To be a writer, you need a pen and paper, a dose of courage and a flair for words. But if you want to be a writer online, you can add a great blogging platform to the list.
Stacks of blogging tools exist to help you write online and attract an audience. Whether you want to share your passion for fashion, serve up homemade food recipes or set up a corporate blog for your business.
The challenge is to sift through the trash to find a tool that can cater to your blogging needs.
That’s why in this guide we’re focussing on the seven best blogging platforms. Our list is based on extensive user testing and personal experience using blogging tools. You can try any of them by clicking the name in the list above.
So now you know the seven best blogging platforms, why would you read the rest of the guide?
Because we’ll help you find out which blogging tool is right for you.
When it comes to finding the best blogging platform, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Some people have experience coding. Others want to make money from their blog.
Whatever your blogging dreams, we’ll point your pen in the right direction. We run through each of the best blogging platforms’ pros and cons, how much they cost and how they help you find readers.
WordPress.org is a free and open source software that has helped millions of people launch blogs online.
In fact, WordPress.org is so popular that it powers 24% of all websites. That’s one heck of a social recommendation!
WordPress.org blogs perform well for search engine optimization (SEO for short). SEO is the practice of making your blog rank high in search engines like Google. The higher you rank, the more readers you get.
Open source means you can play around with the code. The upshot of this is you get complete control over the look and feel of your blog. It would be like being in charge of the font, color and image on your physical book cover. The caveat is that you’ll need some technical skill (or money to hire a techie) to take full advantage of this flexibility.
This flexibility lets you add features to your blog like:
- Online store
It’s why WordPress.org is one of the best blogging platforms on the market. WordPress.org is a particularly good option for more technical bloggers looking to develop a more complex blog long-term.
One downside to WordPress’s power is that less technical users will find the learning curve steeper than launching a blog on a drag-and-drop website builder.
Plus, while the platform is free to use, costs like hosting and securing your domain name can add up.
Because it’s open source, you will also have to sort out hosting and security. Hosting means giving your blog somewhere to live online. This can be a headache for bloggers who aren’t as computer-savvy.
The good news is hosting solution Bluehost provides one-click integration with WordPress.org. If you want to start your blog on WordPress.org, hit the button below to get started.
WordPress.org is a powerful tool that is suitable for fledgling writers right up to accomplished bloggers. The more technically skilled you are, the more you will get out of the platform. For complete novice bloggers, or those who want a less hands-on, time-intensive experience, there are better options. We’ll introduce you to one next.
Unlike WordPress.org, Weebly is a drag-and-drop website builder. It’s one of the best blog website builders because of how simple it is to use. To add a blog to your website and populate it with great content, all you do is point and click.
Creating a blog is possible on any of Weebly’s oricing plans, which start at the Free plan and go up to the $38/month Performance plan for online stores. To get rid of Weebly ads, and make your blog look professional, you’ll need to be on at least Weebly’s $8/month Starter plan.
You can build a website and add a blog page without touching any code. Weebly will take care of all the technical heavy lifting in the background. It will make sure your blog loads quickly and is accessible to readers.
Free Weebly themes are available and, while it’s not as powerful as WordPress.org, and there’s less customization potential, Weebly does allow you to add an impressive number of features to your blog. This is a big reason it scored so highly in our testing.
These features include:
- Detailed analytics on your blog’s performance
- An easy-access archive
- Comments section
- Social bookmarking to help your blog go viral
Scheduled publishing is super easy in Weebly. You can set your blog to go live at a certain time. So if you write your blog during the day, but Weebly analytics tells you your readers engage in the evening, you can delay publication.
When it comes to SEO, Weebly isn’t spectacular but it takes care of the basics. You create custom URLs, title tags and meta descriptions.
Weebly is one of the top-rated blog website builders. It’s perfect if you’re looking for a quick and easy way to get a website and blog online. But if you hope to grow a more long-term, full-featured blog, Weebly may feel limiting. Although, upgrading to an advanced plan unlocks more functionality.
Like Weebly, Wix is an intuitive site builder that lets you integrate a blog at the click of a button.
Put simply, Wix is one of the best blog website builders around. It’s not hard to see why the Israel-based company boasts over 100 million users.
You can launch a blog with your Wix site on any plan, from the Free plan upwards. However, to connect your domain name you’ll need to sign up to the $5/month Connect Domain plan. And, to get rid of Wix ads, you need to be on at least Wix Combo, at $11/month. As with Weebly, we’d recommend upgrading to a more advanced Wix account to get your own domain and get rid of adverts. It’s a small price to pay to make your blog look professional.
