Starting a new blog can be scary for anyone, especially if you are not even sure what platform you want to host your website on.
Today’s post will cover the best blogging platforms so you can create a blog that you are proud to share and your followers are excited to read.
Creating a blog can be your ticket to internet success, so let’s go over the basics of what a blogging platform is and let’s cover some of the best blogging platforms.
A blogging platform is online software that you can select to publish all of your blog posts without you having to know fancy Internet coding.
See, if you were going to create a website from scratch, you would need to know a lot of stuff about coding.
But thanks to the numerous blogging platforms out there today, you can be up and blogging without knowing any code.
Each blogging platforms offers a unique look, and they all give you different levels of control.
Before we talk about the best blogging platforms out there today, let’s talk about whether a paid or free blogging platform is best.
Should I Use a Paid or Free Blogging Platform?
Whether or not you use a paid or free platform depends on your blogging goals.
If you’re just blogging for fun, a free blogging platform should suffice.
However, if you want to make money with your blog, a paid platform is a must.
In fact, many brands and affiliate programs won’t even work with you unless you use a paid blogging platform with your own hosting (more on hosting later).
So let’s start with the paid blogging platforms.
Paid platforms offer many benefits, but not all paid platforms are made alike.
WordPress.org is what we use on our blogs and is our #1 recommendation for those who want to make money blogging. Click here to learn how to set up your WordPress blog in less than 10 minutes!
If you have been on the internet for any given amount of time, you have likely heard about WordPress.
WordPress was founded in 2003, and it has quickly taken over the internet with its ability to be self-hosted.
WordPress actually comes in two flavors: WordPress.org (paid) and WordPress.com (free).
In this section we’re talking about the paid WordPress.org version used by serious bloggers who want to make money with their sites.
WordPress.org is free, but it requires a hosting plan to run.
Pricing will depend on the host you choose and how long you sign up with your host for.
WordPress.org wouldn’t truly be considered a “freemium” version or a “free” version because you have to pay something to host your site.
- Self-hosting your WordPress website gives you tons of control. WordPress is an open-source program. There are so many tweaks and changes you can make from building your themes to adding extra pieces of code to your site. You honestly have more freedom using WordPress than most people have on other blogging platforms.
- WordPress has an extensive plugin library. If there is anything you’d like to see added to your website, there is likely already a plugin available for it. If there is not a plugin for it, you can build one yourself and offer it to the WordPress marketplace for free, with a charge, or both.
- The tools you like to use likely have integrations with WordPress, or they are working on them soon. Companies know how popular WordPress is, so if they are creating integrations for their software, one of the first websites they want to integrate with is WordPress, which will make your life a million times easier.
- Hosting your site comes with many challenges that some beginning bloggers may not be willing to work through. There is a definite learning curve when it comes to WordPress, but every question you may have about the site probably has a blog post, video, or forum post answering it.
- Customer service at the WordPress.org level is pretty non-existent because it’s just a CMS (or content management system.) Depending on the host you choose to put with WordPress.org, though, you could find some pretty stellar customer service for the money that you spend.
Who Is WordPress.org Good For?
WordPress.org is great for bloggers who want to grow their websites and take them to the next level.
Having a self-hosted WordPress website allows you too many luxuries to not at least consider the move to WordPress self-hosted.
Who Is WordPress.org Not Good For?
WordPress.org is not great for anyone who is not technically savvy, or at least willing to learn a few tech tricks.
WordPress.org gets a bad rap for having a big learning curve, but there are so many resources out there for people who want to learn.
You are never more than a Google away from a step-by-step answer to most of your WordPress questions.
WordPress.org: The Bottom Line
Having a self-hosted WordPress website is an excellent investment if you want to take your blog to new heights.
There are challenges to self-hosting your site, but you have a ton of support in the blogging community to help you overcome the challenges that come with self-hosting your website.
Ghost is an open-source blogging platform that was founded in 2013 by the Ghost Foundation.
Ghost falls between your typical self-hosted website and a site that can host your website for you.
Since Ghost is newer, though, it may be difficult to find all the things you need to run a successful blog that you are proud to show off.
Ghost starts at $29 per month billed annually or $36 per month for the basic version of the service.
You could pay as much as $249 per month if you’d like more features.
- You get an automatic SSL certificate. These certificates are vital in today’s day and age when Google pushes the need for all sites to have SSL certificates.
- Even the most basic version of Ghost can host up to 100,000 views per month. It can often be hard for other platforms to host that many views at such a small price point. On top of that, Ghost promises not to take your site down if you hit a traffic spike for whatever reason.
