Who else? <3internet marketing

Recently, we hosted our second annual WordPress.com Growth Summit and welcomed over 1,300 attendees at the event. The summit was fully online, and it built on the momentum of our inaugural Growth Summit in 2020 after hearing from you, our community, that another conference would be a great learning and networking opportunity for people looking to grow their WordPress.com sites. Based on the positive feedback from last year, this year’s programming continued to be customer-focused by highlighting people — just like you! — who started sites and businesses on WordPress.com and have seen them flourish.

We also changed up the tech stack we used, which allowed us to offer a better user experience and to improve the process of selling tickets and, later, access to recorded videos from the event. If you enjoy building sites with WordPress, tinkering around with design and functionality, I’m pleased to share a behind-the-scenes look at how we got our Growth Summit site to work for us. This explanation might be especially helpful if you’re trying to sell registrations on your site and/or restrict access to content behind a paywall.

Selling Tickets

At WordPress.com, we love to use plugins when building sites, and installing a number of them on the Growth Summit site made ticket sales a breeze for customers.

  • First, we installed the WooCommerce plugin on our WordPress.com site and created a ticket as a simple product in the store catalog. Nothing fancy, just a title and a price. From a design perspective, we determined that it wasn’t ideal to have potential conference attendees visit the product page, so we configured the call-to-action button on the homepage to automatically add a ticket to a visitor’s cart and send them straight to the checkout page. 
  • Then, using Zapier and its WooCommerce extension, we configured a “zap” that was triggered whenever a customer bought a ticket, which in turn alerted Hopin — the virtual event software platform we chose to host the Growth Summit — to create a new attendee registration. 
  • In an effort to simplify the checkout process, and hopefully increase conversion rates, we used the WooCommerce Checkout Field Editor plugin to remove a number of default fields, such as billing street address, phone number, and order comments. We were also able to customize the field layout so that it took up less “real estate” on the checkout page.
  • The MailPoet plugin allowed us to customize the content of the default WooCommerce emails for completed order confirmations. Sure, we could have installed a child theme and then used custom templates to put the text we wanted in the message, but the MailPoet plugin was free for our purposes. Plus we can use it for email marketing campaigns in the future, should we choose.

On-Demand Video Access

Leading up to the Growth Summit, our focus was on driving attendance to the live event. Once the conference wrapped up, we shifted focus to providing access to recordings of Growth Summit sessions for attendees who wanted to watch on demand, and for people who missed the event but wanted to experience it firsthand. With the WooCommerce Memberships extension, we put the videos behind a paywall — in other words, you have to have a membership to view them. To sell memberships, we’re using the same WooCommerce product we used to sell tickets. We just changed its configuration so that buying the product adds the customer to a membership plan that grants access to video content from all the sessions in 2020 and 2021. Additionally, we ensured that anyone who bought a ticket to the live event would get a year of on-demand access automatically. 

Site Design

Aesthetics are as important as functionality. We built the Growth Summit site with the Twenty Twenty-One theme. The homepage uses Gutenberg blocks. Some of the common blocks are Cover, Layout Grid, and Columns. We also used some custom CSS code to tweak the design to suit our needs. 

That’s pretty much it. Did you miss the Growth Summit? Use the coupon code behindthescenes to get 25% off on-demand access to all the video recordings from 2020 and 2021, now through August 2022!

I <3 internet marketing

Recently, we hosted our second annual WordPress.com Growth Summit and welcomed over 1,300 attendees at the event. The summit was fully online, and it built on the momentum of our inaugural Growth Summit in 2020 after hearing from you, our community, that another conference would be a great learning and networking opportunity for people looking to grow their WordPress.com sites. Based on the positive feedback from last year, this year’s programming continued to be customer-focused by highlighting people — just like you! — who started sites and businesses on WordPress.com and have seen them flourish.

We also changed up the tech stack we used, which allowed us to offer a better user experience and to improve the process of selling tickets and, later, access to recorded videos from the event. If you enjoy building sites with WordPress, tinkering around with design and functionality, I’m pleased to share a behind-the-scenes look at how we got our Growth Summit site to work for us. This explanation might be especially helpful if you’re trying to sell registrations on your site and/or restrict access to content behind a paywall.

Selling Tickets

At WordPress.com, we love to use plugins when building sites, and installing a number of them on the Growth Summit site made ticket sales a breeze for customers.

  • First, we installed the WooCommerce plugin on our WordPress.com site and created a ticket as a simple product in the store catalog. Nothing fancy, just a title and a price. From a design perspective, we determined that it wasn’t ideal to have potential conference attendees visit the product page, so we configured the call-to-action button on the homepage to automatically add a ticket to a visitor’s cart and send them straight to the checkout page. 
  • Then, using Zapier and its WooCommerce extension, we configured a “zap” that was triggered whenever a customer bought a ticket, which in turn alerted Hopin — the virtual event software platform we chose to host the Growth Summit — to create a new attendee registration. 
  • In an effort to simplify the checkout process, and hopefully increase conversion rates, we used the WooCommerce Checkout Field Editor plugin to remove a number of default fields, such as billing street address, phone number, and order comments. We were also able to customize the field layout so that it took up less “real estate” on the checkout page.
  • The MailPoet plugin allowed us to customize the content of the default WooCommerce emails for completed order confirmations. Sure, we could have installed a child theme and then used custom templates to put the text we wanted in the message, but the MailPoet plugin was free for our purposes. Plus we can use it for email marketing campaigns in the future, should we choose.

On-Demand Video Access

Leading up to the Growth Summit, our focus was on driving attendance to the live event. Once the conference wrapped up, we shifted focus to providing access to recordings of Growth Summit sessions for attendees who wanted to watch on demand, and for people who missed the event but wanted to experience it firsthand. With the WooCommerce Memberships extension, we put the videos behind a paywall — in other words, you have to have a membership to view them. To sell memberships, we’re using the same WooCommerce product we used to sell tickets. We just changed its configuration so that buying the product adds the customer to a membership plan that grants access to video content from all the sessions in 2020 and 2021. Additionally, we ensured that anyone who bought a ticket to the live event would get a year of on-demand access automatically. 

Site Design

Aesthetics are as important as functionality. We built the Growth Summit site with the Twenty Twenty-One theme. The homepage uses Gutenberg blocks. Some of the common blocks are Cover, Layout Grid, and Columns. We also used some custom CSS code to tweak the design to suit our needs. 

That’s pretty much it. Did you miss the Growth Summit? Use the coupon code behindthescenes to get 25% off on-demand access to all the video recordings from 2020 and 2021, now through August 2022!

Important Post

Wix splash for best blogging platforms

Disclosure: This content is reader-supported, which means if you click on some of our links that we may earn a commission.

Do you want to skip the read and get right to my top pick? The best blogging platform for most people is Wix.

I’ve been making a good living as a blogger for more than a decade. This is an area of the internet I know really well.

But, a lot’s changed since I started. Blogging platforms have become more powerful while making it easier to start a blog than ever. With some site builders, you can even start your blog and start selling products online at the same time.

Below, you’ll find the five best tools for starting a blog today. Some of them I’ve used myself and like a lot; others are really good for bloggers with different needs and goals than my own.

By the end of this article, you’ll be well on your way to starting your own blog. 

#1 – Wix Review — The Best for Launching a Beautiful Blog Right Now

Wix splash for best blogging platforms

If you are looking for the shortest distance between you and a working blog, go with Wix.

There are other great options on my list, but nothing is as easy to get started with. 

It’s an excellent choice for beginners interested in creating a full-fledged website with a blog included.

Getting things set up is as simple as using the drag-and-drop editor to design your site. There’s no code necessary.

Wix is highly template-driven, but there are an astonishing range of options available. You’ll be able to find something that fits with your brand and tweak it to match the vision in your head.

Alternatively, you can use Wix Artificial Design Intelligence (ADI). Just answer a few questions about who you are and the purpose of your blog, and Wix ADI will create a website for you. I’m not kidding:

And even if you want to design your own site, Wix ADI will help you figure out which layouts work best by letting you preview your content before making a decision.

