So, do you have something you want to write about and share with the world? Starting out as a blogger is a daunting thought but it doesn’t have to be as difficult as you might fear right now.
There are lots of different reasons why people choose to blog. Maybe you have a passion for a certain subject or want to share your knowledge on something. Or perhaps you just want to make money doing something enjoyable.
In truth, a lot of bloggers start off with a mixture of these and other reasons. No matter what your motivation is, it is vital that you choose the right blogging platform at the beginning of your blogging adventure. This is the tool that you will use every day, and it could make the difference between success and failure for your site.
The right platform will make life simpler for you. However, picking the wrong one could turn out to be an expensive mistake.
Don’t worry if this sounds like it’s going to be a big hassle or a huge expense. The best blogging platforms are there to make life easier for you rather than complicate matters. Also, many of them are completely free to use.
What Is a Blogging Platform?
A blogging platform is simply a piece of software that lets you publish your posts without having to set up a website on your own. It is a kind of content management system that lets you take control of what you publish.
One of the key points here is that you don’t need to be a technical expert to use a platform like this. There is no need to be able to write code or design web pages. The setup is easy and intuitive to carry out.
You will typically be able to add content to your blog in a word processor type setting. Adding images and videos is also very easy to do. So, how does a blogging platform differ from a traditional website? The truth is that the differences between websites and blogs have narrowed a lot in recent years.
It is no longer the case that websites are formal, static sites compared to informal, constantly changing blogs. However, there are still some powerful reasons for using a specific blogging platform to get your blog off the ground rather than using a more traditional website.
We will look a bit more at the basics behind these platforms and then at a few of the best options around now.
Why Use a Blogging Platform?
Can you start blogging without using a blogging platform? Yes, but you should take the following points into account before making your decision:
- Cost. Setting up a website and getting it hosted can be an expensive business, especially if you lack the technical skills to do the work yourself. Many of the best blogging platforms are free to use or only charge a relatively small amount.
- Ease of use. Anyone can use a blogging platform and start publishing content in no time at all. If you can use a word processor like Microsoft Word then you will be able to use a blogging platform. This means that you can concentrate on what you write rather than worrying about technical matters.
- Presentation. It is worth pointing out that blogs are usually presented in a way that makes sense to the reader. This is because the latest posts appear first. It is also easy for you divide your individual articles into categories to make it easier for readers to find exactly what they are after.
- Lots of help and support. When you build your own website you will either be on your own or relying on the people who did the work for you. On the other hand, with a blogging platform you get a lot of help and support to make life easier. The most popular platforms have a strong online community as well as their own support teams.
- Range of add-ons and plugins. Many bloggers are perfectly happy with the basic package offered on their chosen platform. However, there is also the option of using add-ons for a more personalized experience. This includes the likes of anti-spam, SEO optimization and password plugins to increase security.
What to Look For
The features covered in the last points give us a good idea of what to look for in a blogging platform. If you find a platform with good support and lots of useful plugins then you will feel happier giving it a go.
What other issues should you look out for as well? The following are a few of the things that will help you to make a sound decision:
- A good blogging platform won’t let you down. Few things are worse for a busy blogger than finding that their blog is down for hours a time. Check what other users say about its reliability before you take the plunge and start using one of these platforms.
- Nice designs. You will want an attractive, welcoming blog that encourages people to explore it. The top blogging platforms offer a range of designs for you to choose from.
- Cost. As mentioned previously, you can choose from both free and paid platforms. The cost is, therefore, likely to be a factor in your decision. Will you find a platform that is good enough for you to consider paying extra to use it?
- Hosting. Do you want a hosted platform that makes your life easier or would you prefer to self-host to get more control? Some platforms offers both options, while others only give you one possibility.
- Can you grow your blog on here? Most bloggers start off modestly but have big dreams for the future. If your site gains popularity and is a real success then you need a platform that can help you to grow. Moving to a different solution in the future is a messy business if you don’t make the right decision at the start.
Overall, it’s a good idea to go through a few other people’s blogs to see which ones catch your eye. Are there certain designs that appeal to you and that you think would be right for your own blog?
