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The Only Guide You'll Need For Choosing The Right Blogging Platform

right blogging platform checklist


At the beginning of 2017, I decided to start my blogging buddy program, a free service that I offer to new bloggers. Because of this service, I get to interact with new bloggers directly and understand the problems they are facing in their blogging journey and provide working solutions to their blogging problems.

Here, I noticed a trend, most bloggers were not happy with the blogging platform they were using!

For months, I wondered why this was happening and then I was able to draw a conclusion; all blogging platforms are not made the same and are not suitable for every blogger. And since all the available advice on the internet on starting a blog is more or less the same, blogger wannabe(s) that don't know much about blogging start to think that the only way to start a blog, and make it profitable is by following a set of standards that everyone else seems to be following.

Today, let me debunk this myth for you. And help you decide on your own, (after comparing all blogging platforms together) that which one will best suit your blogging and/or business interests so that you can save yourself a sorry series of unfortunate events, after finding out the drawbacks of the platform you chose and then feel stuck and overwhelmed — wanting to give up blogging before you even get comfortable with it.


the only guide you'll need for choosing the right blogging platform






Requirements for setting up a blog

  • Domain Name [required]
  • Privacy protection [highly recommended]
  • A host (this is where your blog is hosted) [required]
  • Professional e-mail [optional]

Where to find your supplies

  • I own three domain names, all of them are from GoDaddy. They are the only domain registrar I have ever used and they are also my go-to for any future domains I might consider buying. I think they offer great discounts for first-time buyers and their prices are not over the top either.
  • Privacy protection is not required for setting up a blog but it is highly recommended, the internet is filled with people you don't know, and just like you wouldn't share your e-mail, phone number etc. with someone you don't know you shouldn't share it with people on the internet either. Buying privacy protection protects your information from being publicly visible to all those who search for it. I have privacy protection for all my domains and it is worth the price. GoDaddy gives you an option to include privacy protection when you purchase your domain name.
  • Here comes the tricky part, one which might become your nightmare if you don't pick wisely, it is also the focus of this blog post. In simple terms, this is where your "blog" is kept on the internet a.k.a a host.
  • Professional e-mail which is optional and can be purchased through your domain registrar or hosting company if they offer it (or you can use G suite). It gives your blog a more professional appearance and is required if you want to start e-mail marketing on your blog.


The difference between popular platforms for blogging and a self-hosted blog


Self-hosted blog


Having a self-hosted blog means that you're renting space on a company's server in exchange for some amount of money, this means you have access to that particular space on that server and your blog is hosted on that space. 

But this just means that you're renting server space, you don't actually own that space, you rent it.


Then you might install a CMS (content management system) on the space that you have rented, and since WordPress is free, you can start blogging right away. 

In my experience, WordPress as a content management system is one of the best out there, but the trouble with self-hosted blogs is finding a reliable host. And this is where the real problem starts.

Hosting companies such as, GoDaddy, 1&1, HostGator etc. have affiliate options where bloggers can promote their hosting services.

Lots of bloggers then, choose one of these hosting companies and make them seem better than the other and a treat to work with.

Having interacted with bloggers in my blogging buddy program that you can sign up for here, I know horror stories of people having their blogs go down (offline) for days at once and horrible support to help them fix their issues.

The hosting companies I've mentioned are quite popular, some bloggers I know have never had a problem with and others have, so it's always a tricky game to pick one. All of them come with 99.9% uptime guarantee.

I have been hearing some really good stuff about Siteground, even though I have never used it.

My very first blog, which is on the self-hosted platform is hosted by GoDaddy. I have never had my blog go down for more than a minute, and their support is amazing — at least for me.

I'm hesitant when it comes to recommending a host to new bloggers because I don't really know if the host that I recommend will probably give them a hard time later. But I do advise bloggers to change their hosts if they have issues with their current one, and keep changing until they find a reliable one for them.

Honestly, it's a hit and miss game when it comes finding a reliable host for your blog. Luckily for me, GoDaddy hasn't given me troubles but I know it hasn't been kind to some others.

When is taking the self-hosted route good for your blog?

  • When a budget is not a problem.
  • When you'd like complete control over the technical aspects of your blog.
  • When you want any kind of customisation to be a plug-in away (you have plug-ins for everything.)
  • When you don't mind a bit of a learning curve. 
  • When you couldn't care less for drag and drop website builders.
  • You have business goals in mind regarding your blog or would like to keep those options available for a later date. 

Whereas


Popular blogging platforms


These are third-party platforms that you can use to host your blog. Some of them are free to use and offer upgrade plans with more features and functionalities. 

Some of the most popular platforms are:
  • Blogger - absolutely free
  • WordPress - offers WordPress Premium Plans as an option to upgrade
  • Squarespace - Has a free trial and paid plans
  • WIX - Has both free and paid plans

What kinds of "hosts" a.k.a blogging platforms exist?


coffee and plant with board



There are tons of places on the internet where you can start blogging, tons. But I'm only going to discuss with you about the most popular ones. Even as a new blogger there are chances, you already know some (or most) of these blogging platforms.

