Before you start blogging you need to choose a blogging platform for your blog. There are several blogging platforms to pick from. But not all of them are created equal. This article aims at helping you choose the best blogging platform that will suit your blogging goal.
Blogging platforms, also referred to as web publishing services, are blogging software used to create a blog. They are content management systems that support content creation, editing and publishing a blog post or a page online. The beauty of these platforms is that they do all the background work and all you have to worry about is posting your articles!
There are a number of good blog platforms available on the Internet. Each offers the user different features for creating and developing a blog. But, in the end, they all provide the user the same basic features to build a blog. The big differences between them are the optional features.
Most blogging beginners have no clue which platform to choose. However, selecting the right platform at the beginning of your blogging journey will save you a lot of headaches down the road.
Let me give you a bit of an explanation. Please take the few minutes it takes to read this section because you need to make a right choice for the future of your blog and I don’t want you to regret your decision when it is too late. Eventually, you’ll thank me (I am serious).
And another thing you need to know…
Before you choose a blog platform you will also need to decide whether you want to use a hosted platform or a self-hosted (or non-hosted) platform. I am going to digress a bit in order to explain to you the difference between hosted and self-hosted (non-hosted) options.
Every blog content must be hosted somewhere. In other words a blog or a website must “sit” on a server in order to be visible on the internet.
Hosted blog platform is one where the provider of the platform offers you to “place” your blog for free on their servers. But as you know, nothing is free in life and this type of hosting has its ramification as you’ll see below.
Self-hosted or non-hosted platforms are simply applications that do not host your blog. You will be responsible for purchasing a hosting account at a reliable web hosting company and registering a domain name. (I know, this is beginning to sound so complicated. I promise you, it is not! Just bear with me).
Most serious bloggers use self-hosted platforms because they give you a complete control of your blog. If you are going to blog seriously, please consider self-hosted option!
Note: Our famous How To Start A Blog guide uses self-hosted WordPress platform to demonstrate how to set up a blog.
Hosted Blogging Platforms
Most of the hosted blogging platforms are free. Unless your budget dictates it, right from the start I would suggest that you DO NOT use these platforms if your goal is serious blogging and if potentially your intention is to generate income with your blog.
Now let me qualify this statement. You can make money with hosted blogs but the problem is that you do not own your blog and you are at the whim of the platform’s provider. You need to consider the following two issues:
1. Generally when you are looking for a website, the address of the website is “www.yourdomain.com”. The owner of this domain name owns this domain name for as long as she wants to keep it.
If you would be using a free hosted platform you will have to attach the chosen name of your blog to the platform provider’s website name. For example, if your blog’s name is “YourDomain” you would have to attach it to the platform’s domain. It would look like: “www.yourdomain.platform.com”. You do not own this website. Your provider does. It does not look professional either. You may not care at the beginning but down the road it will matter.
2. Most importantly, however, with a hosted platform you are not the master of your destiny. At the whim of your platform provider you may lose your site. A few years ago a lot of bloggers lost their blogs at Blogger.com. No explanation was given to them. Another example of such losses happened in 2013 when the users of Posterous blogging platform lost their blogs.
But in all fairness I will provide you with the list of well known and commonly used hosted blogging platforms.
Best Hosted Blogging Platforms
Price: Free for basic version (costly upgrades)
WordPress is the most popular blogging platform. Hundreds of millions of people use it. WordPress platforms come in two types: hosted and non-hosted. In this section I am discussing the hosted version. The hosted version is completely free to set up. You do not have to purchase a domain name or a hosting service.
WordPress.com is very simple to set up and it offers you a variety of features to customize your blog. The features, however are quite limited and if you want to enhance your blog you will have to upgrade to a premium level and it may get very costly.
It is often recommended to new bloggers to use this option if they are not sure if blogging is for them. If this is your case try this option. If however, you are sure you want to blog then I would not recommend this option for you.
It is a free blogging platform owned by Google. It is very easy to set up and it has a relatively simple format to use . When I first started to blog and I was completely clueless about blogging. I tried it for a few weeks and despite the fact that at that time I really was not a techie person I was able to use it with ease. The problem with this platform is that it is very difficult to tweak and you will definitely need some HTML knowledge to do so.
Some people swear by Blogger, others do not like it. I would not put my energy into it unless you are completely strapped for cash or if you are not sure that blogging is for you.
It is similar to both Blogger.com and WordPress.com with respect to the features and ease of use. But there are major differences as well. The posts are usually very short and often feature videos and images. Tumbler is very culture and community oriented.
I would definitely use Tumbler but only as a secondary blog to mainly share the blog posts from my main blog and some newsworthy blogging tidbits. In other words, I would create an account at Tumbler and use it as a marketing tool for my blog.
I cannot give you a link to Tumblr because it keeps breaking, so you need to search for it if you want to explore this option.
Self- Hosted Blogging Platforms
A self-hosted blogging platform is the platform of my choice and a choice of most of the serious bloggers. I only use self-hosted WordPress platform from WordPress.org. The nice thing is that you do not have to set up your blog from WordPress.org. Hosting providers offer software that automatically installs WordPress platform on your blog. It is as easy as a few clicks.
In order to have my blog visible I had to purchase a hosting account. It is not expensive. An excellent hosting provider will cost you under $10.00 per month and may be as low as $3.95 per month. The nice thing about most current hosting providers is that they allow you to create unlimited number of blogs on a single account without any extra charge.
Price: Free platform; Hosting from $3.95 per month and up
If you noticed the featured image on top of the post, you must have guessed that WordPress is my favorite platform. I love it. When I started to blog, as I said, I was clueless. When I realized how simple blogging is, I turned to WordPress.org. This was the answer for me and I never looked back.
WordPress is very simple to install and set up as most hosting providers offer a few clicks blog installation and set up option.
There is a bit of a learning curve with WordPress but not because it is technically difficult to set up, but because there are many customization options available. It is a very flexible and adjustable application. Writing blog posts is as easy as writing an email.
Your newly set up WordPress blog will come with a default theme. There are thousands of themes available for free if you want to personalize your blog . It takes two clicks of a button to install a different theme on your blog. There are also amazing tools called plugins available to to help you customize pretty well every aspect of your blog if you wish to do it.
So if you can afford to pay the small monthly fee for hosting you will never regret it and you will indeed find that WordPress.org is the best blogging platform. Millions of people cannot be wrong.
Next Tutorial: Dilemma: WordPress.com or WordPress.org