Planning to start a blog but not sure which blogging platform to use? We’ve got you covered.
If you’re a beginner, you’ll want to look for a platform that makes it easy to set up your website without any coding. It should be SEO-friendly, offer extensive customization options, and be flexible enough that it leaves room for growth.
In this post, I’m comparing. the best blogging platforms that fit the bill.
I’ll be reviewing and comparing each blogging platform in detail to help you find the best solution for your needs.
Let’s get started:
Table of contents
What is the best blogging platform? Our top 3 picks.
This post is going to go into plenty of detail to make sure you have all the information you need to make an informed decision on choosing the best blogging platform right for your needs.
But if you don’t have time to read it all, here’s the short version.
Our top three recommendations for the best blogging platforms are:
- WordPress.org with DreamHost – The overall best blogging platform for beginners and experienced bloggers alike, thanks to complete flexibility and ownership.
- Squarespace – The best blogging platform for simplicity and the easiest one to learn.
- BigCommerce Essentials – The best blogging platform for building an eCommerce store with built-in blogging features.
Of course, these aren’t the only options out there, and there’s a lot more to say about each of them. Read on and we’ll tell you everything you need to know.
#1 – WordPress.org with DreamHost
WordPress (hosted with DreamHost) is the best blogging platform for beginners and experienced bloggers. Close to 40% of the websites on the internet are powered by WordPress.org.
The reason WordPress is so popular is because of how flexible and scalable it is. It’s an open-source content management system (CMS) that gives you complete control over every single aspect of your blog.
Because it’s open-source, anyone can create their own WordPress themes or plugins and make them available for others to install on their site. As a result, there are nearly 60,000 free plugins in the WordPress plugin library and countless more paid ones.
You can use these plugins to customize your site and extend its functionality. For example, want to add a live chat box to your blog? There’s a plugin for that.
Or perhaps you’d like to create and add some lead collection forms to help grow your audience? There’s a plugin for that too.
And there are other reasons to choose WordPress aside from its flexibility. For example, it’s the best choice when it comes to search engine optimization (SEO) as it has plenty of SEO features baked in.
You can also take advantage of plugins like Yoast to help you optimize your site and written content. If you’re planning on driving visitors to your blog from organic search, this is super important.
Blogging on WordPress is fairly straightforward. The Gutenberg editor allows you to layout your blog content in neat ‘blocks’. You can embed images, videos, graphs, charts, or pretty much anything else without having to mess around with code.
The downside of WordPress is that it does have a bit of a learning curve. You’ll need to spend a lot more time managing the back-end to make the most out of it.
Hosting your WordPress blog
Unlike most of the other blogging platforms on this list, WordPress.org isn’t a complete blogging platform solution – it’s a self-hosted solution that only provides the software you need to actually build your blog. You need to sign up for a web hosting service separately.
We recommend DreamHost for beginners to WordPress. It’s affordable, includes solid support, offers excellent speed/performance, and makes for a great blogging platform to build upon for the future. It also comes with WordPress pre-installed so it’s super easy to get started with once you sign up.
Plus, due to the flexibility of WordPress.org, you can always upgrade to another host at any point in the future if you so choose.
Pros and cons of WordPress.org with DreamHost
Endlessly extensible with plugins
Higher learning curve
SEO features baked in
The front-end website builder isn’t as easy to use as other platforms
Affordable (WordPress is free and WordPress hosting is cheap)
Gives you full control
DreamHost’s shared WordPress hosting packages (which come with WordPress pre-installed and a free domain name) currently start from just $2.59 per month. Note that this may be an introductory offer and regular prices may vary.
DreamHost offers a 97-day money-back guarantee if you’re not happy.
#2 – Squarespace
Squarespace is a popular all-in-one website building platform that makes it easy to create beautiful websites from scratch using an intuitive drag-and-drop editor.
You don’t need any design or coding skills to get started. Simply choose a professionally designed website template from Squarespace’s extensive library, add your blog page, customize the design and layout to make it match your branding and storytelling style, and start creating your content.
All templates can be extensively customized. You can choose between a ton of different designs, color palettes, fonts, and flexible layout options. For example, you might choose to display your blog posts side-by-side, in a basic grid layout, or in a single column.
Squarespace also gives you access to free images on Unsplash and allows you to tweak them by using the built-in photo editing features.
Once you’ve started creating content, you can promote your blog posts using Squarespace’s integrated suite of powerful marketing tools and track your blog traffic through robust in-built analytics.
