What was your first blog

The best 14 blogging platforms to help you get your content out there in 2021

Even with the advent of YouTube and social media, blogging is still alive and well in 2020. On WordPress.com alone, over 409 million people read personal and professional blogs each month that are hosted on WordPress.com alone.

That doesn't even include self-hosted WordPress blogs and those hosted with other CMS solutions. So it's not too late to start a blog.

But what's the best blogging platform?

We will report on this in this article.

Blogging is still alive in 2020 ... and if you want to start your own blogs, check out this list of the best blogging platforms 👩‍💻🧑‍💻. Click to Tweet

Best Self Hosted Blogging Platforms in 2021

Below we cover in depth the best self-hosted blogging platforms out there and why they're the best choices out there. "Self-hosted" means that you need a separate server and domain to use the blogging software to create your blog or website.

1. WordPress.org

WordPress

So you want to start a blog. If you've looked around even a little, you've probably heard of WordPress by now.

The .org website is home to their self-hosted open source content management system (CMS). A CMS is software that allows you to create a website and publish / manage / update its content.

WordPress is the # 1 CMS on the internet and is used by millions of blogs and websites. It is the clear number one among all of the popular blogging platforms listed in this post.

If you're creating a blog or website for business purposes, we 100% believe that WordPress is your best option. It's completely free, open source, and has a lot of themes that make it easy to create a professional looking blog.

Why WordPress is the industry standard

But it's not just beginners, solo preneurs, and bloggers who use WordPress. It has become a clear leader in the CMS industry in general.

Distribution of CMS usage

Almost half of the one million most visited websites on the internet use WordPress. And these aren't just amateur bloggers or aspiring writers.

People use WordPress because it has over 55k free plugins and 7k + free themes in its official directory. Additionally, there are thousands of other premium themes and plugins available on other websites (check out our curated lists of the best WordPress themes and WordPress plugins).

So you can mix and match, find the theme you want and expand the functionality with WordPress plugins as needed.

Not to mention, it has one of the largest and most active developer communities out there. There are hundreds of developers who spend their time helping the users to keep their plugins / themes updated or releasing new ones.

This active and huge community has a great advantage for everyone involved: problems and bugs are usually discovered and fixed quickly, which is good for safety.

This community also means it's much easier to get help and guidance with potential issues if your WordPress business needs it. For example, it's not difficult to hire WordPress developers or designers.

WordPress is also SEO-friendly out of the box, which makes it easy to get your content featured on Google and other search engines.

Key Features

Interface and ease of use

If you are relatively safe with the Internet and use new services or technologies, you don't even need a guide to figure out the interface.

Most web hosts offer a one-click installation of WordPress, making installation and setup a hassle-free one. (We take care of the installation for you for all of our managed WordPress hosting offers).

The built-in tutorial will help you get used to the dashboard and create your very first blog post.

Welcome tab in WordPress

And even without the tutorial, the WordPress dashboard isn't difficult to navigate at all. Hover your mouse over the plus sign to open a drop-down menu where you can choose to create a new post, page, or even a new user.

WordPress dashboard

To edit the design of your website, click on the "Appearance" section where you have several options.

Prices

Self-hosted WordPress is under an open source license and is 100% free, forever.

However, that alone is not enough. You also need a domain and hosting.

If loading speed, security, and reliability are your priority, Kinsta's managed hosting plans start at $ 30 a month and include free migrations, a CDN, malware protection, automatic daily backups, and much more.

2. Drupal

Drupal

Drupal is the second largest open source CMS. Rather than being a rigorous blogging tool, it is better described as a professional, scalable online publishing platform.

Drupal has full versioning and content planning / planning that is integrated into the core. You have much more granular control over user rights. You can even create unique permissions for specific users. The core also provides support for multilingual websites, making it a top-notch option for larger businesses.

But it's not that easy to use, and it could be a little trickier when it comes to creating a blog that "looks good".

features

  • Simple editor.
  • Monthlyization.
  • Multilingual.
  • Password protection.
  • Global navigation.
  • Full customization of the theme / template files.
  • Customizable access control and graduated authorizations.
  • Advanced content planning.
  • Complete versioning (with module).
  • SEO-friendly structure of the content.

Interface and ease of use

The user interface is quite outdated and not very intuitive for beginners. When you log into your installation for the first time, there is no tutorial. Instead, you start on the user page and have to find out for yourself how to edit your new website.

Drupal interface

It has a pretty steep learning curve. Don't get me wrong, figuring out how to master the basics isn't all that difficult for someone with CMS or similar software experience.

But it's not even close to intuitive. So, if you're not a developer or a technician, Drupal is probably not the right choice for you.

Prices

Drupal is open source and completely free, but you would have to pay for your domain and hosting provider.

Drupal vs WordPress

The main difference between Drupal and WordPress is that Drupal is specifically designed for developers, agencies and companies. It has advanced features, such as multilingual support at its core, but it can be difficult for beginners to learn how to use.

In our comparison article Drupal vs. WordPress you can read more about the advantages and disadvantages of Drupal and WordPress.

3. Ghost

Ghost

When Ghost first launched in 2013, the main goal was to create a blog-only platform that was easy to use. But since then it has grown into a sleek, 100% headless Node.JS CMS.

