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Issue #3 • March 2017

How to Choose the Best Blogging Platform for You

Build Your Audience

Hey, soon-to-be-blogger! How’s it going? A little overwhelmed? I know when you’re just starting to think about blogging there’s so much to figure out. You have to decided on your core topic, how you want to be seen as an online businessperson, how you want to interact with your audience, what you want to sell, how you’ll sell it– the conceptual questions are never-ending and can give you reason to hesitate. If you think you have to have all those high-level questions answered before moving forward, it’s possible you’re going to be stuck in idle for a long time.

I want to take your mind off all those big picture decisions right now and help you make one quick and very basic decision today. Let’s talk about what blogging platform you’re going to use.

How to choose a blogging platform

The first thing you have to figure out once you decide to build your blog is what you want to build it on. Tool #1 in your blogging handbag is your blogging platform.

You’ve probably heard people say that a professional blog has to be on WordPress or it has to be on Squarespace to be taken seriously. I don’t think so.

Bloggers, like anyone else you’ll meet in life, are individuals. There’s no blogger mold we’re cut from. We don’t all operate the same way. We have different levels of experience, creative processes, and goals we’re trying to reach. And because of our unique differences even blogging platforms, the most basic of blogger necessities, will vary between all of us.

Different blogging platforms are designed for specific niches of bloggers. For instance, a beginner blogger would need a different platform than a geeked-out, code nerd who wants customization and complete control of their blog’s format and style. And someone solely working on building their email list wouldn’t need a platform that joins blogging with e-commerce like a maker who blogs to help sell her physical products might.

Figuring out which of the many blogging platforms will work best for you involves some research. You need to think about cost, features, support, ease of use, integrations, design, and more. But to help you make this sometimes frustrating decision, I’ve gone ahead and done all that for you.

The pros and cons of 7 top blogging platforms

Ready to dig into the pros, cons, and blogging features of some of the top platforms? There are absolutely more blogging platforms out there, but these are the ones we get asked about the most at ConvertKit. So take some time and read through the list and find the one that fits you and your blogging needs just right.

wordpress for blogging platform
WORDPRESS.ORG

Price:

Free + hosting and domain name

In a nutshell: 

With 60 million users, WordPress is the largest blogging community on the web. But did you know there are two different versions of WordPress? This first one, WordPress.org, is where you can grab the content management system software for free. With only the software, you have to put in a bit of up front work to find a hosting company and domain name. But once you have those in place, you’ll be set to have complete control over customizing your blog.

Pros: 

  • Offers self-hosting
  • Gives you the power for customization and usability
  • Allows custom plugins and themes
  • Many host sites offer a free single-click install
  • Great support

Cons: 

  • Need to buy a domain name and webhosting first
  • You have to perform routine backups
  • You have to maintain the blog on your own
  • May not be easy for beginner bloggers

WordPress.org works best for:

  • Serious bloggers of all genres.
  • Bloggers who want complete control over their customization.
  • New and experienced bloggers looking to maximize and capitalize on their site traffic.

examples of wordpress blogs
sweetgeorgiayarns.com/blogprcouture.comwriteandco.com

wordpress for blogging platform
WORDPRESS.COM

Price:

Free – $24 a month

In a nutshell: 

With around half of the blogging features as its .org sibling, WordPress.com is a more simple, no-hassle platform. With tools and features that can be used as advanced or as simple as you want them to be, think of WordPress.com as a starting point and maybe move to .org when you’re ready to take on a more customized site.

Pros: 

  • Offers hosting and custom domains
  • Multiple plans to fit your budget
  • Plugins for social media, polls, etc.
  • Hundreds of themes
  • Mobile friendly
  • Paid upgrades available
  • Simple blog creation
  • Great support

Cons: 

  • No custom themes, plugins, or HTML editing
  • Have to pay for extras – custom domain name, third-party embeds
  • Strict on their affiliate links policy
  • Domain includes “.wordpress.com” unless you pay an extra fee
  • Ads are placed on free sites- You can pay an extra fee to have them taken off.

