A blogging platform is a a software or tool which let’s you create and manage a blog or website.
Conventional websites are a collection of web pages that are accessible from a website. A blog differs from a website and is generally managed using a blogging platform which stores your content, media, files, links and all other necessary things required for the operation and working of your blogs.
Here are the most popular blogging platforms you can use to start your own blog or website
If you want to seriously pursue blogging and want all the controls in your hands, you should choose the self hosted WordPress.org blogging platform. No doubt about this and this is one of the best decisions you will be making which will save you from lot of regrets at a later stage of blogging.
The reason – WordPress.org is a full blown Content management system with no limitations that are imposed by other blogging platforms. You host the code on your own, you have 100% control on the design, usability and working of your blogs, you can add advertisements or monetize the site however you want and best of all, it is the most SEO friendly since it let’s you tweak every single thing in your website.
Almost all the professional bloggers choose self hosted WordPress.org to power their blogs and you will rarely find an exception. The disadvantage here is that self hosted WordPress.org blogging platform requires effort and learning on your side. You can still install free themes and designs from WordPress’s theme directory but you will need to learn how to setup your website, create an account with a web hosting company (which is generally not free), learn some coding and do other managerial tasks on your own, which other blogging platforms perform for you.
If paying $4 a month is okay with you, I would highly recommend you to use self hosted WordPress to power your blogs and disregard every other blogging platform out there. The best part – you own the website that you create and nobody can claim the content as their own.
Blogger or (previously Blogspot) is one of the most primitive blogging platforms which hosts millions of blogs out there. It is free, comes with your Google account and let’s you instantly create your blog with an address of – yoursite.blogspot.com.
You can even use a custom domain e.g www.yoursite.com and let’s you run that blog under your custom domain. Blogger comes with in house templates and designs you can use to get a head start but these designs are not so cool and a little dated. Blogger lets you tweak the design to some length but complete control on your site cannot be achieved, because Blogger.com doesn’t let you completely tweak the look and feel of your blog.
If you are serious about blogging, I would however not recommend using Blogger.com for the following reasons
- Blogger.com doesn’t let you customize your blog completely. There are limitations which would come in your way when you try to monetize the blog, use third party scripts or do some conditional coding.
- Blogger.com doesn’t support third party plugins like WordPress does. So it will become quite difficult to add extra layers of functionality in to your site and it will stay primitive.
- Google owns your blog that is created on Blogger.com. You cannot claim the content as yours and if Google decides to shut it down, your content will also go down the drain since the content resides on Google’s servers, not yours. You can of course backup posts, designs and other things from your blogger blog but it is quite troublesome to move the blog to another blogging platform, should you decide to discontinue using Blogger.com.
- Tomorrow, if Google introduces newer rules on Blogger.com, you will have to abide by those rules since you are using their platform to run your blog. It is often not a best practice to run your ship on someone else’s fuel.
- Ironically a blog that runs on Blogger.com is not very seo friendly and you have less control on tweaking the seo of the site, which affects rankings, traffic and hence decides the ROI.
The advantage of using Blogger.com to use as a platform for your blog is that it comes out of the box from your Google account and you can get started in less than 5 minutes. Ideal for newbies but certainly not recommended for serious bloggers.
The best alternative of Blogger.com is the very popular WordPress.com blogging platform which is also free and offers greater control and customization over Blogger.com to some extent.
You do have some control on the code, design and functionality of your website but then again, you cannot use third party plugins or plug other software into your blogs that easily, compared to a self hosted WordPress.org blog. But compared to Blogger.com, I would say that WordPress.com is more useful and provides more controls to manage your website.
There are literally thousands of website designs and themes available in the WordPress.com themes gallery which you can use for free. There is a big disadvantage of WordPress.com though – you cannot monetize your website using WordPress.com since it won’t allow you to embed third party scripts or advertisements. Blogger.com allows you to do that but no luck with WordPress.com.
Not recommended for professional bloggers who want to monetize their website. For a detailed comparison of WordPress.com and WordPress.org, read this official page on WordPress.com
Tumblr is another popular platform which you can use if you are into Micro blogging. This includes short posts, pictures, quotes and very short to the point posts on a specific topic. Tumblr also has a community of millions of bloggers who use the platform for microblogging about their interests.
