Today, many different blogging platforms are available, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. This article looks at several of the best blogging platforms around, considering factors like price, data security, ease of use, customization tools, monetization options, and more.
How to Choose the Best Blogging Platform
When choosing the best blogging platform for you, there are several factors to consider. These include:
Your Blog’s Purpose
Are you blogging just for fun, or do you wish to use it to make money?
How Much Time You’re Willing To Spend on Your Blog
Do you want something that’s easy to set up and doesn’t require much maintenance, or are you happy to put in the work needed to create a more complex blog?
How Tech-Savvy You Are
Are you comfortable working with code and making customizations, or do you prefer something that’s more user-friendly?
How Much You Wish to Spend
Are you looking to have a basic, no frills blog? If that is the case, it will cost little to nothing to set up your blog. However, costs can go up dramatically once you start adding fancy themes, visual effects, customizations, etc.
What To Look For in a Blogging Platform
Once you’ve considered the purpose of your blog and how much time, effort and money you’re willing to put in, it’s time to start looking for a suitable platform.
Of course, the features included with each vary, but here are some of the key ones you should look out for:
Ease of Use
Can you customize the look and feel of your blog? And can you easily add things like contact forms or integrate with social media platforms?
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If you’re looking to make money from your blog, does the platform offer features like advertising or affiliate marketing integration?
Does the platform have robust security measures to protect your data? Where is the data stored – locally on your computer or on a remote server?
Having a wonderful blog is all fine and dandy, but it is useless if nobody gets to see it. Good blogging platforms will include robust search engine optimization tools to ensure that it has the best chance of appearing high in searches.
Ability To Add a Custom Domain
Not only does a custom domain look more professional and increase the trustworthiness of your brand, but it also means you can use Google Analytics to monitor your site.
10 Recommended Blogging Platforms
Let’s examine some of the best blogging platforms of 2023 in a comprehensive way.
WordPress.org is one of the most popular blogging platforms around for several good reasons, including:
- The platform is open-source, so you can deeply customize it if you have coding experience.
- Even if you are not code-savvy, a huge range of available plugins and themes still afford a very high degree of customization, allowing you to create a blog (or website) exactly as you want it.
- It has robust security measures that you can further enhance with third-party plugins. Furthermore, data storage location remains in your control (either on your host server or locally.)
- There are many monetization options for your blog if you’re looking to earn some income from it, including Google Adsense, affiliates, eCommerce, etc.
- Once you get familiar with it, the platform is relatively easy to use.
- Depending on where you host it, you can have unlimited storage.
- The platform has a massive following, so many tutorials, forums, etc., are freely available. WPLift is a great place to start. Extensive documentation is also available on the WordPress website.
The only real downside of WordPress.org is it is more technical than some of the other platforms on this list, meaning many newbies will face an initial learning curve. Therefore, this platform might not be ideal if you possess no technical skills. However, it isn’t rocket science, and learning it is easy – just remember to make regular backups!
The great thing about WordPress.org is the core platform is entirely free, although you do need to provide hosting and a domain. Additionally, thousands of aftermarket themes and plugins are available to extend the core platform’s functionality. Plenty of those are free, while the premium ones range from a few dollars upwards.
As you may have already guessed, Google’s Blogger is another blogging-specific platform.
This popular option is easy to use and offers plenty of flexibility, making it a good choice for both beginners and more experienced bloggers. You can use a readymade template to get your blog up and running as fast as possible without any technical skills. Alternatively, you can create a site from the ground up.
Blogger also allows you to monetize your blog, and options here include Google’s AdSense, plus you can add affiliate links to your content.
As Google takes security seriously, Blogger includes the latest measures to protect your data. However, the fact that it stores data on Google’s servers may be an issue for people concerned about ownership of their content.
The only real downside of Blogger is it is not as customizable as WordPress.org, although you won’t need to worry about hosting. Furthermore, you get a free blogspot.com domain, but it is possible to link to a custom domain if you prefer.
Overall, if you are looking to create a blog in the shortest possible time and for free, Blogger would be an excellent option to consider.
Blogger is part of Google and is free. You can also get a blogspot.com domain for free.
Next on my list of best blogging platforms is Tumblr from Yahoo. This is another easy-to-use, flexible platform suitable for both beginners and more experienced bloggers alike.
Tumblr offers a wide range of content options, allowing you to complement your blog posts with images, videos, audio, links, etc. In addition, a good range of customization options lets you tailor things precisely to your liking.
One cool feature of Tumbler is you can automatically push your post notifications to the Facebook and Twitter social media platforms, thereby reaching a wider audience. Similarly, Tumbler Queue allows you to upload and schedule posts in advance, which is a real timesaver. What’s more, readers can leave comments on posts which increases engagement further.
The platform integrates with several other platforms, including Shopify, 123FormBuilder, LiveChat, and Evernote. It even integrates with other blogging platforms such as WordPress and Squarespace.
