Learn how to choose the right blogging platform for your blog.
Choosing a Blogging Platform
Want to start a blog, but don’t know where to put it? This tutorial will help you choose which of the blogging platforms is right for you.
At this point, you may have thought about what direction you wanted to head with a blog. You may have written down topics to help you narrow down your niche or main theme, and maybe you even made a list of potential blog post topics. After that, you decided on a blog name, which will become your domain name.
(Didn’t do any of that yet? Start here first!)
Now it’s time to get techy.
I remember being at this stage…
In 2011, I decided to resign from my teaching job to become a full time stay at home mom to my then two kids. It wasn’t easy leaving my teaching career behind, but my husband and I knew it would be best for my family.
At first, I was busy being a mom to a toddler and a newborn. After a while, I started to miss teaching and connecting to the outside world.
I started writing articles online through HubPages. It satisfied the need to teach and connect with others as a stay at home mom. (You can see my articles here. They’re still active, even though I don’t publish there anymore.)
Someone there started a forum about starting a blog to share articles. They recommended signing up on a ‘free’ platform and sharing blurbs from articles with links back to HubPages.
A blog? Platform? I had no idea even where to begin.
And this, I imagine, is how you are feeling now.
But no worries. I’m going to walk you through it slowly. I’m even going to potentially save you some time and energy by sharing what I learned since I started my blog 8+ years ago.
Here we go.
Free vs Paid Blogging Platforms
You have a niche, and you have a list of potential blog post ideas, but now you need a place to put them. (Don’t have those items yet? Go back to the beginning).
Many bloggers choose to start on a free platform, such as Blogger, WordPress.com, Wix, or Weebly, because, let’s face it: free is a good thing.
I started on Blogger myself. It was easy enough to figure out and hey, it’s made by Google so it has to be awesome.
Well, yes, and no. I’ll get back to that in a minute.
I have also worked on a website for a Little League that was on Weebly. I really liked the drag and drop options there, I have to say. It was pretty easy to develop a nice looking and functional site for the league, all for free.
But ‘free’ platforms in the blogging world aren’t always a good thing.
This is when you need to think about why you’re blogging.
- Are you going to be blogging for fun, sharing information and stories without any need for compensation?
- Or, are you going to be sharing information and stories in the hopes of earning some money?
Let me explain a few things before you decide.
In the blogging world, there are two kinds of sites that can be used: ‘free’ and ‘self-hosted’.
Both have pros and cons, but it all really depends on why you are starting a blog.
Free Blogging Platforms
‘Free’ platforms, like the ones I mentioned above, are great for hobby bloggers and those who start blogs for their families. They’re easy to use, are backed up automatically, are updated automatically, and don’t require a lot of technical knowledge.
But ‘free’ platforms can be very limiting if you’re goal is to make money with a blog.
- They have limited themes and backgrounds to use,
- they don’t have custom domain names (their domain name is included in yours, like YourSite.domainname.com),
- they either have very limited or no plugins to use,
- they limit advertising or don’t allow it at all,
- and they limit the kinds of statistics you’re able to see.
Worst of all, they essentially own your site, so if they feel that in any way you violate their Terms of Service, they can shut down your site without notice.
Self-Hosted Blog Platform
A self-hosted blog, on the other hand, is all yours. You can control almost everything about it. There are countless free and paid custom themes to choose from.
- You can design the layout so that it meets your blog’s needs.
- You can add free and paid plugins to help enhance the functions of your site.
- You can monetize it in almost any way, with ads, ad networks, sponsored posts, affiliate links, and more.
- You can link your blog in Google Analytics and get accurate statistics.
- You can optimize your text, titles and images for search engines.
- If done right, your blog can appear more professional, which may help you bring in more revenue.
But, of course, there is an initial price. You’ll need to pay for a hosting service, some of which are inexpensive while others can be quite expensive (example $3.95/month to $500+/month).
You’ll also need to pay for your domain name, but at least it’ll be your own and not tied to another platform’s name (MommyKnowsWhatsBest.com vs MommyKnowsWhatsBest.blogger.com).
There may also be some other optional costs, like paid plugins, paid custom themes, etc.
What Blogging Platform Should I Start With?
Most experienced bloggers out there use self-hosted sites, and many of them will almost always recommend starting with a self-hosted site.
If you start your blog on a free platform but then decide to move it to a self-hosted blog later on, it is going to take some technical know-how to move your content over. Or, if you’re not able to figure it out, you may need to pay someone else to do the transfer for you.
Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily. I started out on a free platform before I made the move to self-hosted, and I survived. It just might cost you a bit more time and money down the road should you choose to move to self-hosted.
I want you to really think about your reason for blogging:
- Are you just going to do it as a hobby or are you going to try to earn some money?
What you decide will help you move on to the next step, which is starting a blog from scratch.
In the meantime, do some research into the blogging platforms I mention.
Have Any Questions?
Feel free to ask in the comments below!