Have you ever wondered what the best blogging platform is if you’re just starting a new blog?
It should be a simple choice, right? Yeah, well…not so much. There are well over 50 different platforms available for new bloggers to use. How do you know which one works best for your market, your needs and your budget?
Relax. We’ll break it all down for you and give you our best recommendation.
Primary Criteria To Consider
Before looking at issues like cost or who your target audience is and where they hang out, there are some very basic things you’ll want to evaluate when trying to choose the best blogging platform for you. Our handy infographic on the left side of this post should get you to thinking about five of these foundational criteria, all listed below.
The security of your website should be a top consideration for you even when you’re just starting out. Hackers are indiscriminate and attack websites with both large and small audiences simply on the off-chance that they might find valuable information or can change the existing content of a site. The online version of Britain’s The Guardian newspaper has well over 2,500 articles related to various types of computer hacking, with websites being the most popular target these days. Your platform of choice should provide a secure environment in which to store your content. It should also allow you or an administrator to add additional security features to “harden” the site – essentially, making it more difficult for hackers to penetrate and to get sensitive information. Finally, your platform of choice should also allow you to make regular backups so that you can restore your content in the event the worst does happen.
The best blogging platform for a new user is one that allows you to easily change environments or hosts. With some platforms like Blogger.com, you are restricted to the provider’s platform. Some platforms don’t allow you to move content easily to a new location. Wix.com and Squarespace are popular choices for some new bloggers – but the big drawback is that they are proprietary systems. Once you select a platform like this, you’re locked into their environment. You can’t take your content and move it as-is to another platform. You’d have to reconstruct all your work that was already done.A platform that allows you to move your content to a different location or service provider is really the best way to go. That gives you the option to move to a new provider without having to re-do all your content. If you’re using a platform that allows portability, you can just copy your work and very quickly and easily move it to a new location.
The third criteria to consider is expandability of your platform. Can you easily add to or change the features of the platform? Some blogging platforms provide a new blogger with everything they feel they need. But what if you decide to change the look and feel of your site as you grow? What if you want to add additional features or you want other tools you may use to help expand your audience? As an example: when you start your blog, you may want to promote your new posts via social media channels. Maybe you have a Facebook page, a Pinterest account and a Twitter account for your blog. Doing this can create more traffic on your website and increase the number of people who engage with your content. Rather than having to manually post on each of these social networks, wouldn’t it be great to have an extension for your blogging platform that could do it automatically? With many blogging platforms you’re stuck with the features that the platform owner thinks you should have. This lack of extensibility may affect your ability to grow as a blogger. It can also extend into other areas like security, backups, content re-use, etc. These are often areas where you have to accept the choices made – or in some cases, not made – by the creator and owner of the platform. Instead, look for a platform that has a large network of people who contribute to it. To paraphrase the old saying, “Many heads are better than few.” The more that people can create extensions or add-ons for a blogging platform, the more options you have available to you. Ideally, you should be able to find multiple add-ons that address similar needs, so you can pick and choose from all of them to determine the best fit for you.
Well, of course you’ll want a platform that’s usable – as opposed to, what…one that isn’t usable? Yeah – no one wants that. The best blogging platform offers you lots of features that are simple to use or to learn. And since the majority of what you’ll do in your new blog is write posts or other content, you’ll want an editor that is easy to use. A WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor is an essential feature of a blogging platform. These types of editors allow you to see the text in your post the same way your readers will. If you make some words bold, or italicized, or larger than other words, it’s very helpful to see how they’ll look while you’re still editing the piece. There’s another important aspect of usability that many bloggers don’t consider: what happens if you get stuck while trying to figure something out with your blogging platform? Is there documentation to help you out? Are there tutorials to read and follow? Are there videos and help guides written by people other than the people making the platform? It’s good to have multiple sources of information to turn to when you have problems, issues or questions. If you’re evaluating a platform to use, do a Google search using the platform name and “tutorials.” Make sure you have a lot of options available to you.
Finally – you’ll want to select a blog platform that is popular. There are at least two significant reasons to look at a platform’s popularity. The first reason: if you go with a commercial platform that isn’t very popular, there’s always the possibility that it could be shut down at some point in the future. If this happens, at best you’ll have to find another platform and spend time recreating the look and feel of your blog. At worst, you may lose all your content if a platform shuts down unexpectedly. The second reason is the availability for create and improve your blog. Many people make a living or have a side business creating blogging sites for people based on a specific platform. Which is a better choice: a blogging platform with only a few people who are experts at using it and building on it…or one that has many people who can help? This also extends to the community of people who have the ability to offer you free help or advice. It’s better to find yourself in a community of millions of bloggers using a platform, rather than numbers in the thousands. Especially when you’re starting out, it’s always good to know people who you can count on for help and advice!
So…What Is The Best Blogging Platform?
As we noted at the beginning of this article, there are many choices for blogging platforms – some would say almost too many. But when it comes to the best blogging platform to select, we have a clear preference. We recommend all bloggers first consider using WordPress. According to Wikipedia’s article on WordPress, it is
…a free and open-source…system based on PHP and MySQL. Features include a plugin architecture and a template system…Used by more than 60 million websites, including 30.6% of the top 10 million websites as of April 2018, WordPress is the most popular website management system in use.
Right now you might be thinking, “What does that mean in English?” We’ll break all the gobbledygook down for you now.
- Open-source means that the platform isn’t owned by a single company. It also means that many authors, companies and users all collaborate to provide make the best blogging platform they can create.
- PHP and MySQL are industry standard tools. PHP is one of the most common programming languages in the world, and MySQL is the world’s most popular database used for holding content and information.
- Plugin architecture means that the system is open and easy to extend. Plugins are additional pieces of code written by creators who want to extend the functionality of WordPress.
So now you’re thinking “Great…but what about the criteria you listed earlier?” Let’s look at how WordPress meets all the considerations we mentioned above:
- WordPress offers security. Keeping user sites secure is a primary consideration in every release of WordPress. Additionally, many vendors and authors create plugins that add additional levels of security if it’s needed for your site. Finally, many WordPress hosting sites offer yet another layer of security around your WordPress site.
- WordPress offers portability. You’re not tied to a single web hosting company with WordPress. Nearly all major web hosting companies support WordPress. So if you decide to move from one host to another because of cost or other issues, you can easily and quickly move your site from one host to another. When using a service like Wix, Blogger or SquareSpace, you’re tied into a specific web host. It’s not easy or fast to move a site off these platforms, and in most cases it’s easier to recreate a site than move it.
- WordPress offers expandability. Recall that we mentioned WordPress’s “plugin architecture” earlier. What that really means is that WordPress is similar to a Lego set. Additional modules or plugins are available and can be used to provide a virtually unlimited amount of additional features for your site.
- WordPress offers usability. There are over 10 times more videos, tutorials and help guides for WordPress than any other blogging platform out there. WordPress is consistently enhanced to make the editor and the other features simple and elegant to use.
- WordPress offers popularity. Over 60 million website creators around the world can’t all be wrong. You can find literally millions of WordPress developers and teachers anywhere in the world – again, because of the platform’s popularity and explosive growth.
We’ll freely admit to being big fans of WordPress. That said, we also know that WordPress isn’t the best solution in every use case. But for people who want to start their own blog or website easily and quickly, we can’t recommend it enough.