Every blog needs a foundation. Blogging platforms (sites, content management systems, software – some people refer to it differently) provide that base and a framework that you can use for starting a blog. There are a number of solutions, but only some are worth considering.
This guide provides a detailed overview (with pros, cons, and reviews) of the best blogging sites, to help you decide where to start a blog nowadays:
- Self-hosted software
- Freemium platforms
- Free blog sites
I’ve tested each blogging website that I could find online to save you some time. Below, you will see a selection of the best blog platforms used by popular blogs (and bloggers) that I also use and recommend.
How to choose a blogging platform
At this stage, you’ll need to determine the blog management tool you want to use. Here are some important criteria to assess the available options:
- Pricing. One of the most common questions – “How much does it cost?”. It’s essential to know how much you will have to pay for blog software and it’s also important to know what will you get for your money.
- Type. There are different types of solutions. They all designed for the end-user to be able to make blog sites, but it’s important for you to understand what’s available. There are: free (hosted), self-hosted, freemium, premium, blog website builders. We will describe the difference between them later.
- Ease of use. New bloggers need an easy to use solution that they can handle without any technical skills, learning web development or web design. Once the software is set up, it has to be easy to manage.
- Features. You need to make sure that the platform you pick is feature-rich. You might not need them at the beginning or not use them at all, but you have to make sure that the best blog platform you choose gives you the ability to customize or change your website completely if required.
- Administration. The back end or admin area is where you will do changes to your blog, write content, make design and layout changes. Make sure that the admin area is available, accessible and easy to navigate.
A closer look at 11 top sites for blogging
What do The New Yorker, Boing Boing, the Chicago Bulls, BBC America, Beyonce, Vogue, The Rolling Stones, and thousands of other websites have in common? They all made their official blogs with WordPress.org. Launched in 2003, it doesn’t need any introduction except the long list of sites using it today and the fact that it powers around 25% of blogs on the web. Just don’t confuse this open-source CMS and hosted blogging software WordPress.com.
WordPress.org is one of the most popular choices when it comes to managing your blog site. It has a learning curve and it will take some time to learn it, but that is the cost of having a professional blog website. Having said that, there is one thing that you won’t get with some of the free blog platforms, and that is 100% ownership of your blog and content. In the long run, it will probably be the biggest benefit than with free hosted solutions.
- Open source and free
- Professional and easily navigable dashboard
- Versatile and customizable
- Thousands of themes and plugins
- Owning your own content
- Need to have a hosting provider
- The learning curve to fully explore it
WordPress.org software is totally free, so there will be no additional costs on that side. Yes, all upgrades are also free. But you will need to choose a domain name (roughly $15 per year) and web hosting provider (roughly $5 to $15 per month depending on the company)
Founded in 2006, Wix has become a wildly popular web builder for people who revel in a ton of design options—without breaking the bank. In 2012, Wix switched from Adobe Flash to HTML5, a successful move that gained them, at the time, 25 million users. Their business model is freemium and I can immediately see some people rolling their eyes. However, is that a sign of “oh, no, not again” or the judgment is too early? You be the judge.
With the Free plan, you will cover all the basics and be able to have your first free blog website. However, upgrading to Connect Domain enables you to use your own domain. We recommend upgrading to Combo because you also will be freed of their native advertisements. Adding to the confusion is the fact that Wix calls all paid plans – Premium plans. So, when the company says a feature is included in a Premium plan, you can’t be sure which plan they’re talking about.
Wix offers blog builder solution with an easy start for bloggers. With Wix, you can write, edit and manage your blog posts from your desktop or on the go!
