Starting a blog is a pretty straightforward process and you want to set yourself up for success so it’s a good idea to use the best blogging platform that you can find as the digital architecture for your blogging journey.
These days, there are quite a few different blogging platforms to choose from, all of which have their own benefits and drawbacks when it comes to how easy they are to use and what you can achieve when you’re using them.
Right up front, I want to be honest and let you know that I’m a huge fan of WordPress and although I’ve tried a few other platforms, it’s WordPress that I prefer using the most.
However, in this post I want to go over some of the top blogging platforms and provide you with a quick overview of each one so that you can get a better idea of which platform is going to be the best for your blogging needs.
This post of the best blogging platforms is most recently updated for 2018.
The Best Blog Platforms You Should Be Using
WordPress, the self hosted version, is definitely one of the best free blogging platforms and my personal favourite that I’ve been using for more than 4 years.
This is basically a software that you can install on to your domain once you have already set up your hosting and it’s designed to be used as a content management platform making it a suitable choice for a wide range of different websites.
It’s also the most popular platform that individuals as well as businesses are using as their website platform and more than 25% of websites online are built using WordPress.
This statistic alone should prove that it’s a reliable and high quality platform that you can depend on to run your website or blog.
Let’s take a look at the different features.
Plans and Pricing
Since you already have your URL and hosting set-up, you don’t need to worry about having to pay to use the WordPress platform because it’s completely free and open source.
The software doesn’t cost any money at all and you can just install it onto your hosting and get your website live rather quickly without having to pay to use the platform.
There are quite a few options for affordable web hosting so WordPress being free to use can really help to keep your website running costs down.
Does Hosting Come Included?
Unfortunately, when you’re using WordPress you have to have your own hosting and domain name already set up because it’s an actual software that you have to download and connect with your hosting and URL to start using.
These are two things you are going to have to buy separately and once you have them you can hook them up to WordPress to get your website live.
Does it Come With a Domain?
Again, you need your own domain name if you want to start using WordPress as your main blogging platform.
This isn’t a big deal at all because domain names are pretty cheap and I recommend going with Namecheap if you don’t already have your own URL.
There’s a reason why WordPress is so popular and that’s because it’s very easy to use, even if you’re a total beginner.
Getting it properly installed and configuring your preferred settings will hardly ever take more than an hour if it’s the first time you did it and once you get the hang of it, it doesn’t take any time at all.
There is a ton of information online about how to use WordPress for blogging and the platform itself is very intuitive when it comes to managing your text content and multimedia.
Design and Appearance
Another huge benefit of WordPress is that it comes with a wide range of different themes to choose from that you can use to customize the appearance of your blog or website.
There are a seemingly endless amount of other websites providing both free and premium WordPress themes, and WordPress also has their own themes available for you.
Most of these different themes can be customized to your own preferences and if there is something that you’re not able to do then it’s very easy to hire somebody that can help you with any of your WordPress problems.
There are more than 50,000 different free WordPress plugins and this means that there really isn’t anything that you can’t do if you’re using this platform.
A specific plug-in is available for just about anything and it’s also possible to get your own designed if there is something more that you needed done.
WordPress offers their own free plugins and there is also a wide selection of both free and paid plugins available from other people online.
Why You Should Use WordPress
WordPress is a great platform for most bloggers and it’s well suited for those that are looking to make money blogging, become a professional blogger, and for anybody that just wants complete control over the style, layout, and appearance of their website.
This really is a great free blog platform because of how you can really customize anything you want based on your preferences and the platform itself is quite reliable so you never have to worry about something catastrophic happening with your content online.
It’s also easy to use so for beginners or anybody that doesn’t want to spend too much time fiddling around with everything, WordPress is a great choice.
Some of the main benefits of using WordPress include the fact that it’s one of the most popular blogging platforms online, it comes with a wide range of different themes that you can choose from to customize the look of your website, and there are also the houses of different plugins available.
On its own, it’s really easy to use and the intuitive interface means you can focus more on creating content or building relationships with other bloggers rather than focusing on the back end of your blog.
One more benefit is that there is a huge community around WordPress so there is always support available for just about any issues you might run into.
Drawbacks of using WordPress
Despite being such a great platform for blogging, there are some drawbacks of using WordPress that I want to mention.
One of the main drawbacks is that there isn’t any hosting included and this means you’re going to have to buy your own blog hosting to get your website live and running.
This is definitely a tricky thing to go through the first time and it’s definitely not as easy as setting up your website on a platform that comes with hosting included.
Another drawback is that although WordPress is really easy to use, there is a little bit of a learning curve for beginners and I can take a few hours before you are fully comfortable with the platform.
WordPress.com vs WordPress.org – Using Your Own Hosting
The reason why you want to use your own web hosting with WordPress.org, especially if you’re serious about making money online or growing your blog in the long run, is because you have full control over everything from the start.
Using the free version of WordPress is a mistake if do you want to get into blogging seriously because you don’t have full control over all of your content once you post it and the platform will the show their own ads rather than anything relevant to your blog.
You also won’t be taken seriously with other bloggers and website owners, because your domain name will contain the .wordpress.com extension rather than just the .com.
If you don’t care about making money blogging and you don’t have any problems with random advertisements getting displayed with your content, then you can go ahead and go with the free version of WordPress.
Otherwise, I would recommend taking your blog seriously and getting set up with WordPress.org using your own hosting and domain.
Thankfully, hosting plans with companies such as BlueHost are really affordable and only cost a few dollars per month so it’s nothing unreasonable to get your own hosting package right when you get started.
When it comes down to it, you’re much better off using WordPress.org with a self hosted domain than you are relying on the free WordPress.com platform.
