features, especially if you are writing a lot of articles like me. Maybe you have friends from other sites you wish to interact with because at the scrap/stamp blog/community, only allows members to post in their on site member blogs, and on another site, you have control over who can comment.

You can always text link your public album at (scrap/stamp communities) to your other blog site on the sidebar.