Blogging has exploded in the last decade. We’re going to discuss the top/best blogging platform, or websites, for anyone looking to start a blog. Blogging has made everyone an expert in everything. Blogging has become easier than making a peanut butter sandwich because of Wix, SquareSpace, Weebly, WordPress, and Joomla.
It’s the perfect way for fans to discuss their favorite topics, SMEs (i.e., Subject Matter Experts) provide insight on their expertise, and Entrepreneurs to generate passive income through affiliate marketing.
There are tons of CMS (i.e., Content Management System) on the internet. However, we’re going to focus on hosted blogging platforms. In other words, you create an account on a blogging platform and the only thing you need to worry about is writing your blog posts. There are no server headaches, yearly domain payments, and individuality to your blog.
Self-hosted vs Hosted
As mentioned, hosted platforms come without any worries. The only thing you need to worry about is writing your blog posts. However, your blog will look and feel like every other blog on the platform. There’s no individuality to it. In other words, you can’t put your personality into the way it looks or feels when someone visits your site.
In addition, it’s very limited in features. There’s no freedom to it either. The worst part is probably the inability to add your own domain name. When people visit your blog, your web address will be something like yourblogname.wordpress.com or yourblogname.tumblr.com. I personally find it incredible annoying as I’m individualistic person.
The best blogging platforms do this on purpose, so you’ll upgrade to their paid options.
Top Hosted Options
WordPress has been around for about 10 years. It’s easy to use and some consider it as the best blogging platform. It’s estimated that approximately 30% of the world’s website is running WordPress – self-hosted or WordPress.com. The greatest thing about WordPress is its plugins. Plugins are equivalent to iPhone apps. In the WordPress world, we say, “There’s probably a plugin for it”.
WordPress makes it incredibly easy to put together a blog post. In addition, WordPress themes makes it easy for people to switch their website’s appearance in a matter of seconds. The major plus about WordPress is being able to self-host. For example, I could download my WordPress site then take it to Siteground, BlueHost, WP Engine, HostGator, or InMotion Hosting. Furthermore, WordPress has its own propriety Security (i.e., Jetpack and Asikmet) and eCommerce (i.e., WooCommerce).
WooCommerce makes WordPress an attractive option for any blogger looking to sell products on their website. WooCommerce has a laundry list of plugins for your eCommerce store. They have membership, subscription, booking, and payment gateways plugins to monetize your website. Their payment gateways include Stripe, PayPal, AmazonPay, Authorize.Net, and the list goes on. Check out all their extensions here.
Jetpack is WordPress’ security option. They provide pack up services, image/video CDN, spam protection, downtime monitoring, and many more features. However, the paid versions is where all the good features are listed. It’s a decent option since they’re owned by WordPress. However, paying for WordPress and Jetpack could get expensive. It’s one of the reason why people self-host cause it’s the cheaper option. Sign up for a WordPress here.
Weebly is an all-inclusive website platform. Is it the best blogging platform? Let’s find out. It has the ability to build your own website with drop and drag. It has an eCommerce option. Weebly has speed and security locked in like a home alarm system. It’s a great option for those looking to customize their website and give it individuality. Weebly‘s customer service is centralized as in you contact them if something goes wrong. It’s much better than going to multiple plugins, or themes, authors for tech support. That’s its main advantage over WordPress.
In addition, Weebly‘s apps are still growing compared to WordPress. There isn’t an option to install third party apps like WordPress with its third party plugins. For example, if you want to start an affiliate program for your store, you can’t search the web for available third party affiliate apps. Furthermore, Weebly’s app center is pretty limited compared to WordPress. The main thing I don’t like about Weebly is its CMS. Weebly uses its propriety CMS. They lock users into their platform. In other words, I can’t take my website and move it to a different hosting company if I decide to self-host my website.
However, the main thing about Weebly is it’s price point. They offer unlimited storage and unlimited products for their highest paid plan, which is only on par with WordPress. It definitely beats Wix and SquareSpace. Lastly, their lower pricing plans is definitely competitive with WordPress, Wix, and SquareSpace. Check them out for yourself here.
Wix is another all inclusive blogging platform like WordPress and Weebly. I’m sure you’ve seen their commercials on YouTube. They’re making their presence known on social media and trying to be the best blogging platform. Wix has a decent size website template database in its arsenal. However, like Weebly, it’s app selection is still growing and nowhere as large as WordPress. The good thing about Wix‘s app database? It has all the essential basic integrations like an Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, OpenTable, Yelp, Google AdSense, and Live Chat.