This way you have full control over all of your own content and you can choose a more professional looking, custom URL domain.
With your own self hosted WordPress you’re also able to display in the advertisement that you like, choose from a wide range of different themes, and install any plugins that you want.
From the start, you can expect somewhat of a learning curve but thankfully there is plenty of information and free tutorials online that you can check out if you want to learn more about how to start a WordPress blog and make money blogging right away.
Overall, I definitely recommend self hosted WordPress as the best blogging platform in 2018 and I expect it will continue to be a great choice as we move forward into the future.
Another great blogging platform, especially if you’re looking for something where you can easily switch around the design and appearance of your site, is Weebly.
I actually wrote a post about the differences when it comes to Weebly vs WordPress so I recommend checking that out if you’re looking for more help on choosing between the two platforms.
Weebly allows you to use different drag and drop tools so that you can completely customize your website and it’s more of a website builder as well as a blogging platform rather than just one or the other.
It also comes with some themes that are ready to use so you can even start blogging right out of the box rather than having to spend too much time fiddling around with the web design.
Pricing – Hosting – Domain
There is a monthly fee to use the Weebly platform and there are a few different plans to choose from depending on your blogging preferences and which features you would like to have.
The plans start at $8 per month and this is a pretty reasonable monthly cost, especially to have your website available online.
The upside to this pricing is that all of the plans come with hosting as well as a free domain and this makes it somewhat of an all in one package if you want to start blogging right away and not have to worry about getting your own hosting or buying your own domain.
For beginners, this is a pretty good choice because there is hardly any work involved other than signing up and going through the different prompts.
It’s also really straightforward to design your website using the drag and drop builder so you can easily create a design that you really like rather than browsing through different themes and hoping to find one that you’re satisfied with.
Ease of Use
Another benefit of using Weebly is that it’s really easy to actually start using and it just takes a few minutes to log in before you can start blogging.
The problem with going with a self hosted WordPress site is that there are quite a few different steps you need to follow through with before you can actually start posting content on your site.
In any one of these steps you could encounter a small issue that could set you back quite a while depending on your Internet proficiency.
Drawbacks to Using Weebly
Just like going with a free WordPress site, you don’t really control much of the Weebly platform.
Even though it is a pretty established blogging platform, you can never know what’s going to happen with it in the future and this can lead to some issues if you try to switch over to someone else.
Also, as you become more experienced, you might find that the features that Weebly offers are quite limited and there aren’t any options for adding new features so you’re stuck with what you have.
Unlike WordPress, there aren’t nearly as many plug-ins and there is a lot of issues that come with trying to integrate a Weebly website with third party platforms.
Who Should Use Weebly
I would recommend Weebly if you only want to start blogging as a hobby or you just want to have an online platform that you can upload some content to without monetization in mind.
It’s a pretty good choice for personal blogs and it’s not a bad choice if aren’t that comfortable using the computer or Internet and you just want something that you can set up rather quickly without any fuss.
For most people, I would still recommend going with a self hosted WordPress website, although some of the page Weebly plans aren’t too bad depending on what your blogging goals are.
WordPress.com is a hosted blog platform that also uses the WordPress software.
This one is different than the original platform that was my first recommendation because rather than needing to get your own hosting and domain, you simply need to sign up for an account and you can start blogging right away.
It’s really easy to set up and it’s still a very popular platform used by a lot of people.
There is even a free plan that you can choose from if you just want to see if you even like blogging before spending money on something more permanent.
Pricing – Hosting – Domain
There are a few different plans with WordPress.com that you can choose from depending on what your blogging requirements are.
For beginners and hobbyists, the free plan is a good idea, and for professional bloggers there is a $2.99 montly plan that’s quite reasonable as well.
There is one more plan, which costs $24.92 per month, and this one is recommended for more advanced users, like businesses.
Hosting is included in the yearly plans and this means that once you sign up and pay for a plan, your website is ready to go and you don’t have to worry about dealing with a web host and setting up a domain.
Unfortunately, domains aren’t free if you’re using the free plan, but for the paid plans there is a custom domain option that comes included in the price.
Ease of Use
WordPress.com is a great choice for beginners and even midrange blogger because it’s a lot easier to use than the self hosted WordPress option.
The reason for this is because everything is basically included for you when you sign up and to actually start blogging you just need to follow through with the on screen prompts or check out the getting started guide rather than having to setup your own hosting and buying your own domain.
Once everything is up and running, you can easily start publishing your blog posts and formatting them right away without any issues.
Design and Customization
Using WordPress.com there are actually quite a few different themes that you can choose from, although definitely not as many that you would find with a self hosted WordPress.
With the free plan there isn’t as much opportunity for customizing your design, but the paid plans offer a lot more options when it comes to customization and the overall appearance of your website.
For some people, this really isn’t a problem because you don’t have as much to worry about and you can focus on blogging rather than having to nitpick over all of the other small details.
As for plugins, there are a few special features that come included, such as website traffic monitoring and blog comment moderation, but otherwise there isn’t any opportunity to install any third party plugins.
Who Should Use WordPress.com
I think that WordPress.com is a great platform to use if if you just getting started with blogging and you want to start posting content without spending any money, or for a very reasonable monthly fee.
Keep in mind that it doesn’t come with as many features for customization that a self hosted WordPress account comes with and there aren’t any special plug-ins that you could use either.
One more drawback is that WordPress.com can shutdown your blog and delete all of your content if they determined that you’re not following the rules or if you happen to accidentally break any of their terms of service.
Otherwise, if you just want to do some blogging as a hobby or you’re on a tight budget but you still want to get started, WordPress.com is definitely the best free blogging platform you should consider.