The more professional your blog, the more readers will trust you. Think about it. When you go into a book shop, would you pick up a book that had adverts stuck all over the front cover and different authors’ names on it?
When it comes to templates, Wix has the edge over Weebly. There is a great selection of stunning and up-to-date templates for you to choose from.
Wix has recently upgraded its content editor. Along with all the existing features, you can now:
- Personalize image galleries
- Add captions and links to images
- Insert videos from YouTube or Vimeo
The rich editor in Wix makes you feel like you’re crafting your blog with the finest materials. Powerful customization is made simple.
Wix is also strong on mobile. Updating your blog on mobile is a painless experience. Think about this if you’re someone who travels a lot and plans to blog on the move.
You will also get access to premium support over the phone and email – a luxury you don’t get with WordPress.org, for example. This is a big reason less experienced bloggers should go with Wix over WordPress.org.
Wix ranks behind Weebly in our list of the best blogging platforms because our research shows it lacks a few key features. Unlike Weebly, you can’t create an archive in Wix’s blogging tool. And you can’t add an RSS feed, making it more difficult to update content.
Like Weebly, Wix is a super option for bloggers who want to get online seamlessly. It lacks some of Weebly’s basic features, but Wix’s infrastructure and thirst for development makes it one of the best blogging platforms if you want to get online, but carry on growing.
WordPress.com is a blog hosting service from the same company, Automattic, that’s behind WordPress.org.
It’s free to launch your blog on WordPress.com, but you have to pay for extra features like storage and your own domain name. Like Wix and Weebly, to remove the WordPress.com logo you need to upgrade to a paid plan, which start from $4 a month. WordPress.com works in the same way as drag-and-drop builders. You construct your blog by selecting and moving elements around on your screen
WordPress.com must be doing something right as it claims to power 30% of the internet. SEO is one of WordPress.com’s big strengths, with sites loading quickly and backed up by powerful infrastructure.
Set up is fast and the platform is straightforward to get to grips with. On the downside, customization opportunities are limited – especially when compared to WordPress.org. You can’t edit the code and you don’t have complete control over your blog.
Here’s a snapshot of the key WordPress.com features that make it one of the best blogging platforms:
- Mobile-optimized themes make your blog look great on all devices.
- Technical upkeep managed, including software updates, hosting and domain registration.
- Modern site design.
- Advanced analytics to help you find out what your readers like.
Don’t be confused by the similarity of the name with WordPress.org, they are different platforms.
OK, so what’s the difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com?
In a nutshell, WordPress.com is the fully-hosted version that takes care of the technical side of your blog. The way it works is more similar to Wix or Weebly than WordPress.org. With WordPress.org, you sacrifice ease of use to gain access to the code and get greater customization options. For more on the difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com, visit our WordPress Review.
WordPress.com is one of the best blogging platforms around. It’s bursting with the features you need to create a powerful blog. But Wix or Weebly remain better choices for first-time bloggers because of how intuitive they are to use. Plus, you get access to support teams over the phone.
There is, however, more scope for extensive customization of your blog with WordPress.com. This is because Premium blogs include custom CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). At the time of writing, this is not possible in Wix. CSS is a coding language and having the freedom to alter it means you can make really comprehensive changes to your blog. Bear this in mind if you have long-term ambitions for your blog.
No list of the best blogging platforms would be complete with WordPress.com. Great customization potential, plus hosting and technical upkeep, make WordPress.com a great middle ground between WordPress.org and drag-and-drop website builders. It’s perfect for you if you don’t want to get your hands dirty with the mechanical side of running a blog, but are worried a builder like Wix may feel limiting in the long run.
Squarespace is one of the best blogging platforms for artists and designers because of its swish templates and polished feel.
There’s no free Squarespace plan; to create a blog you need to be on at least the $12/month Personal plan. To monetize your blog, you’ll need to upgrade to the $18/month Business plan.
That sounds expensive, so is it worth it? Squarespace has improved its blog offering considerably in recent years. It used to be that on the Personal plan you were limited to just 20 pages. Now that cap has been lifted entirely.
But the real value for money lies in the aesthetics. The New York-based company is well known for the visual quality of its templates. They’re what makes Squarespace one of the best blogging platforms on the market.
You can browse free and paid templates by industry and select one that suits your blog’s needs. Squarespace has taken great care with how your content is laid out on its templates. The designs are top-of-the-range and features like grid layout and 3D scrolling can give your blog a unique look and feel.
At times it feels like blog-building from the future!
In our user testing Squarespace scored strongly for features. You can:
- Display blogging categories
- Allow comments
- Add an RSS Feed (unlike Wix)
Customization, though, is more fiddly than on Weebly or Wix. The learning curve is steeper on Squarespace than on other website builders. Plus, to open up more editing possibilities, you will need to upgrade to a pricier Squarespace plan.