Blogger — formerly known as Blogspot


The blogging platform that I love and fully endorse. A little over two years ago I made my first blog, I started with blogger but was then convinced; like most other bloggers in the blogosphere that if I wasn't on a self-hosted platform, it was the end of my blogging career.

I read things like but not limited to, "You don't own your content on Blogger", "Blogger can cancel and delete your blog without any prior warning whenever it feels like so.", "Blogger has limited features, and as your blog grows you'll have to switch to a self-hosted platform", "Blogger can be shut down whenever, and with that so will your blog." and so on.

I felt that blogger was a piece of trash and I had made the mistake of starting my blog on it.

Now, I stand corrected. Folks over at WPbeginner think that blogger as a platform for blogging is quite limited, with the most basic features, limited design capabilities, little to no support and updates but I digress.

While these points were definitely true at some point, they are not so now. Blogger has an extensive list of features that can be added to it through the use of third-party plugins. It can be transformed into an e-commerce store too, you name it.

A single look on Etsy or Creative Market for blogger templates will show you beautiful blogger themes for as low as $5 and people are also offering custom blog designs on blogger. My theme is from Fearne Creative Design and I got if for a price of $5 (on sale). Eve, the designer and owner of the shop is a wonderful person, offers lifetime support, fixes issues for you, offers free installation, and helps you if you need any changes made and the best thing is that it never costs more than $5-25.

Those prices are hard if not impossible to get for premium themes on a self-hosted WordPress and support is usually free for 30 days to 6 months depending on where you purchase your theme from.

Moving on to address the concern that "you" don't own your content on blogger, that is NOT correct. You own everything you create as long as it's your original. Nowhere does blogger state in its terms of service or blogging guidelines that the content you create is not your own.

What isn't your own is the host (blogger) itself, and they merely state the fact that if you violate their TOS (Terms of Service) they have the right to delete your blog from blogger (the hosting platform). If you use any of the hosting companies that let you 'self-host' and if you have ever read their TOS chances are they also state the same and if you violate a company or platforms TOS they hold the right to revoke your access to that platform.

The only protection against such a measure is to regularly back-up your blog, it's content and media included. And to simply not violate any TOS.

Now that you know that design capabilities on blogger rival those on the self-hosted WordPress platform, here's one more myth about blogger; it doesn't receive support or updates. While blogger support may not be on par with other blogging platforms, it is certainly available.

It wouldn't be fair if I mentioned about blogger support and did not mention Kim Six and Lady Gadget's Blogger Support Group on Facebook. The most high-quality blogger support group ever, and it's free. I've been using it and the people are always willing to help there.

And when it comes to shutting down blogger as a service, I don't see that happening as recently blogger updated their user interface and added lots of default themes for people to choose from.

As a platform for blogging, I believe blogger rivals self-hosted WordPress because it can be customised just as much. I like it better than self-hosted WordPress because I don't have hosting problems, services for blogger are relatively cheaper and it's a great platform for those on a budget.

This blog is hosted on blogger and is proof that blogger is just as good as any other blogging platform out there.

When do you know that your blog will be a good fit for blogger?

  • You're a new to blogging and are thinking of starting out as a blogger (in which case you should definitely sign-up here if you didn't do it before!)
  • If you are looking for a budget friendly blogging option. Blogger is free, all you'll need to get started on blogger is the determination for making it work, a domain name, privacy protection, a paid theme (for $5 or more) depending upon your budget, and you're good to go. 
  • If you like the idea of a host that rarely has any downtime, and is likely to not give you any problems as far as hosting is concerned then blogger is your best friend.
  • You want to make money as a blogger, blogging is your main focus. (You can even add an e-commerce store to your blogger blog if you want to start selling your own products on your blog.) But primarily, blogger is meant for bloggers, not business owners that are looking for e-commerce platforms that let them blog for content marketing purposes.
  • When you want the learning curve of using a blogging platform to be easy. 

WordPress Premium


Like blogger, WordPress is free. However, the free version of WordPress does not allow bloggers to monetise their blogs and using a custom domain on the free WordPress costs $13 per year. 

WordPress also offers upgrades on this free version starting from $2.99 per month. I call them the WordPress Premium plans, and you can choose to buy your domain from WordPress itself or use one you already own.

Premium plans on WordPress come with the ability to monetise them, mainly through affiliate marketing. Displaying third-party ads on WordPress is not allowed but they have a WordAds program that you can apply to if you receive a good amount of traffic to your blog to make money through advertising. 

My art blog is hosted on WordPress' Personal plan and I love the simplicity of the platform. In my opinion, WordPress is the easiest platform to learn.

Unlike blogger or self-hosted WordPress, you do not have the option to access the code of your website and you cannot install third-party themes, plugins and scripts to your blog. 

This makes sense because WordPress is not for web developers, web designers, etc. WordPress targets a different kind of audience, one that cares for the content. All WordPress wants you to do is make content that is useful and people want to read, and they take care of all the back-end stuff for you so you can focus on what you really want to do — create amazing content.