- Very easy to use website editor
- Ability to recall your older versions of the website
- The abundance of third-party apps and design templates
- Great mobile site-building tools
- No chat support
- More advanced users will feel a bit limited without HTML and CSS access
- Once in use, design templates are hard to change
- Inability to sell digital goods
- Free plan gives you 500MB of storage and 500MB bandwidth
- Connect Domain, for $4.08 a month, allows you to connect your domain, 1GB bandwidth, ability to integrate Google Analytics and access premium support
- Combo, for $8.25 a month, gives you 2GB bandwidth, 3GB storage, removes native and mobile ads, gives you a free domain for a year, customized favicon and a Google ads voucher for $75
- Unlimited, for $12.42 a month, gives you unlimited bandwidth, 10 GB storage, form builder app, and site booster app
- eCommerce, for $16.17 a month, gives you 20 GB storage and most importantly an online store
- VIP (U.S. and Canada exclusive), for $24.90 a month, will get you a VIP support line, which includes immediate response on forums, skipping the line, a one-time professional site review
If you spent some amount of time on the internet in the last decade then you’ve probably heard the name WordPress. Launched in 2005, WordPress.com (which should not be confused with similar WordPress.org) is a popular freemium blog hosting site. There are over 50 million users on this platform, or at least that many people tried to use it. It’s hard to say how many people are actively using this platform, but it’s definitely a popular choice. But is it all hype?
There are very few things that aren’t in favor of this blogging provider. Handling is easy for everyone and made with blogging for beginners touch. Unlike its fraternal twin WordPress.org, this is a free blog hosting sites service, so you don’t have to worry about downloading and installing software. However, when it comes to hosted solutions, you don’t always have a 100% control over your blog.
- Easy to get started and use
- Hundreds of free theme designs
- Don’t have 100% control over your blog
- Limited options to extend website functionality
- The free plan is quite limiting
WordPress.com is essentially one of the best free blog sites on the web, but it has some limitations. The free plan gives you a blog that is restricted to yourname.wordpress.com domain with only 3GB of space, and it may show some ads.
If you need a blog with a custom domain they offer a premium plan for $99/year and business plan for $299/year and it will give you unlimited space, e-commerce, and other advanced things.
Depending on your needs, a free plan may seem like a good start and playground, but keep in mind all the restrictions.
Founded in 2004, Squarespace is a convenient all-in-one web builder, hosting provider and platform for bloggers. With fabulous, responsive designs, Squarespace became known as the hippest of the web builders. However, advanced functionality has put the company squarely in the mainstream. If you check out Squarespace websites, you’ll see just how great they look. But are they easy to build and maintain?
- Gorgeous, responsive designs
- A number of great selling capabilities and options
- Excellent built-in statistics and metrics
- One of the best store and e-commerce solutions out there
- No free packages
- No possibility of installing third-party scripts without HTML
- The difficulty of having to add subpages in folders
After the initial 14-day trial period, if you decide to stay with Squarespace, you’ll be able to choose between four plans. All prices reflect billing on an annual basis:
- Personal for websites $12 per month
- Business for websites $18 per month
- Basic for online stores $26 per month
- Advanced for online stores $40 per month
The story of Weebly is kind of an interesting one, and similar to other popular online projects like Facebook. According to Wikipedia, this content management system began its journey as a student project back in 2006, which quickly outgrew the boundaries of the College of Information Sciences and Technology at the Pennsylvania State University.
Today, Weebly counts more than 40 million websites, including number of best blogs. It can thank the numbers to its beginner-friendly builder that allows everyone to make a personal or business website in less than a few hours. After choosing one from about fifty themes, users get to edit text blocks, add sliders, galleries, videos, and much more. Adding new pages, navigation menus, and choosing color schemes is as easy as selecting elements in the builder.
Because of all that, Weebly is an excellent choice for a beginner who wants to start a free blog, but you should understand that it isn’t as flexible as WordPress. Sooner or later, you might get stuck at one step where Weebly simply couldn’t create what you had in mind.
- Beginner-friendly and easy to use
- A good number of SEO options
- Centralized support
- Not ideal for e-commerce
- No full control over settings
- A smaller number of free themes
You can start using Weebly for free, which will be enough for small personal blog sites. But if you decide to upgrade plans, Weebly offers plans from $5-25 per month. As you might have guessed, the more you pay, the more you get.
