Andrew Williams

Blogging software has come a long way from its start in 1998. Since then, we’ve seen many excellent user-friendly products, both free and for profit. Let’s take a look at seven of the best blogging platform options, including their pros and cons.

This guide is for everyone, from beginners to more advanced users. That includes someone who wants to create a blog or website for the first time. It’s also for site owners ready to take a look at the new choices in popular blogging platforms.

It’s easier to decide when you have some idea about your blogging goals. Many beginners are happy to work with free blogging platforms. Those who want more than a simple blog may find them too restrictive. Writing down your wants and needs can help you choose.

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Last Updated November 2020

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Try to answer the questions below before — and as — you read the reviews.

Add anything else to your list of blogging needs, wants, and hopes.

Blogging advice for beginners

First-time site builders should pick a blogging platform that’s friendly to beginners. That means one that’s super easy to set up, use, and hard to break. Otherwise, get ready to put in the time to learn how to use platforms with more advanced setups.

Think about your future goals. Do you plan to grow your blog over time? If yes, you want a flexible platform where you can grow. Most free options have limits and have no room for building above what they offer. If you have high goals, think about using a platform that lets you upgrade.

Free vs premium

There are downsides to free blogging platforms, which is why they don’t cost anything. Don’t worry if a no-cost plan offers all you need. Just make sure you understand the rules and limits before you sign up for a free account.

Rules and limits of free blogging platforms include:

Premium, or paid, options can get rid of all or some of these, depending on the plan.

Making money matters

Most bloggers want to monetize, or make money from, their site in some way. Bloggers with a growing fan base often try to monetize. Make sure your blogging platform of choice allows you to do this. Ways to earn money online can include pay per click ads, affiliate links/banners, and selling products or services.

Web hosting and domains

Some blogging platforms include web hosting and custom domains (or website addresses). That’s useful if you don’t want the hassle of managing hosting and registrar accounts. The downsides of hosting in the package are having less control and limits on the server-side. Self-hosted blog owners can choose a hosting plan based on specific needs and wants.

The drawback of free domains is that they’re not search-engine optimization (SEO)-friendly, so harder to search. They also look unprofessional, and you don’t get to own them.

Here’s an example of a free domain with blogger.com

www.mysite.blogspot.com

This is what the custom domain would look like:

www.mysite.com

Many bloggers find in-house hosting simple and good for their needs. To create a professional image, though, you should think about a custom domain for your blog.

7 outstanding blogging platforms

Below are seven short reviews for this year’s best blogging platforms. These top picks include WordPress, Wix, Blogger, Medium, Squarespace, Weebly, and Tumblr. These platforms offer a mix of similar functions and unique features.

#1 Self-hosted WordPress.org

WordPress.org is the home of the world-famous self-hosted WordPress (WP) blogging software. It’s a free, open-source content management system. WP site use is at least 38% of the web today, which accounts for 75,000,000 users. A worldwide community makes sure this site builder stays up-to-date.

Anyone can build professional websites using WP’s many free themes and plugins. It can be a bit harder to learn if you want to get to its full potential, but you don’t need design or coding skills. The best thing about WP is that Google and other major search engines love it. That’s thanks to the SEO-friendly structure as soon as you start.

Pricing structure: WordPress.ORG is free to use but doesn’t include hosting or domain costs.

WORDPRESS PROSWORDPRESS CONS
– Popular blogging platform for all levels
– Open-source software
– Easy for search engines to find
– User-friendly interface
– Customizable and scalable
– 1000s of plugins & themes 
– Needs a domain and blog hosting account
– Premium extras can be costly
– WP draws lots of scammers

#2 Wix

Many people love Wix and its simple-to-use drag and drop website builder. Even a beginner can create amazing blogs, online portfolios, e-commerce sites, and more. Wix blogs, sites, SEOhand stores are mobile-friendly. That means they look good on smartphones, tablets, and computers. Wix sites are also better for SEO, so they get more visitors.

The basic plan includes free themes and web hosting. You can easily upgrade if you need to add new features and functions later.

Wix free vs Wix Premium

First-time bloggers get plenty of features and site-building tools with a Wix free account. It’s easy to upgrade to premium plans if you ever need more flexibility and control.

Below are the seven benefits for premium Wix members:

1. Custom domains, or vanity URLs

2. No more ads shown on webpages

3. At least 500+ MB of data storage

4. At least 1GB of bandwidth with visitors

5. Added online payment features (business premium only)

6. Google Analytics to find out about who is using your site, and how

7. VIP support 24 hours a day

All Wix bloggers get secure hosting, fast indexing, and quick page load times.