Everything looks crisp with very little configuration on your end. Your final product is going to make a professional impression, whether visitors are on a laptop or mobile phone.

And if you are an on-the-go person, don’t worry. The Wix mobile app lets you design and blog right from your phone.

In terms of growing your audience, Wix comes packed with powerful tools to help you increase your reach and engage meaningfully online:

  • Industry-leading SEO tools
  • Social media tools
  • Visitor analytics
  • 500 professional design templates
  • Post scheduling
  • Embed HTML codes
  • Categories and hashtags
  • Advanced search capabilities
  • Collaborators
  • Easy image editing

From site building to outreach, Wix a lot more than just a blogging platform. You can get started today and use Wix free forever.

The pros of a free Wix account are hands-off maintenance, as Wix hosts everything, and access to the world-class site building tools. Your site will have wixsite.com in the web address, and you’re limited to 500GB bandwidth, which basically means it only works for small sites without too much traffic.

The other drawback are the Wix ads, which enable the company to offer the free version. If you are running your blog as part of your business, do you really want another company’s advertisements?

If you upgrade, Wix removes the ads and gives you a custom domain name free for the first year. Your blog is fully yours, which I think is more than worth it.

Premium Wix plans are broken down into three groups: Websites, Business & eCommerce, and Enterprise. 

If you are looking for a straight-up blogging platform, the Websites is more than enough. Here’s a look at the different tiers of the Website plans:

Wix pricing for best blogging platforms

Plans start at $14 per month for Combo, which is good for personal use, and range up to $39 per month for the VIP plan, which has a lot more storage space and tools to grow your brand. This price includes web hosting, which normally costs around $10 per month. Really, Wix includes everything you need as part of the premium package.

Business and ecommerce plans start at $23 per month and allow you to accept payments online. Sell products and services directly from your blog. Even for more complex sites, the Wix set up process will still be very user-friendly.

Wix is an excellent choice for individuals and small businesses trying to get the word out. There’s a 100 page limit for Wix websites (excluding blog posts, of course), and site performance may suffer if you start to hit the upper limit.

If this is a concern, I’d just go with WordPress, which can grow as big as you need. That said, Wix offers custom solutions for enterprise clients that start at $500 per month.

For most users, especially those looking to get their blog up and running without any stress or frustration, Wix is fantastic.

Try Wix Premium today free for 14 days, or blog free as long as you like.

#2 – Squarespace Review — The Best for Bold Branding Without a Web Designer

Squarespace splash page for Best Blogging Platforms

Squarespace is an all-in-one website builder, like Wix. However, it’s famous for aesthetically pleasing templates, making it perfect for visual-based businesses like photographers, designers, and artists. 

Looking at the clean, beautiful brand presentation on Squarespace blogs, you might think that everyone hired a designer to get there. In reality, it might be that person’s first website ever.

Don’t get me wrong. Graphic design gurus can take Squarespace to amazing places, but I think the draw of the platform is that non-technical folks can spin up an striking site themselves.

For the entrepreneur or small business looking to build their online presence, Squarespace is a phenomenal choice. They can get the sleek blog they want without having to hire a web designer or developer.

This is huge, because you’re not having to pay anyone to create your site or having to scramble to find assistance when something breaks.

And if something does go wrong, Squarespace has highly-responsive customer service available 24/7. The relatively small monthly fee for the sitebuilder is probably a lot less than keeping a professional designer on retainer. 

Think of Squarespace as a middle-of-the-road option between Wix and WordPress—it’s got a little more freedom to customize than Wix, though not as much as WordPress. But it’s going to be easier to use on day one than WordPress.

Like Wix, you start with templates and customize from there. Squarespace templates are very elegant, and the editor is drag-and-drop, which means no coding to get started.

Squarespace template for best blogging platforms

What you see is what you get in terms of design, so you are not having to preview your page constantly to make sure everything is placed where it needs to go.

Squarespace is not quite as intuitive a design interface as Wix, but it’s not hard to get the hang of it. And once you do, you’ll find that you have more control over what you can do with the color palette and layout. 

This freedom is why a lot of artists, designers, and creatives flock to Squarespace.

Not that you need to be a designer to achieve an elegant blog on Squarespace. People without an artistic bone in their body are creating amazing sites on the platform every day. 

For a company that wants a beautiful blog, but doesn’t want to hire a designer to babysit it, Squarespace is perfect. Out of the box, you get:

  • Free blogging templates to help you get started
  • Categories, tags, and featured posts
  • Built-in post scheduler
  • Contributor permissions
  • In-depth analytics
  • SEO and social media tools
  • Email marketing tools
  • Expert customer service
  • Mobile app

Now you won’t have total control to customize, as you do with the thousands of plugins offered by WordPress.

That said, all of the add-ons and third-party extensions in Squarespace are built into the platform—this means no maintenance or updates for you. This is going to be less work than managing WordPress plugins and themes.

Adding ecommerce functionality to your Squarespace blog is extremely easy. Launch an online store, book appointments, create and sell member’s only content. 

Get these features set up in minutes and drive the right type of traffic to your blog with Squarespace’s excellent marketing and SEO tools. Everything you need for a complete website for your business is just as easy to set up as your blog, and it’s all going to look sharp.

Squarespace plans start at $12 per month for a website, and as low as $18 per month to add ecommerce:

Squarespace ecommerce pricing for best blogging platforms

The Personal plan is more than enough to power your website with a very good looking blog. You get the rich design and editing features I’ve described, as well as access to basic website metrics and the Squarespace extensions, which can expand your site with third-party features and content.

The Business plan lets you accept secure online payments and further customize your site with premium integrations. Take reservations, book appointments, or sell products and services. Choose the features you want and leave the maintenance to Squarespace.

I like the Business plan because you get more advanced analytics to understand your audience and fine-tune your marketing strategy. With higher tier plans, you’ll get more tools to understand your web traffic and additional ecommerce functions.

No matter what plan you choose, you get access to Squarespace’s customer service any time of day. For companies looking to get by without a web designer, the always-available assistance is a huge relief.

Squarespace is a fantastic option that keeps improving. The company is constantly adding features and upgrading the interface. 

Within a week or two, anyone can become a Squarespace master even if they are starting from scratch. It’s the perfect platform for an individual or small company that wants a professional-looking blog without hiring a professional to get it.

Try Squarespace free for 14 days and give your company the on-brand blog you’ve always wanted.

#3 – WordPress Review — The Best for Creating a Unique Blog

WordPress themes for Best Blogging Platforms

WordPress is the most popular blogging platform in the world. It’s free to use and the potential to create is boundless.

You can blog for free at WordPress.com. The company hosts your site and gives you a subdomain. The downside is that it’s supported by running its own ads unless you upgrade your plan.

Alternatively, you can download the platform for free at WordPress.org and use it on a site you host yourself. Hosting isn’t free, but if you go with an officially recommended WordPress host like Bluehost, the whole thing winds up being less expensive than going with a similar website builder.

The payoff is that you can build whatever you can imagine with your WordPress blog.

The whole WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org concept can be a little confusing, so just know that my review is of the WordPress.com option. When you read WordPress throughout this post, that’s what I am recommending.

It starts with choosing your WordPress theme. Think of it like a template that formats your whole site as opposed to just one page. 

There are a ton of amazing free themes to promote your content. These will keep your blog on brand and help you curate posts for your readers.

To add more functionality to your blog, there are tens of thousands of WordPress plugins you can use. These will help with SEO, site security, setting up newsletter subscriptions, and so much more. Lots of useful plugins are free.

WordPress plugins for Best Blogging Platforms

There are also premium plugins and themes you can buy to add rich capabilities or custom looks for your site.

Since WordPress is open-source and ridiculously popular, there is an active community that is constantly building new features for today’s challenges. These are just some of the reasons more people choose WordPress for their blog:

  • 55,000+ plugins to extend the functionality of your site
  • Thousands of free and premium themes
  • The Gutenburg block editor
  • Advanced user roles and permissions
  • Powerful media management
  • A massive community of experts
  • Infinite design control

You can get plugins and themes to take your site wherever it needs to go, and if you can’t, there is probably someone working on a solution right now.