- All Ghost (Pro) plans are equipped with great security thanks to an Enterprise-level Cloudflare plan. Cloudflare is excellent if you are worried about DDoS attacks and other security issues.
- You can (technically) self-host a Ghost blog using your own hosting provider. Although, it’s going to be more difficult to self-host than a site like WordPress because it’s not well used, so there aren’t any shortcuts to self-hosting your Ghost blog. Bloggers have provided self-hosting instructions for Ghost though.
- At the highest level, Ghost only allows up to 15 staff accounts. This can be detrimental, especially if you are creating a website that will host many writers.
- The lack of Ghost templates is concerning; there are less than 40 templates at the moment. Each template offered on the Ghost Marketplace is very similar to others in the marketplace which will make it harder for you to distinguish yourself from other Ghost bloggers.
Who Is Ghost Good For?
Bloggers or businesses who would like to get on the blogging bandwagon without putting much thought into the overall look of their website. Content heavy blogs will find Ghost extremely appealing because the focus is more on the content, not the layout of the content.
Who Is Ghost Not Good For?
Anyone who would like more customization to their blog and the way it looks. Most Ghost websites tend to have a similar look switching between just a few templates.
Ghost: The Bottom Line
Ghost is an exciting platform that can be helpful for beginners and expert web developers alike.
If you fall in between a beginning blogger and a web developer excited to tackle a self-hosting project, though, you may find that creating a site with Ghost will hold you back.
If you have been on the internet for the past few years, you may have seen a ton of advertisements for Squarespace pop up all over from your favorite influencers to television commercials.
Squarespace was founded in 2003 by Anthony Casalena, and the website is known for its drag and drop website editor.
Squarespace is well-known because not only can you create blogs using the software, but you can also quickly generate e-commerce stores as well.
Squarespace starts at $12 per month, billed annually or $16 per month.
If you’d like to delve deeper into the e-commerce component of Squarespace, you could pay as much as $46 per month.
- Squarespace has many built-in templates that are free with the purchase of your Squarespace account. Each of these templates look drastically different from each other, and you can test out many templates without losing all your content such as blog posts or pages.
- With Squarespace, you never have to worry about updating the platform because updates are automatically made on your behalf. If you are ever nervous about website maintenance, Squarespace can be an excellent option for you.
- Squarespace customer service is unparalleled. With 24/7 email support on top of chat support and a vast library of Squarespace help documents, you are never too far away from the answer to your platform questions.
- Squarespace doesn’t allow self-hosting, so if you don’t like how Squarespace is hosting their blogs, you can’t do anything to change the host you work with.
- While you can add quite a bit with blocks, many premium blocks are only available at the Business level and above. This means that if you’d like to add code blocks/injections, commerce, donation blocks, and more you’d need to be on the second website tier or higher.
- Creating no-follow links on Squarespace can be challenging to do, and it requires coding everything by hand, each time you need to include a no-follow link. If you would like to monetize your blog through affiliate links or sponsored posts, you may find this difficult to handle.
Who Is Squarespace Good For?
Squarespace is great for visual, beginning bloggers.
The drag and drop editor makes it easy to learn and use the platform.
There are also enough templates in the template library to make it easy to find a website that speaks to your brand.
Who Is Squarespace Not Good For?
Squarespace is not great for people who would like to build multiple websites.
Each website on Squarespace requires you to purchase a separate plan, which can get expensive.
Many other blogging platforms allow you to host various blogs on the same plan.
Squarespace: The Bottom Line
Squarespace has its perks, but it can begin to feel small after you build up your brand as a blogger.
It is one of the best blogging platforms for visual, hands-on bloggers, but you may want to learn a platform that gives you more control after a while, lucky for you, you can always export your Squarespace blog to use on another platform.
Many free platforms, could fall under a tier known as “freemium.”
With these platforms, there are entirely free options, but they usually come with caveats like branded URLs and advertisements.
For extra money, you can add additional features to each of these platforms to make them more custom to your needs as a blogger.
Weebly, which debuted in beta mode in 2006, is an example of one such platform.
It is a website builder for creative entrepreneurs.
Weebly focuses on building an all-in-one platform that allows entrepreneurs to get their products and information to their consumers as soon as possible.
Weebly doesn’t want anyone to be tied up with code or trying to perfect their website to make it look professional.
Weebly is free (with ads and a Weebly branded domain).
If you don’t want advertisements on your website and you’d like the ability to add your custom domain, it starts at $8 per month (when paid annually).
You could spend as much as $38 per month (when paid annually) for Weebly service depending on the features you need.
- All paid Weebly plans come with a free domain address; you can also move this URL to another registrar should you choose to part ways with Weebly.