In addition, Wix’s other major plus is a personalized email address (i.e., email@example.com), which can be integrated with Gmail. It comes with 25 GB inbox size with a 5GB cloud storage space. It also has Calendar & Docs. Wix guarantees a 99% uptime with the addition of 24/7 support. However, the personalized email only comes with one of the premium plans.
In terms of price points, Wix is relatively competitive with WordPress and Weebly. However, it’s major disadvantage comes to a storage limit — 20 GB. Weebly and WordPress offers unlimited storage along with unlimited bandwidth. It’s most popular option is pricier than WordPress and Weebly when compared to both “Pro” options. Find out more here.
SquareSpace has been around for a minute. It could be considered the best blogging platform for being around so long. SquareSpace has a drag and drop builder, but it takes some getting used to it. It features all the basic options like free domain, SSL, and unlimited pages. It’s perfect for bloggers looking for a different content management outside of WordPress. In addition, there’s an easy import for people with blogs on WordPress, Tumblr, Posterous or Blogger.
The monthly price for unlimited products on SquareSpace is a few bucks than its competition. However, there’s a kicker. There’s a 3% transaction fee; in other words, they take 3% of any sales that occur on your site. The 3% is on par with other payment gateways like PayPal, Stripe, Authorize.net, and Amazon Pay. It’s actually cheaper since PayPal, Stripe, Authorize.net, and Amazon Pay all charge $0.30 per transaction on top of their 2.9%. It’ll probably be the cheaper option when everything is tallied.
Unfortunately, SquareSpace no longer offers a free option. They have gone to a full paid subscription business model. They are looking to compete with Shopify in the eCommerce sphere. You can find out more about SquareSpace here.
Tumblr is what Blogger used to be in terms of popularity. It’s a fully hosted blogging platform. If free and no real function is your criteria, then Tumblr could be the best blogging platform. There are some customization, but it’s pretty much the Facebook for bloggers. However, Tumblr allows advertisements on blogs as long as it adds value to the content. In other words, your Tumblr blog can’t be filled with advertisements just for people to click.
The biggest negative about Tumblr is its versatility. For example, you can’t turn your Tumblr account into an eCommerce store if you decide to fully monetize your Tumblr account. It’s very limited in that sense. As your blog grows, you’re going to want to do different things with it like other different services, products, or provide a subscription service. Tumblr can’t provide growth.
Blogger used to be what Tumblr is now. Blogger is a fully hosted blogging platform. It’s been around for ages, but I wouldn’t consider it the best blogging platform. There are some customization, but it’s pretty much the Google+ for bloggers. It’s a dying platform like Goolge+. You can tell its slowly dying because its own Google+ page hasn’t recently posted anything. It’s the last platform to start a blog on even though there’s the ability to display ads via Google Adsense.
It has the same negative as Tumblr, which is versatility. You can’t turn your blog into an eCommerce store. You can’t use a PayWall for a subscription service. It’s very limited. Like Tumblr, you’re going to want to provide different things like products, memberships, or a subscription service. Blogger is not the way to go.
Joomla is the other major open-source CMS. You can do a lot with Joomla that you can do with WordPress. However, it’s popularity is relatively small compared to WordPress, which powers 29% of the world’s websites. However, Joomla has a large database of plugins and themes for its users. They have their hosted option at Joomla.com and their open-source self-hosted option at Joomla.org.
It works the same way as WordPress. Like WordPress, Joomla could be used as a blog, website, or an eCommerce store. There are payment gateways like PayPal, Stripe, Amazon Pay, Authorize.Net, and so forth. There’s a large market for third-party plugins too. I would say its the next best thing to WordPress for those who don’t want to use WordPress; however, it’s hard to resist WordPress with its large database of theme, plugins, and third-party authors. Best blogging platform? It’s too early.
In summary, there are so many great option for a hosted blog platform. The best blogging platform? Well, it really depends on your vision for your blog. Do you plan just to use it as a journal? If so, WordPress, Tumblr, or Blogger might fit your needs. Do you see yourself selling products or offering other services? If that’s the case, Joomla, WordPress, Weebly, Wix, or SquareSpace might be a fit for you. If I would recommend a path, I would suggest going with WordPress. WordPress has the ability to scale and the ability to self-host is always a good option. Why self-host? Hosting services are always offering deals and you could save money by switching hosting services. Check out our thoughts about the 5 best/popular hosting services here. If you decide to self-host, we have a guide on what to do here.