Starting a blog is an exciting prospect for most people, but it can also be overwhelming.
When you’re a new blogger, it can be confusing to navigate the slew of options at your disposal. While your content is a critical factor to your success, it takes more than brilliant writing to generate a large audience, not to mention using social media like a pro to advertise your work.
You need to consider the more technical aspects that will help your content take off. Consider your hosting plan and platform carefully. Admittedly this can be difficult with so many choices available which is why we’re here to help guide you.
Read on for the critical tips you need to get started. We’ll not only cover the basics in detail but also help you find the best site to start.
What Is a Blogging Platform?
Basically, a blogging platform is a service that facilitates the publishing of your content. Usually, a platform not only publishes your content but also provides software to set up the website. It’s standard for these platforms to provide features that help you manage your content.
There are many platforms (most online) you can go with these days, ranging from Wix.com to WordPress. It’s crucial to know the features of the different platforms before you make your decision.
Choosing The Best Blogging Platform – What to Look For
When you’re choosing the best platform to host your content, keep in mind there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Each comes with their own pros and cons.
There are many factors that determine the best fit for your content and publishing wishes and these can be directly related to your niche, topic and technical skill.
- First, consider the factors related to your niche and goals for your Content: Are you producing content as a hobby or do you hope to monetize your siteIf you’re just blogging as a hobby, a free platform could be a decent fit. Or perhaps you’re looking to gain some income from your content? In that case, look for hosting that allows you to have your own domain. If you’re creating content for your business, this will be super important to your success.
- How many people are you looking to reach?If you want to reach a virtually unlimited audience, make sure to use a platform that’s prepared to handle heavy traffic. Take a look at their record for uptime. Having downtime can cause a loss of visitors.
- What other features do you need to ensure you’re making the most of your web space?If you plan on selling products, whether physical or digital, you need a platform that integrates with e-commerce services. If you plan on expanding an email list or doing more extensive marketing, make sure your platform supports these options. Different platforms come with different customization options, so make sure you pick the right one for what you are trying to do. Long-form content is standard with most platforms but it’s worth exploring the features related to before picking and sticking with a publishing platform.
- Be honest about your technical skills. Do you have any coding or HTML experience? How much complexity are you willing to handle?Don’t worry; there are tons of platforms that require zero coding skill. Likewise, if you’ve got coding skills, choosing a platform that allows you to use them to maximize your website is a good route. The different platforms each come with their own features and learning curve so be prepared for which one you choose!
Best All-Around Site or Platform to Start a Blog
So what’s the best site for you? We’ll take a deeper look at the top platforms and their most notable features, as well as the types of writers and publishers they’re best suited for..
But for the complete Bottom Line up front, our favorite free blogging platform is Wix.com, and our favorite all-around platform is WordPress.
While all hosting platforms have certain benefits and drawbacks, some go beyond to include features for all kinds of bloggers. For its features, user-friendliness, custom option, and overall service the best is:
There’s no shortage of benefits to all skill levels and experience levels. Not only does it include tens of thousands of templates and plugins, but it also allows users more freedom of control over their sites.
Most Popular Blog Sites
Here are some of the most popular blogging sites for different purposes:
- If you’re running a business: Joomla, WordPress.org, SquareSpace
- Or perhaps you’re publishing content as a hobby: WordPress.com, Tumblr, or Wix
- If you want to get ad and affiliate revenue from your content: WordPress.org, SquareSpace, Joomla
Free Blog Platforms and Sites
There are plenty of good free blogging platforms out there. Some are completely free, and some have free plan options. We looked at and reviewed these free sites:
Best Free Site or Platform to Start a Blog
Our favorite free platform was Wix.com because of its ease to set up, its helpful customer support, and the range of customizations available within the platform.
Wix is a popular platform with drag and drop functionality. It’s more geared toward creating a site while including the ability for users to add in a blog. It’s simple enough for beginners to use while still providing tons of design options and a stock image library.
Main feature overview:
- Paid subscription platform with free plan option
- No coding required
- Has e-commerce capability, though limited
- Site template must remain the same after creation
- wix blog
This is one of the oldest platforms, and it’s now owned by Google. This name recognition and easy Google account linking make it attractive to people wanting a quick and easy setup.
Main feature overview:
- Entirely free, no paid plan options
- No coding required
- Integrates only with Google services, no other third-party options
- No e-commerce capability
- Limited design and customization
- Personal domains must be purchased through third-party sites
Joomla is a pretty comprehensive hosting platform. It’s suitable for most sites bloggers create. They do include plenty of templates to get you started, and it’s free. The exception to the freebie bonus is that you’ll need to pay for a domain name and web hosting from a third party.
Main feature overview:
- Joomla is free, but you will need to purchase hosting and a domain on your own
- Coding can be done but isn’t required
- It doesn’t include an e-commerce solution, but users can choose from add-ons to rectify this
- Templates are included to make your setup easier
WordPress is among the most popular blogging platforms, and it’s one of the more complete options. It allows users to customize their sites to a high degree and can be used with or without coding knowledge. Due to its variations, WordPress can offer several different plans for users, both free and paid.
