Which Platform Should You Use for Your Blog?
Hello! I'm Charlotte, and I'm the founder of Blog and Beyond. I'm a slightly sarcastic 22-year-old grandma from Glasgow who loves The Sims, Hugh Laurie and programmes about airports. I've been blogging at Colours and Carousels for nearly eight years and work freelance in digital marketing.
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Blogging can be a bit of a minefield in some respects, particularly when it comes to picking the right platform to build your blog. There are so many options out there nowadays, with free and paid options aplenty, and it can be difficult to know where to begin. Here's a quick rundown of some of the most popular blogging platforms, how they work, and what they could typically cost.
You'll find that the vast majority of bloggers either use Blogger or Wordpress, and I myself have been running my blog Colours and Carousels on Blogger since 2010. Blogger is a free platform, owned by Google, and is really easy to use. The Blogger platform does the bulk of the technical work for you, so you can just get writing, but it is somewhat limited in its functions compared to the likes of Wordpress, depending on what you want. Blogger's main strength is that it's free to use, you don't need to pay for hosting, and if you want to upgrade to a custom domain the costs are minimal - with some starting from as low as £1 for your first year.
- Limited tools available
- Google could suspend their platform or your blog (this is very unlikely, but it's possible)
- Plugins aren't available
- Easy to use
- Relatively cheap
- Lots of affordable templates
- Great for beginners
- Uses the strong Google platform
You'll see Wordpress referred to a lot in the blogosphere, but there are two forms of Wordpress to know about. Wordpress.com is the basic form of Wordpress and has both free and paid options. On the free option, you'll have a .wordpress.com domain and your site will have the Wordpress branding. For $2.99 a month you can get a custom domain and remove the branding, or for $8.25 you can have a bit more control over the design of your website.
- You can't monetise your blog
- Design options and functionality are limited
- Wordpress will run adverts on your site
- Easy to use
- Affordable options
- No need to worry about hosting
The Wordpress.com options are still fairly limited in comparison to Wordpress.org, which is one of the most popular blogging platforms. Using the .org option relies on you having a hosting provider, which can be slightly more costly than other blogging platforms and will depend on how much traffic you receive. This platform has many benefits, however, and provides a lot more control over your site in comparison to others.
- With more control comes more responsibility, you may be required to undertake more technical work and keep your site up to date/backed up.
- Hosting can be costly and your provider may be vulnerable to downtime
- You get a lot more control over your site, how it looks and what it does
- You can take advantage of the thousands of plugins available
- The platform is search engine friendly
Want to see an example of a site built with Squarespace? You're looking at one. Squarespace is a website builder that uses a drag and drop system made up of content blocks. It's great for building professional looking websites when you're not necessarily the most tech-savvy as it's easy to use and has an intuitive interface. It's a subscription-based service that you can pay for monthly or annually, with personal and business options. Pricing starts from $12 a month (around £8) and includes your hosting, domain and template.
- Depending on what you need from a site, it could be costly in comparison
- Easy to use with little technical skills
- Looks pretty good, with minimal effort!
- Has functionality for e-commerce
...and the rest
Whilst these are some of the most popular options, there are still plenty more out there to be explored. The likes of Wix allow you to build your own website on a relatively simple platform, and Medium is ideal for you if you're not bothered about the branding, and would much rather write.
As well as traditional website builders and blogging platforms, there's also the option of micro-blogging. Sites like Instagram and Tumblr allow you to curate and create beautiful content to share with your followers. They're free and simple to use, and a great way to get started if you're thinking about starting a blog.