WordPress offers a huge variety of free as well as premium themes that you can choose from. And honestly, the themes are so well made that they look amazing and are mobile responsive out of the box. You even get purposely styled themes for restaurants, food blogs, portfolios, magazines etc. 

When is WordPress Premium a good option for your blogging needs?

  • When you are not a tech savvy person and not really interested in learning the ways of being one. 
  • You like writing and creating content, you don't want to bother with hosting problems, monthly back-ups, the tedious chore of constantly updating plugins, pulling out your hair when some code you used from someone else's' blog breaks yours etc. It's like the guys over at WordPress will do all that for you, for free. Things you'd probably have to buy expensive plugins or services for. 
  • Making money online through blogging is your goal and you don't intend to transform your blog into an e-commerce platform (since WordPress won't let you do that, but you can still sell on your WordPress Premium subscription through PayPal).
  • You want your blogging experience to be as simple and easy as possible.

Squarespace


While I don't own a blog on this platform (yet :P) I'm quite familiar with it. Squarespace is more for people that want to be able to customise their blog to their hearts' content even when they don't know how to code.

I think the audience for this platform is someone with clear blogging and business goals. People that want to have a blog and a place to sell their products all in one place. But that doesn't mean a new blogger shouldn't consider touching it.

If you like DIY, cannot code or don't want to code, have something to sell and want to have a blog as well, Squarespace is your goldmine.

I know a lot of bloggers on Squarespace that swear by it and absolutely love it. Because it comes with business tools such as e-commerce etc. I believe it's an expensive option, prices starting from $12 per month when billed yearly.

If you're wondering whether Squarespace is worth the money, I do believe it is. The platform is quite easy to work with. There are tons of templates available to choose from and they can be customised as well.

When is Squarespace the right choice for you?

  • You're a DIY person that wants to make their blog themselves but does not want to code or cannot code.
  • You have services, products or goods you'd like to sell through your website or are interested in being able to sell at a later time. 
  • Your blogging inspiration is backed up by some pretty solid business goals.
  • You like the idea of being able to edit your website or blog without having to hire a designer for it. 
  • You just happen to like Squarespace as a blogging platform. 
  • Budget is not a problem. 

WIX 



Wix is similar to Squarespace in the sense that it is also a DIY website builder. No coding is required because all you need to do is drag and drop elements to make your own website. You can also choose a premade template to begin with and keep using that or customise it as per your wish. 

Wix takes out the technical hassles associated with blogging. My sister recently shifted from blogger to Wix as she's not at all a tech savvy person and wanted something easy to use that also offered customisability when it comes to design. 

Wix is more cost effective when compared to squarespace as the plans and pricing are also different. 


I liked Wix because it was easy to use, and like Squarespace, it comes with a lot of tools that you can use with your website to sell your products, take bookings etc. Literally, hundreds of apps are available for you to integrate your blog with.

SEO was a problem with Wix sites when Wix had initially started, but since then they have come a long way and fixed all those issues.

When is Wix a good blogging platform for you?

  • When you would rather DIY your blog design.
  • When you don't like the technical aspects of blogging.
  • When you need a simple and easy to use platform with the options of turning it into an e-commerce available to you. 
  • When you're looking for an alternative to Squarespace.

P.S. I design SquareSpace and WIX websites for people. Feel free to get in touch with me regarding the same here. Please be detailed about the vision you have for your blog and/or website and I will be happy to give you a quote.

Conclusion


blogging notebook and pen with plant


I believe that all blogging platforms are made differently. The reason some may appeal more to you than others is that your needs as a blogger are different. Before making a decision you should always keep your needs and budget in mind. 

As someone who probably wants to start their own blog, I hope this information has helped you!

If you're still feeling confused over which blogging platform to use this is where my Blogging Platform Worksheet will help you. You can download for free once you sign-up below and confirm your subscription.

I'm confident that this worksheet will help you decide which blogging platform you want to stick with.

take notes
So what are the takeaways?
  • If you're on a tight budget, Blogger should be your platform of choice. 
  • WordPress Premium is a good option for you if you'd rather give the back-end troubles to a proper engineer and focus and what you like most — creating content.
  • Squarespace and WIX are DIY website builders, perfect for those that want to design their websites themselves. However, I do recommend taking professional help as it's very easy to design an ugly website if you don't have any typography and design knowledge. 
  • Go self-hosted if budget is not a problem and you don't mind the learning curve that comes with a self-hosted WordPress, remember, you're in charge of the back-end here, anything goes wrong, you'll have to figure it out yourself.


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4 comments:

  1. Great information, I wish I had this to help me out when I was researching about blogging but this will really help so many people who are still undecided.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Joan, that's exactly why I made this! I felt like ripping my hair out when I had just started blogging back in 2015. I'm glad you think it's going to help people :)

      Delete
  2. As a new blogger, I found this super helpful!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Caroline! I'm glad this helped you, if you need any help or have questions, feel free to get in touch with me.

      Delete

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