WordPress.com works best for:

  • Bloggers who want to create a simple portfolio site to accompany their work.
  • Personal bloggers not looking to build a business site.
  • Bloggers who want a basic introduction to blogging and will eventually move to something with more control once they feel comfortable.

examples of wordpress blogs
veganyogalife.comestiloaomeuredor.combeingboss.club

 

squarespace for blogging platform
SQUARESPACE

Price:

$12- $18 per month (when you pay annually)

In a nutshell: 

Squarespace is where bloggers go to create simple and elegant websites. Without needing to leave the site, you can create your entire website or blog using their professional templates and style editor. No programming knowledge needed here to build a blog that looks seamless and has all the tools you need to get the most exposure for your work.

Ps- Our Onboarding Specialist Matt Ragland made an amazing tutorial on how to set up a Squarespace website in just two days.

Pros: 

  • Doesn’t require code knowledge to customize for basic setup
  • Easy-to-navigate interface
  • Drag and drop editor
  • Offers an e-commerce platform
  • Allows third-party embedding for content
  • Easy to add team members
  • Mobile-friendly

Cons:

  • E-commerce addition costs extra
  • Less customization
  • Can be hard to learn if you’re an experienced WordPress user
  • No free plan
  • Only available as a hosted offering
  • No Paypal integration – only Stripe is used for e-commerce

Squarespace works best for:

  • Bloggers who put high emphasis on image-based content.
  • Business owners looking to quickly create a website with blog and e-commerce capabilities.
  • Beginner bloggers or bloggers who do not want to tinker with code to create customizations.

examples of squarespace blogs
espanolautomatico.comderekharvey.mepaintedsummers.com

medium for blogging platform
MEDIUM

Price:

Free

In a nutshell:  

Medium was created as a simplified, alternative blogging platform for anyone wanting to express themselves online. The average post could be anything from a political soapbox diatribe to a personal essay of tragedy or triumph. Basically, it exists because its creators believe you have a voice and have the right to be heard.

However, because of how Medium encourages readers to participate in conversations, companies have begun to use this platform as another extension of their marketing strategies. So while you see posts from your neighbor, you’ll also see posts from companies like Buffer, REI, BMW, and even us now!

Pros: 

  • Built-in audience and sharing with Medium readers
  • Allows third-party embeddings for video and other content
  • Publish on a custom domain or as a sub-domain of Medium
  • Ranks and promotes content based on quality metrics
  • Can tag up to three categories per post

Cons:

Medium works best for:

  • Beginner bloggers who don’t want to deal with creating an actual website.
  • Bloggers who don’t care about building an audience of their own and place a higher priority on getting their thoughts and opinions out in the world.
  • Marketers looking for new avenues to create content.

examples of medium blogs
clientgiant.usmedium.com/@sophiethomasmedium.com/@SNPhadke

blogger as blog platform
BLOGGER

Price:

Free- Just need a Gmail account

In a nutshell: 

Blogger is Google’s free blogging tool that you can use to create up to 100 blogs per account. Because of its simple type-and-publish blogging process, as long as you have a Gmail account, you can create your account for free and have your first blog post up within an hour.

While its simplicity is a bonus for new bloggers, it also means you’ll likely grow out of the platform the longer you keep at it.

Pros: 

  • Because it’s owned by Google it integrates well with other Google products- AdSense, Analytics, Google+, etc.
  • Simple type-and-publish process
  • Can edit HTML and add widgets
  • Easy drag and drop options

Cons: 

  • Have to pay $10 for a domain without a .blogspot.com
  • Google owns Blogger: meaning your blog can be pulled and you have no say over it
  • Can’t categorize posts
  • Can’t self-host
  • Limited design options
  • Can’t structure links the way you want
  • Not much support

Blogger works best for:

  • Beginner bloggers who have no web experience and are happy to not be bothered by options.
  • Bloggers who aren’t ready to start making money from their efforts.

examples of blogs on blogger
francescabaldassarri.blogspot.itcreativelylauren.comnadabutamor.com

weebly as blogging  platform
WEEBLY

Price:

Free– $25/month

In a nutshell:  

Weebly is a DIY website builder with blogging and e-commerce capabilities. Created with the first-time business owner in mind, the true appeal of this platform is how easily you can build a quality site without any previous web experience. Weebly is great as a one-stop shop for business owners who need both a website and a blog.