- Weebly does offer a basic app center which allows you to expand the use of your Weebly website past what comes with your site automatically. It’s not as robust as some platform plugin marketplaces, but it’s a start and developers outside of Weebly work on some apps.
- There are many support options when it comes to Weebly, which can be helpful for bloggers who are just beginning. One of the most significant options that Weebly has over many other website builders is an actual phone number that you can call for support on higher pricing plans. It can be hard to create a website, and sometimes you want to get on the phone with somebody, so it’s incredible that Weebly provides that support.
- Weebly’s primary focus seems to be on the e-commerce building side versus the creating a blog side. This isn’t necessarily a con, but it’s something you may want to consider because other platforms focus much more on building blogs that matter.
- Overall, Weebly has poorer template flexibility than some other website builders out there like Wix or Squarespace. While you can change some elements of the template, you may find yourself stuck in a box when it comes to organizing and updating your Weebly template.
Who Is Weebly Good For?
Weebly is great for creative entrepreneurs who’d like to host their business and blog website on the same platform.
Who Is Weebly Not Good For?
Weebly would probably not be the best platform for bloggers who are just interested in blogging.
Weebly has many tools that can take your e-commerce store to the next level, and you can tell that they are genuinely leaning into this aspect of their website.
Of course, e-commerce is probably not a top priority for bloggers, which means that Weebly may be slow to add new features that bloggers would care about.
Weebly: The Bottom Line
Weebly is an excellent platform if you intend to use blogging as a means to something else. If you’d like your main income to come from blogging, though, there are better platforms for you to pick.
Wix is a web development platform that started in 2006.
This cloud-based website builder is currently headquartered in Tel Aviv, Israel and it boasts over 110 million users across nearly 200 countries.
While the team is proud of the fact that they can bring websites to so many people for free, they have many paid plans that offer more features.
Wix has a free option if you don’t mind ads and a Wix-branded URL.
For $5 a month you can connect your domain, but you will still get Wix ads on your website.
If you’d like to properly upgrade it would cost $11 a month at the least and $35 a month at the most depending on what you need from your website.
- Wix has excellent templates compared to many other site builders. With around 500 templates to choose from, you are bound to find something that works for your blog.
- Wix has one of the most robust app stores for a web building software. With hundreds of free and paid apps in the market, you’ll likely find what you need to expand your website.
- With a customer base that reaches to so many people, you have more insurance that Wix won’t be closing down any time soon. Wix is proud of the numbers that they have and their model allows them to make sufficient income.
- Switching templates on Wix is next to impossible. Once you have decided on a Wix template, you will need to start from scratch to use another template.
- There is no all-inclusive, completely automated way to export a Wix website to another platform. Wix makes it exceedingly difficult to export your website and simply does not give you the option to download your site in a nicely packaged zip file as most websites do.
- If you’d like to move your site, you’ll likely have to use plugins or some other form of manual moving to get your Wix site moved elsewhere; you may even be forced to hire this process out if you have a ton of content on your blog.
Who Is Wix Good For?
Wix is good for people who are excited about template options and like using drag and drop website builders over some more advanced platform options.
Who Is Wix Not Good For?
Wix is not good for those who value flexibility.
Wix doesn’t budge in some essential ways such as being able to switch templates and move your website.
If you start your site with Wix, you need to be prepared to see it through until the end or be ready to sink countless hours into your website recreating it.
Wix: The Bottom Line
Wix is probably not the best platform out there for those who have a hard time making up their mind and sticking to decisions.
You may find yourself regretting your choice when you want to move your site or make adjustments to the template you chose.
We’ve already discussed the importance of WordPress as a self-hosted platform, but there is also WordPress.com which follows a freemium model.
Creating content with WordPress is similar to WordPress.org, but there are far fewer abilities to customize your website.
Beginner bloggers will delight in the price of WordPress.com, but WordPress.com may end up being just a stepping stone for most bloggers.
Free, with a WordPress subdomain and advertisements.
Starting at $48 per year, you can get extra features like custom domains, removing WordPress ads, and more storage space.
There are also plans for as much as $300 paid yearly.
- WordPress.com is often free for most users using the platform. Unless you decide to upgrade, you’ll never have to pay a cent which appeals to many users.
- Using a WordPress.com website is extremely easy. The backend of the site is quite basic, and it gets the job done. It’s not exactly like the WordPress.org backend, but it does get you prepared for what you might tackle if you were to upgrade later.
- WordPress.com may also be a great option if you don’t want to be inundated with options. There are many basic free templates that WordPress offers that you can customize a little bit. It’s enough for most starting bloggers.
