I get this question all the time as a custom blog designer, many of my clients are new to blogging and the whole thing is really confusing to them (and then throw in self-hosted WordPress vs. WordPress.com) and it will have you pulling out your hair!  I will write more about WordPress.com vs. self-hosted WordPress, or wordpress.org, later but right now let’s talk about blog designs and options for blogging platforms.  If you are starting a brand-new blog from scratch, whether or not you are also looking to get a custom blog design, you want to start off on the right foot.  There are a number of options available for blogging platforms including Typepad, Tumblr, Google Blogger, WordPress.com and WordPress.org, but the two platforms that I utilize for custom blog design are Blogger and WordPress.org.

A beautiful Blogger blog design!
It’s always good to have at least some idea of the direction you wish to go in for your blog before starting out. So, a few good questions to consider. One: Am I planning to blog for profit? Or is this just going to be a fun venture and you don’t think you are going to post that much. If you are planning to try to blog for profit (and I am so sorry to burst the bubble here but I’m pretty sure the days of making an entire living or getting a collaboration with a designer are kind of over but I could be wrong). However you can most definitely make money off of your blog by featuring Google ads or other ads, as well as affiliate marketing, etc. So, if you think that you might want to make a buck off your blog as well as have fun with it, you should definitely choose WordPress for your blog design platform. The reason is, there are all sorts of plugins for Google AdSense, and more importantly, most affiliates want you to be able to insert Javascript or other tracking code into your blog. This is difficult to do on Blogger, if not impossible.

Additionally, with Blogger you do not get features like full-width templates, featured post widgets, recent post sliders, menu with dropdown items, and a whole host of other add-ons so your design options are more limited.

jackie-klayman

Or, choose WordPress
Question two:  Do I think that I may someday expand my blog into a website, or want something more than a blog?  If yes, then you also should definitely choose WordPress for your blog design template.  It is really hard, and once again, if not impossible, to build out to a complete custom website design from a Blogger design template.  With WordPress, the sky is really the limit.  You can add pages, galleries, even add the Woocommerce plugin if you want to start selling, the possibilities are kind of endless.  So even if you are just starting a blog and don’t know where you are going to go with it in the future, you will be in far better shape to expand if you just go ahead and start out with WordPress.  If you start your blog design on Blogger this does not at all mean that you are stuck in Blogger forever, there are plenty of good transfer services to go from Blogger to WordPress and some solid DIY guides as well, but professional transfer services can get expensive, and sometimes all the posts and comments do not come over.

While WordPress is more expensive, both initially in the short run and long run (At Little Blue Deer, I charge double for WordPress custom blog design only because it takes about twice as long to set up, hence the extra cost), it may be worth it in the long run.  Also, with WordPress, you do have to register a custom domain and also set up hosting.  This is a lot easier and less expensive and scary than it sounds, domain registration runs about $15 per year and hosting is around $4-$5 per month, so it’s not a huge expenditure but it does add up so it’s something to consider.  However, as opposed to Blogger, which gives you a free domain name (which includes the .blogspot extension however you can also add a custom domain to your blogger design), having control of your own hosting can be a good thing, you’re not at the mercy of Blogger’s quirks.  It’s all yours, all the time.
decorated-mantel

Blogger again
That said, this does not necessarily mean that blogger design is not the a good option for you.  If you don’t know if you want to commit to a blog (trust me, you can become a slave to your blog, once the posts and comments start coming in, it’s a lot to keep up with!) Blogger is a great way to test the waters and see if you will be able to keep it up.  And outside of the initial expense of a custom blog design, should you choose to go this route, it’s really free and there’s no commitment.  So if you want to test out blogging or are certain that you will just be blogging for a hobby, go with a blogger design!  If you feel that there is even a slight chance that you may want to expand in the future, or you think you may try to monetize your blog, then a WordPress custom blog design is the way to go!  I hope this helps when considering blog designs, as a blog designer, I have built literally hundreds of blogs and have learned a little bit about what works best for each client.