With Wix and Squarespace, you are paying for an all-in-one platform. With WordPress, the platform is free, and you can purchase what you need à la carte. Choose your own mix of plugins and themes to get exactly what you need.

Turn your blog into a social media forum or host member’s only content behind a paywall. Anything you want is as simple as finding the right plugin.

Wix is going to be easier to use, especially at first, but WordPress is by no means difficult.

If you start building out a really complex site with a lot of plugins, sure, it’s going to be more work to maintain, but you’ll also have a blog that’s much more unique than what you could assemble on Wix.

In terms of day-to-day editing, though, WordPress is a breeze. The Gutenberg editor simplifies that process of arranging and refining your blog. You can work in HTML or edit visually, block by block, and effortlessly add content from your media library.

WordPress editor for Best Blogging Platforms

For the non-technical user, building a custom blog that’s rich with images and videos is incredibly easy. Gutenberg can even help you cut down on the number of plugins you need, which can start to cause conflicts if you are using too many.

Looking at the all-in costs of using WordPress as a blogging platform, it really depends what you are trying to do. If you are looking for the traditional blogging experience, you just need to pay for hosting and a domain name.

From there, you can do a ton with free plugins and themes. Or you can invest more in your site with paid options.

If you are just starting your blog, I’d recommend Bluehost Shared WordPress hosting. It starts at $2.95 per month. They give you a domain name free for the first year, custom themes, and automatic WordPress updates.

The whole process takes minutes instead of hours. It is affordable, easy to set up, and Bluehost takes over some of the maintenance. For all these reasons, I recommend Bluehost as the best way to start a WordPress blog.

#4 – Medium Review — The Best for Reaching Readers with Minimal Effort

Medium splash for Best Blogging Platforms

One thing most blogging platforms don’t include is a built in audience. Medium does.

In order to read articles on Medium, you need to pay a monthly membership fee. Some of that money goes to sustain the site, but some goes to the writers whose stories are being read.

So, if you write on Medium and join the Partner Program (which is free, and you don’t have to be a paying Medium member to join it), there’s a chance you could earn money if people spend time reading your blog posts.

For any topic you can think of, there is a Medium audience waiting to read more. You can share your posts easily, and check out what other bloggers in your space are doing. People who read similar types of posts to yours will see your posts, if you join the Partner Program.

This is a potentially monster avenue for targeted outreach within your niche.

Now it’s not entirely clear just how Medium curates your posts for other readers, which can be a little frustrating for bloggers who can’t find traction on the platform. That said, Medium does provide helpful stats about your visitors so you can get a sense of how traffic is arriving.

You also can’t make a million dollars on Medium, like you can with a website builder that has more ways to monetize your content.

But you also don’t have to worry about hosting or maintenance with Medium. The lack of effort is a huge plus for bloggers looking to write, not write code.

In that sense, Medium makes the initial hurdle to getting paid for blogging as easy as possible.

And if you aren’t worried about turning a profit, Medium is one of the best free blogging platforms available. 

There’s a good bit of design freedom, though definitely not as much as you get with website builders like Squarespace. You can play with the layout and fonts to capture your online persona, and you never have to worry about advertisements disrupting your flow.

You don’t have a techie bone in your body to start drafting, editing, and embedding your own pictures or third-party media.

That’s another big draw with Medium: you hardly have any work to get perfectly formatted, mobile responsive blog posts. Everything lands on feed curated beautifully for readers:

Medium feed for Best Blogging Platforms

For individuals and businesses alike, Medium is the perfect stress-free option for blogging. 

Spotlight an ongoing portfolio of work, client success stories, your hottest daily deals, or simply share news and updates. 

Medium lets you connect with a curated audience for free, and gives you the ability to share posts across social media with ease.

All of this through your own blog, which you don’t have to pay for or maintain.

Start using Medium today for free, and who knows, maybe you can generate a little cash on the side.

#5 – Blogger Review – The Best for Sharing Your Story

Blogger splash page for Best Blogging Platforms

Blogger is a great platform for the casual blogger, individuals advocating for a cause, or potentially companies who want nothing more than a traditional blog. 

It’s owned by Google, and offers the same level of dependability and intuitive navigation as Chrome and Gmail. If you can write an email, you can write a post on Blogger.

It’s also entirely free, forever, and includes your own subdomain. Your web address will be at example.blogspot.com. Set up takes minutes, and you never have to worry about hosting, storing your files, or keeping your site speed fast.

Leave that all to Google.

If you are trying to create an on-brand blog, and you want to get rid of the blogspot subdomain, simply purchase your own custom domain through one of the best domain registrars. It’s very easy to set everything up, especially if you use Google Domains.

I like it best for personal use as the platform is limited in some ways that can hamstring a blog built for business purposes. You have options to tweak the blog presentation, but you can’t change too much to make it your own.

There are gadgets to add functionality to your blog, but nothing remotely close to the power and diversity of WordPress plugins. You also have no ecommerce options, as you would with other website builders.

That said, you can monetize your Blogger page very easily using Google Adsense. Fill out a quick form with your payment information, and Blogger will put relevant ads on your site, bringing you income based on how many people visit.

Now this isn’t your ticket to a full time salary, but a little revenue coming in the door from your blog can’t hurt. All of the essentials you need to get started are included, like:

  • Image storage with Google Photos
  • Integrated ad campaigns
  • Simple text editor
  • A free SSL certificate and free domain mapping
  • Google integrations

Think of Blogger as a low-stress, near-zero maintenance blogging platform. It works well for people that have a story to share, but aren’t willing to invest significant time and resources into their blog.

Your story could be about your life, your product, your community, whatever you want. Blogger gives you a venue to broadcast your message, and Google handles all the technical legwork. You don’t have to worry about backing up your site or getting hacked.

If you aren’t super worried about aesthetics, Blogger is a good choice. The template selection is relatively sparse and you have to know HTML in order to customize beyond the basics. 

In other words, you are not going to be able to create a really unique experience for your readers with interactive content and dynamic pages as easily as you can with a website builder like Wix. 

The Blogger templates are repeated everywhere on the web. If that doesn’t bother you, Blogger is going to be one of the easiest and cheapest ways to get your blog off the ground.

Choose Blogger if what you want is a traditional blog. With minimal effort and oversight, you’ll be able to get a readable blog off the ground. 

Start your blog for free today.

What I Looked at to Find the Best Blogging Platform

Your options break down into two basic categories:

  1. Traditional blogging platforms
  2. Website builders with great blogging capability

Depending on what you are trying to do, one of these is going to make a lot more sense than the other.

If you are looking for a low maintenance venue to share stories with the world or advocate for a cause, traditional blogging platforms are perfect. They can also work as a simple portfolio for businesses that want to share wins and finished work.

Website builders can do a whole lot more, though they aren’t free like the traditional platforms. 

Let me walk you through the major criteria you need to figure out which type you want, and how to weigh your different options from there.

Cost and Revenue

For some bloggers, turning a profit isn’t the main focus. If they can make a little extra cash on the side, it’s a bonus, but they’re not depending on blog income to live.

If you fall in this group, I strongly suggest checking out Medium and Blogger. 

These two traditional blogging platforms are free forever. You don’t have to pay for hosting, web design, or worry about the site staying online. These providers handle all of that.

There are free versions of Wix and WordPress, but I like Medium and Blogger better because you won’t have any vendor ads on your site. In fact, Blogger lets you run ads and keep the money yourself. 

Medium has a Partner Program that lets you earn money on your blog posts if people read them. The program is free to join and takes no effort on your part to get your posts in front of new readers who care about your blogging niche. 

You can even add affiliate links to your Medium posts to generate your own source of revenue. Some free platforms don’t let you do this.

If you are using the platform for a business or want to make serious money blogging, I’ll steer you toward Wix, Squarespace, and WordPress. These options aren’t free, but there is a ton of value in what they provide.