- WordPress.com can be extremely limiting. You are often limited in the amount of code you can add to your site. Limited code hinders monetization. You are also limited on when you can remove WordPress branding from your blog’s footer.
- On WordPress.com, you can’t upload your own theme unless you have the Business plan. This means you are stuck with their free themes for the most part. You also get some access to premium themes if you are willing to shell out at least $96 a year. The Premium plan can add up, and even then you may not find a theme that speaks to you.
Who Is WordPress.com Good For?
Hobby bloggers who may want to create a website to update friends and family versus actually monetizing their blog in the future.
WordPress.com websites are also great for people who are considering a self-hosted site in the future.
Who Is WordPress.com Not Good For?
WordPress.com is good for bloggers who need more template options.
WordPress.com offers very little in the way of themes unless you want to pay more for a premium plan.
A premium plan could cover the cost of many self-hosted plans.
WordPress.com: The Bottom Line
WordPress.com can be a fabulous option for beginners, but if you ever want your own domain, you are likely better off switching to WordPress Self-Hosted because many hosts are about the same cost as a paid WordPress account.
For many bloggers, investing in a paid platform right away can be scary.
If you don’t wish to invest in your blogging career right away, many great free blogging platforms may help you do just that.
Blogger is one such platform.
Blogger is a blog publishing platform that was started in 1999.
In 2003, Google bought the platform, and it’s been a part of Google’s slate of services ever since.
Blogger is genuinely a free platform with a ton of options.
Blogger also gives you the opportunity to monetize and create a stellar site.
There are still some downsides to using Blogger, though, that we will address later.
- Google owns Blogger. However, there is no evidence whatsoever that Google showcases Blogger sites more than any other website. The fact that Google owns the site could be an advantage to some, though.
- You can add your custom domain, for free. You have to pay for a domain outside of your account, but you can attach that domain to your site for free. Many domains can be bought yearly for as little as a $1. Buying a domain is not a huge expense to bear on your own.
- You can bring in your own template for free as well. Many website developers create Blogger templates and sell them at a reasonable rate. You can have a website that looks just as beautiful as a self-hosted WordPress website. The best part? You pay a fraction of the cost of a self-hosted site.
- Blogger owns the platform. They can kick you off the platform or decide to shut down when they’d like.
- There are limits to integrations. Blogger doesn’t have the robust app store that many other sites have to offer. You can add code to certain places on your website like your sidebar or blog template, but you are limited with what you can do to expand Blogger outside of the capabilities they already give you.
Who Is Blogger Good For?
Blogger is an excellent platform for bloggers across the board.
It’s honestly one of the best blogging platforms besides a self-hosted WordPress site, especially for bloggers who are not very tech savvy.
It’s fully dedicated to creating a blog that you can be proud to showcase to your followers.
Who Is Blogger Not Good For?
Blogger is good for bloggers who want more control over the backend of their website.
Blogger doesn’t have much in the way of backend additions and apps.
Many Blogger blogs look beautiful on the outside, but the inside of those blogs are quite bare.
Blogger also won’t be great for people who want to turn their blogs into something else.
There are very few options for those who may wish to run e-commerce stores or create more monetization streams on Blogger besides ads and sponsored posts.
Blogger: The Bottom Line
Blogger can be a great platform for many bloggers who would like to stick to being a blogger.
If you’d want to take your monetization to the next level, you’d likely have to reach to other sites to supplement what Blogger can’t give you.
Medium is a publishing platform that was founded by Evan Williams in 2012.
It has become a site filled with insightful, thought-provoking content from creators across the internet.
It’s a free-to-use platform, and many businesses/bloggers find themselves publishing on the site.
- You can monetize your blog content through the Partner Program. Through updates, Medium has allowed publishers to get paid based on member interaction and bonuses from Medium editors. This can be great for new bloggers trying to make some extra money from the content they are producing.
- With Medium, you have a built-in audience. Being a new blogger can be difficult when you feel like you are talking to yourself. With Medium, you can always speak to the audience that Medium has acquired through the platform they have built.
- Medium has a simple editor which is great for bloggers who want to quickly write what they need to write without spending too much time formatting the articles and making them perfect.
- All Medium blogs look the same. Medium does not offer changes to the way that your content looks for the most part. Your site is a part of their website, and they want things to look similar across the board. There is no true distinguishment between your blog and someone else’s which makes it hard to build a brand.
- You can’t add extra advertisements to your blog posts. Medium is focused on creating an environment that’s reader-friendly, and some Medium readers even pay the company a membership fee. Medium takes pride in creating a site free of advertisements in stories. If you planned to advertise in your posts, your stories wouldn’t be following Medium rules.
