A Comprehensive Guide To Premium and Free Blogging Platforms
[Last updated: 3rd July 2019]
Blogging is a great way to connect with the world. Whether you blog to express your passion for your hobbies, blog to connect on a personal level with others or blog to help promote a business, it can be a great way to connect with the world. In this article I’ll be reviewing each of the popular blogging sites available today.
Since blogging is much more than writing or posting photos, finding the best platform for your needs is important. You will want to have a platform that is easy to use and provides you with the customization tools you are looking for to give your audience everything they need to read and interact with your blog.
If you have never blogged before, you will want to choose blog platforms that cater to beginners. This means in many cases you will be giving up the option to change HTML or CSS code. If you who have been blogging for a while, these options for coding may be more important to you.
As a blogger you will also have to decide whether you want to pay for the options that come with some platforms or stick to the free platforms that may have less options available. This choice can be determined by what your blog’s focus is and whether you plan to make money from the blog itself.
There are also blogging sites that provide both free and paid services, which can be useful when your small blog turns into a big hit. Here are some of the top blogging sites that are available and the pros and cons of using each to create your next home on the Internet.
The Major Blogging Platforms Compared ( Free & Premium Blog Sites )
These popular blogging platforms all have positives and negatives, especially when you take into consideration your level of skills as a blogger and as a coder. The longer you blog, the more skills you will pick up, so it is important to either find a platform that meets your needs at the time, or to find a platform that gives you the ability to change the type of services you get to better serve your needs and the needs of your blog’s audience.
The .org version of WordPress provides many of the same features as its .com counterpart, but it also provides additional customization features for any blogger. This WordPress option works out well for folks who want to have complete control over the customization of their blog, monitor traffic via Google Analytics and to freely monetize their website. But it is not a platform that is easy for beginners to use effectively but there are lots of free and paid options to learn WordPress.
WordPress.org lets you install your own custom plugins and free themes to make your blog look exactly how you want. To use this platform for your blog, you will have to find your own web host, perform routine backups and maintain the blog on your own.
For people who are just starting their blogging journey I recommend that they use BlueHost for their blog hosting as they offer an easy WordPress installation process, reliable up time and excellent support. Their hosting services are also officially recommended by WordPress. In fact, I use Bluehost for many websites that I own.
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Ghost is an open source blogging platform that provides a simple, clean interface that makes it very easy to use. It also provides a live preview of your post while you are writing it, so you can easily correct any writing or coding mistakes as you go along. This platform can be great for beginners because of its ease of use, but expert bloggers may also prefer it because of its interface compared to other blogging services. The downside to Ghost is that it can be difficult to install at first but once it is, it can be a great tool for any blogger.
Again for running a blog on Ghost you will require web hosting – I recommend BlueHost.
RATING: 8 / 10
Drupal is a great option for blogs associated with businesses because it is not just a blogging platform, but a complete content management system. This means that along with your blog, web pages and other online content can be created and organized within this platform. Drupal does not host blogs for users, so bloggers using this platform will have to find their own host someplace else. Drupal is also not a platform that readily accommodates beginners, so it is better for those upgrading from a free blogging platform rather than for the blogger just starting out.
RATING: 8 / 10
If you are looking for a full content management system, Joomla is another great option for bloggers. In terms of the ease of use, Joomla may have more of a learning curve than WordPress, but can be much easier to use than Drupal. Many businesses and large corporations prefer this type of platform because it can give you flexibility with a wide range of content options.
Joomla, however, can be expensive. While the first month is free, after that a blogger can be charged anywhere from $20-$100 per month depending on the options and upgrades they want. For many novice bloggers, this can be a high cost unless the blog is attached to an existing business that already generates a profit.
RATING: 7.5 / 10
WordPress is one of the most popular free blogging platforms on the Internet. Millions of users like the options it provides for simple, free blog creation and maintenance. The platform is free and offers services such as hosting, the ability to have a custom domain, integrating your blog with social media and popular features such as comments and polls are available without installing plugins. A number of paid upgrades are also available. The biggest issue with this version of WordPress is that options such as custom themes, plugins and editing HTML are not available. However, WordPress.com also has a sister site, WordPress.org that provides many more customization options.
Both WordPress.com and WordPress.org are also known for the detailed amount of support provided. Not only do these sites have the standard tutorials to get you started building on these platforms, but WordPress also has a large community of users that are more than willing to help out a fellow user with common questions and concerns about various aspects of blogging on WordPress. With all of the information available, it can be easy to learn this platform quickly so you can start customizing your site without too much trouble. I am a huge WordPress fan and recommend it for all my clients, check out my free tutorial if you want to start blogging with WordPress.
WordPress.com in my opinion is probably the best free blog site available. If you’re a newbie starting out blogging, then do consider this option.
RATING: 7.5 / 10
There are many great platforms out there for starting your own blog. They include sites with customizable HTML and CSS for those with more advanced skills. Medium is a place to share your thoughts and writing with a wide audience. Unlike some of the other blogging platforms, Medium has a built-in audience, which makes it often debatable whether it’s a publisher or a platform.
Individuals or businesses can sign up for a Medium account since it’s free. Those individuals or businesses can publish their own posts, add their voice and style to other publications or curate posts or publications. Publications are collections of posts that are curated by users and Medium itself.