But Tumblr is not the choice at all if you want to monetize your blog since you are not allowed to embed advertisements or use third party scripts or plugins into your blogs. You also have very less control on the design and functionality part, you can choose different designs from Tumblr’s template gallery but the scope of customization is very limited.
Not recommend for professional blogging and if you want to monetize your website with advertisements, products or subscription services. Tumblr is a perfect fit for hobby bloggers, micro bloggers, people who do not want to manage their websites like a pro but just want a place where they can write good content and do not want to have ownership of the website in any way.
Medium is another blogging platform known for its long form content curation style which most authors at Medium have adopted. It is a perfect fit for you if you want to tell your personal stories and not necessarily talk about a particular topic or niche. Consider Medium as the larger equivalent of Tumblr.
While Tumblr is known for micro blogs, Medium is known for its long form content which is presented in the form of stories, experiences and memoirs.
Medium is free to use and like Blogger, WordPress and Tumblr, you do not have to worry about hosting your website and manage all the technical aspects of running your blog or website. One disadvantage of Medium is that there is no way you can customize your website to look different from other blogs hosted on Medium, since all the blog design’s look exactly the same. There is no way to add third party scripts, advertisements or other content in your blogs, so functionality is limited here as well.
There are other blogging platforms such as Squarespace, Wix and Ghost but I am not a big fan of these services since they are not very easy to use and not well adopted in the Blogging community so far. You can try them but I would not recommend these platforms, please give them a skip.
So which Blogging Platform You Should Choose?
Now that you know what blogging platforms are available for use, you have to make a decision as to which blogging platform is right for you. Here is a short guide on choosing the right blogging platform for your blogs
- You will do hobby blogging and will post only once or twice a month. Your posts be very short like Twitter posts and may contain only pictures and short one liners. You do not want to monetize your website and do not want to own the content you post. You do not want to manage the technical aspects of the website, just want a space where you can write. If this is your requirement, go for Tumblr.
- You want to write content on a specific topic and may consider moving to professional blogging at a later stage. Your posts will be long enough and you may want to monetize the site later but for now, you just want a head start and don’t want to spend any money on running your blogs. You do not want to manage the technical aspects of your blogs yet, but wish to learn it later. If that’s the case, go with WordPress.comThe reason – when you want to monetize the blog and take it as a full time career, you can move your WordPress.com blog to self hosted WordPress.org in a day or two.
- You want to write about experiences, stories, travelogues, tips and life experiences and you want to be heard by the readers community, so much that your posts are distributed to a like minded audience. You do not want to monetize the site at all, and you do not want to spend money on running the blog. You do not care how your website will look like, you just want to tell your stories, life expreiences and build an online brand around those experiences. If that’s the case, go with Medium.com
- You want to start a blog and want to make money out of it but you are not ready to spend money running the blog as of now. You want a head start but you will make the decision of spending money on the blog after you have made some money online.You do not want much control on the technical side of managing and running your blog but if you make some money, you will make the move to self hosted WordPress.org at a later stage. But for now, you just want a head start to see how this blogging thing works. If that’s the case, go with Blogger.comThe reason – once you have started blogging in the blogger.com platform and learned about monetization techniques, you will be ready to make the switch to WordPress.org at a later stage. It is possible to move your Blogger blog to WordPress, so just get a head start with Blogger.com and see if its for you.
- You want to start a blog and want to be a professional blogger. This is no hobby, this is a serious gig which you want to pursue and give it your best shot. You don’t mind paying $4-$10 a month on the web hosting fees. You know how to manage a website, what FTP is, how does a database work and can worj your way through cpanel, web hosting and other things. You are ready to get your hands dirty now, so that things are a tad lot easy later. You do not want to move from one blogging platform to another and want the best platform right in the beginning. If that’s the case – go with WordPress.org (you will never regret this decision later since this is the best choice a blogger can make, right at the outset of starting his/her blogging career)
If you have chosen another blogging platform which is not mentioned here, you are going to regret it later. I am telling you from experience. Prove me wrong if you can.