Who Is Medium Good For?
Medium is great for new bloggers who want to build an audience of followers (if you can get them to go to your external website) as well as entrepreneurs or thought leaders who want to get their content out in an exciting way.
Who Is Medium Not Good For?
Bloggers who are serious about building a brand of their own. It will likely always feel like you are adding to Medium’s site, not creating your own authentic brand.
Medium: The Bottom Line
Medium is great to build an audience who might like your writing, but ultimately, Medium won’t feel much like your blog.
There seems to always be Medium branding, even on extremely customized Medium sites. You’re better off investing a platform that you can truly customize.
Tumblr, a website started in 2007, dedicates itself to being a microblogging and social networking community.
It focuses on the ability to bring people together through features like questions and answers, blog following, reblogging, and more.
- You can attach a domain name to your Tumblr account, so you have a bit more control over branding.
- There are no specific page view limits when it comes to Tumblr blogs. You won’t be held back if you attract many page views to your Tumblr account.
- Tumblr often highlights various posts and creatives. This is great if you’d like to get your posts seen by more people in the Tumblr audience.
- You can always export your Tumblr account later. The option to export is excellent if you decide to move your Tumblr posts to another blogging platform after you’ve created your Tumblr site. You can do this through Tumblr or even after you’ve set up an account through WordPress.org.
- Tumblr isn’t very adaptable. You can’t add on much to it in the way of plug-ins, so you are stuck with the features that Tumblr decides to add to their platform.
- Ultimately, Tumblr has control over which sites use their platform. They don’t actively shut down sites, but they could if it violated platform rules.
- Tumblr has been connected to sketchy not-safe-for-work sites using their platform. Most platforms host potentially unsavory sites because it’s hard to police every single user.
Who Is Tumblr Good For?
Tumblr is good for bloggers with younger age demographics as the site is more well-known by people who are under 30.
It is also good for people who want a built-in audience for your website.
Creatives who share their art and pictures on their blogs may also like Tumblr because users can add hashtags to their blogs to be seen by a wider audience.
Who Is Tumblr Not Good For?
Those who want more control over their site will probably want to stay away from Tumblr.
Tumblr only allows a bit of extra coding, and the site doesn’t have any plug-in capabilities as WordPress.org does.
Tumblr can be one of the best blogging platforms to start your blog on if you are a new blogger still testing the waters.
The fact that Tumblr allows you to export your site is a big positive in case you want to start with a free platform first.
Why You Need To Invest In A Platform That Allows Web Hosting Like WordPress.org
Now that we have talked about 9 of the best blogging platforms let’s take a step back and discuss why you should be investing in a platform like WordPress.org.
Many bloggers have probably tried to convince you that WordPress.org is the way to go.
You may wonder why so many bloggers insist on using WordPress.org.
Here are the top four reasons that people pick a self-hosted WordPress site.
You Have More Control Over How You Monetize
Some sites make it impossible to add your own advertisements or create affiliate links on your site.
A self-hosted WordPress site will give you the most options and control over monetization.
A few sites we have discussed today, won’t even let you add the code for ads to your site.
WordPress.org gives you full control.
You Can Customize Your Site Easily With Plugins
WordPress.org has an extensive plugins library.
The library is consistently being updated with new extensions for you to add to your site.
Plugins help customize your site in many ways such as:
- Helping you prevent spam
- Creating easier affiliate links
- Building contact forms for your website
- And more!
There Are Endless Hosts To Choose From
Hosts can make or break your WodPress.org experience.
Some people decide that WordPress.org isn’t for them because they had a host that wasn’t up to par.
The best part about self-hosting a WordPress site?
ou can take your money to another host!
For example, with Blogger, if you don’t like what your site is doing, you can’t move to another host and still use the Blogger backend, you are stuck hosting your site with Google.
Self-hosted WordPress lets you explore as many hosts as you’d like. Having the option to shop around helps you create a better site.
You Have More Options When It Comes To SEO and Traffic Generation
Having a self-hosted website allows you to dig deeper when it comes to search engine optimization (SEO) and traffic generation.
SEO can get quite geeky.
Having the ability to tweak and change your blog more will help you when you want to monetize your blog through means that need more traffic like sponsored posts and advertisements.
Best Blogging Platforms: Conclusion
Today, we walked through 9 of the best blogging platforms for online creators.
Blogging can become a great experience for you, no matter what you choose to write about.
Your blogging platform can be switched, but it’s even better when you pick the right platform from the beginning.
We hope that this article has been informative for you. Our goal was to help you make the right decision for your needs as a blogger.
Which blogging platform are you most excited to use to start your blog?
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