Unlike WordPress.org, Squarespace takes care of the hosting side of things for you. You also get a free custom domain name, SSL Security, and access to 24/7 support when you sign up for a paid plan.
Pros and cons of Squarespace
Very easy to use (ideal for beginners)
Very limited integration options
Gives you access to stunning, professionally designed templates
Not as scalable or flexible as WordPress
Includes powerful marketing and analytics features
Squarespace plans start from $12 per month if you sign up for an annual subscription. You can also try it out for free before you buy.
#3 – BigCommerce Essentials
BigCommerce is a well-known eCommerce platform with built-in blogging capabilities. It makes it easy for users to create an online store, drive traffic to it, and start selling.
First, design and customize your own beautiful storefront using the no-code Page Builder tool. Then, set up a streamlined one-page checkout experience and easily integrate it with your favorite POS provider so you’re ready to start selling.
You can also take advantage of integrated shopping cart recovery to optimize your store for maximum conversions and use the in-built inventory management and shipping tools to take care of all the day-to-day tasks involved in running an eCommerce store.
A basic blog is included in the BigCommerce platform, but the look and feel of it will depend on which theme you choose. You can publish blog content to help boost your site’s visibility in the search engines.
You can also make sure your products are listed everywhere your customers shop as BigCommerce integrates with Amazon, eBay, Google Shopping, and Facebook.
Pros and cons of BigCommerce Essentials
Ideal for eCommerce businesses
Not ideal for bloggers who don’t want to sell products
Integration with leading marketplaces and POS providers
Less affordable than other blogging platforms
Built-in inventory management and shipping tools
Easy to use page builder
The standard BigCommerce Essentials plan starts from $29.95 per month. You can also take advantage of a 15-day free trial.
#4 – Medium
Medium is somewhere between a blogging platform and a social media site. It provides an easy way for bloggers and journalists to publish their writing to a platform with a large audience, without having to set up their own website.
Medium isn’t like the other blogging platforms on this list – and it certainly isn’t for everyone. It’s a place where anyone can create their own page on the Medium domain (https://medium.com/@yourname) and start writing and publishing content.
Because you’ll be writing for an existing site, you don’t need to build your own from scratch, which makes it an easy option. Medium also has a huge existing community of readers, which makes your posts more visible right from the get-go.
The tradeoff, of course, is that you won’t have complete ownership, or be able to monetize your traffic in the same way as you would if you published to your own site.
That isn’t to say you can’t make any money. The Medium Partner Program allows writers to get paid for their articles based on how much engagement it generates. If you can craft a post with lots of viral potential, there’s no reason you can’t make a good income from it.
Pros and cons of Medium
Easy to get started with (no need to build a website)
Anyone can sign up for free
No control over the layout/design
Built-in community of readers
Less easy to monetize your blog posts
Writers can get paid through the Partner Program
It’s free for creators to sign up to Medium and join the Partner Program.
#5 – WordPress.com
WordPress.com (not to be confused with WordPress.org; our number one spot) is a WordPress blog hosting service powered by Automattic. It’s a popular choice for hobby bloggers who want to get started quickly.
Remember how we mentioned that WordPress.org is the open-source software you use to build your blog, but that it doesn’t provide web hosting?
Well, WordPress.com does. It’s a freemium hosting platform built with the same WordPress CORE software. It was created by the founder of WordPress.org as a way to make it easy for users to set up a live WordPress blog.
Read more: WordPress.com vs WordPress.org
The great thing about WordPress.com is that it’s free, as long as you’re happy with a WordPress branded subdomain (e.g. https://yourwebsite.wordpress.com), ads, and very limited customization options. This makes it a good choice for hobbyists that aren’t too concerned about branding, traffic, or monetization.
If you want your own domain or to unlock additional customization options, storage, and other features, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid plan.
Pros and cons of WordPress.com
Great for hobbyists
Free version limited to a WordPress subdomain
Free option available
Easy to use
Very limited flexibility and customization options
Little to no setup is required
Paid plans start at $4 per month. Upgrading to a paid plan will remove the WordPress ads from your site and allow you to use your own custom domain.
#6 – Ghost
Ghost is a relatively new blogging platform that was founded in 2013 following a successful Kickstarter campaign. It takes a minimalist approach to content management and is designed specifically to meet the needs of bloggers and journalists.
You can think of Ghost as a younger, more exciting version of WordPress. The founders were aiming to revolutionize professional publishing and wanted to build a fantastic open-source platform around that specific use case.
The difference between WordPress and Ghost is that WordPress tries to be flexible enough for everything, whereas Ghost focuses specifically on offering the best possible publishing experience.
