Guest Post by Alex Levitov
What can be more essential for a budding writer than a website? The concept of blogging (short for weblogging) has been around for about two decades. It began precisely twenty years ago with Blogspot (renamed as Blogger after its purchase by Google in 2003), and the concept has remained popular in spite of the onslaught from social media during the last decade.
It has become even easier to publish content through blogging sites. Not only can you share text, but you can also share images and videos that make your presentation attractive and keep users engaged.
There are numerous blogging sites and platforms. We have tried to whittle down the vast choice available to the 10 best blogging platforms.
Though it has been around for 15 years, the popularity of WordPress has not dropped an iota. If anything, it has evolved from being a blogging site to being a complete Content Management System that hosts about 30% of the entire internet.
If you want a platform that is stable and cost-efficient, then WordPress.org is a safe choice. The software for creating a website and the blogging tools can be found for free at WordPress.org, but you do have to invest in a host if you want your own domain name.
Hosting for plain vanilla sites that most writers would require remains highly affordable. Some hosts even offer free WordPress maintenance.
The main advantage of WordPress is the numerous themes that are available for free. And, for a few dollars, you can buy a stunning premium theme. There are plugins galore that extend incredible functionality to your site. Moreover, there are numerous websites and videos offering help about optimizing a WordPress site that you could use.
If you are not ready to spend fees for a host, WordPress has a solution. Host it for free on WordPress.com.
The URL will be yourwebsite.wordpress.com, and you have access to almost the same variety of plugins. You can use 3 GB of storage at no cost, and if you need more, you could always switch to a paid plan. There is no need to worry about backup. WordPress provides that free of cost.
Is there a catch? You cannot host advertisements on your site. So the choices for monetizing is limited. However, WordPress can advertise on your website. Since you are using a free service, it should not be a problem.
The other disadvantage is that you cannot use a custom theme or Google Analytics.
But is it only disadvantages? Not at all. You can always migrate the website from WordPress.com to WordPress.org by buying your own space on a server.
As a beginner, if you are looking to test the world of blogging, WordPress.com remains one of the best alternatives.
Blogger / BlogSpot
From its inception, Blogger has remained focused on being a free blogging platform. It is quite challenging to host anything other than a blog or a straightforward information-based website using the service.
The appeal of Blogger remains in its simplicity. There are not many ways to customize it, though paid themes are available. It can be easily backed up and synced using Google Drive.
The complete lack of thousands of plugins that you can use with WordPress is, to some extent, a relief. You will not wonder if there was a plugin somewhere that could be used to make your website more user-friendly or attractive.
It is easy to host if you want a yourwebsite.blogspot.com URL. It is possible to set up a site in less than an hour if you have done it before.
Optimization is easy to do, and metrics are available from Google Analytics. There is an integrated dashboard that shows which posts are most popular and get more traffic than others.
One of the main upsides of Blogger is that it that you can easily access it and edit posts from mobile phones.
Launched in 2006, Weebly was one of the first sites to have drag and drop functionality. Like most platforms, it has free and paid versions. The basic free plan offers 500 MB of storage. The paid plans offer unlimited storage and phone support. All three paid plans also come with a free domain name.
The approach taken by Weebly is very practical. You choose the template for your page, and various elements can be dragged down from a menu. No understanding of HTML is required. This website’s templates allow you to build an author website without any coding.
It is possible to copy-paste Google Analytics tracking code into the page and analyze the traffic.
Weebly will post advertisements, but these can be removed by the users of the paid plans. There is an active Weebly community you can approach for sorting out your queries.
Wix is one of the most reputed good website builders for writers. It is fast, efficient, and loads quickly. You do not need to have an understanding of coding to create a top-notch Wix site.
Like Weebly, it uses drag and drop functionality. There are plenty of templates to choose from to give your website a contemporary look.
You could try a free blog, but the domain will be from Wix. For a fee, you could host it with your own URL. Every tool that you need to optimize your site is just a click away, and paid plans start from as little as $15 every month. There is no lock-in period, and you can opt-out at any time.
Wix offers excellent customer support by phone and email, and if any plugin has malfunctioned and slows down your website, the problem will be fixed in a jiffy.
Currently, Squarespace is one of the most well-known brands for building a site. Although it is known for e-commerce sites, there is no reason why an author can’t build a great website using Squarespace.
Squarespace is an all-inclusive website builder like Wix and Weebly and provides you with a hassle-free end to end solution. The main appeal of Squarespace is the beautiful themes that they offer. The themes have images that can be swapped out for your own, adding to a personalized look.
With elegant fonts and color schemes, Squarespace sites are attractive yet professional looking. Besides, it offers an inbuilt analytics panel that makes it possible to understand all the minute details about traffic to your website. Squarespace offers a free trial but no free plans. All the paid plans come with customer support through chat and email.
Tumblr is a microblogging site that is often compared to Twitter. In the last decade, it has gathered 430 million users due to the ease of using the platform.
It is free to set up and own a Tumblr. Some themes are free, while others are premium. The interface is user-friendly and focuses on utility rather than aesthetics.
Tumblr has a format that is meant for image-driven content. It is not ideally suited for extended essays, but if you are looking to blog as well as share images, it is perfect.
Though it is not possible to perfectly customize it, you can use SEO techniques to make your content reach a wider audience very quickly.
Ghost is similar to WordPress in that you can download the software and host it on a server with your own content. Founded in 2012, it is open source and free to use.
The advantage of Ghost is that it is blog centric in its design. This makes it very suitable for writers and authors looking to make their mark.
You can use Ghost’s own paid hosting solutions or purchase space from a host. Ghost is a non-profit organization, and the profit from hosting is used to support and develop open-source software. The chief drawback is the limited number of templates and plugins.
Medium is a community-based website. At first it might look like you can’t blog via Medium, but you can. You can write stories (articles or blog posts) as well as own and publish publications such as Book Marketing Stories. Your content will be one of many stories and/or publications that are available on the site.
There are other real upsides to Medium as well which makes new writers make a beeline for it. You do not have to worry about backup, bandwidth, design, storage, security. You can focus on simply writing the best content possible.
More often than not, this seems a perfect trade-off for writers. Not only that but the site is highly optimized. There is a possibility that if you have written an error-free article that is an engaging read, you will enjoy high readership because Medium is a very high-traffic website.
Contently is for content writers who want to showcase their best work. You can create a Contently page and host your portfolio. There is no limit to the number of projects that you can display, and any client who is interested in recruiting a writer can do so based on multiple filters, including topics, experience, past clients, etc.
It is a free service and a great place to aggregate all of your work done for various websites.
Which Blogging Platform Is Best?
There are plenty of sites that allow you to publish. If you ask what is the best platform for blogging, the finest remains WordPress.org. The reason is that it is immensely flexible. In fact, it is so good that legendary brands such as TechCrunch and The New York Times use it as their CMS.
The only downside is you have to pay for hosting, but that cost is currently meagre due to an overabundance of server space.