If so, then check what platform they are using.
The Best Blogging Platforms – WordPress
There’s no doubt that WordPress is the world’s favorite blogging platform. This is a free, open-source content management system and the latest figures show that it is used by close to 30% of the planet’s top 10 million sites.
It has been around since 2003 and is now said to support over 60 million sites in total. Why is WordPress so popular? The fact that you can set up a site for free and get it hosted for free is definitely a great starting point.
It is also incredibly easy to use from the very first minute you open it. If you want to get your blog up and running right away then you can’t go wrong with this platform.
You also get a lot of flexibility when you use WordPress. There are currently over 50,000 different plugins to choose from, offering a vast number of ways to tailor your blog to suit your needs.
Another nice touch is the way that you can switch between different themes without it affecting your content in any way. Blog owners can also use their mobile devices to add new posts and controls the comments section, among other things.
Another point to remember is that you might want to give access to your blog to other people at some point. Perhaps you will ask a friend to write some articles or else hire a freelance writer to keep things ticking over on your behalf.
The fact that so many people are familiar with WordPress means that you can give them access without worrying too much about training them. If you add the right plugins then the system will also guide them in matters such as optimizing posts for SEO purposes.
Growing your blog over the coming months and years won’t be a problem on this platform. It is easy to build up a powerful brand by adding a store, membership options and other features that you might be interested in.
If you try WordPress then you’ll almost certainly agree that it offers an incredibly easy way to write and publish your blogs.
- Easy to use
- Highly flexible
- Search engine friendly
- Easy to find users who are already comfortable with the system
- Risk of hacking and other security threats
- Updates can be a hassle.
The Best Blogging Platforms – Blogger
The next option offers another way of starting a blog for free. Blogger shares a lot of the same benefits and disadvantages WordPress has.
Each user can register up to 100 blogs here, so it’s suitable for someone who wants to try their hand with a few different blogs. One advantage over WordPress is that you can use your own custom domain name for free, which is something that WordPress charges for.
This is one of the longest-running blogging platforms, as it has been around since 1999. Google bought out the company behind it (Pyra Labs) in 2003. Since being bought by Google it has had both Picasa and Hello integrated into it, making it easier to add photos.
The fact that Blogger is part of Google brings some other benefits too. For example, it is possible to earn money more easily on here because it supports Google’s AdSense.
An opinion held by some bloggers is that this is a good platform for getting started with. However, as a blog grows it may make sense to switch to WordPress.
- Free to use and to set up a custom domain
- Good integration with AdSense and other Google products
- Easy to use
- High levels of security
- Fairly limited number of designs
- Not updated very regularly with new features
The Best Blogging Platforms – Joomla
Joomla is often compared to WordPress, as it is also an open source content management system. It is a self-hosted blogging platform. What that means is that you will need to arrange a domain name and web hosting for your blog.
Their own site says that they are “trusted by millions”. The limited figures available suggest that it is the second most widely used content management system for bloggers, behind WordPress. Joomla has been downloaded 88 million times since being launched in 2005.
This is a highly versatile system as you can use it to create all manner of different blogs or websites. There are many varied templates that you can use to design your blog with Joomla.
In addition, you can also add extensions that give you access to more useful features. However, it should be noted that there are far fewer options with this platform than with WordPress.
Another potential drawback for bloggers is that it can be tricky to get support. In most cases, you will have to rely on reaching out to the community of users to find solutions to any problems that run into.
If you aren’t technically minded or experienced in running a website then you may worry about feeling as though you are out on a limb. The platform is generally easy to use but you could struggle if you run into any problems.
In addition, you will only want to use Joomla if you are comfortable managing your own security issues, updates and backups. The platform itself is free but you will need to pay for a domain and hosting if you are going to run your blog using this service.
- Range of themes and extensions to choose
- Free to use
- Highly versatile
- Need to arrange own domain and hosting
- Can be difficult to find support.
The Best Blogging Platforms – Tumblr
Tumblr differs to the likes of WordPress and Blogger in that it is a micro-blogging platform with a strong social media side. However, it does also have a number of elements in common with those other platforms.