As part of that goal, Ghost has implemented a rich editor with flexible post formatting for the best possible writing experience.
The blogging platform also has a built-in suite of tools designed to help writers develop audience relationships. This includes registration forms, membership management tools, subscription support, native SEO features, and more.
And unlike WordPress, all these features are included right out of the box – you don’t need to install any extra plugins.
Ghost also claims to be up to 1,900% faster than WordPress thanks to the modern technology stack it’s built on. Over 2.5 million bloggers and journalists have installed Ghost to date.
Pros and cons of Ghost
Built specifically for blogging and writing
Less flexible than WordPress
Clean and simple interface
Not as easily extensible
Super fast infrastructure
A limited number of themes to choose from
Little to no setup is required
Tons of useful tools included out of the box
Like WordPress, the core Ghost application is available for free under an open-source license. The company also offers a premium platform for people who want a managed hosting service and the best possible experience.
Paid plans start from $9/month. You can also take advantage of a 14-day free trial.
#7 – Tumblr
Tumblr is a popular microblogging platform with built-in social networking features. It’s completely free and perfect for hobbyists.
Tumblr is another solution that’s somewhere between a blogging platform and a social network.
In its heyday, Tumblr was one of the most successful social media platforms around. It was the place to go to share your thoughts and connect with others and has powered over 533.9 million blogs to date.
It might not be as popular as it once was, but it still has a thriving community with over 450 million users. Anyone can sign up to the publishing platform for free and publish engaging multimedia blog content to tap into this huge audience of potential readers.
Aside from publishing content, you can also take advantage of the platform’s social networking features like social sharing and reblogging tools to connect with your audience and grow your readership.
Related: How to get more followers on Tumblr
Pros and cons of Tumblr
Great for hobbyists
Not as suitable for businesses
Fun and easy to use
Difficult to move to other blogging platforms as you grow
Integrated social media tools and features
Limited features and little flexibility
Great for publishing multimedia content (add videos, GIFs, images, and audio to your posts)
Tumblr is completely free to use with a Tumblr subdomain.
If you want to connect a custom domain name to your account, you’ll have to purchase one separately from a registrar like GoDaddy or Bluehost.
Premium Tumblr themes are also available; costs range from $9 to $49.
Read more: WordPress vs Tumblr
#8 – Weebly
Weebly is a powerful, free website builder and eCommerce blogging platform that’s owned by Square’s payment solution.
It was founded in 2007 and powers over 50 million websites. Weebly’s front-end website builder is easy to use, and it offers one of the best catalogs of fully customizable, professionally-designed themes around.
Even if you’re a total beginner, you’ll find it easy to create a website to host your blog with Weebly. You can implement stunning effects like Parallax scrolling in just a few clicks, and with no coding required.
You can use the blog feature to write and publish posts, and utilize their collection of free blog templates to help with the design element.
The blogging platform also comes with tools to help you with your marketing efforts. You can use them to build your newsletter, promote your posts on social media, optimize your site for SEO, and more.
Pros and cons of Weebly
Fully-hosted, all-in-one platform
Not as flexible as WordPress
Integrates well with the Square payment platform
Limited bandwidth and Weebly branded subdomain on the free plan
Beginner-friendly website builder
Little setup required to get started
Weebly is free for basic use, but you’ll be limited to a Weebly branded subdomain.
Paid plans that allow you to connect a custom domain start at $6/month.
#9 – Blogger
Last but not least, let’s talk about Blogger – a free blogging service by Google that offers a quick, hassle-free way to start your own blog.
Blogger has been around for a long-time. It was launched all the way back in 1999, which makes it one of the early pioneers of internet blogging.
While not as popular as it once was, Blogger is still a popular blogging platform, especially amongst hobbyists. It’s completely free to use, and you can get started in minutes. All you have to do is sign up, choose a template, and start writing.
Of course, like other free blogging platforms, you’re limited to a branded subdomain (https://yoursite.blogspot.com/), so it’s not as suitable for businesses or serious bloggers that want to host their blog on a site under their own branding.
Read more: WordPress vs Blogger
Pros and cons of Blogger
Only includes very basic blogging tools
Very easy to use and beginner-friendly
Not very flexible
Secure and reliable
Limited design options
Owned by Google
Blogger is completely free to use. If you want to connect your own custom domain, you’ll need to purchase one separately.
Blogging platforms FAQ
We’ve covered a lot of ground already, but you may have a bunch of questions.
So, to help you out, I’ve put together a detailed FAQ section to help.
