Ginny Soskey

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blogging platform

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When I first started blogging, I was pretty clueless–I didn’t even choose my own platform.

Knowing that I was becoming interested in social media and blogging, my boyfriend created a Blogger blog for me for Valentine’s Day. It was a great option for me. Blogger was a super easy-to-use platform and to be honest, I had no idea that other options existed.

As I started to better understand the other available choices, I hopped around from platform to platform—Tumblr, WordPress.com and finally self-hosted WordPress.org.

And what did I end up with? Four or five stagnant blogs on different platforms that I rarely updated and the most confusing Google search imaginable. No one could find my real blog because there were so many other blogs cluttering my search results.

Picking the right platform for your content is essential to you establishing yourself as a blogger. While it’s fine to make a transfer one time, you shouldn’t really be jumping around from platform to platform like I did. You’ll end up having a very fragmented web presence, which will be hard to overcome with even the best SEO efforts.

Instead, learn from my mistakes. There are a ton of blogging platforms out there to choose from, but you need to find one that will work for you and the content you are creating right when you’re starting to blog.

To help set you on the right path, here’s a rundown of the pros and cons of the most popular blogging platforms:

wordpress-v-logo

WordPress.com

Price: Free with costs to upgrade

You’ve heard of WordPress before—it is the most popular blogging platform in the world. WordPress offers two different blogging platforms: WordPress.com and WordPress.org. The main difference between the two is that the WordPress.com sites are hosted on WordPress’ server while WordPress.org sites are hosted on an external server.

If you’re not interested in a ton of customization options, WordPress.com is the way to go. You won’t be able to add plugins, install custom themes or edit your HTML, but you will get a basic blogging platform that’s free and easy to use. If you ever want those options, it’s also very easy to switch over to WordPress.org. If you want to dive deep into the differences between the two, WP Beginner has an awesome infographic to break it down for you.

I’d suggest using this platform if you are just testing the blogging waters and aren’t ready to commit to investing time and money into a website.

Blogger

Price: Free

Blogger-Logo

Even though it was my first blogging platform, I’m not a huge fan of Blogger. The site is deceiving at first. It’s easy to navigate and I love that it’s integrated with all my Google Apps, but if you want to customize your site, you have to be okay with tweaking HTML. As a beginner blogger, I was not prepared to do that (if you want to start learning HTML, we’ve got a handy guide here). Blogger does have widgets available to keep you from touching code, but it is mostly centered on adding Google products to your blog.

Ultimately, if you want a very simple set-up, Blogger could work for you. It’s easy to edit and publish posts and it has a ton of tools built it. Be warned though, as you grow your blog, other blogging platforms will have more options available to make your life easier.

Tumblr

Price: Free

tumblr logo

Now owned by Yahoo, Tumblr is an interesting platform to consider. Like the earlier content management systems, Tumblr is really easy to get set up and start blogging. As far as specific blogging customization options, it doesn’t have much over Blogger or WordPress.com, but one of its top selling points is its culture and community.

Tumblr blogs usually contain images, gifs or videos—not necessarily long form text. The Tumblr community is also very comfortable with reposting other people’s content because of Tumblr’s “reblog” function. While other platforms do have some of those capabilities, that type of culture and community is what makes Tumblr special. If this seems like your style, definitely check it out!

Medium

Price: FreeMedium

Developed by Twitter co-founders Biz Stone and Evan Williams,  Medium simplifies blogging by giving you a clean canvas to publish meaningful stories. With the tagline, “Everyone’s stories and ideas,” Medium aims to make it easy for anyone — with a Twitter account — to write, share and analyze their posts. A few neat features include built-in analytics (which displays view counts, “read ratios” and “recommendations”), in-line comments, and the ability to share drafts with friends.

One drawback to Medium, which I think is actually one of its biggest benefits, is its standardized template. You can’t customize your Medium column the way you can with almost all of the other platforms. But that’s the beauty of the site: its simplicity. Readers know what to expect and understand how to best consume your content.

Medium also hosts all user-generated-content on the Medium.com domain, so you aren’t able to easily develop a “following” the way you would with your own site. That being said, Medium offers plenty of opportunities for distribution via it’s Top 100 section, which features the previous month’s most read stories, and its weekly newsletter, handcrafted by editors who surface posts they love, which all users receive.

Honestly, Medium is most ideal for users who want to publish stories they’ve been dying to write but want to avoid the hassle of creating an account with any other CMSs and setting up, designing and hosting their own site.

