I do like to think that blogging is – or should be – more about the quality of writing than anything else. In other words, a better blog means better content. However, the layout, design, and technical expertise of the author certainly makes a huge difference to any blog. Sometimes the best content never gets any attention due to a bad layout, or confusing domain name.
Basically, I kind of think of it like this:
Level 1 blog: A wordpress.com domain blog. Default WordPress theme. Limited media other than text included in posts. Spam may run rampant. (You may know what you’re doing, but you’re just not that powerful.)
Level 18 blog: Self hosted blog, with css that blows your mind while following current web design standards (which at the moment means a neat, clean, minimalist design). No spam, no ads, great SEO, large pictures, links to relevant sites, and useful tags. (You have full command of your blog powers and appear as a force to be reckoned with.)
There are a lot of ways someone can adjust their blog to fit in with their level of technology expertise. If you have no technical skill, this doesn’t mean you have to settle for a level 1 blog. Wordpess.com is great for those with little to no technological knowledge – it is extremely user friendly, and pretty intuitive. Everything can be done without looking at code, which is great because code can be scary to those who haven’t dealt with it before. Anyone can have a clean, neat, organized blog with pictures, links, and comments.
If you have the technical skills, use them in your blog. Hosting your own blog is definitely the way to go., but that doesn’t mean you need to completely start from scratch (although you certainly can if you want, but that is going to be a lot of work). WordPress offers a version you can host yourself, giving access to all the HTMl, CSS, and PHP files. Basically, you can edit everything, it’s your blog, and WordPress simply provides you a solid base template and tools for posts and comments. You can make your blog look just like you did create it from scratch, only WordPress took care of some mundane technical details for you (comment adder, spam filters, etc).
However, having a self-hosted blog doesn’t mean you need to be a coding genius. If you somewhat know what you are doing, having the code available to you can only help your blog. It is also still easy to add extra plugins or download themes from wordpress to your self-hosted blog. You can even find other websites with css you like, and simply copy paste. You have more control, and if you are careful about it, you can change a few specific details (that the normal wordpress wouldn’t allow) with breaking everything.
All in all, there are endless tools out there to help you create your own blog. Use your technical knowledge to the best of your ability, and push just an inch or two out of your comfort zone to try new things for your blog. Even without technical knowledge, you can make a pretty good blog: the resources on the web are endless. Those who do have the technical skills can ultimately achieve a better blog: that’s why “web designer” is a viable career, why WordPress has themes you pay for, and why businesses hire someone to design their businesses’ blogs.