This includes which platforms I recommend for certain circumstances. If you’re still unsure, these will be well worth checking out.
What is a blogging platform?
A blogging platform is a type of content management system that powers your blog.
It provides an easy way for you to publish content, and edit it without having to mess around with code.
Making your blog look great is easy – many platforms provide themes/templates that change the layout with a few clicks of a button. And more than that, blogging platforms have evolved to become more than just blogging platforms.
You can use them for entire websites, or more complicated projects such as e-commerce stores, or more niche websites such as job sites (this is possible with the self-hosted version of WordPress).
Which blogging platform do you use at Blogging Wizard, and why?
We use the self-hosted version of WordPress because it gives us complete ownership and control over our content.
There is an incredible community surrounding WordPress. This means we can expand functionality with plugins, and have a wide range of themes to choose from.
With most platforms, if you want to do something that only a few people are asking for – it’ll probably never happen. But with WordPress (self-hosted), chances are someone has already created a plugin for it. The community is incredible.
We’re also free to monetize in the way we choose. And if we encounter an issue with our web host, we can simply migrate to another host (most web hosts offer free migration now).
And for a website that covers WordPress, it’d be kinda weird if we didn’t, right?!
Which blogging platform is best if you want to earn money?
The self-hosted version of WordPress, WordPress.org is the way to go if your goal is to earn money from your blog.
Which blog platforms are the most SEO friendly?
Most blog platforms have basic functionality that is helpful from an SEO standpoint.
Where most platforms fall down is if you use a free blog without using your own domain. Google could start to see your blog as an authority, but if there’s no way to ‘transfer’ that SEO work you’ve done to your new platform – your hard work would be wasted.
Overall, self-hosted WordPress is the best because you get the option to use purpose-built SEO plugins. And you always need a custom domain which is critical.
What are the best blogging platforms for beginners?
If you want to blog for a hobby, then most of the free platforms would do the job.
That said, Medium is a great option because it’s easy to use, it has a slick user interface and offers access to their built-in audience.
If you can see yourself getting serious about blogging, and earning money from it – the self-hosted version of WordPress is the way to go.
There’s a bigger learning curve, but it’s fairly easy to get started because most web hosts have a one-click install feature. And there are plenty of video tutorials on the web.
Just remember: free blogging platforms can vanish overnight or change a policy that means you’ll need to switch platforms and lose your audience. This typically happens when not using a custom domain name.
What is the best free blogging platform?
Medium.com – It’s simple and looks beautiful. You also have the chance to get traffic to your articles from their built-in audience.
Which blog platform is the most simple to use?
Medium.com – nothing else comes close.
What’s the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org (self-hosted)?
With WordPress, you have their flagship blogging platform “WordPress.com.”
This is a hosted platform which offers a way to setup a free blog using a “.wordpress.com” domain. You can choose to use a custom domain if you wish.
You can then choose to upgrade to a paid plan for more features.
The other version of WordPress is “WordPress.org” – this is their self-hosted, and open-source blogging software that anyone can install on a web host of their choice for free.
You have to pay to host it, but the software itself is free. And most web-hosts have a “1-click” installation process that makes it super easy to set-up.
If you want to truly own your blog, and unlock it’s potential – this is the platform to use.
Can I use my own domain with a free blog platform?
Most platforms support this but not all of them. So, it’s worth checking first. For example, Medium used to offer this feature but it was removed some time ago.
Can I migrate from a free blogging platform to self-hosted WordPress without losing traffic?
You’ll always lose some traffic when migrating to a different platform. For example, if you use Medium’s built-in audience for traffic – you won’t get that anymore. Although you can repurpose your content on Medium, although it’s recommended that you only do this with content that you don’t want to rank in Google.
But you can retain some traffic from Google, and direct visits.
The only way to do this is to start your free blog with a custom domain from a company like Namecheap (it’s less than $10/year).
Once you switch over to a self-hosted platform, your URL structure (e.g. myblog.com/2019/name-of-post/), may change but you can add redirect rules so anyone clicking on the old links will be directed to the new ones.
However, there is a way around this if you use WordPress.com and don’t have a custom domain name.
You can purchase a ‘site redirect’ which will forward your traffic to the new website. This does require you picking the same permalinks on your self-hosted site, so they match the ones in your old WordPress.com blog.
What are the downsides to free blogging platforms?
When it comes to free platforms, you get what you pay for. Or rather, what you don’t pay for.
Here are a number of downsides to consider:
- You have minimal control over your “own” website/blog. Because they’re hosting your blog, it does not belong to you.