For instance, you’ll be able to accept payments for products, services, and put content behind a membership paywall. The free platforms don’t support ecommerce, even if you do get a few avenues to monetize.

I’ll say more about the benefits of premium blogging platforms throughout this post, but it really comes down to this simple truth—the more you want your blog to do, the more it’s going to cost.

To decide between the paid platforms, look at how they offer services, as one may have a better pricing set up for your needs.

With Wix, for example, you can purchase all-in-one plans that include literally everything you need to get a site up and running. You can choose plans for simple blogs or plans for ecommerce and you are good to go.

WordPress, on the other hand, is free to download, but you have to pay for hosting. Wix and Squarespace (another solid all-in-one website builder) take care of the hosting and lump the cost in the total package.

What you’ll find, though, is that hosting your own WordPress site often winds up being cheaper than getting everything bundled. 

It’s a little more legwork on your part, but you also get a lot more control. Instead of purchasing a package of features and templates, you can add WordPress plugins and themes at your own discretion.

Is your blog going to have videos, plugins, or other resource-intensive features? 

Be sure to make sure the plan you’re considering comes with enough resources to support your site. Storage and traffic requirements may disqualify the entry-level plans.

If you are just starting off, this isn’t too much of a concern. But performance can suffer once you start to see a lot of traffic or add a lot of features to your site. No one reads blogs that take a long time to load.

Branding Your Blog Your Way

Is your blog part of your brand? This is important when looking at blogging platforms, as some of your free options are going to limit the branding control you have.

WordPress and Wix support their freemium options by running their own ads on your site. You don’t control what they sell or see any revenue. It’s no big deal for a hobby blog, but far from ideal for a business.

Blogger and Medium, on the other hand, don’t run ads. So if you want a free blog to promote your business, I’d start with one of those two.

You also want to get your own domain name to build your brand. Free blogs give you a subdomain with their company name in your web address. On blogger, your URL would be yourusername.blogspot.com.

It’s easy to buy your own domain name and looks way more professional. It also helps search engines like Google direct the right people to your site.

Wix and Squarespace include a free domain name for the first year, so you can get that custom web address without anyone else’s brand involved. 

If you sign up for WordPress hosting via Bluehost, you get a domain name free for the first year as well. Starting at less than 3$ per month, I think this is the best way to start a WordPress blog.

With the website builders, you get a lot more freedom to create your site your way. It’s easier to align your blog with your brand when you have more control.

Design Freedom

Blogger and Medium offer simple tools to create, organize, and share posts. There’s not a ton you can do with the layout, but it’s always going to look sharp.

The premium blogging platforms give you a lot more control and design flexibility, allowing you to build a complete website and brand around your blog.

Customize the look and feel of nearly every aspect of your blog instead of having to color inside the lines someone else drew.

For the first time blogger who wants an original site, I highly recommend Wix. There’s virtually no learning curve and you can drag-and-drop your way to a site you love.

Squarespace is very approachable in terms of design. It might take slightly longer for the novice user to build their first site than with Wix, but the tradeoff is greater control over your blog’s layout and design.

It’s one of the reasons that Squarespace is the website builder of choice for many artists, architects, photographers, and the like.

WordPress is at the top of the heap in terms of design freedom. There is little you can’t do, but there is a bit of a learning curve. It’s certainly manageable, just a little harder in the first hours than Wix.

But if you are looking for the freedom to create, a WordPress blog is your ticket to infinite possibility.

Maintenance Requirements

How much upkeep does your blog require? 

Or put it this way: How much time are you willing to spend making sure your blog is up and running?

Those who want a hands-off blog experience are going to be very happy with Medium and Blogger. You don’t have to worry about hosting, or updates, or really anything besides publishing your posts.

Wix and Squarespace are still fairly hands-off in terms of maintenance. They can host your blog, manage SSL certificates, patch security issues, and all the other backend work that most bloggers aren’t excited about.

With WordPress you’ll need to get web hosting and a domain name to get started. Over time, you’ll have to update WordPress as well as any plugins and themes you use. As the most free-range, customizable platform, it requires the most attention.

This is why I recommend that people starting their first WordPress blog use Bluehost. For less than $3 per month, you can get WordPress hosting that comes with automated WordPress updates and a free domain name for the first year.

Get everything you need in one place and let Bluehost take over some of the basic maintenance.

Tools for Growing Your Audience

One of the big reasons I recommend these particular blogging platforms is that they all include features that make it easier to connect more people. 

It could be readers, customers, fellow enthusiasts—whatever your blog audience, you can build it bigger with these solutions.

Even the free platforms. Blogger analyzes traffic on your site and lets you know how visitors arrived. Connect Google Analytics for a deeper picture of what’s happening.

Blogger also integrates with popular email marketing services, which turn your blog into a newsletter.

Medium has a built-in audience of paying readers. Once you join the Partner Program, Medium will curate your content for readers who are interested in the similar blog posts. 

Plus, you can easily share your Medium posts across social channels, reaching exponentially more readers with a few clicks.

And those are just the free options. If you go with a premium platform, the quality and variety of your growth features increases tremendously. 

Squarespace includes free email campaign tools to help you build your list. You can add on premium email marketing tools as well, to automate tens of thousands of sends each month.

Wix keeps SEO front and center. At a glance, you can monitor blog performance on the dashboard. To get a richer understanding, there are integrations with Google Analytics and Ubersuggest, which could be the best tool you can get for understanding how to improve SEO on your blog.

WordPress lets you broadcast your message and engage your audience along any conceivable vector. Use plugins to turn your website into an SEO powerhouse or double your blog’s traffic. There are thousands of plugins and a giant community of users building new solutions every day.

The bottom line is this: If you want people to read your blog, you can’t just post posts and expect the world to figure it out. 

To increase traffic, you’ll want to cast a wider net across social media and other channels. All these products can help, but which one aligns with your audience?

Blogging Platform FAQ

What blogging platform features should I consider?

Consider security, ease of use, price, customer support, and if they offer features you need for your specific website.

What are some of the best blogging platforms?

WordPresss, Wix, SquareSpace, Blogger, and Medium.

How do I design my blog?

Most blogging platforms offer templates, themes, and designs that you simply have to add to the blog on the backend (in the CMS).

Do all blogging platforms have SEO?

Most blogging platforms have plugins or add-ons that do some SEO automatically for you, like creating a sitemap. However, it is good to know some basic SEO that will help you when you’re writing content.

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Conclusion

If you are still having trouble deciding about which blogging platform to choose, I suggest checking out the vendors sites and reading their blog.

How does it look? They are using their own platform, likely pushing it to the edge of possibility in order to show off new features.

This will give you a really strong sense of what you can do with each platform. Follow these links to visit my top recommendations:

  1. Wix – Best for launching a beautiful blog right now
  2. Squarespace – Best for bold branding without a designer
  3. WordPress – Best for creating a unique blog
  4. Medium – Best for reaching readers with minimal effort
  5. Blogger – Best for sharing your story

Wix will even let you start editing a sample blog right on their site, to get a feel for how the designer works. If you like it, you can begin working on your own Wix blog immediately.

In terms of getting a great looking blog off the ground quickly—with zero web development experience—Wix should be your first choice.

Squarespace is another excellent choice for those without a ton of web design or development resources. It’s not quite as easy as Wix, but it does provide a significant bit more artistic freedom. Along with the top-notch customer service, Squarespace can help you handle all of your website and blogging needs without having to hire someone.

WordPress is my top choice if you are trying to deliver a unique blog experience for your readers. There are no limits to what you can create, and if you pick a reputable cheap web hosting option, it may cost you less than the all-in-one website builders.

In terms of free blogs, I highly recommend Medium to people looking to broaden their audience without investing too much time. The built-in readership is unlike any other platform and offers a great way to connect without spending more money.

And if what you came to this post to find was a free and simple way to share your story with the world, Blogger will suit you just fine. It’s a no frills platform that’s supported by Google. What more could you want?

What’s your go-to blogging platform and why?

