There are many good reasons to start blogging.
You may want to practice your writing, create a following, establish your brand or use blogging as a marketing tool to increase site traffic. It’s also a great way to connect with like-minded people.
How do you choose the site to build your blog on?
There’s a wide choice of blogging platforms. The more there are choices, the harder it is to make up your mind.
To help you choose the right blogging platform for yourself, we will first talk about what to look for in a blogging solution. After that, we will examine the pros and cons of the current most popular services.
Ready? Let’s get started…
How to Choose The Best Blogging Platform
For making a decision, it helps to know what you are looking for. As they say – if you don’t know where you are going, every way is the right way. Below are some categories to judge the candidates by:
- Costs – an indispensable consideration. It’s not only important that your blogging platform of choice fits within your budget but what you also get for your money. A free offer is worth nothing if it doesn’t do what you need.
- Beginner-friendliness – Beginners need a blogging solution that is easy to set up, manage and doesn’t need coding skills to run. They also have to be able to find support when they run into trouble.
- Features and extendability – Over time, your needs and requirements for your site will change. You might want to modify or overhaul the design, add features or make other drastic changes. A good blogging platform needs to be able to accommodate that.
- Maintenance – How much hands-on work does your blogging solution need? Does it take care of most of the activities and features for you or do you have to do everything by hand? This will have a serious impact on your workflow.
- Monetization options – Many start a website or blog with the goal of eventually earning money with it. If that is your objective as well, you better choose a platform that enables you to do that in a way that works for you.
The weighing of the factors above will be different depending on your skills, goals and requirements. Keep them in mind while we compare the best blogging platforms out there.
10 Best Blog Sites in 2018
Below, you’ll find some of the most popular blogging solutions in the world and how they compare to each other.
Among the best blog sites, the self-hosted version of WordPress is by far the most popular blogging platform in the world. The CMS powers over 30 percent of the Internet. It’s often confused with its close cousin WordPress.com. We will cover the latter as well. You can learn more about the differences of the two platforms in this article.
- Very flexible – WordPress gives you full control over every aspect of your site
- Highly extendable – you can add almost any functionality through plugins (The WordPress directory has over 54,000). For example, contact forms or even a full online shop
- Thousands of mobile-friendly themes allow you to switch the design of your blog at the touch of a button
- The platform is search engine friendly and works well with social media
- You will have full ownership of your content
- Its large community means lots of support options
- Beginner friendly, although running your own WordPress website does involve some technical things. For that reason, there is definitely a learning curve
- You are responsible for site maintenance including backups, security and performance. Fortunately, you can outsource most of that to managed WordPress hosting providers
WordPress is an open source solution which means it’s free to use. Bear in mind that self-hosted variety requires you to find a hosting provider (e.g. Bluehost). You also need to get your own domain. Costs to do that start from around $46 per month.
In addition to that, you might want to spend money on premium extensions and themes.
- Business blogs
- Online businesses
- Professional bloggers
- Bloggers who want full control over their site
Next on our list of the best blog sites is another open source content management system that you can use to build all kinds of websites. We have detailed information about it in WordPress vs Joomla vs Drupal and in the post on how to create a website with Joomla.
- Powerful and flexible, suitable for building more than blogs
- Hundreds of professional templates make it easy to change the design
- Lots of available extension for adding more features and functionality
- More technical than other solutions on this list, basic knowledge of HTML and CSS is a necessity
- The responsibility for security, backups and performance is on you (although there is some Joomla managed hosting)
Joomla is free to download, costs only incur for hosting and a domain. For specialized Joomla hosting, check Siteground – here you can get started for $3.95/month.
- Business websites
- Online stores
- Technically advanced users
WordPress.com is a blog site hosting service by Automattic. You can get a free blog with basic features. For advanced functionality, you need to opt for one of their paid plans.
- Super easy to set up – just create an account and follow the installation wizard
- Hosting is included so you have less moving parts to deal with
- The interface is even more streamlined than on self-hosted WordPress
- No need to worry about site maintenance, everything is done for you
- Built-in stats and community functions
- Professional and dedicated support on paid plans
- The free account is very limited, e.g. your blog is hosted on a subdomain
- Narrow customization options, third-party themes and plugins are only available on Business plans
- Limited monetization opportunities, advertising is forbidden for lower plans
- You can lose your site if you violate the terms and services of the platform
- Ads and branding are present on your site unless you pay to remove them
Paid plans cost between $4 and $25 per month (billed annually). Each increases the amount of storage space, features (including monetization options) and support. With the Business plan, you have the ability to install external plugins and themes and connect your site to Google Analytics.
- Hobby bloggers
- Static websites
WordPress.com can also be a great starting point for blogging. If you ever decide to have more control over your site, it’s relatively easy to move from WordPress.com to WordPress.org.
Medium is a publishing platform founded in 2012 by one of the people behind Twitter. By now it has become a popular community for writers, bloggers and journalists.
In addition to the ability to write blog posts, it also comes with limited social networking functions. You can comment on other people’s content and like it (likes are called “claps” on Medium). The audience is built into the platform.
- Just sign up and you are ready to blog
- Great user interface and elegant writing experience
- The focus is completely on content creation, not running or designing the site around it
- You are able to embed content from other services (YouTube, Twitter etc.)
- All blogs on Medium look the same, there are hardly any customization options
- Very limited marketing features
- No way to transfer your audience from Medium to any other platform
- Monetization options are absent
- Medium has control over your content
The platform is free to use. If you have your own domain, you can hook it up to individual stories. Unfortunately, not to entire user accounts.
- Writers who want to build their skills and brand
- Hobby bloggers
Medium is also a popular place to give your content a second life. Many people who have a primary blogging outlet re-post articles on Medium for additional exposure.
