Best Paid & Free Blogging Platforms in 2020 Reviewed
Setting up a blog is not easy and deciding the blogging platform is even more difficult. Most of the time you will already have an idea of what you need in terms of the features for the blogging platform.
Over the years I have experienced different scenarios of blog setups but some fo the basic requirements are the same:
Let’s look into these
1) Blog setup process
2) Ownership of content and censorship
4) The Support system
6) The pricing and plans
7) Features available
8) Themes and templates
These are just the s fa few of the cats that you should look into before choosing a blogging platform. Let’s dive da bit deeper into each one of them.
Blog Setup Process
This is the most technical part of the process. You need to have a hosting server to set up a blog if you are not using an existing blogging system like, Blogger, WordPress, etc which we will look into below:
The platform you choose should also have the option to install the blog without any manual coding. These tools come with most of the major hosting platforms
example: Softaculous that’s available on most of the control panel based hosting account
2)Ownership and censorship
If you are planning to put out a lot of content( which you should) you don’t have to want to blog platform to own it. Some platforms reserve the right to edit or delete according to their policies and conditions.
Make sure that you read the terms and conditions of the platform you choose for blogging before you start setting things up. If you are setting up a self-hosted blog, you will have a very safe with your own content ownership and censorship.
Platform community and support
Open-source platforms like wordpress.org or a platform with million fo users don’t have much of official customer support. The best next option is the community of developers and users who help each other. When among platform for building a blog, more make sure that it has a good community that is active
If you put out quality content on your blog you will start very good traffic and it will start growing fast from then on. Make sure that your blogging platform can be upgraded or called your blog grows. You don’t want your website to be down when you have the most visitors.
A few platforms are free in the initial stage but charge you for bandwidth usage if it goes beyond the basic limits they have set for you these plans. On a self-hosted blog ake sure that you are hosting provider can manage traffic ad can upgrade your account if necessary.
New bloggers often have a low budget or no budget to start with. The budget actually depends on the requirement of the blog itself. It depends on the blogs plan for growth
If you are blogging for fun then you go with any of the free blogging platforms available like the websites and platforms mentioned in this post.
But if you are a serious blogger planning to scale your content and traffic, you need to have a self-hosted blog. Free blogging platforms are many but you need to identify the ones that are stable and if it will work for you in the longer run.
Features of the platforms
Adding a new feature to a website involves coding and programming. Free platforms selfdom provide its users with access to the course code or enable them to edit the code of the blogs.
The platforms like WordPress enables users to add custom doing to their website or blogs and add features to it. Using a self-hosted blog enables you to control and add features available on your website.
There are a lot of blogging platforms out there but in my experience, if you are planning to set up a professional blog that you want to make money from, then you should go with a WordPress self-hosted blog which installed on your hosting account.
This gives you control of scalability and freedom. Just make sure that the shooting provider is dependable and scalable if it suits your budget.
With more than 500 million blogs and more people moving to online reading than offline around the world, you should be blogging and its no brainers.
If you are looking or the best platform to create your blog then you are the right place.
Here is a comparison of the most popular blogging platforms available today
We will start by examining the free platforms and then move on to the paid ones
Now if you look into the paid ones
Each platform has its own advantage and disadvantages depending on what you are looking for.
Most of them are easy to use and could be monetized without more hassle.
WordPress it has free and paid versions. The free version is more than enough to get started and we will first look into WordPress.org.
Building Blog with WordPress
WordPress needs no introduction to the online blogging community. WordPress.org provides an open-source version of the famous and feature-rich blogging platform.
This platform enables you to set up and start blogging through your own server within a few minutes of time.
WordPress can be customized to build multiple kinds of websites. let’s look into each of these and how WordPress can support them.
I) Business website
Every business owner wants to establish their brand as an authority and build trust through the thought leadership. There is a better medium to establish thought leadership than a blog.
In the early days of the internet, most websites were built using HTML and CSS. Later the need for constant adaptation arose, state websites using HTML became obsolete and content management systems began to replace these static websites.
WordPress as a content management system became popular among businesses as it provides easy customization. This customization feature helps the businesses to make the website most relevant to the brand identity.
Organizing content, integrating contact forms and analytics became easier with WordPress for business. The website management process became a breeze without the requirement of an IT specialist or web designer.
With the rising need of Search engine optimization for improving search engine rankings, business owners wanted to adopt a platform that supported intensive content editing and optimization without very detailed technical or coding knowledge.
This again made WordPress a design platform for business owners who is interested in SEO and marketing activities. WordPress website has a wide range of themes that can be customized for user experience which a big factor in SEO.
II) WordPress for Bloggers
WordPress offers a wide range of features for bloggers especially in optimization to organizing blog posts into categories and sub-categories.
Users of WordPress blog can easily create posts, save drafts, and even schedule posts for a future date.
Formating the content is much easier with WordPress visual editor and in case you love to write HTML code, you could just do that with any post or page on your website.
The capability to manage media may be images, audio or video files, WordPress media management options are plenty.
You could even upload and manage PDF files through the media section of the WordPress dashboard.
The WordPress Theme directory is one of the largest directories of WordPress Templates that are free and paid.
III) WordPress for E-Commerce Website
WordPress is a content management system but it gives you complete control over the capability to expand based on your requirements using available plugins.
The plugins are used to add additional features by integrating additional code to the base source code that comes with WordPress installation.
There are thousands of plugins for each feature that you might be able to think of. These plugins enable you to create advanced websites like eCommerce websites.
You would enable all the features of a standard e-commerce website using the Woocommerce plugin for WordPress which is free like WordPress itself. This plugin adds all core functionality required for an e-commerce website like adding products and managing orders.