Who else? <3internet marketing

Many of you know that I’m based in Portland, and I will always have a soft spot for this city. That being said, I think Portland has some of the biggest varieties of niche businesses, brands, and entrepreneurs. The city, known for being “weird,” draws in many small business owners and entrepreneurs with dreams for… Read more »

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Wix splash for best blogging platforms

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Do you want to skip the read and get right to my top pick? The best blogging platform for most people is Wix.

I’ve been making a good living as a blogger for more than a decade. This is an area of the internet I know really well.

But, a lot’s changed since I started. Blogging platforms have become more powerful while making it easier to start a blog than ever. With some site builders, you can even start your blog and start selling products online at the same time.

Below, you’ll find the five best tools for starting a blog today. Some of them I’ve used myself and like a lot; others are really good for bloggers with different needs and goals than my own.

By the end of this article, you’ll be well on your way to starting your own blog. 

#1 – Wix Review — The Best for Launching a Beautiful Blog Right Now

Wix splash for best blogging platforms

If you are looking for the shortest distance between you and a working blog, go with Wix.

There are other great options on my list, but nothing is as easy to get started with. 

It’s an excellent choice for beginners interested in creating a full-fledged website with a blog included.

Getting things set up is as simple as using the drag-and-drop editor to design your site. There’s no code necessary.

Wix is highly template-driven, but there are an astonishing range of options available. You’ll be able to find something that fits with your brand and tweak it to match the vision in your head.

Alternatively, you can use Wix Artificial Design Intelligence (ADI). Just answer a few questions about who you are and the purpose of your blog, and Wix ADI will create a website for you. I’m not kidding:

And even if you want to design your own site, Wix ADI will help you figure out which layouts work best by letting you preview your content before making a decision.

Everything looks crisp with very little configuration on your end. Your final product is going to make a professional impression, whether visitors are on a laptop or mobile phone.

And if you are an on-the-go person, don’t worry. The Wix mobile app lets you design and blog right from your phone.

In terms of growing your audience, Wix comes packed with powerful tools to help you increase your reach and engage meaningfully online:

  • Industry-leading SEO tools
  • Social media tools
  • Visitor analytics
  • 500 professional design templates
  • Post scheduling
  • Embed HTML codes
  • Categories and hashtags
  • Advanced search capabilities
  • Collaborators
  • Easy image editing

From site building to outreach, Wix a lot more than just a blogging platform. You can get started today and use Wix free forever.

The pros of a free Wix account are hands-off maintenance, as Wix hosts everything, and access to the world-class site building tools. Your site will have wixsite.com in the web address, and you’re limited to 500GB bandwidth, which basically means it only works for small sites without too much traffic.

The other drawback are the Wix ads, which enable the company to offer the free version. If you are running your blog as part of your business, do you really want another company’s advertisements?

If you upgrade, Wix removes the ads and gives you a custom domain name free for the first year. Your blog is fully yours, which I think is more than worth it.

Premium Wix plans are broken down into three groups: Websites, Business & eCommerce, and Enterprise. 

If you are looking for a straight-up blogging platform, the Websites is more than enough. Here’s a look at the different tiers of the Website plans:

Wix pricing for best blogging platforms

Plans start at $14 per month for Combo, which is good for personal use, and range up to $39 per month for the VIP plan, which has a lot more storage space and tools to grow your brand. This price includes web hosting, which normally costs around $10 per month. Really, Wix includes everything you need as part of the premium package.

Business and ecommerce plans start at $23 per month and allow you to accept payments online. Sell products and services directly from your blog. Even for more complex sites, the Wix set up process will still be very user-friendly.

Wix is an excellent choice for individuals and small businesses trying to get the word out. There’s a 100 page limit for Wix websites (excluding blog posts, of course), and site performance may suffer if you start to hit the upper limit.

If this is a concern, I’d just go with WordPress, which can grow as big as you need. That said, Wix offers custom solutions for enterprise clients that start at $500 per month.

For most users, especially those looking to get their blog up and running without any stress or frustration, Wix is fantastic.

Try Wix Premium today free for 14 days, or blog free as long as you like.

#2 – Squarespace Review — The Best for Bold Branding Without a Web Designer

Squarespace splash page for Best Blogging Platforms

Squarespace is an all-in-one website builder, like Wix. However, it’s famous for aesthetically pleasing templates, making it perfect for visual-based businesses like photographers, designers, and artists. 

Looking at the clean, beautiful brand presentation on Squarespace blogs, you might think that everyone hired a designer to get there. In reality, it might be that person’s first website ever.

Don’t get me wrong. Graphic design gurus can take Squarespace to amazing places, but I think the draw of the platform is that non-technical folks can spin up an striking site themselves.

For the entrepreneur or small business looking to build their online presence, Squarespace is a phenomenal choice. They can get the sleek blog they want without having to hire a web designer or developer.

This is huge, because you’re not having to pay anyone to create your site or having to scramble to find assistance when something breaks.

And if something does go wrong, Squarespace has highly-responsive customer service available 24/7. The relatively small monthly fee for the sitebuilder is probably a lot less than keeping a professional designer on retainer. 

Think of Squarespace as a middle-of-the-road option between Wix and WordPress—it’s got a little more freedom to customize than Wix, though not as much as WordPress. But it’s going to be easier to use on day one than WordPress.

Like Wix, you start with templates and customize from there. Squarespace templates are very elegant, and the editor is drag-and-drop, which means no coding to get started.

Squarespace template for best blogging platforms

What you see is what you get in terms of design, so you are not having to preview your page constantly to make sure everything is placed where it needs to go.

Squarespace is not quite as intuitive a design interface as Wix, but it’s not hard to get the hang of it. And once you do, you’ll find that you have more control over what you can do with the color palette and layout. 

This freedom is why a lot of artists, designers, and creatives flock to Squarespace.

Not that you need to be a designer to achieve an elegant blog on Squarespace. People without an artistic bone in their body are creating amazing sites on the platform every day. 

For a company that wants a beautiful blog, but doesn’t want to hire a designer to babysit it, Squarespace is perfect. Out of the box, you get:

  • Free blogging templates to help you get started
  • Categories, tags, and featured posts
  • Built-in post scheduler
  • Contributor permissions
  • In-depth analytics
  • SEO and social media tools
  • Email marketing tools
  • Expert customer service
  • Mobile app

Now you won’t have total control to customize, as you do with the thousands of plugins offered by WordPress.

That said, all of the add-ons and third-party extensions in Squarespace are built into the platform—this means no maintenance or updates for you. This is going to be less work than managing WordPress plugins and themes.

Adding ecommerce functionality to your Squarespace blog is extremely easy. Launch an online store, book appointments, create and sell member’s only content. 

Get these features set up in minutes and drive the right type of traffic to your blog with Squarespace’s excellent marketing and SEO tools. Everything you need for a complete website for your business is just as easy to set up as your blog, and it’s all going to look sharp.

Squarespace plans start at $12 per month for a website, and as low as $18 per month to add ecommerce:

Squarespace ecommerce pricing for best blogging platforms

The Personal plan is more than enough to power your website with a very good looking blog. You get the rich design and editing features I’ve described, as well as access to basic website metrics and the Squarespace extensions, which can expand your site with third-party features and content.

The Business plan lets you accept secure online payments and further customize your site with premium integrations. Take reservations, book appointments, or sell products and services. Choose the features you want and leave the maintenance to Squarespace.

I like the Business plan because you get more advanced analytics to understand your audience and fine-tune your marketing strategy. With higher tier plans, you’ll get more tools to understand your web traffic and additional ecommerce functions.

No matter what plan you choose, you get access to Squarespace’s customer service any time of day. For companies looking to get by without a web designer, the always-available assistance is a huge relief.

Squarespace is a fantastic option that keeps improving. The company is constantly adding features and upgrading the interface. 

Within a week or two, anyone can become a Squarespace master even if they are starting from scratch. It’s the perfect platform for an individual or small company that wants a professional-looking blog without hiring a professional to get it.

Try Squarespace free for 14 days and give your company the on-brand blog you’ve always wanted.

