Blogging became a great way for people to share information, but it didn’t take too long until people realized its business potential. Information is power is money, after all.
Some years later, businesses began to use this incredibly efficient way of spreading information, and blogging became a lucrative profession with all its marketing opportunities.
If you’re reading this, you are likely looking to start your own blog and maybe make a bit of money from it. But just like the cave walls of the ancient neanderthals and the thick leather-bound books of journaling people, you need a space for your writing, a platform for your blog—a blogging platform.
What Are Blogging Platforms?
A blog site or platform is a website where you create a blog and publish blog posts for people to see. You could say it’s the foundation of your blog from which you build on.
The best blogging sites allow you to use its preexisting, pre-coded tools and themes to customize your site’s appearance. Some even allow you further customization as long as you have coding skills.
What Is Web Hosting?
If a blogging platform is the foundation of a building, then web hosting is the land plot where your blog will reside. A web hosting business will provide you their server where your audience can view your blog posts.
The best free blogging sites often come with free hosting services, but you are often limited somehow.
What Are the Best Free Blogging Sites?
There are millions of bloggers in the world, and here are a few of the ones that are excellent choices for blogs.
Wix is popular for its easy interface and is widely considered one of the easiest to use. This is because of Wix’s ADI, a design AI which builds blogs based on customer preferences.
The tradeoff is that Wix has more limited choices than a site like WordPress, especially for its free version. For $14 to $23 per month, you have access to a variety of different ways to customize your blog.
- Wix ADI helps for quick and personalized setup.
- The learning curve is an escalator anyone can ride.
- Modern and sleek template and design options.
- Lack of hosting options
- Plugins and eCommerce integration costs extra.
Much like Wix, Weebly is known for its simple and easy interface, sporting drag-and-drop website builder software. Despite similarities, Weebly lacks the extensive catalog of pre-made themes that Wix has but is nonetheless better for larger sites.
Weebly has a free option for basic use and has plans that range from $5 to $25 per month.
- Click and drag website building and software
- Has a community of users for contribution
- Offers hosting for those that use its platform, which has good speed & security
- Paid options have no storage or page caps
- Limited design options
- Suitable for building blogs, but content management is subpar
Go Daddy is an easy-to-use blog site that is optimized for eCommerce. It has straight-forward, no-nonsense design options that would undoubtedly be ideal for bloggers with money-making in mind.
If you want to get a blogging website for a business up quickly, and design isn’t a priority, this will work for you.
- Simple to use and straightforward, like Wix and Weebly.
- Integrated eCommerce features
- Start a blog quick and easy
- Limited design options
- Lacks functional freebies
- Lack of options for adding new tools
WordPress .com is a widely-known platform that every person who is remotely familiar with blogging is likely aware of its existence. WordPress .com is free and is a competent site on its own, but it’s only really optimal for personal blogging.
- WordPress .com is entirely free, including hosting
- Monetization is allowed, but only for blogs that have 25,000 monthly pageviews
- Is fine, albeit limited in its tools and options
- Lacks the versatility and customization level of WordPress.org
- No plug-ins
- No online store
- Limited tools and analytics
- Because it’s free, WordPress .com will post their ads on your blog for them to earn. You have no control over this.
WordPress .com has premium plans which deal with most of these and ads business integration, starting at $14 to $140 per month.
One of the biggest names in the blogging world and often regarded as one of the best, WordPress .org is open-source software that gives you access to thousands of customization tools when you need to start a blog from the ground up.
Also known as self-hosted WordPress, the platform lets you download WordPress .org CMS and sign up for a hosting service, freeing you of ad, speed, and storage constraints.
WordPress .org is free, but you will have to pay for hosting, unlike its sister-site, WordPress .com.
- Comprehensive design tools
- Customization: WordPress .org has thousands of options, especially for coders
- Easy to integrate as you grow your blog,
- Has plugins for almost any problem (SEO, social media, etc.)
- Optimized for blogging
- WordPress .org is self-hosted WordPress, which means you have to pay for hosting
- Has a steep learning curve compared to other platforms
- WordPress has a clunky interface
WordPress.com or WordPress.org?
If you want to earn money with your blog or want something to complement your company, self-hosted WordPress.org is better, no question. The bottom line is WordPress.org is more versatile and scalable if you can get around the learning curve.
Medium is unique in that it is a community of bloggers and a social media platform. It’s free, and you can even get paid through the Partner Program!
The earning opportunities stop there, however. You are explicitly not allowed to promote products or businesses.
- Great for personal blogs
- Built-in audience
- Easy to learn and use
- Not ideal for monetization
- You are building Medium’s brand with your content, not your own
- No customization
- Much competition
Blogger is a free platform for blogging that has been around for quite a while. Google owns it, so it lets you run Google AdSense ads on your website. But with the other free options, this might not be an ideal choice.
- Completely free
- Google Adsense monetization
- Outdated look
- No paid hosting options
- Limited customization and integration
- You can’t own your site, so you are left with only being able to customize the subdomain.
Ghost is a platform entirely focused on blogging. It was made with the express purpose of being easy to work with, minimalist, and optimal for blogging. So if getting your thoughts down is all that’s on your mind, this could be perfect for you.
It has two versions, the free, hosted version and a paid self-hosted version. Pro plans cost start at$29 to $299 per month.
- Simple and straightforward, perfect for bloggers who just want to write.
- Responsive interface
- Simple comes with the caveat of not being so customizable
- Not entirely free, as you have to pay for hosting and the name of your domain
- Self-installation can be complicated
Tumblr is essentially a social media platform. An innate feature is that information is constantly shared through “reblogging,” and you can network by following others. Tumblr is also unique in that it encourages more freeform blogging compared to most sites, so it’s perfect for creative souls.