Figures from the end the 2017 showed there were over 375 million blogs on Tumblr. In early 2016 traffic was reported to be 555 million visitors each month. It was bought by Yahoo in 2013 and then moved into the hands of Verizon Communication in 2017.
Among the most interesting things about Tumblr is the social network aspect. This gives you features that allow you to follow other blogs, reblog their posts and share content easily using built-in tools.
Tumblr is an especially powerful way of quickly blogging multimedia such as videos, images and GIFs. The platform offers a fair number of different themes that can be used to give your blog exactly the look that you’re after. You can also opt to add themes and apps from a third party developer if you prefer.
However, it should be pointed out that it has a fairly limited number of features, which may prove frustrating if you want to grow your blog over time. Some blog owners find that they need to move from Tumblr on to something like WordPress or Blogger after a while. However, it is quite tricky to do this.
Tumblr is free to use although you can pay to use a custom domain if you prefer. Once you are set up you use a dashboard to control everything, with a live feed of the blogs that you are following on it.
From this dashboard it is possible to add comments or likes, as well as reblog. You can also upload your own posts from here and connect it to social media sites.
This is a good option for a certain type of blogger; one who wants to use the power of social media and is interested in posting multimedia as well as text articles.
- Easy to use
- Strong social media element
- Can be difficult to grow a blog on here
- Limited number of features
Best Blogging Platforms – Medium
A relatively new blogging platform, Medium has been around since 2012 and is described as offering social journalism. The co-founder of Twitter is behind it, with the idea that it lets people write longer articles than Twitter’s 140 character limit allows. It is now a decent-sized community made up of bloggers and other writers.
Medium like to measure the site by the amount of time people spend reading articles on it. This was 1.5 million hours in March of 2015. As for unique monthly visitors, this was logged at 60 million in May 2017.
As with the other top blogging platforms, Medium is very easy to get started with and to write content on. No programing or development skills are needed for you to get going. It is also completely free to use for everyone.
Rather than having your own site, this approach sees you set up a community on the Medium site. The positive aspect of this is that you can simply concentrate on writing content rather than looking after a site as well.
This is a good way of finding a community of readers who share your interests. However, there are also some serious drawbacks to take into account if you are thinking about using Medium.
For example, you don’t own your own blog and have less control over the growth of your brand. It is also pretty limited in the sense of the number of features that are available to you.
Finally, if you are hoping to make money from your blogging exploits then this isn’t the platform for you. This is because you can’t run your own ads to generate revenue from your work on here.
All of this means that Medium is possibly more suited to someone who has a lot on their mind and wants to share it with likeminded folk. You aren’t going to make money from advertising on here, so it’s going to be all about writing about what you love or are interested in.
- Very easy to get started with
- Good way to build a community
- Can simply concentrate on writing
- Limited potential for growing your brand
- No way of making money from your own ads
Best Blogging Platforms – Squarespace
Squarespace is aimed at a different type of user from the other platforms we have looked at. It is mainly about giving small businesses an easy and cost-effective way of creating an attractive website.
This service was launched in 2004 after the founder discovered that he didn’t like any of the other platforms out there. It is estimated that they currently have somewhere in the region of a million subscribers.
Among the benefits of using this service is that it can be used to create highly attractive designs with no fuss. Squarespace uses a drag-and-drop type of interface that it is very easy to get to grips with.
As with the other options we have looked at, there is absolutely no need to be technically minded in order to use this platform. The templates are very nicely designed and it also gives users the chance to set up an ecommerce store to make money.
On the other hand, it is fairly limited in terms of the features that it offers. You can only take advantage of a small number of tools and services, which can feel slightly restricting after a while.
If you take out the Personal plan with Squarespace then you get access to your own blog and the relevant tools, as well as 20 website pages. 2 contributors are allowed on this plan.
It is worth pointing out that this is a paid platform. The Personal and Business plan both involve a monthly cost that adds up to a tidy sum in the long term.
Squarespace is best suited to businesses that want a stylish site without too much fuss. However, bloggers can also use it if they are particularly interested in getting a visually attractive site.