#3 – WordPress Review — The Best for Creating a Unique Blog

WordPress themes for Best Blogging Platforms

WordPress is the most popular blogging platform in the world. It’s free to use and the potential to create is boundless.

You can blog for free at WordPress.com. The company hosts your site and gives you a subdomain. The downside is that it’s supported by running its own ads unless you upgrade your plan.

Alternatively, you can download the platform for free at WordPress.org and use it on a site you host yourself. Hosting isn’t free, but if you go with an officially recommended WordPress host like Bluehost, the whole thing winds up being less expensive than going with a similar website builder.

The payoff is that you can build whatever you can imagine with your WordPress blog.

The whole WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org concept can be a little confusing, so just know that my review is of the WordPress.com option. When you read WordPress throughout this post, that’s what I am recommending.

It starts with choosing your WordPress theme. Think of it like a template that formats your whole site as opposed to just one page. 

There are a ton of amazing free themes to promote your content. These will keep your blog on brand and help you curate posts for your readers.

To add more functionality to your blog, there are tens of thousands of WordPress plugins you can use. These will help with SEO, site security, setting up newsletter subscriptions, and so much more. Lots of useful plugins are free.

WordPress plugins for Best Blogging Platforms

There are also premium plugins and themes you can buy to add rich capabilities or custom looks for your site.

Since WordPress is open-source and ridiculously popular, there is an active community that is constantly building new features for today’s challenges. These are just some of the reasons more people choose WordPress for their blog:

  • 55,000+ plugins to extend the functionality of your site
  • Thousands of free and premium themes
  • The Gutenburg block editor
  • Advanced user roles and permissions
  • Powerful media management
  • A massive community of experts
  • Infinite design control

You can get plugins and themes to take your site wherever it needs to go, and if you can’t, there is probably someone working on a solution right now.

With Wix and Squarespace, you are paying for an all-in-one platform. With WordPress, the platform is free, and you can purchase what you need à la carte. Choose your own mix of plugins and themes to get exactly what you need.

Turn your blog into a social media forum or host member’s only content behind a paywall. Anything you want is as simple as finding the right plugin.

Wix is going to be easier to use, especially at first, but WordPress is by no means difficult.

If you start building out a really complex site with a lot of plugins, sure, it’s going to be more work to maintain, but you’ll also have a blog that’s much more unique than what you could assemble on Wix.

In terms of day-to-day editing, though, WordPress is a breeze. The Gutenberg editor simplifies that process of arranging and refining your blog. You can work in HTML or edit visually, block by block, and effortlessly add content from your media library.

WordPress editor for Best Blogging Platforms

For the non-technical user, building a custom blog that’s rich with images and videos is incredibly easy. Gutenberg can even help you cut down on the number of plugins you need, which can start to cause conflicts if you are using too many.

Looking at the all-in costs of using WordPress as a blogging platform, it really depends what you are trying to do. If you are looking for the traditional blogging experience, you just need to pay for hosting and a domain name.

From there, you can do a ton with free plugins and themes. Or you can invest more in your site with paid options.

If you are just starting your blog, I’d recommend Bluehost Shared WordPress hosting. It starts at $2.95 per month. They give you a domain name free for the first year, custom themes, and automatic WordPress updates.

The whole process takes minutes instead of hours. It is affordable, easy to set up, and Bluehost takes over some of the maintenance. For all these reasons, I recommend Bluehost as the best way to start a WordPress blog.

#4 – Medium Review — The Best for Reaching Readers with Minimal Effort

Medium splash for Best Blogging Platforms

One thing most blogging platforms don’t include is a built in audience. Medium does.

In order to read articles on Medium, you need to pay a monthly membership fee. Some of that money goes to sustain the site, but some goes to the writers whose stories are being read.

So, if you write on Medium and join the Partner Program (which is free, and you don’t have to be a paying Medium member to join it), there’s a chance you could earn money if people spend time reading your blog posts.

For any topic you can think of, there is a Medium audience waiting to read more. You can share your posts easily, and check out what other bloggers in your space are doing. People who read similar types of posts to yours will see your posts, if you join the Partner Program.

This is a potentially monster avenue for targeted outreach within your niche.

Now it’s not entirely clear just how Medium curates your posts for other readers, which can be a little frustrating for bloggers who can’t find traction on the platform. That said, Medium does provide helpful stats about your visitors so you can get a sense of how traffic is arriving.

You also can’t make a million dollars on Medium, like you can with a website builder that has more ways to monetize your content.

But you also don’t have to worry about hosting or maintenance with Medium. The lack of effort is a huge plus for bloggers looking to write, not write code.

In that sense, Medium makes the initial hurdle to getting paid for blogging as easy as possible.

And if you aren’t worried about turning a profit, Medium is one of the best free blogging platforms available. 

There’s a good bit of design freedom, though definitely not as much as you get with website builders like Squarespace. You can play with the layout and fonts to capture your online persona, and you never have to worry about advertisements disrupting your flow.

You don’t have a techie bone in your body to start drafting, editing, and embedding your own pictures or third-party media.

That’s another big draw with Medium: you hardly have any work to get perfectly formatted, mobile responsive blog posts. Everything lands on feed curated beautifully for readers:

Medium feed for Best Blogging Platforms

For individuals and businesses alike, Medium is the perfect stress-free option for blogging. 

Spotlight an ongoing portfolio of work, client success stories, your hottest daily deals, or simply share news and updates. 

Medium lets you connect with a curated audience for free, and gives you the ability to share posts across social media with ease.

All of this through your own blog, which you don’t have to pay for or maintain.

Start using Medium today for free, and who knows, maybe you can generate a little cash on the side.

#5 – Blogger Review – The Best for Sharing Your Story

Blogger splash page for Best Blogging Platforms

Blogger is a great platform for the casual blogger, individuals advocating for a cause, or potentially companies who want nothing more than a traditional blog. 

It’s owned by Google, and offers the same level of dependability and intuitive navigation as Chrome and Gmail. If you can write an email, you can write a post on Blogger.

It’s also entirely free, forever, and includes your own subdomain. Your web address will be at example.blogspot.com. Set up takes minutes, and you never have to worry about hosting, storing your files, or keeping your site speed fast.

Leave that all to Google.

If you are trying to create an on-brand blog, and you want to get rid of the blogspot subdomain, simply purchase your own custom domain through one of the best domain registrars. It’s very easy to set everything up, especially if you use Google Domains.

I like it best for personal use as the platform is limited in some ways that can hamstring a blog built for business purposes. You have options to tweak the blog presentation, but you can’t change too much to make it your own.

There are gadgets to add functionality to your blog, but nothing remotely close to the power and diversity of WordPress plugins. You also have no ecommerce options, as you would with other website builders.

That said, you can monetize your Blogger page very easily using Google Adsense. Fill out a quick form with your payment information, and Blogger will put relevant ads on your site, bringing you income based on how many people visit.

Now this isn’t your ticket to a full time salary, but a little revenue coming in the door from your blog can’t hurt. All of the essentials you need to get started are included, like:

  • Image storage with Google Photos
  • Integrated ad campaigns
  • Simple text editor
  • A free SSL certificate and free domain mapping
  • Google integrations

Think of Blogger as a low-stress, near-zero maintenance blogging platform. It works well for people that have a story to share, but aren’t willing to invest significant time and resources into their blog.

Your story could be about your life, your product, your community, whatever you want. Blogger gives you a venue to broadcast your message, and Google handles all the technical legwork. You don’t have to worry about backing up your site or getting hacked.

If you aren’t super worried about aesthetics, Blogger is a good choice. The template selection is relatively sparse and you have to know HTML in order to customize beyond the basics. 

In other words, you are not going to be able to create a really unique experience for your readers with interactive content and dynamic pages as easily as you can with a website builder like Wix. 

The Blogger templates are repeated everywhere on the web. If that doesn’t bother you, Blogger is going to be one of the easiest and cheapest ways to get your blog off the ground.

Choose Blogger if what you want is a traditional blog. With minimal effort and oversight, you’ll be able to get a readable blog off the ground. 

