There are many decisions you have to make when you are choosing the right blogging platform. By now, you probably already have thought of a blog name and a niche. You also must have already grasped what things you want to specifically write about. Now, the next step would be to choose the right blogging platform.
What is a blogging platform?
It is basically the software or the service that you use in order to publish your content to the world in the form of a blog. You can either use a blogging software like Wordpress or a website builder such as Wix.com. Either way, it is important that you know exactly what you personally need for your blog so you know which blogging platform suits you. There are numerous blogging platforms available today, and it can be quite tricky to find which one is the best. It is important that you do prior research among all the common platforms available today before you choose one. Having extensive knowledge about each of the available platforms today will help guide you which one suits your blog the best. Moreover, this will help in your guiding decision in shaping the kind blog that you want today and in the future.
Your blog will grow eventually and as it grows, you may want to make some changes with your site and add more features that will make your growing audience’s experience better. If this is something that you consider early on, you want to make sure that you have chosen a blogging platform that is flexible and can be tweaked to however you want to be. You can technically choose any platform right now and just switch to another one in the future.
However, this can be expensive and will definitely take a huge chunk of your time rather than choosing the right platform early on. Starting off with a platform that is not flexible can make it quite a challenge for you to switch later on. Suffice it to say, a blogging platform that will give you more room to grow is definitely important if you want to grow as a blogger.
If you are new to blogging and absolutely have no idea how to start, it is important to choose a platform that is easy to use and does not require a lot of technical web development knowledge on your end. The important thing is that you have a user-friendly website up and running. However, as simple as it may be, it is also important that you consider if it can easily be transformed in the future should you change your mind. This way, you save yourself a lot of time, effort, and money later on.
With this in mind, here is a simple guide for you to choose the right blogging platform.
7 important things to look for when choosing a blogging platform
It is important to have a user-friendly website. Not only will it make your life easier on your end, but you are also giving your audience a better experience while they are reading your blog. A lot of people today have a short attention span so if your website is not user-friendly; you lose the opportunity to keep loyal audiences. On your end, it will also take a lot of effort and time to efficiently navigate your website and locate anything. Make sure to choose a blogging platform that is friendly for beginners. But at the same time, make sure to check if it also comes with the functionalities and features that will boost your blogging experience.
- Mobile friendly
Unlike several years ago, majority of the people today now read blogs using their mobile phones or tablets. For this reason, it is also important that you take into consideration that your blogging platform allows mobile-friendly view of your site. Moreover, Google has also announced that mobile-friendly blogs rank higher in search results. The good thing is that most of the blogging platforms today can now easily adjust according to the screen size of the user. Still, it is important that you pay attention to the speed and font size since these factors can also affect the user experience of mobile users.
- Themes and plug-ins
What our blogs look like whether on desktop or on mobile devices matter. It is one of the factors that can potentially attract more traffic to your site. How would you like your site look like? What sort of functionalities do you want your blog to have?
Make sure to choose a platform that has a variety of themes to choose from. People usually like to see color and style which is why it is important your blog has a great theme to begin with. It adds a personality on your blog. On the other hand, functionality is also important. This is where plugins come in. Plugins will allow you to do certain functions for your site. Some blogging platforms have limited plugins and some do not. Ask yourself what specific functionality you need and look for blogging platforms that have it.
Some platforms are better for a specific blog niche. For instance, there are platforms that offer functionalities that work best for business rather than for a personal blog. Try to check if the platform has the versatility that you need which allows you as a blogger to transform it depending on your niche.
Most of the time, this is the last deciding factor when it comes to choosing a blogging platform. There’s basically free and paid hosting. It’s up to you which one works best for you. A free blog will provide you an address that includes the name of the company that hosts your site. For example, if you choose a free hosting such as Wordpress.com or Blogger, your domain will look like this: yourblog.wordpress.com or yourblog.blogspot.com, respectively. If you opt for a paid hosting, you get to eliminate the name of the company and your domain will read like this: yourblog.com. Free hosting are a great way to start with, but with it comes a limited option to tweak your website.
