Starting a blog encompasses a lot of decisions, from deciding what you want to blog about to figuring out exactly what fonts you’ll be using. One of the biggest decisions you’ll make is choosing a blogging platform!
With so many options out there, it can be nerve-wrecking to single out one platform that fits your needs. I’ll be looking at five popular blogging platforms: Blogger, self-hosted WordPress, WordPress.com, Squarespace, and Weebly. From there, I’ll give a summary of what each platform allows you to do, as well as some considerations you should take if you choose that platform. By the end of this post, you’ll have a good idea of where you fit along the platform spectrum!
Note: This post contains affiliate links. You can read my disclosure by clicking here.
I used this platform when I initially created my blog, and I really didn’t have any issues with it. Blogger is a free blogging platform and host, meaning you can build your blog on it without having to purchase separate hosting, and continue to blog for free on a “website.blogspot.com” blog. It’s very customizable in comparison to some of the other blogging platforms I’ll be covering, although it has its limits. Should you decide to take your blog to the next level, you can always purchase a domain name through a company like GoDaddy and easily use it on your Blogger blog. I’d recommend this platform for people who:
- Don’t want to spend money.
- Care about personalizing their design, but don’t need anything super fancy.
- Know some basics of CSS and HTML, or are willing to learn.
- May be interested in producing sponsored content.
- Aren’t planning on running an e-commerce business through their blog*.
- Want a platform that’s easy to use and edit.
Check out this guide on starting your own Blogger blog!
*you can totally run a business on a Blogger blog, but if you know you want to incorporate electronic purchases into your business, it will be way easier to get that set up on self-hosted WordPress!
This blog is currently on the WordPress platform. That means the blog was created using the WordPress platform, but the blog is hosted through another service (in my case, SiteGround). This is definitely the most advanced route you can take when choosing a blogging platform, but it can save a lot of time and effort in the long run. There are infinite design and functionality options in WordPress, which is a designer’s dream come true! Even if you’re a non-designer, WordPress has loads of goodies for all types of bloggers. However, all of that functionality comes with a big learning curve, so I’d suggest choosing WordPress if you:
- Are okay spending money on your blog (at least $60 per year).
- Have or are planning to get a custom domain.
- Care about customizable/non-restricted design, and are willing to pay for it or create it.
- Have some knowledge of CSS and HTML, or are willing to learn.
- Plan on blogging for a long time.
If you’re interested in starting your own self-hosted WordPress blog, I wrote a guide to help you through the whole process!
To clarify why I’m listing WordPress twice, it’s imperative that you understand that WordPress.com is NOT the same as self-hosted WordPress (WordPress.org). This is a confusion lots of bloggers have, and for good reason; I mean, they have the same name! But don’t be confused by that similarity, because it’s pretty much the only characteristic they share. Similar to Blogger, you’ll have a subdomain name (website.wordpress.com), but to use a custom domain (website.com) you’ll have to pay a monthly fee to upgrade.
The free version also has quite a few limitations, like the inability to use advertisements on your blog. If you want to place ads, you’ll need to be a premium member, which costs around $8 per month. At that rate, I would recommend just switching to self-hosted WordPress and paying about the same thing! You’ll also need to pay at least $3 per month if you want to get rid of the ads WordPress will place on your blog automatically. However, a few bloggers may benefit from this platform if they:
- Don’t want to spend money.
- Don’t care much about their blog’s design or personalization.
- Want something simple that doesn’t require coding knowledge.
As someone who wants my followers to have the best experience blogging, I honestly would not recommend this platform. The limitations are just too problematic, and someone looking for a free blog platform would be better off on Blogger. I’m not trying to hate on anyone with a WordPress.com blog, but this is my honest opinion and that’s all I’ll ever give my readers! ☺️
I’ve never actually used Squarespace before, so I’m probably not the best person to analyze their services, but I’ve read a lot about it from other bloggers, so I’ll do my best to give you the gist. Squarespace offers monthly payment plans, ranging from $8 to $24 dollars a month. That plan includes things like your hosting, unlimited bandwidth, unlimited storage, and an integrated e-commerce feature. They have a large selection of templates to choose from, so customization is possible. Their interface is also easy to use, with a drag and drop feature that allows you to easily move content around. From what I’ve learned, I would recommend Squarespace if you:
- Are willing to spend money on your blog (upwards of $100).
- Care about design, but don’t need extensive functionality.
- May be interested in running a business through your blog.
- Want something very easy to use.
My experience with Weebly is limited to a few school projects (check out my Art History project here) and an extremely short-term blog, but maybe there’s a reason for that. Weebly is about as simple as it gets when it comes to blogging. They have a few templates to choose from, and all you have to do from there is create your content and drag it in. There isn’t an extensive amount of functionality to it, and you’ll also have a website.weebly.com domain. Choosing Weebly means you’re okay having them place their brand everywhere, specifically in your footer where there’s a giant “Weebly” logo and advertisement link. My opinions about Weebly are consistent with my opinions for WordPress.com, but this platform may work if you:
- Don’t want to spend money.
- Don’t care much about design/customization.
- Don’t plan on upgrading your blog in the future.
- Are blogging more for yourself than an audience.
One important thing to consider when choosing this platform is that it can be extremely hard to transfer your blog to any other platform. Unlike Blogger, WordPress.com, and Squarespace, there isn’t a simple “export” button that allows you to move your content to a platform like WordPress. This means you’ll have to completely remake your blog on the new platform, inputting content post by post. So I would only suggest choosing this option if you have absolutely no plans on upgrading in the future.