WordPress.org

wordpress-logo-stacked-rgb

Price: Platform is free, ~$5 per month and up for hosting costs

I’m going to go ahead and admit it—I love WordPress.org. Not only do we use it here at Shareaholic, but I also use it for my personal blog. Though there is a bit of a learning curve initially, it’s one of the most flexible blogging platforms out there. If you’re dying to delve into your blog’s code, you can. If you’re not, you can use plugins and themes that make sure you hardly ever have to touch a piece of code. It’s also a well-loved platform by the developer community, which means there will always be fresh tools and themes available for you to use.

I do want to emphasize that getting started on WordPress can be a challenge, especially if you don’t have some technical knowledge already. You’ll have to worry about downloading an FTP client and grabbing a web host right off the bat (we have a guide that can help choose one). This can be intimidating for a newbie blogger. Still, if you bite the technical bullet and go with WordPress, it’s well worth the investment!

Squarespace

squarespace-logo

Price: $8-$16 per month

I’ll be honest—I’ve never hosted my blog on Squarespace. That being said, after taking it for a spin I am VERY tempted to jump ship from WordPress. (Kidding! No more switching for me.) It is a terrific option for those of us who want to customize a blog but don’t have the coding chops yet. It’s intuitive to use with built in analytics and drag and drop page templates.

This is also a great platform for those of us who eventually want to expand our blogs into a business. Whether you want to launch a simple landing page or an ecommerce website, it would be incredibly easy to do it all through Squarespace.

Though it is super easy to use, it doesn’t have all the plugin and theme support that WordPress does—you’ll have to manually insert code in your blog to get the same tools.

Typepad

Price: $9-$30 per month

typepadlogo

If you think that WordPress.com is too simple and WordPress.org is too complex, Typepad is the perfect compromise. Like WordPress.com, Typepad blogs are all hosted on their server, but you have a lot of customization options available. It’s still fairly hard to edit their code, but it offers more extensive themes and blog plugins than WordPress.com. If you’re looking for a semi-robust platform that’s a middle step between WordPress.com and WordPress.org, Typepad might be a good option for you.

Weebly

weeblyPrice: Free to start, upgrade available (~$5 a month for additional features and $35 a year for a custom domain)

Weebly is a very easy-to-use tool to create websites and blogs. It’s one of the easiest in the bunch to navigate with excellent SEO capabilities wired in, but it didn’t strike me as the best blogging platform. It was much harder for me to put together a post compared to the previous options. It might be a good option if you have a main website and happen to blog as well, but if you’re a full-time blogger, it is probably overkill.

I also really liked its drag-and-drop features, but be warned that editing the HTML and CSS of your site is pretty tricky. Since it’s not particularly cheaper or better designed than any of the previous options, I’m a little lukewarm on Weebly.

Drupal

drupal-logoPrice: Free, then $12 – $80 per month

Drupal is more of a content management system than a blogging platform. While you can use it to create a blog, it’s also made to create things like corporate websites, forums and ecommerce sites, so it’s not that intuitive to use as a blogger. Like with WordPress, you’ll need to get your own host to use Drupal, but the actual software is pretty difficult to navigate.

That being said, there are some tools out there like Drupal Gardens that make it much less intense to use. Drupal Gardens creates an interface that makes it easy to create and publish your content. Even with Drupal Gardens in your holster, I’d recommend using a simpler platform for your blog unless you are a technology-savvy pro blogger with solid plans to create a business.

Joomla

joomla_logo_vert_color1Price: Free for a month, then prices go up from $20-$100 for premium plans

Like Drupal, Joomla is a content management system aimed at corporate websites rather than the average blogger. When playing around with it, I thought it was a very robust platform that really helps you create any website you’d ever want. For most bloggers though, it’s probably overkill. It’s also more expensive than any of the other platforms listed here, which may be a deal breaker if you’re just starting out. If you’re looking to learn more about Joomla or Drupal, here’s a great article to read.

Ultimately, picking a blogging platform is a personal decision—what works for someone else may not work for you. If you’ve already picked your blogging platform, I’d love to hear from you in the comments. Which platform are you using? What do you love or hate about it? 

p.s. be sure to get our free tools to make your new blog extra awesome.

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  • Michel Nadeau

    I am presently using WordPress and I am very please. I bought a theme from Photocrati and their service is impecable. Having spent this from the start was the best investement i made

    • Ginny Soskey

      That’s great to hear Michel! I’ve heard that buying themes can be a great investment as well–so glad to hear of your success. Thanks for stopping by!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=530401628 Layla Morgan Wilde

    Ginny, great to see all the choices laid out. Self-hosted WP is my choice. I have a question about Blogger hosted blogs who sometimes are unable to post comments at my blog. Any idea why?