This is a great option if you feel that you really don’t want to pay for a site to host your content. It’s an easy yet cohesive platform to work with, especially for beginners. It does have quite limited features compared to its related WordPress.org, but site hosting is free, and there’s virtually no setup involved. While you can buy extras like a domain name, design features, and extra storage, most WordPress.com users tend to go with WordPress.org rather than paying for the .com extras.
Main feature overview:
- Has two variations, WordPress.org and WordPress.com
- Offers different levels of paid plans as well as a free membership
- Basic hosting is free
- Has options to purchase a domain name
- Allows users to add online stores and e-commerce plugins
- Coding not required
- Has several options for integrations and plugins
Paid and Premium Platforms
Beyond the free options, if you want more control over your content and website, or are looking to really monetize your content – a paid platform is going to be your best bet. The Paid platforms we looked at and reviewed are:
Squarespace can be used by businesses and solo bloggers alike. One of the main draws to this platform is its easy drag and drop format and e-commerce integration. That being said, it has a few other third-party integrations.
Main feature overview:
- Paid subscription site
- No coding necessary
- Allows e-commerce integration
- Allows domain registration
- Offers 14-day free trial
WordPress is the bigger, more expanded and comprehensive cousin to WordPress.com. It’s still easy to work with for beginners but gives you a wide avenue of options when you’re ready to expand your blog. Getting your site going can be as easy as signing up, choosing a template, and writing your first post (although we recommend setting it up a bit farther than that before publishing).
WordPress itself is open source and free to use, however you will need to purchase hosting and a domain name separately. Most bloggers that intend to generate some kind of revenue from their blogs typically end up footing these expenses in any case, so it can be a moot point.
Unlike many other sites, especially free options, if you choose WordPress to start your site, you remain the owner of your content. That means you’re entirely in control of how it looks, what content it displays, and even the ads displayed (if you choose to allow ads on your site, and most bloggers do as it is passive income).
New bloggers may not realize the value of this just yet, but anyone that has had another host claims their content won’t go through the stress of it again.
Perhaps the biggest draw to WordPress for most people is this control you have over your content and appearance of your website. Not just content, but overall design, interaction, and functionality. To date, WordPress.org has over 54,000 plugins available in their directory. Many are free, and some premium plugins are paid. What this amounts to are nearly limitless functions you can add to your site with very little effort or cost.
If you want to have a paid membership section on your blog, no problem. How about a member forum? You can do that too. If you can imagine adding it, chances are you can find it in their directory.
The themes offered on WordPress.org are another especially beginner-friendly feature (there are free and premium themes). So you’re not a design master, not a problem. They do offer a set of free starter themes and templates as well as premium options available for purchase. Now if you know something about coding and design, you can even create and sell your own.
While startup is quite easy, the maintenance and advanced features can require a little work. Don’t let that intimidate you. In fact, there are specific hosting options designed to work with WordPress.org that can help you cut down on regular maintenance like security, backups, and even migration and site overhauls.
Because this platform allows users so much control over their sites, many bloggers find that they extend and enhance their tech skills while using it. That doesn’t mean you have to. There are plenty of publication-ready resources located within WordPress to get you up and running with a professional looking site.
However, the draw to custom tailoring all aspects of the site itself leads a lot of users to up their skills, even if they don’t realize they’re doing it.
As the leading blogging platform, WordPress has an impressively large community. For new publishers, this is a huge bonus. With a large community comes a large amount of resources, tutorials, advice, networking, groups, and information. No questions will be left unanswered.
Overall, WordPress outperforms its competitors. In today’s competitive tech environment, that’s impressive. They provide a user-friendly experience that beginners can easily set up while allowing advanced full customization for experienced designers and developers.
The resources and community continue to add to the value. WordPress is the best site to start your blog on, no matter what kind of content you’re publishing and your reason for doing it.
Best Blog Website Builder
A Website Builder is an app or software that lets you put together a website without knowing code yourself. Generally this is done through drag-and-drop functionality. Our favorite website builder is Wix.com.
While WordPress is our top pick for the best site to start your blog, you may find other platforms that you’re more drawn to. Because of all its offerings and utility for any kind of blogger, at any skill level, it’s suitable for just about anyone wanting to start publishing content and find a place at the top of the search engine.
If you find a better fit for your blog, that’s a bonus. Those blogging simply for personal archive, as a hobby, or to have a place to share with family friends may decide against a paid service for hosting their blog. However, when you decide to start, remember to look at the big picture and small details before you click “accept.” Always make sure that you have future expansion options if you want to grow your site, and look at the options for if you decide to move your site elsewhere.
Make sure that you understand the terms and ownership rules of any site before loading your content.
Whether you’re starting a content site on travel, a sports, or on cooking, the biggest thing to consider is how you’ll be able to benefit from it, whether you’d proudly advertise it on social media, and how much enjoyment you’ll get in creating it.
Have you created a blog? What was your experience like? Let us know in the comments below!