There’s a lot to figure out when you start a blog. You have to pick a niche, come up with great ideas for blog posts, and find time to write. But, before you can even publish your first blog post, you need one essential thing: your blogging platform. It’s your number one tool and a basic necessity for every blogger.
If you’ve googled blogging platforms, then you’ve been bombarded with a multitude of options. This can be overwhelming. Especially when you aren’t really sure about what you need and what the difference between a hosted and self-hosted platform is.
That’s where we come in! We are here to lift the fog and help you choose the right blogging platform for your needs.
What to consider when choosing a blogging platform
We’ve compiled six simple questions that you should ask yourself before committing to any blogging platform. Your answers will help to point you in the right direction.
1. What is the purpose of your blog?
Will your blog be a fun hobby, or are you planning to monetize it? Maybe you want to use it to boost your career or establish yourself as an expert in your niche. Your goals will dictate the functionalities that you need to look out for when choosing your blogging platform.
2. Who is your target audience?
You probably have at least a rough idea for whom you are writing your blog. Certain audiences might be drawn to particular blog formats and platforms. A little research into your audience’s preferences will help you to show up in the right places.
3. What key features will you need?
Generally, we recommend choosing a blogging platform that can grow with you. You might want to start simple, but your needs can change in the future. Your blogging platform should be flexible enough so that you can add more features as your blog grows. For example, you might decide at some point to run ads or sell products. If your current blogging platform doesn’t offer this functionality, it can be challenging to switch. That’s why it’s important to think early on about any special integrations you might need.
4. How technical are you?
Have you built a website before? If so, you will likely be more comfortable with a blogging platform that requires some technical skills to get set up. But, if you can’t afford to climb up a steep learning curve right now, we’d recommend choosing a platform that is easy to use and doesn’t require any coding skills to get started. Also, think about the level of support you might need.
5. What is your budget?
If you want to dip your toes into the water first before fully committing to a blogging budget, then getting started on a platform that offers a free plan like WordPress.com, Tumblr, or Blogger might be the right choice. However, you will have to live with limited functionality. By investing a little, you can get a custom domain, more control, better designs, and access to different levels of support.
6. Do you have a design in mind?
Maybe you already have a clear vision of how your blog should look like. Then you should select a blogging platform that gives you the option to customize the design fully. If you are willing to spend some money on your blog, then you will gain more flexibility with regard to the design options.
What are the options?
There are three main categories when it comes to blogging platforms: hosted, self-hosted, and social. Let’s look at the pros and cons as well as examples of each option.
Hosted blogging platforms
If you are looking for a simple, done-for-you blogging service, then hosted blogging platforms are for you. They are easy and often free to get started. That makes hosted platforms ideal for novice bloggers who want to experiment with a niche, but can’t commit a budget to blogging, yet. Also hobby bloggers benefit from the free services.
- It’s very user-friendly for beginners.
- You can get started for free.
- You don’t need any technical skills.
- You don’t have to maintain the site as everything is done for you.
- Customization is very limited.
- You have to pay for more advanced features.
- You don’t own your site, and the platform could suspend your account if it believes that you are violating their terms and conditions.
- You will likely have the branding of the blogging platform on your site unless you upgrade your plan.
- Your blog will have a subdomain, for example, https://yourblog.wordpress.com or https://yourblog.blogspot.com unless you pay for your own domain name.
- Monetization is typically not possible on a free platform.
Popular hosted blogging platforms include:
Worth noting: In addition, with many hosting companies, like GoDaddy, you can also find hosted blogging platform options.
Self-hosted blogging platforms
The main difference to hosted blogging platforms is that you have to secure your own hosting first before you can get started. Signing up with a hosting provider like Bluehost allows you to choose a custom domain and TLD like .blog.
Self-hosted blogging platforms are great for bloggers who want full control over their blog, its features, and the design. They provide ample amounts of freedom and allow you to monetize their site.
- You have more freedom to build exactly the blog you want.
- You can choose from lots of themes and plugins.
- You can add features like a forum, galleries, and contact forms.
- There are plenty of monetization options (e.g., an online store, paid membership, ads).
- It’s search engine friendly.
- Requires more technical knowledge.
- You need to buy a domain name and hosting service first.
- You have to maintain your blog, including tasks like backups and security.
- The learning curve is usually much steeper.
Popular self-hosted blogging platforms include:
Social blogging platforms
Social blogging platforms work like social networking sites. You just have to create an account and can start writing and publishing immediately. They are viable options for seasoned bloggers who want to extend their reach. Also new bloggers who want to get started quickly can benefit from the existing audience.
- It’s free.
- It’s ready – no need to install or set up anything.
- You can take advantage of a ready-made audience and online community.
- You can focus solely on writing, as there is no need to design a website.
- It’s very hard to monetize.
- It will be more difficult to stand out from the crowd because you can’t change the design.
- You don’t own your audience or your content.
- You can’t use your own domain name.
Popular social blogging platforms
Which blogging platform will you choose?
We’ve realized that this is a decision where many new bloggers get stuck. There’s no definite right or wrong when it comes to selecting a blogging platform. Only your unique requirements will determine which platform is right for you. We’d recommend that you take some time to look into the different options and then make a decision to move forward. This is the crucial first step to getting your blog into the world.