    • Ginny Soskey

      Thanks, Layla! Love self-hosted WP. :) Not sure why Blogger hosted blogs cannot comment on your blog–that probably has to do with your comment tool, not Blogger itself. Sorry I couldn’t be more of a help!

  • ronaldneck

    Yes i agreed with you Ginny..WordPress is a free personal publishing platform. It is an easy to use, fast and flexible blog script. It comes with a great set of features, designed to make your experience as a publisher as pleasant as possible.

    • Ginny Soskey

      Thanks for stopping by! :) Glad you’re enjoying WordPress.

  • Ines G

    Hi Ginny, thank you for this useful post, that will for sure help many beginners! Though, this is too bad you don’t even mention overblog.com, which is a good blogging platform too :) Have a nice day

    • Ginny Soskey

      Hi Ines, glad to be a help! I haven’t tried overblog before, but I’ll take a look for any future posts on this. Thanks!

  • Joan Sabula

    Thank you so much. The information is really useful.I am so new at this I am still trying to figure out the difference between a website and a blog. The web host I use also has a blog tool, would love some feedback what your thoughts are about the value of blogs vs. websites. TIA Joan

    • Ginny Soskey

      Hey Joan, thanks for stopping by! I think it all depends on what content you are trying to create. Are you just looking to have landing pages for your business? You probably want a website. Are you looking to write posts fairly frequently? You probably want a blog. Which platform are you currently using?

  • Tanvi

    Hey Shareoholic, Good to read this post of yours! I am an ex-blogger. I used to write blogs on Y! 360. Not sure if you heard of it. It is one of the intitial blogs launched by yahoo back in 2004/2005. It had a feature where you can add people to your blog and only they can read and comment on the posts.Yahoo closed that bloggin platform and I migrated to blogger. However, I could not be a regular blogger as I got pregnant and somehow did not feel like it. Now, after a couple of years and 2 boys later, I want to come back to blogging…I am looking for a platform, where I can connect with like minded people so that I can read what they write and vice versa. I read your article up above, but it is mostly from the ease of use point of view. Do you have a say on which platform to use if you want to connect with like minded people and read blogs I can relate to? Any feedback would be highly appreciated! Thanks so much.

    • Ginny Soskey

      Hey Tanvi! Thanks so much for the comment. From a community standpoint, both WordPress.com, WordPress.org and Tumblr have great people to connect with and help you discover awesome blogs. I’d also recommend checking out Triberr (http://triberr.com/) if you’re looking for that close-knit community feel, but on another platform. You can also take a look at Shareaholic Channels (https://shareaholic.com/channels) to find other blogs to read and bloggers to connect with. Hope that helps. Let me know if there’s anything else I can help ya with!

      • Tanvi

        Thanksk Ginny! I believe I am going to give WordPress.Com a try and see how it goes…the link to shareoholic channels is not working, but I guess I can get to it! Thanks so much for the prompt reply :) This is what I was missing :) Interaction with like minded people with similar interests! Hope to see you around, and I am off to create my account on WordPress! Thanks!

        • Ginny Soskey

          No problem! Good luck on your adventure. Not sure why that wasn’t working, but here is the link to Channels is again: https://shareaholic.com/channels

          Thanks again for stopping by! Hope to see you around again soon. :)

  • http://mosaiccontemporary.com/ Mosaic Bookmarking

    WordPress is undoubtedly the best blogging platform so far in every sense, period !

  • Will

    You pretty much say all of these are good, which is not that helpful. To anyone who is wondering, these are not all created equal and Joomla sucks, like really bad.

  • guest

    Hi Ginny, thank you for sharing the info on the blogging options available. This would really help me start my own blog. Way to go !!!

  • Chux Uzoeto

    Thanks for this useful post ..

    I am a sysadmin and host drupal sites for some organizations .. But I am now considering blogging on a serious note and would want to wear a publishing hat (rather than a sysadmin or devops hat), so a hosted solution will suit me nicely .. at least, for now ..

    I have always been aware of Drupal Gardens, but your blog made me review the service again .. and I think I am sold. Using drupal and all its awesomeness will ensure I can extend this and grow it to something I will eventually host myself ..

    Before now I was seriously considering squarespace, and that was why I searched out your blog as providing some comparison .. I have used Tumblr before, and it’s certainly not for me .. And I am not interested in using wordpress ..

