Updated: February, 2015.
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Above is a comparison chart of 7 most popular blogging/website creation platforms. To be honest, I’m a real WordPress “junkie”, but that doesn’t mean the comparison chart is biased. I’ve received a lot of questions about blogging platforms from different visitors, so I took some time and experimented with the most common ones.
So you’ve decided to start a blog. You open your web browser, type in a few search terms to learn exactly how to get started, and are instantly greeted with a wealth of information. Among all the things you’re struggling to learn at this point, you have to compare blogging platforms and decide which one is best for you.
The good news? I’ve made this task simple by breaking down what the seven most popular blogging platforms offer. Take a look at the chart to get started, and then dive into the breakdown below. First, we’ll look at each category, and then we’ll dig into each individual platform.
Here are the categories that I’ve covered:
How much does it cost to use the platform? While most of these platforms come with a free option, some do offer upgrades for more bandwidth, hosting, custom plugins and themes, and other add-ons that will cost you money. Others don’t offer a free option at all.
Just a note: Most free platforms limit monetization, bandwidth, customization, and more, and that’s why they’re free.
Availability for own domain
Do you have the option to set up your own domain name? Most free platforms like Blogger will give you a free subdomain (which means that you’ll have their branding somewhere in your domain name). However, others allow you to set up and work off of your own web address, although some require more technical knowledge to make this possible.
Level of CSS & HTML knowledge required
Do you need a working knowledge of computer skills? Most platforms make it easy for non-technical users to set up and manage their website. For some customization options, however, you may need knowledge in CSS & HTML coding.
While all platforms are customizable to an extent, beginners may need to read up on coding basics to understand their site’s components. If you’re interested in a custom design or theme, consider hiring a web developer to help you out. It will cost you money, but it can be well worth it.
Are plugins allowed on the platform, and if so, how many are available? Plugins are pieces of software that you can install into your site to expand its functions. Creating a newsletter, using custom social sharing buttons, monetizing with AdSense, or adding a forum section to your website are all examples of things that can be done by installing various plugins.
How much storage space does the provider offer per account? Self-hosting your website will give you enough storage space for your content, theme, pictures, and other files. However, hosting on a free platform usually means that your storage space is limited.
You’ll want to consider your storage space based on how you want your blog to grow. Oftentimes free bandwidth is more than most beginner bloggers need, but if you’re expecting to save a lot of files over time as well as attract a huge amount of traffic, you’ll want an unlimited option.
Themes / Outlook
How many design template options are available to you? A unique blog design can help brand your blog and set it apart from others. In this section, we look at how many options you have to make your site unique.
WordPress has the most themes to choose from and even comes with options to upload custom themes if you self-host your blog. Themes on platforms like Blogger and Tumblr are very limited and have few customization options.
Will you have to pay for your own hosting, or is hosting provided by the service? With many free platforms like Blogger, your files are hosted on the company’s servers. With options like WordPress.org, you can purchase the hosting through the company or pay for a hosting package through a third-party host. With platforms like Wix, you can buy the full hosting service provided by them.
Quick tip: Instead of paying for full services, I would go with a self-hosted blog on my own domain. That way you have more control over your own blog.
On a scale of 1 to 10, how easy is it to set up and maintain your blog? Most of these platforms make this super easy, but some are easier to set up. With WordPress, for instance, you can have a blog up and going in 5 minutes where it will take more time and knowledge to set up a blog with Typepad.
Before you sign up for an account with a blog provider, be sure you know what you’re getting into. If you choose a platform that requires more technical knowledge, you’re likely to abandon it quickly if you don’t have a lot of computer background.
Does the platform offer automatic or manual update options? This isn’t something you have to worry about too much since even manual updates are pretty easy to do. However, it’s less to think about if you choose a platform that automatically updates.
Are you allowed to write a post and schedule its publication for a later date? Many bloggers love this function since it allows them to write a post beforehand or while traveling without disrupting their editorial calendar. However, not all platforms feature this option.
P.S. Tumblr has now added a post scheduling function.
Are you able to organize your posts into categories? This makes it easier for visitors to navigate and browse your site, so it’s worth choosing a platform with this option if you’d like the categorization function.
Based on my own observations, web reviews, and more, I’ve given each platform an overall rating considering its pros and cons.
Here’s a breakdown of the most popular blogging platforms:
Blogger is a great place to start for beginners. It’s a free platform that allows you to monetize your blog. Unfortunately, customization options are limited, and assigning your own domain name can be tough (but not impossible).
WordPress.com is often compared to Blogger as a great place to start. It’s free with a few pre-installed plugins and plenty of design themes. However, it does lack some of the freedom and customization options you’ll find with a self-hosted WordPress blog.
WordPress.org’s software is free, although you will have to pay for a hosting package. With over 20,000 free plugins and more being added every day, the customization and functionality options are practically endless. Plus, with a large community of WordPress users, getting help quickly on any design or function issue is simple.
Typepad will run you $8.95 per month or more, but you will get unlimited storage with a generous number of themes to choose from. For a few more dollars per month, you can create an unlimited amount of blogs.
Movable Type is available for self-hosting, which comes with its advantages. With numerous theme options and the ability to use your own domain, it is a good option for businesses, although the licensing can be a hefty up-front cost if you want to upgrade your features.
Wix has the benefit of starting free (although premium options are available), and it requires no coding knowledge. Storage space can be quite limited unless you upgrade your plan, though.
There’s a large following behind Tumblr, and it’s a good choice for people who want a free option with unlimited storage. As an added bonus, it has lots of themes to choose from. The platform is ideal for personal use whereas a self-hosted WordPress blog is better for business use.
An SBI website can be powerful but costly. It’s not the most user-friendly version out there, but it can be a good choice for ebusinesses.
And the winner is…
A self-hosted WordPress blog offers the best combination of control over your blog and your budget. While a third-party hosting package will cost you a monthly fee, there are tons of hosting companies and packages to choose from to meet your needs. Besides hosting, the software itself is completely free and comes with an incredible amount of customizable features through thousands of plugins, custom theme options, and access to your site’s code.
I’m not the only one who will tell you that WordPress is the way to go, either. With such a huge community of WordPress users, turning your website into something spectacular is easy with the amount of support the WordPress platform has.
Are you ready to start building your blog on WordPress? Learn how to start a blog on my home page.