Well first, there are some similarities… We both make websites and blogs. We both do custom sites. In addition to what we do here at PhotographyBlogSites.com, we also do the one-off sites that you might host yourself but only for fully custom sites.
There a couple major differences between what we do and what really anyone else is doing (that we are aware of)…
1) No Flash
The first is that you can get a ready-to-use website that is not done in Flash. You can sign up in about 30 seconds and get a full website and blog all in one, all HTML, all powered by WordPress.
In fact we do not do anything with Flash. We believe in using technologies and software that are open and that are visible on as many devices and places as possible and Flash just does not do that. It is bad for search engine visibility and needs workarounds and alternate versions to allow a site to be viewed on devices like iPhones and iPads and whatever comes next.
2) We are a hosted solution
The second is that we host and, more importantly, manage all the sites here. Other places may offer to "host" your sites, but are just setting you up with a resold hosting account from a bigger hosting company.
They might give you a control panel which just happened to come through them, while in reality it is a reseller package that you are completely responsible for. In these other services, you are still responsible for upgrading WordPress, fixing anything that you might break by adding plugins, by adding a new theme, upgrading (or not upgrading). You would be responsible for backups in most cases. If your site or the hosting account is ever hacked by a spammer, the only way to restore it is with a quality backup.
We offer a hosted solution similar to WordPress.com but with higher quality themes built specifically for photographers. We back up not only our entire server every day but our entire file structure and our entire database. We upgrade WordPress and all plugins when they are ready and compatible with each other so your site will never accidentally break from a bad upgrade.
You have access to all our themes and features immediately as they are released. No upgrade notice. No downloads. No installation. It is just ready to go.
3) We are a networked system
What does this mean? We use a networked version of WordPress called MultiSite. It means that all sites use the same basic core files. When we add a feature, or fix a bug, everyone is up to date at the same time. We never have to notify anyone of a new upgrade or worry about whether your server is compatible with it.
And, thanks to community support like this, the other end of that is that we have lots of eyes, lots of users using our sites. So we are able to find any bugs very fast and fix them for everyone. We can hear about an issue that one person found and when we fix it, everyone gets it fixed at the same time.
This same idea works for feature suggestions. Most of our new features come from these forums or other user feedback.
Since we launched, we have added font color choices, font size choices, the ability to modify the alignment and layout of your blog page. Most recently we added drag and drop image reordering to our back-end. All user suggestions and everyone benefits.