When it comes to popular free blogging sites, one of the first providers that will pop into most people’s minds is Blogger. Founded in 1999, it is one of the oldest blogging platforms still active. In 2003, it was acquired by Google and that change is still shifting the way users are working with Blogger.
The Medium is exactly what its title says. It is a new medium that has its backbone in the blogging world, but over time evolved into a publishing platform. It was made by the company that brought us Blogger and it was made by the co-founders of Twitter, Evan Williams, and Biz Stone. Launched in 2012, it is trying to take the best out of many platforms that are heavy on subscribe and follow activities, like Twitter or Pinterest, and find a balance between individual publishing and publishing by organizations. Visually, it’s clean, attractive, and modern.
- A hybrid platform with the blog/discover/share options
- Easy setup and use
- Excellent for a group of authors or individuals
- Elegant design
- Has to prove if it is here to stay
- Contradictory when it comes to author identity
- Should do more for promotion
- Lack of HTML and CSS options
- Lack of customizing your own visual identity
If you are an old user, pricing and hosting should not concern you at all. The Medium used to be free and there were no hosting packages since everything was taken care of by Medium servers. That is still true, but now you have a price attached to it. For $5/mo, you can become a member and with that, you will be able to read exclusive stories from top writers and experts, listen to audio versions of popular stories and reward the writers you love.
Blogger site is relatively easy to use. It is completely free and you can somewhat monetize it through ads. Customization options are limited.
It’s been present online for over 15 years, so many bloggers are familiar with it or already have tried it. If you want just a hobby blog, Blogger could be enough for you. If you want your blog to be taken seriously, we would not recommend it.
- Everything is free
- Beginner friendly and easy to use
- Unlimited bandwidth and 100% uptime supported by Google
- A lot of outdated templates
- Limited customizability and lack of plugin diversity
- Rudimentary picture management and lack of spam filtering
- Domain name with .blogspot.com extension (if not setup with custom domain)
Blogger is a free blog platform and you will automatically get a “yourname.blogspot.com” name for your blog. If you decide to move away from that, you will have to buy your own domain (roughly $15 per year) with one of the domain registrar companies and point it to your blog with Blogger Settings.
When it comes to premium blog software (not free) TypePad is one of the oldest members of that club. Launched in 2003, it was one of the most popular blogging sites that hosted various celebrity blogs like Paris Hilton or Wil Wheaton. In the meantime, other blogging websites emerged and took away its share in the blogosphere. However, after 15 or so years later, it’s still alive, kicking and doing well. TypePad is something to think of.
- A premium solution for blogger that is easy to use
- Customer service
- Easy setup and buying of custom domain
- Works nicely with e-commerce and money transaction sites like PayPal, Amazon or eBay
- Top service for those less technically educated
- A small number of plug-ins and features, considering the price
- Design elements are a bit outdated
- No option for complete or automatic backup
- Not the most HTML-edit friendly
- Lack of flexibility for more advanced users
- You don’t own your property unless you pay for the most expensive package and co-own
TypePad is not a free blog maker service. You can pay for it with your credit card or via PayPal. If you don’t want to jump into a new contractual obligation, you can try their 14-day free trial, but you will still need to fill out billing information. You can choose to pay monthly or yearly, where you can get a certain discount for the yearly option. After your 14-day free trial, you will be automatically subscribed to the services at your subscribed rate. You may cancel your subscription at any time during your free trial to avoid being charged in case you don’t want to host your blog there. If you decide to stay, there are four different packages:
- Plus $8.95 per month
- Unlimited $14.95 per month
- Premium $29.95 per month
- Enterprise $49.95 per month
Tumblr, or better to say, “Tumbler,” is a media-rich blogging platform. Founded in 2007 as a social network and a microblog site, it was acquired by Yahoo in 2013. It has famous active users like Taylor Swift, Grace Helbig, and Tyler Oakley. However, when it comes to text-based content, you will have a serious lack of tools. It is a great start if you are a beginner and/or have an artistic side.