- Focus on writing and blogging
- Clean, intuitive, streamlined user interface
- Live preview of blog posts
- The hosted version requires no setup
- SEO and social media capabilities are built in
- Integrated function for Accelerated Mobile Pages
- Not easy to customize
- Limited configuration and customization options
- The number of themes is narrow
- Ghost’s self-hosted version is complicated to set up
The price for the hosted version depends on the number of websites and amount of traffic. For $29/month ($19 if billed annually) you get one blog and 50,000 monthly page views. This also includes SSL encryption.
The most expensive plan is $269/month ($199/month paid annually). Ghost has a prioritized support, uptime guarantee and other premium features. All plans come with a custom domain.
For the self-hosted version, you need to pay the usual hosting plus the domain registration.
- Bloggers who are happy to experiment with the newest technical solutions
Squarespace is a drag-and-drop website builder which is aimed at small business owners. It’s a great all-in-one solution for non-technical people and offers hosting, domain registration and the possibility for e-commerce. It also has blogging capabilities which is the reason why it’s among the best blog sites out there.
- Simple to use and beginner friendly
- Professional design templates are available
- SSL encryption is built into the platform
- Ability to build an online store
- Free trial to test drive the platform
- Includes hosting and a custom domain
- 24/7 customer support
- Users are limited to the features offered by Squarespace
- Integrates only with a few third-party services and tools
- Personal plan is limited to 20 pages and two contributors
- Slightly overpowered if all you want is a blog
Squarespace is subscription based. It comes with only two plans, Personal and Business. One is $16/month and the other $26/month. You get a price reduction if you pay annually and also a free custom domain.
- Business owners
- Portfolio websites
Wix is similar to Squarespace. It allows you to put together your web presence via drag and drop and comes with blogging ability that you can add to your site. You can read about adding Wix in this article.
- Ability to customize your site with templates and third-party apps
- No coding skills required, you can achieve everything with the graphical interface
- Quick and easy setup, includes top-notch hosting
- Lots of design options and everything is built with HTML5
- Has a feature to automatically design your blog using an artificial intelligence
- Comes with free stock of images
- The free account comes with limited capabilities, traffic, storage and has Wix branding and ads
- The number of free apps is limited
- You are unable to change your site template after choosing it
- The e-commerce capabilities of Wix are limited, even on paid plans
- The service charges for many things so costs rack up easily
- You are unable to move your site elsewhere and take your content with you
Wix is a subscription-based and offers different packages. Starting at $5/month for 1GB of bandwidth and 500MB storage plus the ability to connect a custom domain (which you need to pay yourself). Higher plans add more bandwidth and storage, free domains, apps, the ability to create an online store and remove the ads. The most expensive plan ($25/month) also comes with VIP support.
- Business owners who need a blog with a website
Weebly is another site builder with a modular approach and a web-based interface. Pick a template and position your content as blocks in different areas.
- Easy to use – everything is operated via drag-and-drop
- Comes with decent mobile apps to run your site on the go
- You are able to try out the service before committing financially
- Has a good reputation in terms of SEO, even integrates with Google Analytics
- Limited integrated features and no possibility to add more
- The free plan only comes with 500MB space, Weebly branding and a subdomain
- Integrates with only a few third-party platforms
- Exporting your site is difficult
You can start off with a free account. After that, $4/month gets you a custom domain. For advanced features like site stats, video backgrounds or membership options you need to go for one of the higher plans. Those come in at $8-$25/month. Weebly also has separate plans for online stores that are slightly more pricey. All plans are paid annually.
- Business owners who need blogging capability
- Online portfolios
- Bloggers with no technical knowledge
This free blog hosting service has been around for a long time. It was founded in 1999 and acquired by Google in 2003. As a consequence, you can sign up easily with your existing Google account.
- Free to use and the set up only takes minutes
- Hosting, maintenance and other technicalities are taken care of
- Integrates well with other Google offerings (e.g. you can store your images on Google Drive)
- Mobile-optimized templates
- Comes with tracking and anti-comment spam measures
- Limited to basic blogging tools and there is no way to add additional features
- Design options are few
- Updates or new features are scarce
- Blogger will display advertisement on your blog
Blogger is completely free. The only costs you might incur is if you want to use a custom domain. In that case, you have to acquire and pay for it yourself.
- Hobby bloggers and personal blogging
Finally, among the best blog sites is Tumblr. The service is a micro-blogging platform optimized for short-form content. It also has a community behind it and social network features. Think of it as a middle ground between WordPress and Twitter.
- Free and very easy to set up and use
- Hosting is included (your blog is located on a tumblr.com subdomain)
- Has integrated social features such as following, re-blogging and sharing
- Easy to publish multimedia e.g videos, GIFs, images and audio
- Many design opportunities and they are easy to change
- Limited features and no way to extend them
- It’s difficult to back up your Tumblr content and use it on other platforms
The platform is free to use. Optional costs are for a custom domain (which you can map to your Tumblr account) and third-party themes and apps.
- Hobby bloggers
- Personal blogging
Best Blog Sites – What’s Your Pick?
When looking for the best blogging platform, you have many candidates to consider. Each comes with its own pros and cons. Basically, there are three varieties: self-hosted blogging platforms, hosted blog sites and site builders that also have blogging capabilities.
Which is the most suitable for you depends on your needs, goals, and preferences. Here on WebsiteSetup.org, we like the self-hosted variety of WordPress. It’s what this site is built on and we have had solid experience with it. It’s super flexible and powerful and belongs among the best blog sites for a reason.
What do you consider the best blog sites out there? Anything to add to the list? Let us know in the comments section below.