Monetization-wise, it is possible to generate revenue from sources like Google AdSense or Yahoo Bing Contextual Ads, plus you can embed affiliate links into your content. However, one other neat (and easy) monetization feature is Tumblr Tips. This allows readers to leave a gratuity for content they enjoyed reading.
Tumbler, like Blogger, is web-based, so content is held on Yahoo’s servers. However, rest assured, Yahoo takes security very seriously, so your data is safe.
The Tumblr blogging platform is free.
Like Blogger and Tumblr, Medium is purely for blogs, unlike WordPress.org, which has expanded into a multipurpose platform. However, that’s where the similarities end.
Medium is actually a membership site where readers must sign up to access content submitted by other writers. They can access a limited number of articles per month for free, and to read more, they must pay for an upgraded membership plan.
From a blogger’s point of view, Medium offers immediate (well, kind of) monetization opportunities thanks to its Partner Program. Authors receive payment based on how Medium members engage with articles. That engagement is assessed using a combination of reading time and the number of ‘claps’ received.
Before you get too excited, I must clarify that you won’t be able to retire early simply by publishing on Medium. According to Medium themselves, only 6.4% of active writers earned over $100, and the highest amount made by a single author was $49,705.40. However, don’t be put off, as you can still embed affiliate links into articles to generate extra revenue.
Medium includes a pretty good editor where you submit your articles. You can add images (either your own or directly from Unsplash), videos, or embeds to your content, plus you can add tags to aid with searches. However, post format is preset and there is no way to customize them.
Overall, Medium is an ideal platform for people who don’t want the hassle of setting up and marketing a blog but still want to publish their writings.
Medium is free for contributors, although you will need to sign up as a writer. Readers can access three articles per month for free. After that, a nominal $5 subscription fee unlocks all other articles.
Ghost is a powerful application aimed primarily, but not purely, at businesses wanting to create their own web platform for publishing and sharing content. It makes easy work of building a website for that very purpose, plus it is possible to distribute newsletters, thereby further raising awareness of your brand.
The platform allows you to offer paid subscriptions, an excellent way of monetizing your content alongside other methods, such as referral programs, affiliate links, and Google AdSense. Furthermore, Ghost integrates with many other platforms and software, including Slack, Soundcloud, Zapier, YouTube, etc.
Tracking the performance of your blog is easy, thanks to detailed analytics. Moreover, the platform is simple to set up and use, courtesy of an intuitive interface and prebuilt templates, while customization features allow you to tailor everything to your needs.
Overall, Ghost is an excellent alternative to WordPress as it is easier to set up, although it does not offer quite as much versatility.
Two versions of Ghost are available:
- Self-hosted – free to download and use, but you must make arrangements for hosting it, plus setup is more complex than using the Hosted plan.
- Hosted – the software and data are kept on Ghost’s servers. Several plans are available starting from $9 per month, but prices are linked to audience size.
Gator Website Builder
HostGator is best known for its website and WordPress hosting. However, they also have a product called Gator Website Builder. As the name suggests, that allows you to build a website from the ground up.
The great thing about Gator Website Builder is, thanks to a simple five-step approach that uses an intelligent drag-and-drop builder, you can create a site in the fastest possible time. Just answer some simple questions, insert a logo (a logo maker is included), add some images, tweak the customizations to your liking, and you’re ready to launch.
Gator Website Builder is suitable for creating most site types, including blogs, affiliate marketing sites, online stores, etc. Analytics allow you to monitor how everything is performing and make tweaks wherever necessary.
As Gator Website Builder is from HostGator, they take care of the hosting and storage. What’s more, you also get a free domain for the first year and an SSL certificate regardless of which plan you purchase.
Three Gator Website Builder plans are available:
- The cheapest plan is Express Start. This costs $3.84 per month and includes three email campaigns per month and a three-product online store
- Next is Express Site which costs $5.99 per month including five email campaigns per month, a ten-product online store, and appointment booking
- The most expensive plan, Express Store, costs $9.22 per month and includes ten email campaigns per month, unlimited products, and appointment booking
Please note those prices are based on an annual commitment and apply to the first year only. Furthermore, all plans come with a 45-day moneyback guarantee.
Squarespace is a popular all-in-one content management system (CMS) used by millions worldwide for various purposes, including blogging, eCommerce, affiliate marketing, and more.
No technical skills are needed to construct a new site with Squarespace, thanks to powerful drag and drop tools, a library of prebuilt templates, and an intuitive interface. Furthermore, a good range of customization features ensures your site looks as intended.
Once your site is complete, Squarespace includes integrated SEO and analytics tools to help ensure it is as visible as possible in the virtual world. Furthermore, you can give your guest bloggers and other external contributors custom permissions to access the backend of your site, thereby allowing them to upload their content without having access to things they shouldn’t.
