As you prepare to launch your blog, one of your first decisions is deciding which blogging platform to use. If you dig deep enough, you’ll find over a hundred options, but there are only a few that you should seriously consider. Some of the newer or smaller players in the blogging platform or content management space are doing some neat things, but there’s always more risk when picking one of the smaller players. Your blog platform is hugely important, and it’s not where I would recommend taking any risks.
Less common options
Typepad, Wix, Weebly, Tumblr, Ghost, Xanga, and Live Journal aren’t bad options for a casual “personal blog,” and may work great for that use. The appeal of these less common blogging platforms is their ease of use. Some people may want to start blogging just as a means of updating friends and family. If that’s you, these could be good options.
Blogger is free and easy to use blogging platform option. You can use it with a custom domain and, unlike WordPress.com, you can display ads on your site. There’s a lot to love about Blogger and there are some very successful blogs on the platform. However, it seems like in recent years many of those successful blogs have been making the transition to a self-hosted WordPress blog. WordPress, being open source, continues to develop and evolve while Blogger hasn’t changed much over the years.
Creating a free account with WordPress.com (as opposed to a self-hosted WordPress blog) is tempting. You get the interface and power of WordPress but without paying for your own hosting. What’s not to love? With WordPress.com you’ll be limited on monetization options and run the risk of violating the WordPress.com terms of service. Also, with WordPress.com, you can’t use a custom theme like the Genesis Framework or one of the many Genesis child themes.
There’s a lot to love about Squarespace — it’s a hosted solution so you don’t have to worry about web servers or a separate hosting account, the templates and themes look amazing, and customizing your site requires less technical knowledge than a self-hosted WordPress blog. Before you decide on Squarespace, consider these two points:
1. You are not in complete control. Squarespace could change their pricing at any time or even shut down. Not likely, but when you have a completely managed in-house solution like Squarespace, you have to play by their rules.
2. Squarespace is not widely used yet. They are certainly gaining traction, but a lot of the extra social media, email marketing, digital product delivery, and other tools pro bloggers use do not integrate with Squarespace yet. Self-hosted WordPress is still the standard, so everything works with it. I do sense that Squarespace is rising rapidly and improving their platform. I’m guessing they’ll continue to take some market share and become an increasingly viable option.
If I was starting a blog today and was deathly afraid of anything technical, I would start with Squarespace. There really is a lot to love about Squarespace and I’m sometimes jealous of their beautiful (and included!) templates.
As opposed to an account with WordPress.com, WordPress.org is free content management software that you can use with your host of choice. Most hosts, like Bluehost for example, have a quick one-click WordPress install feature. The nice thing about WordPress is that you can use the software with whatever host you choose. There are no limitations. You can also upload any plugin or theme under the sun. The software is living on a host you picked so there are no rules — you can do anything you want. Nearly a third of the world’s websites use WordPress so it’s still clearly the standard.
With all this freedom there are some downsides — you have to update your plugins, backup your site, and fix your own issues. Honestly, it’s not too hard. For 99% of people, I recommend starting with a self-hosted WordPress blog. If you pick one of the other options, you may regret your decision later.