Start your blog for free today.

What I Looked at to Find the Best Blogging Platform

Your options break down into two basic categories:

  1. Traditional blogging platforms
  2. Website builders with great blogging capability

Depending on what you are trying to do, one of these is going to make a lot more sense than the other.

If you are looking for a low maintenance venue to share stories with the world or advocate for a cause, traditional blogging platforms are perfect. They can also work as a simple portfolio for businesses that want to share wins and finished work.

Website builders can do a whole lot more, though they aren’t free like the traditional platforms. 

Let me walk you through the major criteria you need to figure out which type you want, and how to weigh your different options from there.

Cost and Revenue

For some bloggers, turning a profit isn’t the main focus. If they can make a little extra cash on the side, it’s a bonus, but they’re not depending on blog income to live.

If you fall in this group, I strongly suggest checking out Medium and Blogger. 

These two traditional blogging platforms are free forever. You don’t have to pay for hosting, web design, or worry about the site staying online. These providers handle all of that.

There are free versions of Wix and WordPress, but I like Medium and Blogger better because you won’t have any vendor ads on your site. In fact, Blogger lets you run ads and keep the money yourself. 

Medium has a Partner Program that lets you earn money on your blog posts if people read them. The program is free to join and takes no effort on your part to get your posts in front of new readers who care about your blogging niche. 

You can even add affiliate links to your Medium posts to generate your own source of revenue. Some free platforms don’t let you do this.

If you are using the platform for a business or want to make serious money blogging, I’ll steer you toward Wix, Squarespace, and WordPress. These options aren’t free, but there is a ton of value in what they provide.

For instance, you’ll be able to accept payments for products, services, and put content behind a membership paywall. The free platforms don’t support ecommerce, even if you do get a few avenues to monetize.

I’ll say more about the benefits of premium blogging platforms throughout this post, but it really comes down to this simple truth—the more you want your blog to do, the more it’s going to cost.

To decide between the paid platforms, look at how they offer services, as one may have a better pricing set up for your needs.

With Wix, for example, you can purchase all-in-one plans that include literally everything you need to get a site up and running. You can choose plans for simple blogs or plans for ecommerce and you are good to go.

WordPress, on the other hand, is free to download, but you have to pay for hosting. Wix and Squarespace (another solid all-in-one website builder) take care of the hosting and lump the cost in the total package.

What you’ll find, though, is that hosting your own WordPress site often winds up being cheaper than getting everything bundled. 

It’s a little more legwork on your part, but you also get a lot more control. Instead of purchasing a package of features and templates, you can add WordPress plugins and themes at your own discretion.

Is your blog going to have videos, plugins, or other resource-intensive features? 

Be sure to make sure the plan you’re considering comes with enough resources to support your site. Storage and traffic requirements may disqualify the entry-level plans.

If you are just starting off, this isn’t too much of a concern. But performance can suffer once you start to see a lot of traffic or add a lot of features to your site. No one reads blogs that take a long time to load.

Branding Your Blog Your Way

Is your blog part of your brand? This is important when looking at blogging platforms, as some of your free options are going to limit the branding control you have.

WordPress and Wix support their freemium options by running their own ads on your site. You don’t control what they sell or see any revenue. It’s no big deal for a hobby blog, but far from ideal for a business.

Blogger and Medium, on the other hand, don’t run ads. So if you want a free blog to promote your business, I’d start with one of those two.

You also want to get your own domain name to build your brand. Free blogs give you a subdomain with their company name in your web address. On blogger, your URL would be yourusername.blogspot.com.

It’s easy to buy your own domain name and looks way more professional. It also helps search engines like Google direct the right people to your site.

Wix and Squarespace include a free domain name for the first year, so you can get that custom web address without anyone else’s brand involved. 

If you sign up for WordPress hosting via Bluehost, you get a domain name free for the first year as well. Starting at less than 3$ per month, I think this is the best way to start a WordPress blog.

With the website builders, you get a lot more freedom to create your site your way. It’s easier to align your blog with your brand when you have more control.

Design Freedom

Blogger and Medium offer simple tools to create, organize, and share posts. There’s not a ton you can do with the layout, but it’s always going to look sharp.

The premium blogging platforms give you a lot more control and design flexibility, allowing you to build a complete website and brand around your blog.

Customize the look and feel of nearly every aspect of your blog instead of having to color inside the lines someone else drew.

For the first time blogger who wants an original site, I highly recommend Wix. There’s virtually no learning curve and you can drag-and-drop your way to a site you love.

Squarespace is very approachable in terms of design. It might take slightly longer for the novice user to build their first site than with Wix, but the tradeoff is greater control over your blog’s layout and design.

It’s one of the reasons that Squarespace is the website builder of choice for many artists, architects, photographers, and the like.

WordPress is at the top of the heap in terms of design freedom. There is little you can’t do, but there is a bit of a learning curve. It’s certainly manageable, just a little harder in the first hours than Wix.

But if you are looking for the freedom to create, a WordPress blog is your ticket to infinite possibility.

Maintenance Requirements

How much upkeep does your blog require? 

Or put it this way: How much time are you willing to spend making sure your blog is up and running?

Those who want a hands-off blog experience are going to be very happy with Medium and Blogger. You don’t have to worry about hosting, or updates, or really anything besides publishing your posts.

Wix and Squarespace are still fairly hands-off in terms of maintenance. They can host your blog, manage SSL certificates, patch security issues, and all the other backend work that most bloggers aren’t excited about.

With WordPress you’ll need to get web hosting and a domain name to get started. Over time, you’ll have to update WordPress as well as any plugins and themes you use. As the most free-range, customizable platform, it requires the most attention.

This is why I recommend that people starting their first WordPress blog use Bluehost. For less than $3 per month, you can get WordPress hosting that comes with automated WordPress updates and a free domain name for the first year.

Get everything you need in one place and let Bluehost take over some of the basic maintenance.

Tools for Growing Your Audience

One of the big reasons I recommend these particular blogging platforms is that they all include features that make it easier to connect more people. 

It could be readers, customers, fellow enthusiasts—whatever your blog audience, you can build it bigger with these solutions.

Even the free platforms. Blogger analyzes traffic on your site and lets you know how visitors arrived. Connect Google Analytics for a deeper picture of what’s happening.

Blogger also integrates with popular email marketing services, which turn your blog into a newsletter.

Medium has a built-in audience of paying readers. Once you join the Partner Program, Medium will curate your content for readers who are interested in the similar blog posts. 

Plus, you can easily share your Medium posts across social channels, reaching exponentially more readers with a few clicks.

And those are just the free options. If you go with a premium platform, the quality and variety of your growth features increases tremendously. 

Squarespace includes free email campaign tools to help you build your list. You can add on premium email marketing tools as well, to automate tens of thousands of sends each month.

Wix keeps SEO front and center. At a glance, you can monitor blog performance on the dashboard. To get a richer understanding, there are integrations with Google Analytics and Ubersuggest, which could be the best tool you can get for understanding how to improve SEO on your blog.

WordPress lets you broadcast your message and engage your audience along any conceivable vector. Use plugins to turn your website into an SEO powerhouse or double your blog’s traffic. There are thousands of plugins and a giant community of users building new solutions every day.

The bottom line is this: If you want people to read your blog, you can’t just post posts and expect the world to figure it out. 

To increase traffic, you’ll want to cast a wider net across social media and other channels. All these products can help, but which one aligns with your audience?

Blogging Platform FAQ

What blogging platform features should I consider?

Consider security, ease of use, price, customer support, and if they offer features you need for your specific website.

What are some of the best blogging platforms?

WordPresss, Wix, SquareSpace, Blogger, and Medium.

How do I design my blog?

Most blogging platforms offer templates, themes, and designs that you simply have to add to the blog on the backend (in the CMS).

Do all blogging platforms have SEO?

Most blogging platforms have plugins or add-ons that do some SEO automatically for you, like creating a sitemap. However, it is good to know some basic SEO that will help you when you’re writing content.

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Conclusion

If you are still having trouble deciding about which blogging platform to choose, I suggest checking out the vendors sites and reading their blog.