Later on in this post, we will discuss with more depth about the difference of a free and paid hosting.
Managing your blog is no easy task especially if you have a lot in your plate or if you are just starting out. In case you need assistance with any issues or technical aspects of managing your blog, make sure that the company that hosts your blogging platform is available 24/7. See if they have phone, email, or chat support. It would be of great help if you can also easily access tutorial videos and forums.
Regardless of which platform you choose, there is always a risk for malicious attacks if you are using a public network when accessing your blog. Nevertheless, make sure to check a blogging platform that has a plugin that will allow you to prevent any kind of attacks or spam.
Free and Self-Hosted Platforms: Which one should you choose?
Whether you are blogging for business or for personal reasons, it is important that you think thoroughly if you are going for a free or a paid platform. There are several differences with the two and you might want to study them carefully before choosing.
A free platform is easy to set up compared to a paid one. The free version is definitely beginner-friendly. You just need to fill out some forms and be asked with a few questions such as your blog name, niche, and more. In a few minutes, you can have you blog up and running. On the other hand, the downside of free blogging platforms is that your blog can be potentially crammed with ads. If you go with a paid platform, you have more control with the ads that appear in your blog or you can also choose to not display it. Free platforms have limited support as well compared to those who go premium. Most of the time, paid hosting offer more Support for bloggers.
On the other hand, if you want to have a credible voice in the online community, choosing a paid platform is the way to go. It’s a sad fact that choosing a free platform will make you appear cheap. If you want to have a professional look and identity, choose a paid platform.
Popular Blogging Platforms
This is the most popular blogging software today. Although, a lot of people confuse this with Wordpress.com which is a different one. Wordpress.org is an open source software platform which means that you get to build your blog or website on your own. The advantage of choosing this is that you get to have control over your website. You get to access thousands of plugins and themes so you can make your blog stand out and give it the best functionality. The best part; it is search-engine friendly. With Wordpress.org though, you will have to manage your own backups and security and it can be quite challenging to start especially if you are just starting out.
This software is free, but you will need to buy your own domain name and hosting.
Wix is an easy platform to build a website. It allows you to customize your website using drag and drop tools. In order to add a blog to your website, you can add the Wix Blog app. It’s quick and easy to set up and you get to use dozens of templates with it. You can also add third party apps.
However, the free account only allows a limited number of third party apps and it also shows Wix branding and ads on your site. Also, once you have chosen a template, there is no option to change it.
Wix offers a free website builder.
Wordpress.com is a free blog hosting service offered by Automattic. This company is created by the co-founder of Wordpress.org – Matt Mullenweg. This blogging platform requires no setup and is easy to use and manage. The downside for using this free platform is that you cannot run ads and there are limited options to tweak your site. Also, you don’t necessarily own your blog with this platform. If you violate their terms of service, they have the power to suspend your account.
Wordpress.com is free. You can buy your own domain name along with it. You can also upgrade it to remove the Wordpress.com logo and advertising from your site.
Blogger is a free blog hosting service that has been acquired by Google in 2003. It offers an easy and quick way to set up a blog especially for users who are not tech-savvy. Its greatest advantage is that you get to be backed by Google’s secure platform and reliability. However, you have limited blogging tools to choose from with this platform and you also can’t add new features. Templates are also limited. Like Wordpress.com, you don’t own your blog and they can also suspend your blog at any time.
Tumblr is a microblogging platform that has social networking features such as reblogging as well as built-in sharing tools. It’s easy to use and social media friendly. The downside is that there are limited features to the themes. It’s also difficult to import your blog to other platforms.
Tumblr is free to use. You can buy your own domain separately for your Tumblr blog.
There are other blogging platforms available and it’s up to you which one you choose. The important thing to keep in mind is to choose wisely so you can grow your blog in the future – however you want it to be.