- Opportunity to experiment with content
- It functions like social media, so it’s good for exposure and networking
- You can monetize your blog through affiliate marketing and ads
- Limited platform customization
- You can customize your domain, but your ownership of the site is limited
- May be perceived as less professional
Joomla Is a lot like self-hosted WordPress in that it’s an open-source CMS that requires you to look for a third-party hosting service. It is however, more technical compared to most on this list but is great for customization.
Compared to WordPress, it’s more optimized for professional use, and being less popular means it can be more secure.
- Comprehensive customization and versatility
- Great for monetizing your blog
- Multilingual options can help add international exposure
- The CMS is free, but you have to pay for hosting
- Has a steep learning curve and requires coding skills
What Factors Make the Best Blogging Platforms?
You may have heard some names thrown around, like WordPress (Including each version of WordPress, WordPress.org, WordPress.com), Wix, Weebly, and more. These are usually the go-to choices for bloggers, and each of them is a contender for the title of Best Blogging Platform.
But what makes them so great?
Well, there are a few things that are important to consider when you choose, as each of these can affect your blog and how it grows in the long run.
The best blogging platform has low-cost options
You are after free blogging sites, after all, so you obviously care about making sure that you spend the least amount of money.
However, it’s important to note that even the best free blog sites lock useful features behind a paywall. So in case you might need those tools, and you likely will, it’s best to know which blog sites offer affordable costs with great value-for-money before you ever start a blog.
The best blogging platform is easy-to-use
Not everyone has taken up coding, so you don’t have to be worried if you don’t have that skill yourself. There are blogging sites that are easy-to-use, employing website builder methods that anyone can navigate with a simple click and drag.
However, even the best free blog sites usually have limited easy-access options and will task you to rely on your own coding skills.
Wix and Weebly are good examples of this, but this usually comes with the caveat of limited customization options. WordPress might be difficult to navigate for beginners, but its options are far larger.
The best blog platform has great SEO tools
If you want to earn money, you want sites that help you pull traffic into your website with good SEO. This can help you grow your blog a better source of income and something the world can better access.
Read more: How to Grow a Blog
Decent SEO tools will also decrease the work you need to do that you can relegate to writing that blog post you’re unable to work on because you’re too busy. A free blog site might not provide these, however.
The best blog platform lets you get a custom domain name
Of course, you’re going to want to name your domain with something that speaks for your blog and not something that is just some characters bunched up together into an ugly mess.
A bad domain name can turn away potential readers, and a good one is ideal for consistent branding. The best free blog sites will offer a free domain with customization options; however, they will usually include their name in your URL (example: mybloghere.wordpress.com)
The best blogging platform has multiple theme/design options
A good blog site will not hold you back and will let you fulfill your design vision! If you want your blog to earn money, a pleasing design is good to give a chosen feel for your site, and if it’s unique enough, it can even boost brand recall.
Some CMS like the business-inclined version of WordPress, WordPress.org, allows you to customize virtually any part of your blog by manipulating code.
The best blog platform has numerous useful plug-ins
Growth demands bloggers to adapt. Throughout the tenure of a blog owner, there will come a time where they will need particular tools and plug-ins to accommodate business demands and improve blog performance.
Free blog sites hardly offer these, if at all, but it’s good to keep it in mind if you want to leave the free plan for a paid one eventually.
But why would I consider paying for blogging platforms when a free version exists?
You can easily start a blog for free. Your chosen website’s free version offers a free domain and lets you create a blog with a design you’re alright with.
Free blog sites are great if you want to start a blog for personal use or as a hobby. Still, if you’re serious about using it as a platform for your business or a means to earn money, you will eventually find yourself limited if you want to start a blog for free and continue on the unpaid route.
Why Forego Free Blogging Platforms for Paid Options?
There are many reasons why you should eventually transition from a free plan to a superior premium version.
Aside from all the above reasons, even the best free blogging sites can come up short. Here are some more things you won’t find on a free blog site:
Faster loading time
Going for a free version for a blog platform means your website may experience some sluggishness. A free blog means you aren’t paying for hosting, and a site’s servers don’t prioritize non-paying customers.
This can affect visitor experience on your blog and might frustrate them enough to turn them away. Google analytics may consider this a sign of low quality and decrease traffic on your website.
Upscaling your blog means a lot of needs to be met. One of these is blogging storage.
Hosting your blog for free comes with the downside of sharing the server space of many other blogs, which means limited storage space.
Even the best free blog sites are considerably bad at getting the attention of search engines. Fact is, Google doesn’t view free blogs as considerable authorities on the given subject. This is bad for bloggers as surviving in the blogging world requires consistent traffic.
Paid blogs generally will be seen as having more credibility and will have better tools for SEO.
Better ad choices
Usually, a blog site with a free plan cannot run advertisements, meaning you won’t earn money. Even worse, some blogging platforms will even go as far as run their ads on your website, profiting off your content. The bottom line is a blog will benefit from paying for your blogging site.
That being said, learning about the best free blogging sites can expand your options, but keep in mind their paid options should you need them in the future.
The Bottom Line
What is the best free blogging platform?
Most might say that WordPress.org is the most ideal option, but “best” can be subjective. The best fit for you is always going to be what suits your goals and needs. But remember: going for a free platform comes with limitations, so it’s best to consider that before choosing one.
So keep your preferences in mind: from how you want your blog to look and how you want to manage your posts. Don’t forget to take a look at each pricing plan for when you realize that you need the options provided by a paid platform.
Once you have forked out your way, whether a paid plan or a free platform would be your choice, check out our articles on how you could develop a blog content strategy or subscribe to our newsletter to get more tips and advice.