Monetization possibilities include affiliate marketing or eCommerce. However, Google AdSense cannot currently be used with Squarespace, although other options are available.
Squarespace hosts your data, so you don’t need to worry about setting that up elsewhere. Furthermore, you get a free domain for the first year, an SSL certificate, plus WHOIS domain privacy.
Squarespace is a premium-only platform available with four plans:
- Personal – $19 per month
- Business – $33 per month
- Basic Commerce – $36 per month
- Advanced Commerce – $65 per month
Features vary in each plan, with the more expensive ones adding features to the cheaper ones. Discounts are available for annual subscriptions.
If the learning curve needed to use WordPress.org scares you, maybe you should consider WordPress.com instead.
WordPress.com is a blogging platform from Automaticc, the same creators that gave us WordPress.org. However, while the two share the same backbone, WordPress.com is fully hosted by Automaticc. Therefore, no setup is required – just sign up, choose a domain and theme, and start creating your blog website.
While you get many of the features of WordPress.org in the free version of WordPress.com, it is limited in certain areas. For example, you need to buy the WordPress Pro to get things like a custom domain (the free plan restricts you to blogname.wordpress.com), premium themes, and the ability to add plugins. Other advantages of Pro over the free plan are more storage (50 GB versus 1 GB), no ads, and you can use it to sell WooCommerce products.
It is possible to monetize WordPress.com with affiliate links or membership sites. Concerning ads, you can use the developer’s advertising program, WordAds.
The base WordPress.com platform is free. While it is okay for elementary sites, you’ll need to upgrade to WordPress Pro to get features akin to those offered by WordPress.org.
Pro costs $180 per year and is subject to a 14-day refund policy if you are unhappy with it.
Weebly is a freemium website builder suitable for sites of any kind, including blogs, eCommerce stores, affiliate sites, etc. Even the free version has plenty of functionality, although connecting to a custom domain does require upgrading to a premium plan.
Being owned by Square, Weebly seamlessly integrates with their payment platform. That can be a real boon if you are also selling products or membership plans on your site. Furthermore, the platform has many other eCommerce features to help you sell products, such as a shopping cart and integral tax calculator. However, you don’t need to use those features if you only want to use the platform for blogging.
Security features include an SSL certificate, and detailed analytics let you monitor the performance of your content and site.
Overall, Weebly is a ideal for those wanting to get started without worrying about hosting or having to configure things.
Weebly is available with four plans:
- Free (uses a Weebly domain name)
- Personal – $9 per month (as Free but connects to a custom domain and adds more features)
- Professional – $16 per month (as Personal but adds more customization tools)
- Performance – $26 per month (as Professional but includes more tools for growth and operation management)
Prices reductions are available if you pay annually.
Wix is a freemium, fully hosted website builder suitable for creating any type of site, including blogs.
You don’t need any coding skills to create a website with Wix. Indeed, a library of 800+ templates covering a range of niches plus a drag-and-drop editor means you can build and launch a site in no time at all. Unfortunately, you cannot switch to a different template once you have chosen one, although you can edit it.
Customization possibilities with Wix are pretty good, although they don’t compare to the enormous flexibility offered by open-source platforms such as WordPress.org. Unfortunately, third-party app availability is limited, too. However, Wix does include Velo, a powerful web app development tool that can help you create an all-singing, all-dancing site.
With the cheapest Wix plan, you can embed affiliate links into your content. However, if you need eCommerce features, you will need to upgrade to a more expensive plan. A premium AdSense app is available if you wish to add that to your Wix site for further monetization.
While an analytics app is available for Wix, you can add Google Analytics if you are using a custom rather than a Wix domain (like the ones included with the free blog plan.)
Wix is a good alternative to WordPress.org if you have no tech skills. My biggest complaint is cost – the free plan is super-limited, and the cheapest paid plan will set you back almost two hundred bucks a year.
As already mentioned, Wix offers a slimmed-down free blog plan that is good for elementary blogs. However, you will have to put up with a Wix domain and ads, which may be acceptable on personal sites but not on more professional ones.
Wix has many premium plan options depending on whether you are setting up a personal, business, or eCommerce site. To see what is available, check out their pricing page, but as an indication, the cheapest plan (Combo) costs $192 per year, and the most expensive (Business VIP) is $708.
You can try the premium plans free for fourteen days.
What’s Your Favorite Blogging Platform?
With so many great blogging platforms available, it can be hard to decide which one is best for you. However, by carefully considering your needs and objectives, you can narrow down the field and find the best one for your blog.
What’s your favorite blogging platform and why? Personally, I now use WordPress.org for most of my sites. It’s free (although I pay for premium plugins and themes), and I can have as many blogs as I like without paying for separate subscriptions. Furthermore, I love its tremendous flexibility, easy to monetize, plus I can control where my content is stored. That said, I do also use Medium to publish some content, and previously I used WordPress.com and Wix, both of which were a great help in getting me started.