Pricing structure: Wix offers a restricted free plan and seven premium plans starting at $4.50/month

WIX PROSWIX CONS
– Beginner-friendly platform, easy to maintain
– Drag-and-drop interface 
– Nice-looking in-house templates
– Great choice of apps (plugins)
– Automated site backups
– Includes Google Analytics
– Excellent customer support 
– Paid plans are a little expensive
– Difficult to change templates
– Slow to load (some mobile devices only)

#3 Blogger

Google’s Blogger has been around a while and is still popular, free, and easy to use. You can pick a free Blogspot domain or use a custom one if you prefer. The platform comes with a choice of beginner-friendly, customizable blog templates. All the templates have flexible layouts. You can use the themes as is or create something unique. All Blogger accounts offer plenty of free space to store your web content.

Simple and secure

Anyone — even a first-time user — can easily build, edit, and maintain a site using the Blogger platform. You can use a wide range of free themes and gadgets to create exciting interactive blogs. All templates are pre-optimized, so they look good across all major web browsers. Blogger’s major pro is that Google owns it, so your blog is well-protected from scammers and hackers.

Pricing structure: Free blogging platform with restrictions.

BLOGGER PROSBLOGGER CONS
– 100% free platform to start a blog
– Easy learning curve
– Choice of flexible templates
– Pre-installed SSL certificate
– Protected by Google security
– Free storage 
– Limited tools and customization
– Poor choice in third-party templates
– Google owns your blog

#4 Medium

Medium is a unique platform used to publish blog posts. It’s also a social media website with an audience, and that’s the point. It’s perfect for people who want to become bloggers, indie authors, and anyone who needs to build a fan base. You can create an impressive personal blog for thousands of potential views.

One of Medium’s main appeals is how simple it is. You get a unique blog without having to build one from scratch. Its large online community also means there’s a potential built-in audience. To build a loyal fan base, simply create content that others want to read.

Pricing structure: Free blogging platform.

MEDIUM PROSMEDIUM CONS
– 100% free with hosting & domain
– Intuitive content management system
– Eye-catching look
– Potential readymade audience
– Large user base and growing
– Option to embed media 
– Only Medium members can find your content
– Medium owns your account
– Limited control over design and layout

#5 Squarespace

Squarespace is another easy-to-use website builder with great features. It gives you full control over site branding and easy-to-swap or customize templates. Its range of unique tools helps you build and promote a new Squarespace blog, website, or online store. The drag-and-drop setup means anyone can create an amazing Squarespace project quickly.

Squarespace also includes mobile apps, data import and export, and excellent support. Squarespace is great if its plans meet all your needs and most of your wants. The company doesn’t offer free plans, but there is a two-week try-before-you-buy period.

Pricing structure: Four premium plans starting at $16/month or $12/month when paid annually.

SQUARESPACE PROSSQUARESPACE CONS
– Choice of beautiful templates
– Free 14-day trial period
– Host of blogging features
– Manage projects on the go
– Includes four mobile apps
– Detailed video tutorials and help guides 
– No free plan available
– Harder for beginners
– Page load speeds could be better

#6 Weebly

Weebly is a powerful, fully-customizable blog and website builder. Its drag-and-drop interface makes site building quick and simple at any level. It has a good range of free, responsive (mobile-friendly for smartphones) templates ready to use. The beautiful themes are available in classic, modern, and minimal styles. This flexible platform works for all online project types, including e-commerce, or selling online.

You can quickly create standalone blogs or blog areas for existing websites. The mobile apps give you access to your Weebly accounts from devices like smartphones and tablets.

Pricing structure: Weebly has one restricted free plan and six premium plans for websites and stores.

WEEBLY PROSWEEBLY CONS
– Free and paid plans available
– Simple drag and drop interface
– Responsive (mobile-friendly) templates
– Can use Weebly and third-party apps
– Active community forums
– Membership areas 
– Lacks flexibility for advanced users
– No custom domain option with the free plan
– Best features are not free

#7 Tumblr

Tumblr is a popular social platform for blogging that builds communities of followers. It currently hosts more than 475M blogs. Tumblr has 500M monthly visitors who want to look at great content.

This readymade drag and drop platform is easy to use at the beginner level. All blogs can include a variety of multimedia like video and music, as well as text and images. Members can choose fonts, photos, quotes, links, chat, audio, and embed video. Advanced users can even customize blog elements using HTML coding.

A single member can have unlimited blogs. It is very easy to manage more than one project. The tracking features let you keep track of interactions such as likes, comments, and shares.

Pricing structure: Tumblr is free to use but also sells optional premium products/services.

TUMBLR PROSTUMBLR CONS
– Free to use
– Easy to oversee more than one blog
– Plethora of free templates
– Mobile-friendly platform
– Lots of customization tools
– HTML editing
– Leave comments, like, and reblog
– Option to auto-post to FB & Twitter
– Post-scheduling
– Tagging
– Custom domains allowed
– Inbox & messaging
– Tumblr support forums 
– No in-depth analytics
– Slow support response

If you’re still undecided, consider a blogging course for beginners. An online class is a fast and affordable way to get familiar with blog creation and promotion. You’re then better able to make well-informed decisions. You might also want to try a course on graphics or HTML to get the most out of some of these options. 

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