- Very attractive designs
- Drag-and-drop tools are very easy to use
- Ecommerce option for making money
- Limited number of tools and features
- Difficult to grow a blog with over time
- Not free
Best Blogging Platforms – Wix
The next platform for us to look at is Wix. This is a way of building a website with a blog using a very simple approach.
Wix was founded in 2006. The company said that it had 50 million users in 2014, having risen from 3.5 million in 2010 and 34 million in 2013.
The drag-and-drop approach adopted here means that anyone can use it without any difficulties. It is another hosted platform, so you don’t need to set up your domain and hosting before you get started.
Users can choose from a decent selection of templates as well as third-party apps. This content management system is free to use, although you need to pay if you want to use a custom domain.
Their app market allows you to add useful features such as music playlists, email marketing and file management. It is worth mentioning that once you choose a template on Wix you need to stick with it, as you can’t then change it later on.
- Free to use unless you want a custom domain
- Simple to use with drag-and-drop controls
- You can’t change the template after choosing it
- Relatively limited amount of choice with designs and apps
Best Blogging Platforms – Weebly
The hosted blogging platform from Weebly allows you to build your blog using a range of themes and a selection of drag-and-drop tools. Getting set up is a breeze with this software, as it is designed so that anyone can use it easily.
It is estimated that up to 20 million sites have used this platform, although hard figures aren’t easy to come by. Weebly was created in 2006 and compatibility with the likes of Google AdSense, Chrome and Safari has been added since those early days.
Your blog will be hosted by Weebly if you choose this option, so there is no need to worry about domains, hosting or any other issues that you might be concerned about. This is a paid platform but it is nice to see that you can try it out with the free plan offer before you pay for the service.
There are a number of built-in features you can use but these are relatively limited in number. You can’t add in extra features and it can difficult to migrate your blog elsewhere if you decide to do so in the future.
You can pay a monthly fee for the basic service and optionally pay extra for additional features.
- No hassle in setting up
- Free plan to try before you buy
- Hosted platform means no delay in getting started
- Limited features
- Not free
Best Blogging Platforms – Ghost
The next option on our list is called Ghost. This is a fairly basic blogging platform that puts the emphasis firmly on writing blog posts rather than on lots of features and extensions.
This platform was brought out in 2013, following on from a successful Kickstarter campaign to raise funds that raised the initial target amount in just 11 hours.
You can choose to put your blog onto their hosted platform or else just use the software for a self-hosted option. Either way, you will find a fast and uncluttered writing experience that is aimed at letting you achieve a high level of productivity with your writing.
If you choose the hosted version of Ghost then you will be ready to start writing your first blog posts in no time at all. There is virtually nothing you need to learn first of all, as it is an intuitive and well thought out setup. Self-hosting is a good deal more complicated though.
Perhaps the biggest drawback with Ghost is that it is too simple for some bloggers. There isn’t a lot you can do to make it stand out from the crowd due to the limited number of themes and customization tools.
This is another paid blogging platform. Whether you go for the hosted option of self-hosting, you will need to pay for it monthly.
- Very fast
- Simple setup for the hosted option
- Clean and user-friendly interface lets you concentrate solely on writing
- Not easy to customize
- Self-hosting can be awkward, as the software needs to be installed
- Not free
What Is the Best Blogging Platform for You?
Having looked at the main options in the market, it is should be clear which platforms appear to be best suited to your needs.
Do you want ease of use more than anything else or do you value flexibility and customization options more highly than this? Is connecting to social media important for you?
Will you be just writing blogs or will you want post multimedia content? Are you planning to make money from your blog or is it simply a passion for the subject that drives you?
It’s only by understanding your own needs that you can expect to make the right decision. Choose your blogging platform wisely at the start and you can then simply use it from then onwards without any worries.
By looking at the pros and cons it is clear why WordPress is such a popular choice, as it gives bloggers many of the tools that they most look for. However, you shouldn’t simply choose this software on the basis that many other people already use it.
Instead, you should look up the advantages and disadvantages of each of these platforms before deciding how to proceed.