  • http://entertainmentbuzzz.com/ Jia

    No doubt, WordPress is the best option.

  • http://topbestlisted.blogspot.com/ aivil vin

    I would say WordPress is the best platform for serious blogging as it gives you immense freedom related to design, HTML, coding, and SEO parts- the most important elements for any blogging CMS.

  • candice

    Thank you so much for this post! I have been battling with Blogger, it’s not a good fit for me! I think I’m gonna go with wordpress.org! I’m so excited thanks a ton!

  • Shubhendu

    Hello Ginny, I’m new to blogging. Have posted twice on Blogger. But I’m not that satisfied. I want to share my thoughts with everyone(absolutely everyone). And want to get review if any of the readers have to say anything. Also there should be a contact option (through email of course) if anyone wants to share a view privately and I can think about that and post later. Can you please guide?

    Shubhendu

  • Mr. Tom

    Hi there,

    Thanks for writing this article, it’s really helpful! I was wondering if you had any thoughts on which platform would be best for a technology-based blog? It would need to be fully code-able, and also be placed within a community where there are other technology blogs operating. Having done a bit of research there doesn’t seem to be a particular platform which techie bloggers what to gather around, but any help in the right direction would be great! It’s a business blog, not a personal blog, so can’t mess it up basically!

    Cheers,

    T

    • http://www.meattle.com/jay/ Jay Meattle

      Mr. Tom, we recommend self hosted WordPress. Try http://wpengine.com/

  • RK Henderson

    One thing about Blogger: it uses a complicated photo archive system that involves off-site storage. (Picasweb originally, but now being migrated to Google+, making things even more obtuse.) The worst part is, if you change your privacy settings on that non-Blogger site, it _removes every picture from your entire blog_, irreversibly, without any warning. I did this, and lost 3 years of work. Then, as I gruelingly rewrote the code to _every single photo_, one at time, of my graphic-heavy blog, Google Search decided I was a spammer (it can’t tell the difference between edits and new uploads) and blocked me from reader searches. Within a week, after 3 years of toil, I was down to virtually no traffic.

    Thus, I am looking for something better. I was passably happy with Blogger before this happened, but I’m afraid there’s just no excuse for such incredibly bad design. (Still can’t get over the “no warning” part; changing that setting was a just a single click, without any warning that it would wipe out any associated blogs.)

    Word to the wise, eh?

    Robin
    Rusty Ring: Reflections of an Old-Timey Hermit

  • Susie

    Thanks for the info! :)

  • Noah N. Bershatsky

    What do you think about google+? Could that be used for blogging?

  • hosterforg

    It is really a
    great and useful piece of info. Thank you for sharing.

  • Cristina

    Thank you so much for helping out us “newbies!”

    • https://shareaholic.com/ Danny Wong

      Anytime!

  • Filipa

    Thank you! You were indeed very helpful, F.

    • https://shareaholic.com/ Danny Wong

      You’re welcome.

  • Nik Griffiths

    I realise I’m a few years late on this blog, but I’m trying to figure out which is best for blogging and developing a website. I’ve used Squarespace and love it, but as someone pointed out to me the other day – sites like Create.com and Moonfruit.com give you the option to have a blog and create a design that you like.

    Is there some specific difference between a blog platform and a website platform – like those mentioned above. As many blog platforms now allow you to create a site that looks like a website, and lots of website building apps allow you to have a blog. I can’t figure out the difference and wondered if there is something that I’m missing?

    Many thanks (sorry the question it’s about 2 years late!!)

    • https://shareaholic.com/ Danny Wong

      This is still an important question since the ambiguous terminology can be confusing for most. That said, most of the web is powered by WordPress because there are a lot of plugins you can add to your site without needing to customize code (most of the time). Squarespace is excellent for the site owner that wants a simple, managed website (or blog) without worrying about the technical details.

      You’re not missing much. Most of these platforms are easiest when used as a blog because they are “content management systems.” Other website-specific platforms make it easier to develop a unique look and feel throughout your website, which might not be very heavy in content. Hope that makes sense!

      • Nik Griffiths

        Thanks Danny, so really, it doesn’t matter if I start a blog on a WordPress or Squarespace site or whether I start one on Moonfruit or Create?!? In essence, they’ve all kind of merged in to the same thing (websites with blogs) just that some are easier to use than others :)

        • https://shareaholic.com/ Danny Wong

          Yes and no. You’ll still want to familiarize yourself with the distinct advantages of each one because some are more powerful than others as you scale your website (from 100 visitors to 100,000). :)

          Costs vary too as your site grows.

