Best blogging platform for beginners
Are you thinking of starting a blog but you have no idea what the best blogging platform for beginners is?
Or if you should use WordPress.com or WordPress.org?
Or maybe you’re not even sure what a blogging platform is!
If you’re a total newbie, you might need a bit of help finding out the differences between all the different blogging platforms.
Let’s compare 4 popular blogging platforms, and find out which one is right for you!
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What is a blogging platform?
A blogging platform is an online software program that allows you to publish your content on the web in the form of a blog or website. There are quite a few blogging platforms and all have different pros and cons.
The main choice you have to make when starting out, is if you want a free blog or a self-hosted blog.
What is a self-hosted blog?
When you set up a self-hosted blog it means that you own your blog and you are in full control of every aspect of your website. You are not limited by your free hosting platform and you can monetise your blog in any way you want.
Most self-hosted blogs use WordPress.org, a popular content management system used by web designers all over the world. To be able to use WordPress.org you have to set up a hosting account with a web host like Bluehost or Siteground.
These web hosting providers will store your blog files on their server from about $3.95 per month.
Why would I pay for hosting if I can get a blog for free?
Good question. The short answer is that a self-hosted blog has unlimited possibilities for designing your blog, growing your blog and monetising your blog. Free blogs have lots of limitations and are not suitable for professional business blogs.
What blogging platform should I use?
If you’re not sure which blogging platform to choose, try to think of your long term goals.
Are you happy to start a hobby blog that makes little or no money or would you like to set up a blog that can be monetised in every way you choose, has unlimited growing potential and looks professional?
It really depends on what the purpose of your blog is and what you’d like to achieve with it down the track.
Let’s have a look at 4 popular blogging platforms and their pros and cons, so you can decide which one is right for you.
This is an easy-to-use blogging platform. Simply sign up and start blogging. Sounds too good to be true? Well that is because that’s literally all you can do on Blogger. Use this platform for personal blogs that can make a little money on the side with ads and affiliate links.
- Completely free
- You can buy a custom domain name ($15) and add it for free
- You can use affiliate links
- You can use different ad networks
- You can customise your theme with html or css
- Limited themes available
- Very limited functionality (you can’t add plugins)
- Less AdSense revenue, Google will deduct part of your revenue because you use a free blogging platform
- You don’t look professional
- Your blog can be shut down
Wix is a great website builder that lets you whip up a blog pretty quickly. It is easy-to-use with its front end drag & drop builder. It has a lot more functionality than Blogger, like:
- easy drag-and-drop theme customisation
- you can create an image gallery
- receive payments
- add an events calendar
- It’s easy to make your blog look good with over 100 pre-made templates available.
- It’s easy to customise a template to suit your brand
- You can monetise your blog with ad networks and affiliate links.
- You can sell products on your site but you’ll have to upgrade to the Basic Business plan for $20 p/month
- Once you build a website with Wix it’s tricky to move your site elsewhere
- Wix has limited functionality and plugins
- Wix will display their ads on your site on the free plan.
- To connect your domain and remove Wix ads you’ll need to upgrade to the Combo plan for $8.50 p/month.
I’d recommend using WordPress.com if you want to start blogging as a hobby and are happy with the free plan.
I’m saying this because anything other than the free plan and you’d be better of with a self-hosted site with WordPress.org.
Let’s have a look:
As soon as you want to add a custom domain name (from www.myblogname.wordpress.com to www.myblogname.com) you have to sign up for a paid plan starting at $4 p/month. This may sound not too bad but if you know that you can have a self-hosted blog for $3.95 p/month that has unlimited design options, free plugins and no limitations on monetising your blog, it doesn’t make sense to pay $4 p/mo just for adding a custom domain.
(There is one way around this: you can register a custom domain for $18 per year and redirect it to your WordPress.com site. I would only recommend doing this if you’re not too serious about making money with your blog because adding a redirect might cause your site to load slower.)
If you want to add custom plugins and themes the price goes up to a whopping $25 p/month. Now this makes self-hosting for $3.95 sound super affordable.
And let’s not even talk about the eCommerce plan: $45 p/month, when you can also get this functionality for free when you set up a self-hosted blog for $3.95.
So basically you want to choose WordPress.com if you’re a hobby blogger and you don’t plan on turning it into a business in the future.
- Very easy to use and set up.
- You can monetise your blog with affiliate links.
- More themes available than on Blogger.com.
- You don’t own your site
- Adding your own domain name costs more than a self-hosted site
- You don’t look as professional as with a self-hosted site
- You can’t add extra functionality through plugins unless you upgrade your plan ($299 p/year)
- You can’t sell (digital) products on your site unless you upgrade to a Business plan($299 p/year)
- You can only monetise your blog through ads with the WordAds network and to be able to do this you have to upgrade to a premium, business or eCommerce account (min $96 p/year)
I recommend using WordPress.org if you are serious about your blog and you plan to turn it into a money making business. Wordress.org is the most popular content management system in the world and offers the most functionality in the form of plugins and themes.
To be able to use WordPress.org you have to set up a self-hosted site with a web hosting provider.
This is easy to do, you can read my hosting set up tutorial here:
- You own your site and are in full control of every aspect of your site.
- You own your domain name.
- You’ll look professional to your audience and potential sponsors.
- Unlimited design options with 1000’s of themes available.
- You can customise your theme to create a completely unique site.
- You can add unlimited functionality with over 50.000 free plugins.
- You can monetise with affiliate links, any ad network or sell your own products or services.
- WordPress.org is the best for your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), which will allow your site to get found in Google.
- The learning curve is steeper than with the free website builders.
- Because of the learning curve, it will take longer to build your site.
If you have a free blog on WordPress.com or Blogger.com and you want to move it to WordPress.org, please use this tutorial:
I hope this comparison of blogging platforms has helped you choose the right platform for your blog. If you can’t decide, my advice would be to go self-hosted because it will give you unlimited possibilities for the price of a cup of coffee per month. You can’t go wrong with that!
If you want to set up your self-hosted WordPress.org blog and you don’t know how, check out this tutorial.
Would you like a free blog set up?
Does setting up a blog sound super overwhelming? No need to worry, I can set it up for you for FREE!
Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below and make sure to grab my Free Ultimate Blog Planner Workbook to help you plan your new blog.