- Adjusted to photo and media content
- Free and easy to use
- Social network features to connect with other users
- Not for usage if your content is mostly text based
- No spam or comment filtering
- No easy SEO options and statistics
The Tumblr platform is free. The free setup comes with yourname.tumblr.com extension. If you want, you can buy and use your own domain. Here is the guide on how to set up your own domain on Tumblr.
As an option, you can buy premium themes from $9 to $49, but they are not a necessity. Plugins are free, but unfortunately, besides basic things, there are not too many plugins.
If you have been using Evernote, this platform might be the right choice for your new blog. The entire idea behind this content management system is integrating Evernote with a blog publishing tool.
Postach allows you to use themes in order to choose a design of your free blog, and for those who know their way around HTML, custom designs are an option as well. Still, the main focus is the integration with Evernote, so I suggest Postach only to those who can’t live without Evernote. But if you’re about to start a new blog and you are not using Evernote on an everyday basis, I strongly suggest turning your way around to the self-hosted WordPress.
- Perfect for Evernote users
- Simple to use
- Allow collaboration with other Evernote users
- Not for serious blogging
- Only five add-ons
- Fewer design options
Postach comes with a free trial, after which you can choose a plan that goes from $5 to $25 per month.
Although WordPress is the most popular blogging platform out there, not everyone likes it. John O’Nolan, who was working on the WordPress user interface, realized that WordPress is overly complicated for running a simple blog back in 2012. What he wanted was a more straightforward platform that will serve bloggers only, without the necessity of extending the site into something more than a free blog.
- Focus on blogging
- Not for serious blogging
- Doesn’t support plugins
- Doesn’t provide free hosting service
- Small number of themes
Since it is an open-source platform, Ghost is entirely free to use. Still, if you decide to upgrade your blogging experience, Ghost will charge from $29 to $199 per month.
For $29 per month, you get a blog that can be viewed by up to 100,000 people, 2 staff users (admins), and up to 1,000 members (people who are subscribed to your blog). For $79, you can extend those numbers to 500,000 views, 5 staff users, and 5,000 members. If that’s not enough, for $199 per month, you get up to 1 million views, 15 admins, and up to 15,000 members with promised 99,9% uptime (meaning, your blog will practically never be down).
Moving your blog from one platform to another
If you have previously started your blog somewhere other than WordPress, and now you decided to move to WordPress, you don’t have to worry. It has implemented “Import tool” that lets you upload content from other blogs into the new one.
Within the WordPress Dashboard under the Tools section, you will find the following options on the Import list:
- Blogger – import posts, comments, and users from a Blogger blog. Read our step by step guide on How To Move Your Blog From Blogger To WordPress
- WordPress.com – import posts, pages, comments, custom fields, categories, and tags from a WordPress export file. Read our step by step guide on How To Move Your Blog From WordPress.com To WordPress.org
- Tumblr – import posts and media from Tumblr. Read our step by step guide on How To Move Your Blog From Tumblr To WordPress
- Wix – import posts and media from Wix. Read our step by step guide on How To Move Your Blog From Wix To WordPress
- Weebly – import posts and media from Weebly. Read our step by step guide on How To Move Your Blog From Weebly To WordPress
- SquareSpace – import posts and media from SquareSpace. Read our step by step guide on How To Move Your Blog From SquareSpace To WordPress
- Movable Type and TypePad – import posts and comments from a Movable Type or TypePad blog. Read our step by step guide on How To Move Your Blog From Movable Type And TypePad To WordPress
- LiveJournal – import posts from LiveJournal
Keep in mind that there are other import options available through different WordPress plugins. You can try searching the official WordPress plugins repository for the right importer tool.