When installing a self-hosted Worpress Website, you need to install it on a domain or a subdomain.
WordPress can be self-hosted for many requirements like the ones we discussed above but you should make sure that you have a reliable hosting provider to support your WordPress installation.
You can find a list of shared hosting providers on this page: Hosting providers
Even though the software itself is open-source you need to have hosting which would cost you a few pennies every month. Again for a WordPress installation on your hosting, you need to have a domain name attached to it.
Whatever your requirements may be, WordPress can be used for it as it is one of the most flexible platforms for bloggers and content marketers.
With over 1000 free and paid plugins in the WordPress plugin directory, you could find any kind of feature that you could dream of to a WordPress blog if it is self-hosted.
WordPress.com for setting up a Blog
WordPress.com is a platform of its own that includes hosting and you do not get access to the source files to the platform.
WordPress is the world’s most popular blogging platform for many reasons the main one is its stability and scalability.
IV) Squarespace hosting for a Blog
Squarespace has one of the best website builders that comes with hosting services. This builder is easy to use drag and drop model. There are currently thousands of blogs hosted on this platform for many reasons.
Why use the Squarespace platform for blogging?
The customer support for this platform has been praised by many users around the world.
Apart from the huge library of video training materials for users, they also provide live chat support.
With 100s of really esthetic themes that are responsive, Squarespace hosting is a good choice for bloggers who would like to have beautifully designed blogs and a responsive customer support team.
The block feature enables the user to create and customize the layout as per their visualization and needs. Since the designs are optimized for mobile devices, the website will work well on all devices.
One disadvantage most Squarespace users find with it is that it doesn’t have any optimization options to speed up the site. Apart from this the templates are mostly resource-heavy and make it even slower.
The platform comes with different pricing options and plans.
The basic plan starts at $12/Month and an advanced eCommerce plan is around $40/Month.
If you are going for an eCommerce platform, Shopify turns out to be a cheaper and more function-rich when compared to the Squarespace eCommerce platform.
Wix for blogging
This is going to be a rant more than a review from me. If you have been on youtube in the last few months, you would have seen Wix advertising to the extend of them being annoying and repetitive. I can develop websites of my own and I am never going to be a customer of Wix, then why are they showing me the ads?
This is what happens when a business is profitable, has huge budgets for marketing and a digital marketing team that annoys the hell out of every impression they could reach on ad networks.
I don’t blame them they most probably run by a small marketing team or an agency with limited resources to maintain and constantly watch each campaign.
Wix is running retargeting ads and has interrupted my online browsing experience to the extend of me turning into a hater from a lover of this brand.
A few years go a client of mine had a website on Wix and wanted to run some marketing campaigns. I was amazed at the builder and the speed of the website.
Wix just like any other website builder offers different designed templates to build the site. The drag and drop feature comes handing when you try the creation section on the layout.
Another cool feature was the mobile website editor. This makes it way easy to edit the website on the go where ever you are located.
Even though it does not stand a chance against WordPress in terms of customization and SEO, it still has some basic features for optimization like meta tags, title, and URL customization.
If you are active or promoting your brand on social media, you can easily integrate and create social media posts from Wix. I haven’t explored this feature. There are several options to integrate payment options.
Even though there are lots of features. I hate the fact you would be limited to the design you choose during the setting up of the website initially.
The commerce features are good but if you want to build an e-commerce store you will have to m products and customers to manage, I would always recommend Shopify or Prestashop.
Apart from their annoying ads, they have a good platform for beginners.
If you want to read about how you can run retargeting ads without annoying your prospects, here Is an article.
Yes, Wix does have a free plan and a paid plans.
HostGator Website Builder Review
Hostgator provides a simple website builder that can be used by their customers to build simple websites using drag and drop features.
Like any other website maker, it comes with a library of templates. The customization options are also many but simple.
These templates are responsive and will work on all devices. The built-in analytics dashboard will show the stats so the users who visited the blogs.
The builder also comes with an SSL certificate for security. This helps with SEO and builds trust with the users.
The builder lacks marketing feature and needs to be enhanced through additional modules or plugs.
Social media profiles can be integrated and it will display posts from the pages linked.
With limited customization, the Hostgator builder falls one step below other platforms for blogging especially WordPress.
Prices at $3.84/month for the basic plan an eCommerce plan at $9.22/month it depends on your requirements.
Webflow for Blogging- The website builder that will blow your mind
A few years ago, I was working with a client who wanted a different content management system than WordPress. There were a few requirements for this website which were:
1. The website should be responsive
2.Easy to design without coding knowledge
3. Should be easy to integrate with other systems
4. Should be easy to manage content and images
In my search for such a platform, I came across Webflow and since then been my best friend for creating quick landing page sand duplicating them. There are a lot of advantages with Webflow and they are as follows:
Webflow is really easy to edit for anyone and has built-in forms that enable capturing and storing this information.
Another advantage is that it can be integrated with multiple platforms using zappier. I love this feature as I have used it to move subscribers/leads from landing pages to email marketing and automation tools.
It comes with amazing templates to choose from. You can even build designs and store them from scratch.
There are a few disadvantages with Webflow:
Pricing is the biggest disadvantage if you are used with WordPress hosting or using a shared hosting plan for multiples websites.
It is around $15/month if you are going with the monthly plan and $12 if you are planning to with the annual plan.
That been said, the platforming is really simple and you can create great-looking website designs from day one. You could get the pricing this page and purchasing it using my links here
Apart from being super simple, you can use the web flow university which has complete comprehensive training cent for Webflow and all its features.