Rethinking Blogger

I have mentioned many times that I have a thing for blogging. I spend time here, I spend time on my kid blogs and I spend time encouraging a lot of other people to use blogs to reawaken their conversational writing voice. A while back I used to encourage newbies to blogging to hop into Blogger. It was simple, intuitive and it helped people who have a fear of online tools get the job done without needing to ask me many questions.

But in the last few years, I’ve started encouraging more people to use WordPress.com and those who are willing to purchase server space of their own, I send them down the WordPress.org path. (The difference? The .com version is hosted by WordPress and it isn’t as customizable or as easily tinkered. The .org version gives you total control of the look and content you place inside the blog system.) I get a few more questions when my colleagues, students and friends use WordPress, but it’s become an industry standard in some ways. I don’t want my friends and students to miss out the knowledge of using a tool that is helpful in their careers.

But after SXSW, I’m starting to think a little differently. I was walking around the Google booth on the trade floor and started talking to the cool folks that work in Google-land. First I explained to the woman working at Google Voice how my whole brand (@jenleereeves) is based on the Gmail I picked up back in 2004. I also explained how Google Voice has changed my entire life workflow. (I actually return calls… I was terrible about that before that time.) Then I walked over to the Blogger guy thinking it wouldn’t be much of a conversation… but then he shows me this:

I looked at him and said: “When did Google start thinking about Blogger? I might actually recommend this again.”

Why is the new version of Blogger so cool? The design is customizable in ways I’ve never seen in a blog tool. You can change the width of the main section and the sidebars. You can choose how the widgets will look and where you can place the elements. You can even add static pages – which I really love with my WordPress sites.

I might have to answer a few more questions when someone builds a Blogger blog and uses some of the extra features, but I won’t mind helping. I’m curious to see what can come out of the new version. If you want to check it out, visit Blogger in Draft (http://draft.blogger.com). You can sign in with your normal old blogger accounts that you left a while ago and tinker around with those sites. That’s what I did!

4 comments ↓

#1 Andrew Careaga on 03.30.10 at 10:43 am

Jen – I saw your original tweet about the new Blogger in Draft and immediately got excited about the prospects. That’s because I, like you, started out using Blogger and even supported the service by signing up for a “premium” account way back when. (Yes, I sent a check to Blogger. In return, after the company was acquired by Google, the good folks at Blogger gave me a hoodie for my support.)

I might have to take some time to poke around Blogger in Draft. I’ve got a couple of sites in Bloggers that I haven’t touched in eons. Maybe now is the time to putter around.

#2 Tweets that mention Rethinking Blogger « Jen Lee Reeves -- Topsy.com on 03.30.10 at 10:43 am

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jen Reeves and Beth Carpenter, David Farré. David Farré said: Interesting! RT @jenleereeves So… I started rethinking the use of Blogger after my trip to SXSW: http://bit.ly/c8eAnC […]

#3 Pete Hopkins on 03.30.10 at 10:58 am

Thanks for the complimentary post!

We’re pretty proud of the new designer, but what’s most rewarding is hearing from bloggers who are able to use it to make a design that they really like and does what they want.

I hope this does prompt you to point more people to Blogger when they want to create a blog. We’re trying to be the easiest to use, best looking, and most-powerful-for-not-having-to-pay-any-money-ever blogging service that’s out there.

#4 Jen Reeves on 03.30.10 at 12:09 pm

@Andrew – that’s exactly what I’ve done. I played around with some of my old blogs. I also helped a student who is in a big YouTube/Pulitzer Center contest launch his blog using the blogger templates: http://www.alexreports.com

@Pete – thanks. I’m excited to see the many more things you do with Blogger. Maybe I’ll think about returning. If not, I know my son will start blogging soon with Blogger’s help.

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