If you've been sitting on the sidelines, wondering how to create your own blog, you no longer have an excuse. Google's Blogger.com is a blogging service that's simple to use and free. Compared with other blogging services, such as Six Apart TypePad, however, Blogger lacks high-end features, such as the ability to add video posts or allow multiple authors. Beginners will appreciate Blogger, but more-experienced Netizens should opt for paid services, such as TypePad.
In addition, Google is testing a beta edition of Blogger that lets you quickly tag posts by topic and shut out unwanted readers. However, without a beta invitation, you can't yet merge your old Blogger blog with one created in Blogger beta.Blogger requires a simple three-part setup. First, create your account (by answering five questions), then name your blog (a two-step process), and finally choose from 31 predesigned templates or design your own template. Blogger allows you to put your blog on your Web host and make your blog a part of your own Web site, or you can use Blogger.com's free hosting service, Blogspot.com, instead.
If you're not comfortable writing basic HTML, Blogger.com provides a simple WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) interface. Buttons enable you to choose different fonts, sizes, colors, bulleted lists, and text alignment within your posts. Like TypePad, Blogger also allows for RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds for your online content.
For most beginners, the templates and options provided should be more than enough. If you know HTML, however, you'll also be able to add your own block quotes or create bulleted lists. Unfortunately, Blogger lacks the advanced HTML-editing tools found in TypePad that allow you to create photo albums or add video with ease--annoying if you don't want to take time or if you don't already know HTML.
Blogger.com hosts an extensive online help page with dozens of tips and tricks for basic and advanced use of the service. Sadly, unlike the paid TypePad, Blogger does not provide human tech support, either via e-mail or phone. Fortunately, most of the problems we encountered involved coding errors. By taking our time and rechecking the HTML, we resolved our issues.