When it comes to SEO, Squarespace is not as beginner-friendly as some of the best blogging platforms. For example, some templates show SEO information on the site. This is an odd quirk that might alarm less experienced bloggers. If you’ve got a bit of SEO-know-how, you’ll be able to pick it up easy enough though.
Squarespace is very design-orientated. It’s perfect for designers, artists or photographers. It may not be as simple to use as Wix or Weebly, but if your blog focuses heavily on the visual, Squarespace is for you.
Dating way, way back to 1999, Blogger is a platform that does what it says on the tin.
This old-timer of blogging is free, easy to use and, because it was bought by Google in 2003, very reliable. Like the best website builders for blogging, Blogger takes care of any speed and hosting demands. You even get an SSL security certificate (usually upwards of $70) thrown in free.
Blogs are hosted by Google (a bit like having the world’s most powerful landlord), unless you pay for a custom domain. Your Blogger account is bundled in with your Google account – great for simplicity because all you need to do is log in with your Google details.
Working with Google does bring perks. Monetizing your Blogger page can be done through Google AdSense, which will add relevant ads to your blog. This is a more straightforward route to revenue than with a website builder.
Unfortunately, using Blogger limits you to basic tools. This is bare-bones blogging stripped back to the essentials. You can’t add new features and design options are restricted to a handful of templates. Its simplicity may make it one of the best blogging platforms, but it’s also the reason it’s not the very best.
It can feel like blogging in analogue, when other platforms are digital. For example, you need clumsy redirects to have a Blogger homepage.
Also, your character count and number of blogs are capped. It’s not a coincidence that the founder of Blogger went on to launch the ultimate digestible-content platform – Twitter. If you get stuck on Blogger, there’s little or no support available aside from a forum and a help center.
Blogger is not updated regularly and you are, of course, vulnerable to Google mothballing the platform. It’s got a track record of killing off products. Remember Google Reader?
Blogger is a Spartan tool that is a good option for non-technical users or those with limited time on their hands. You can share your content with the world very quickly. It’s a very short route from writing your content to publication. Still, it’s hard to look beyond the constraints and you will be better off with Blogger’s direct competition: easy-to-use website builders that can grow with you.
Tumblr is a pure-play blogging tool that’s USP is clickable, shareable and short-form content.
The New York-based micro-blogging site was founded in 2007 and hosts over 400 million blogs.
Uploading content, from images to concise articles, is very quick and easy…not to mention free! Although there are a range of paid templates available.
Like Blogger, though, the growth opportunities are limited. There’s not the same infrastructure available to use social media marketing, play around with layouts or build an advanced blog page. Backing up your Tumblr blog is also tricky.
The focus on short-form content can also have implications for SEO. Making your blog SEO-friendly is far less easy or doable in Tumblr than in a drag-and-drop builder, or through a platform like WordPress.org.
And, while the scattergun approach of Tumblr might be attractive, if you’ve got a focused blog idea (such as fashion, for example), the platform may feel too random and ‘here today, gone tomorrow’.
Tumblr is worth looking at if your blog focuses on clickable, shareable content rather than text. GIFs, images, memes, polls and quizzes are Tumblr’s bread and butter. Consider Tumblr if they’re also the type of content you plan to put on your site. But if you want to design a stylish and intricate blog, pick a different option from our list of the best blogging platforms.
Here’s a remind of our top seven best blogging platforms and who they’re best for:
Best for you if: you’re tech-savvy and want to grow a stylish blog
Not for you if: you can’t code and don’t have time to learn
Best for you if: you want a quick and easy way to launch a blog
Not for you if: you want more control in the back-end
Best for you if: you want a wide range of templates and to integrate your blog with a website (without any technical know-how)
Not for you if: you want blog archive and RSS feed features
Best for you if: you decide Wix or Weebly aren’t right for you
Not for you if: you want simplicity
Best for you if: you want access to the best designed templates
Not for you if: you favour content over design
Best for you if: you want to do things quickly and cheaply
Not for you if: you want to grow your blog
Best for you if: your blog is is short-form, clickable content
Not for you if: you have a lot of content
If you want to go for our best overall blog platform, WordPress.org, make sure you are up for the challenge. It’s not the easiest to use, but we’ve rated it number one because it’s fully customizable and powers so many blogs.
If you do decide to start your blog with WordPress.org, our advice is to host it with Bluehost. Not only do WordPress.org themselves recommend them, but they have a sale on right now. It’s a no-brainer.