- free, hosted service
- ability to fully customize the design
- custom url at no extra cost (besides domain ownership)
The Blogger service, offered by Google, is the only service to fulfill these requirements. Both Typepad and Wordpress offer a free basic service that provides you with a wide range of features, many of which aren't immediately available to you with an off-the-shelf Blogger site. However, both of these services provide the free blog with limits to how far your can customize your site before you need to start paying. For example, Wordpress provides you with a wide selection of design templates to choose from when you create your blog, but if you want to truly customize the look of the site (and access the code) you need to either pay for the additional service or maintain your blog outside of the service.
What selecting Blogger as your platform means for you and your blog is that you can truly take advantage of the wealth of free third-party services that are available to you, customize your blog to make it look and function like you want it to be, and put the full wealth of Google services behind your site. All for 0 cost.
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* This criteria might not be your criteria and we encourage you to do some research to find the right solution for you based on your needs and level of technical expertise.