- You will have “.blogspot” or “.wordpress.com” at the end of your domain. Unless you pay premium prices to have your own domain with most free platforms.
- You don’t have access to plugins (that increase the functionality of your website). As you would on a self-hosted blogging platform, like WordPress.org.
- Each platform differs – but typically you have very few blogging themes to choose from. With WordPress.com you now have the ability to access themes (and plugins), But, it comes at an extremely high-price.
- If you break a rule (that you may not have intentionally broken or known you even broke), you’ll lose your blog. You may get a backup of your blog, if you’re lucky. But that’s not guaranteed. This proves to be too much uncertainty for most bloggers.
- If you lose your website you lose all of your well-earned blog traffic. That’s right, you start over from scratch.
- You have to start over when it comes to SEO.
- Difficult to switch to a new platform. Certain free platforms make it near impossible to make an easy switch to a new platform – especially if you want to switch to a better platform, like self-hosted WordPress.
- If you were ranking well on Google before – you can say goodbye to that. You will need to start over with any organic traffic. Those keywords you choose with precision? You’ll be starting fresh.
What are the benefits to using free blogging platforms?
- They’re free.
- Excellent option if you are looking to craft a hobby blog. One that’s strictly for family and friends and you don’t have future plans of monetizing.
- They’re not self-hosted. So you don’t have to worry about hosting.
- Security is taken care of for you. So you don’t need to install a plugin for security like you would on self-hosted WordPress.org.
- Less maintenance, and ease of use.
- Great for experimentation.
- Good opportunity to get your toes wet in blogging. Before you invest in something more substantial.
But is it really worth it to take the gamble that comes with free blogging platforms?
Personally, I don’t think most of them are – I think the cons greatly outweigh any pros, any day.
But, they do have their place on the web and are ideal under certain circumstances.
What is a web host?
If your blog platform is the foundation of your house, the hosting is giving your blog a space to live.
Here’s how web hosting works:
Every website has to be stored somewhere. They’re stored on big computers that are plugged directly into the internet, usually known as ‘web servers’.
Web hosts sell space on these servers to customers. And because they put multiple customers on the same server, the price of hosting is far cheaper, particularly for casual users.
They provide support, and they provide software that makes it easy to use the hosting server.
All you need to do is sign up for an account, get your own domain name, point it to your server and install your blogging platform of choice.
What is a domain name?
Throughout this post, I’ve mentioned the term ‘domain name’ multiple times.
Here’s what this means:
Whenever you type a web address into the search bar of your browser, you’re entering a ‘domain name’.
For example, ours is ‘bloggingwizard.com’.
The ‘.com’ part of a domain name is called a ‘top-level domain’, or TLD. Of which there are many. But ‘.com’ tends to be the most widely used.
How do I get my own domain name?
Most web hosts offer this service as well. Some even go as far to offer free domain names with their hosting services.
We don’t recommend you use this. Free is great but it makes it difficult to move away from them in the future. Keeping them separate is also better for security purposes.
How do I connect my domain name to my blog?
The blog platform you use, or your web host (if you use self-hosted WordPress, for example), will give you something called ‘Domain Name Servers’.
Or DNS for short. They’re usually included in your welcome email. Or if you’re unsure, you can ask the support team of the platform or host you’re using.
They usually appear something like this; ns1.mywebhost.com and ns2.mywebhost.com.
Once you have the details, head over to the website you purchased your domain names from and log in.
They will have a dashboard that asks for custom DNS details. Here’s an example from our Namecheap account:
Just click save and the DNS information will begin to ‘propagate’ – it can take up to 48 hours for this process to happen, usually it will be a lot sooner.
What should I call my new blog?
Naming a blog can be difficult, but we have an entire blog post dedicated to helping you find the perfect name for your blog.
Click here to read our guide to choosing a blog name you won’t regret.
What should I blog about?
Choosing the best blogging platform for your business
Choosing the best blogging platform is vital as it can literally make or break the success of your blog, so it’s important to make the right decision.
If you’re still not sure which option is right for you, here’s a reminder of our top three recommendations:
- Choose WordPress.org with DreamHost if you want the best all-around option and complete control.
- If simplicity is important to you, go for Squarespace. It’s super easy to use and includes everything you need.
- Sign up for BigCommerce Essentials if you plan on using your blog to drive traffic to your eCommerce store.
If you’re looking for the best free blogging platforms consider trying Medium, Tumblr or Blogger. There are limitations, however, it’ll get your content out there.
We hope you found this helpful. Good luck!