  • HBCUGRAD

    Hey Shareholic and fellow commentators, I’m extremely interested in creating my own blog. It’ll be my first and I’m completely clueless. It’s already becoming exhausting just trying to get pointed into the right direction. But, I’m determine as ever to see this through, so here are some questions: what’s a great platform that allows my viewers to commentate, that’s also analytical, easy for beginners like myself, has a not-so-cheap and amateur feel, allows me to receive sponsorship [also donations], use my own domain, and allows me to upgrade as I become more popular? Please…please…please respond with valuable information ASAP! Thanks, yours truly.

    • https://shareaholic.com/ Danny Wong

      WordPress is your best bet here. Good luck!

  • Keith Tseng

    Check out http://www.thyhive.com a new publishing platform for magazine and book lovers.

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  • Ralph Graham

    HI, this is a good basic overview.
    i have used Joomla! for websites and the results can be good but a little tech knowledge doesn’t go astray. Might be good to clarify with Joomla! it is open source so it is free. It needs to be hosted somewhere and that can be as little as $5/month. Like WordPress it has templates or themes that can be downloaded and applied to the site/blog which determines the look of the site and some of the features.

    Free templates will not be as fully featured as paid for ones but with paid ones you get support. Make sure support is included with the cost of the template as it can be annoying if you don’t ask for help for a while and just when you need it your support period has expired. One template maker even locks you out of the users forum where help is actually provided by other users. Some templates, with lots of bells and whistles are quite complex to use I found. :)

  • Ralph Graham

    if i use WordPress, can i have subscribers only read it and can i send html newsletters to them with WP? Also, does it have the system where I can elect to vet posts beforehand and can that be done per subscriber , that is ones you trust dont have to be vetted. :’-)

    • https://shareaholic.com/ Danny Wong

      Hi Ralph, I’m not too sure what you mean. Does Joomla do something like this? If so, I’d love to see an example before I know for certain what the right answer is :)

  • Kinan

    Hey Ginny

    I’m a wordpress user mysefl, and I can admit it has many useful tools, I could also suggest another name on this list https://yclas.com which is mainly a classifieds site builder but also has a blogging tool.

    • https://shareaholic.com/ Danny Wong

      Thanks for sharing this, Kinan.

  • katie

    hi, i would like to start a photography blog and show my photography and do some tutorials. what do you thin is the best blog site for me?

    • https://shareaholic.com/ Danny Wong

      Personally, I’d recommend WordPress and I’d also suggest downloading NextGEN Gallery. You won’t regret it :)

  • Sabine

    Thanks for the great overview! Will start my blog now – so excited to see how it goes. Take care and have a great start into 2015!

    • https://shareaholic.com/ Danny Wong

      Nice! Let us know if you need any help. We’re here for you.

  • cseher

    Hello!

    Congrats on finding something that makes you excited to publish! We want to be there to help in any way. Along those lines, it’s important that you choose a wordpress.org account/site in order for our plugin to work! Please let me know if you have any further questions, and feel free to email me directly with any concerns or further inquiries! cameron@shareaholic.com

  • Lisa

    Thank you for the comparisons. I have long thought about starting a blog, but I am intimidated by which platform to choose. This is very helpful.

    • cseher

      You are very welcome! Please feel free to reach out to us with any further questions as you take your next steps!

  • Zulham Ariansyah

    of course i use wordpress.
    it’s user-friendly since i use other platform also like tumblr and blogger.
    anyway.. thanks for the article. is this possible to share this to my blog?

    • cseher

      That’s great!

      Of course you can feel free to share this article and link to our blog post from your own site (it’s what we’re all about)!

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  • cseher

    Thanks!

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  • cseher

    Thanks for the comment!

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  • cseher

    Hello there!

    Great question :) Both platforms have some great attributes. Deciding what will be best for you certainly depends on a lot of variables. Though our plugin specifically for WP users is something we are proud to offer, I have below a couple articles that more generally look to compare pros and cons of both platforms, and I hope they might give you some solid perspective with which to make your decision!

    http://www.wpbeginner.com/opinion/wordpress-vs-weebly-which-one-is-better-comparison/

    http://www.elegantthemes.com/blog/resources/wordpress-vs-weebly-customization-meets-drag-and-drop

    Hope these are a help!

    Sincerely,

  • cseher

    Thanks for the suggestion, and additional option for readers to consider!

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  • http://www.blogornate.blogspot.com/ Luke Wright

    Thanks for great article. i want to start blogging. As a new blogger which platform should i use?

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