Posting and Commenting
Readers can comment on other’s posts, recommend posts and follow and share their favorites. The process is like many other blogging platforms except Medium has a slight twist on the commenting process. Readers can highlight and focus parts of the text and make their comments in the margins.
Medium allows third party embedding from other sites around the web. Creators can embed videos from YouTube or Vimeo. They can add content from Twitter, Vine, Instagram and SoundCloud.
Traffic and Views
On every post, readers get to see how many minutes it would take to read a post. They’ll immediately know whether they have time to read through the story or whether they should bookmark it for later. Another feature on the front page for viewers to see is how many views it’s gotten on the platform. Recommendations and reads are also available to creators. The dashboard allows creators to see where traffic originated from too.
Best Practises to Create Posts
There is no minimum word count for posts, but Medium suggests that content over 400 words are popular. The headline should be compelling and clickable, but should also stick to the topic of your content. They recommend high quality photographs for the content as well.
Great for Beginners
The platform is a terrific starting point for beginners to the blogging world. It’s simple to use and doesn’t require coding knowledge. It’s also used by brands to recycle their content onto another platform to gain further reads and new readers of their content. A highly recommended free blog site for small business owners and freelance professionals.
RATING: 7.5 / 10
When it comes to customization, Squarespace is a platform that offers a wide variety of options. The best part about customizing your blog on this platform is that you can change everything without knowing how to code. It is also a platform that lets your expand your services which is a great option if you are using your blog for your business. The downside to Squarespace for bloggers is that theme and plugin support is not a great as it could be. If you want these options on Squarespace, knowledge of code will be necessary.
RATING: 6.5 / 10
Another blogging platform that is great for businesses who want to maintain a blog on their website is Weebly. This platform provides a wide range of easy-to-use features, including drag and drop options for those who do not want to learn coding to make simply changes. Since Weebly can be used for blogging and web building, business owners find this platform a lot easier to use than other platforms where blogs and websites are created separately. To start with you can sign up to their free plan which will give you some practice writing and constructing blog posts without spending any money.
Expert coding options are also not available on this platform. If you are a blogger who wants to be able to change and customize HTML or CSS on the blog, this Weebly.com makes it difficult to do so because it focuses its services on those who want to quickly create and update a blog without a lot of hassle.
RATING: 7 / 10
Typepad is a blogging platform that provides an easy-to-use interface for beginning and experience bloggers. The platform provides a wide range of themes to choose from as well as plugins so you can make your blog your own. A key drawback to using Typepad is that all of the blogs are hosting by them on their server, so you do not have the option to use the platform with your own blog host. It is also a platform that makes editing code difficult because it is geared towards bloggers who may not be as confident in editing HTML code for example.
RATING: 7 / 10
If there is one platform that is easy for beginners to use, it is Blogger. This is a free blogging platform that is simple to use for anyone just starting out with a blog. With this platform a user can just type their content, add photos and publish. Blogger.com also lets users edit HTML and add widgets to blog, which many blogging sites for beginners do not offer. Blogger is a Google service, so users will have to have a Google account and may find the Google-related add-ons redundant or useless for their blog. It is also one of the blogging platforms that many bloggers grow out of once they learn more about blogging since it does not have any upgrade options. Here’s a more detailed comparison of Blogger versus WordPress.
RATING: 7 / 10
Tumblr is a blogging option that is very popular with younger audiences. The platform itself is simple to use. One of the best features of Tumblr is that it is focused on the community of bloggers, so it provides a variety of options for sharing and reblogging content. The downside to blogging on Tumblr.com is that it does not focus on text content, but photos and GIFs. Visual bloggers will love it, but writers may want to find another platform to use. The idea of reblogging content may also lack appeal with bloggers, particularly if you are blogging material that you want to have complete control over copyright and other such protections.
RATING: 6.5 / 10
Wix.com is a website builder platform that is mainly set up to build websites, but it can also be used to start a blog. The key feature of Wix is that the web pages or blogs you create with the platform are supported for portable devices, so your readers can see your work easily displayed on their smartphone or tablet. Wix also provides a good amount of information and support for its users, including email and phone support for customized answers to your questions. Although Wix offers an easy to use solution it has a lot of negatives from an SEO perspective.
RATING: 6 / 10
The best way to find the right platform for your needs is to understand whether each platform focuses on beginners or experts, how much it costs to use and how much customization your audience will demand. Remember that it can be easy to upgrade to a better platform in most cases, so starting with an easy-to-use option is great for anyone just starting out in the blogosphere and wanting to learn how to start a blog.
That’s the end of our guide. If you haven’t decided on a blog platform yet – don’t worry.
You can head right over to BlueHost to get your web hosting, and pick up a subscription of Envato Elements too. That way, you can play around with all of these different blogging platforms, while at the same time having access to some of their most premium themes, and unlimited stock photos too. That way, you can get started with actual hosting and unlimited creative freedom for less than $35 per month!
The Ultimate Blogging Platforms Comparison Chart 2019 – Both Premium & Free Blogging Sites
To help you even further with your quest to find the best blogging platform for your new or existing website or blog, I have put together a pretty comprehensive comparison chart. The chart is easy to digest and covers the pros and cons, features, detailed information and ratings on each blogging platform for both premium and free blogging options.