Pros: 

  • Quick to create and update without a lot of hassle
  • Wide range of easy-to-use features like drag and drop options
  • Free templates
  • Free hosting
  • Third-party integrations

Cons:

  • Doesn’t allow for coding
  • No self-hosting
  • Does not offer a free domain option

Weebly works best for:

  • Beginner bloggers who need e-commerce and a website.
  • New business owners who need a blog and website but don’t have the technical skills for a platform like WordPress.

weebly blog examples
aimeemcnew.comwishfulthinkingmom.weebly.comamandawhetstone.com

wix for blogging platform
WIX

Price: 

Free- $25/month

In a nutshell:  

Wix is a cloud-based website building platform with over 90 million users worldwide. Their user-friendly, drag-and-drop templates are built with specific industries in mind, making it easy for you to know which design will best work for your online business.

Pros:

  • Beautiful templates with layouts for different industries
  • Flexible drag and drop editing
  • Offers text and other element animations
  • Third-party integrations

Cons: 

  • Your template is locked in. That means you can’t change your mind and change the template mid project.
  • Wix places ads on websites with the Basic plan
  • Lack of customization

Wix works best for:

  • Artists, musicians, photographers, creatives who want a blog and a site to showcase their work.
  • Small business owners of restaurants or online stores looking for industry specific website templates.
  • Users with no design skills who want to build their blog from scratch.

examples of blogs on wix
sustainnutrition.cafirstgencollege.melivewell.live
Top Blogging Platform Comparison Chart

Ready to choose your blogging platform?

Now that you’ve read through the pros and cons and compared features between some of the most popular blogging platforms, are you ready to decide? Making this first big step will hopefully create a snowball of momentum to keep you moving toward your blogging goals.

If this post helped you decide on a platform, let us know! Tell us which blogging platform you will or are currently using in the comments or share this post on social media to help other soon-to-be-bloggers get closer to their goals too.

 

Dani Stewart

As a daughter of an entrepreneur, the wife of an entrepreneur, and an entrepreneur herself, Dani has lived and learned all sides of creating and growing businesses. She is excited to bring all that life experience as well as a decade of crafting content to the ConvertKit community. She is a part-time baker, dinner-party planner, and lover of good bourbon living the simple life in Nashville with her husband, Sean.

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  • adambouchard

    Thanks for creating this article. What platform did you use to publish this blog at https://convertkit.com/choose-best-blogging-platform/?

  • I am an experienced Squarespace circle user. I love Squarespace, because it ‘just works’ and looks amazing every time. Some of your features/pros/cons about Squarespace are a little bit out of date. You don’t pay more for e-commerce (although that is not technically a blog function) and Paypal is now supported after it recently left public beta. Squarespace is suitable for pros because you can rewrite the templates and customise them a lot with some web programming skills, but it is best suited for people who want a templated approach. Squarespace by definition includes hosting, as it is a true SaaS model where you ‘must’ host on their hardware. There is no self-hosted option. You can export to WordPress if you ever need to leave Squarespace or want to switch providers. In fact, Squarespace is the only product you review which ticks all the boxes in your ‘feature comparison’ matrix, as the hosting box should be checked.

    I also use WordPress but I massively prefer the slickness of Squarespace. A more recent arrival is Ghost Pro, which is cheaper than Squarespace but it ‘only’ does blogging, no commerce, and is very very good at that.

    I would have liked to see a mention of users who want multiple blogs. This is where WordPress and Ghost win over Squarespace, because you can have multiple blogs for not much more money, or for zero additional outlay if you have your own servers. Because Squarespace is a ‘website management system’ you can only have one site, although you can have multiple blogs within that one site if you want.

  • tblogusers

    We just re-launched https://tblog.com. Come check us out!

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