How does it look? They are using their own platform, likely pushing it to the edge of possibility in order to show off new features.

This will give you a really strong sense of what you can do with each platform. Follow these links to visit my top recommendations:

  1. Wix – Best for launching a beautiful blog right now
  2. Squarespace – Best for bold branding without a designer
  3. WordPress – Best for creating a unique blog
  4. Medium – Best for reaching readers with minimal effort
  5. Blogger – Best for sharing your story

Wix will even let you start editing a sample blog right on their site, to get a feel for how the designer works. If you like it, you can begin working on your own Wix blog immediately.

In terms of getting a great looking blog off the ground quickly—with zero web development experience—Wix should be your first choice.

Squarespace is another excellent choice for those without a ton of web design or development resources. It’s not quite as easy as Wix, but it does provide a significant bit more artistic freedom. Along with the top-notch customer service, Squarespace can help you handle all of your website and blogging needs without having to hire someone.

WordPress is my top choice if you are trying to deliver a unique blog experience for your readers. There are no limits to what you can create, and if you pick a reputable cheap web hosting option, it may cost you less than the all-in-one website builders.

In terms of free blogs, I highly recommend Medium to people looking to broaden their audience without investing too much time. The built-in readership is unlike any other platform and offers a great way to connect without spending more money.

And if what you came to this post to find was a free and simple way to share your story with the world, Blogger will suit you just fine. It’s a no frills platform that’s supported by Google. What more could you want?

What’s your go-to blogging platform and why?

Valuable Post

How to Conduct Crisis Communication During a Pandemic

In 2019 something strange happened to the world. The Covid 19 virus struck. While much of the virus dynamics and its aftermath will go down in the annals of history, what will also be important is how we went about living with the new work (and world) order created by Covid. 

The new world order challenged several businesses. Travel, hospitality, and retail businesses that depended on human contact felt the punch almost immediately. That said, these were the companies that probably understood the impact of the crisis early on. These were the companies that realized it was imperative to communicate openly and transparently with customers and stakeholders to instill confidence. For instance, global eCommerce companies announced a depleted staff presence to communicate a possible delay in deliveries. 

The pandemic forced companies to relook at their work policies. But this relook was not restricted to just working but also to ensure that a work-life balance was maintained. Communication executives were in overdrive disseminating messages of wellbeing at regular intervals to their internal and external stakeholders. 

Most of these messages were directed to the customers, employees, and government organizations. With Covid being the central theme, the communication pattern changed from the plain HR messaging to a more sensitive and sophisticated form of communication acknowledging the Work From Home (WFH) effort. So much so that companies went ahead to thank family members for their contribution.  

Not that WFM as a concept didn’t exist before the pandemic, but WFM professionals were in the majority this time around. In many cases, the senior executives of the company were also doing business from their homes. Hence this time, the messages were more inclusive, or let’s say, empathetic. 

The question remains, did it require a pandemic for organizations to display such collective empathy? 

The answer to that question lies in the DNA of organizational behavior, wherein employee communication is usually an executive order or a harbinger of some unsavory news. In times of crisis, there are a couple of factors that determine the quality of information. One, of course, is the clarity of information that people seek – second, allaying their fears about insecurities arising from the crisis. These insecurities come in many shapes and sizes, but the chief among them revolves around job security. 

Centralized framework for crisis communication

Most communication during the pandemic focused on giving clarity around the business. Companies identified their key audiences to precision and communicated in the medium where they were most likely to be found. Key audiences can be a handful if one goes deep. For example, they could be employees, stakeholders, customers, suppliers, government, academia, and media. 

Crisis communication is a different beast and here is a framework for managing it.

Identify your target audience 

Ideally, the communication strategy must address the needs of all these constituents. Any weak link here could mean a misfire that can breed inconsistency and have unfavorable brand and reputation consequences. The idea is to keep communication flowing from a trustworthy hub (ideally, a cross-functional communication hub) rather than a parallel organizational entity without any locus standi. 

While it’s essential to be cautious about business disclosure for statutory reasons, companies need to be transparent as a lack of information at the right time may erode brand equity and open the business to unnecessary speculation. 

Sidebar: The funny part is the regulators didn’t mandate anything from listed corporates about sharing business information. So, in the end, it was left to speculation whether it was business as usual or it was slow.  

Be transparent 

If we look at behavioral science, a crisis usually prompts an exponential desire, from the prospect, for openness while invoking the exact opposite reaction from the entity, disseminating the information. 

Although many organizations didn’t use a framework, they stuck to the traditional route keeping their communication channels open with the sole objective to lower anxiety and rumors. 

Choose the right medium

Social media became the platform of choice for many companies to talk about their Covid policies. Not surprisingly, LinkedIn became the medium where companies announced their Covid policies. Facebook, Twitter saw much fewer employee communication announcements. 

If we were to look at the content in many of these communication pieces, most of them were top-down with a regular cadence. 

Leaders at the helm made those statements giving a sense of authenticity to the communication. Company spokespersons were used, but they were adjuncts to the CEO, reassuring the stakeholders and customers that all is well. 

Include a customer touchpoint

While the pandemic was ravaging most businesses, companies were looking beyond quarters. For example, companies like Google took a long-term view of their workforce policies and allowed their staff to work from home for an extended period. Another seemingly benign-looking crisis, that of mental health, and wellbeing, also raised its head during the intensity of the pandemic. In both these cases, companies that got this (communication) right brought up the issues of employee wellbeing and health during WFH. And, these were addressed by leaders themselves, which made it inclusive. 

If employees were on one side of the spectrum, customers were at the other end. And, for both, the information needs were different. Ideally, a customer communication checklist should include customer touchpoints and messages disseminated at these touchpoints and when the next update is expected. For instance, a bank customer would like to know the working hours of the bank, complaint process, time and date of the next update, etc. It’s essential that these messages are developed centrally and cascaded downwards (via a robust workflow) to the line managers for implementation. 

Reassure your audience

Probably the one thing that exemplifies empathy in both customers and internal audiences is reassurances. Messaging with a degree of reassurance is a consolation. It does more good than any other messaging that you may have. Reassurance is not a commitment but a forward-looking statement that stems out of transparency, vision, and purpose. 

Wrapping up

They say one should seek opportunity in adversity. Covid taught us that. Some companies changed their way of working while some transformed. But one thing remains unchanged… 80% of business is still communication. 

Guest author: Trishna Patnaik, a BSc (in Life Sciences) and MBA (in Marketing) by qualification but an artist by choice. A self-taught artist based in Mumbai, Trishna has been practising art for over 14 years. After she had a professional stint in various reputed corporates, she realised that she wanted to do something more meaningful. She found her true calling in her passion that is painting. Trishna is now a full-time professional painter pursuing her passion to create and explore to the fullest. She says, “It’s a road less travelled but a journey that I look forward to every day.” Trishna also conducts painting workshops across Mumbai and other metropolitan cities of India. Trishna is an art therapist and healer. She works with clients on a one-on-one basis in Mumbai. Trishna fancies the art of creative writing and is dappling her hands in that too, to soak in the experience and have an engagement with readers, wanderers and thinkers. 

The post How to Conduct Crisis Communication During a Pandemic appeared first on Jeffbullas's Blog.

Valuable Post !

Many of you know that I’m based in Portland, and I will always have a soft spot for this city. That being said, I think Portland has some of the biggest varieties of niche businesses, brands, and entrepreneurs. The city, known for being “weird,” draws in many small business owners and entrepreneurs with dreams for… Read more »

The post Top 37 Entrepreneurs In Portland, Oregon appeared first on One-Click Lindsey.

I <3 making money at home ?

Many of you know that I’m based in Portland, and I will always have a soft spot for this city. That being said, I think Portland has some of the biggest varieties of niche businesses, brands, and entrepreneurs. The city, known for being “weird,” draws in many small business owners and entrepreneurs with dreams for… Read more »

The post Top 37 Entrepreneurs In Portland, Oregon appeared first on One-Click Lindsey.