It has built-in advanced SEO options and a sleek web application dashboard based on JavaScript.

features

  • Slim markdown editor.
  • Password protection.
  • Global navigation.
  • Multi-user environment.
  • Content planning.
  • SEO-friendly structure of the content.
  • . Advanced SEO options.

Interface and ease of use

In terms of usability, Ghost can be a little tricky to install as it doesn't come as a one-click installation option. But once it's installed, the Ghost dashboard is simple, sleek, and easy to use.

Ghost interface

New installations are automatically filled with content, which is essentially a guide on how to use Ghost.

Like the Gutenberg editor from WordPress, the Ghost editor is really WYSIWYG-compatible. It feels like you're writing and editing a live page on the website, but all you can do is add images, links, and quotes, and format your text with markdown.

Ghost's dynamic menu

Since the entire dashboard, and not just the editor like WordPress, is based on JavaScript, the user experience is exceptionally smooth. It's a one-way web application that behaves like one. You never have to load a new admin page or wait for a page to refresh.

Prices

The self-hosted version is open source and free. The hosted pro version starts at $ 29 per month.

Ghost vs WordPress

Both Ghost and WordPress are simple to use and easy to learn. Any complete beginner can get a blog up and running within an hour.

However, installing Ghost can be a little trickier as it is a less popular CMS and few web hosts offer a one-click installation.

The Ghost dashboard is a bit leaner, and for developers, using a Node.JS-based CMS may seem more attractive than good old PHP and MySQL.

WordPress' extensibility and vibrant community still make it the best choice for most beginners. There's also little support for monetization options in Ghost, you would have to manually insert ads via code.

(Recommended reading: How to add Google AdSense to WordPress)

4. Joomla

Joomla

Joomla is another open source CMS that was launched in 2005 and has been up to date ever since.

It's a flexible platform that allows a lot of customization without having to master too much code. You can expand the functionality with "extensions" and use templates to change the look of your website.

features

  • WYSIWYG editor.
  • Monetization.
  • Multilingual (core).
  • Multi-user environment.
  • Tiered authorizations and user management.
  • Password protection.
  • Full customization of the template files.
  • Content planning.
  • SEO-friendly structure of the content.
  • Advanced SEO options (through extensions).

Interface and ease of use

Joomla is another CMS that can usually be installed with a single click if your host is using cPanel or some other standard dashboard. Once you've installed it, you can log into the admin dashboard.

Joomla interface

The dashboard in Joomla 3 is a little dated, and although it was announced as "around the corner" in early 2019, Joomla 4 is nowhere in sight.

There's no intuitive tutorial, but instead a link to old-fashioned documentation.

All in all, it's not a difficult interface to navigate, and beginners could get their website up and running with a template of their choice without too many problems.

Prices

Free, except for hosting and DNS costs like other open source platforms.

Joomla vs WordPress

Joomla offers multilingual support out of the box and you have better options for user management. However, the interface is outdated, more difficult to use and many of the existing templates and extensions are old and urgently need updates.

WordPress has a better interface and a lot more current plugins and themes. To read more about the pros and cons, check out our post covering WordPress vs Joomla

The best blogging platforms hosted in 2021

Below we have compiled a list of the best hosted blogging platforms. With a hosted alternative, you don't need to invest in a domain name and web server; the service includes hosting and a subdomain or a full domain name.

5. WordPress.com

WordPress.com

WordPress is a hosted blogging / website platform on the .com domain. You don't need a domain name or hosting to get started: you just need to sign up.

It's hard to argue against the fact that the technology that makes up 36% of the Internet is being given for free.

features

  • WYSIWYG editor.
  • Unlimited visits / bandwidth.
  • Password protection.
  • Global navigation.
  • Limited customizability.
  • Content scheduling.
  • SEO-friendly structure of the content.

Interface and ease of use

Since you don't need a separate web hosting or domain name, getting started is as easy as signing up and choosing your blog name.

The WordPress.com interface is a JavaScript-based web application and may remind you more of the ghost experience.

WordPress.com interface

Most beginners will be able to change the theme and add new content without a tutorial. Also, the editor that operates WordPress.com is what is usually referred to as a block editor (aka Gutenberg) which offers a great writing experience:

The editor in WordPress.com

Prices

The basic plan is 100% free. You can sign up for a free blog / website hosted on a WordPress subdomain. There will be WordPress.com advertising on your blog.

If you want your own .com domain, more customization options and no advertising, it costs personal plan $ 4 per month. With the basic plan, your blog will be hosted on a subdomain such as yourblog.wordpress.com.

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org

Same housing, but very different content. Instead of thousands of themes to choose from, WordPress.com limits you to a few dozen.

If you just want to create a simple website or blog, have little technical knowledge and have no plans to expand or monetize your website, then WordPress (.com) hosted is the way to go.

If you want more control over the design and want the ability to grow your blog over time, self-hosted WordPress is a better choice.

Learn more about the differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org here.

6. Blogger

Blogger

Blogger is Google's hosted blogging platform. It's free, more customizable than most of the other hosted options (for example, you can edit your themes), and there are a decent amount of themes available.

Themes in Blogger

With your account, your blog will be hosted on the Blogger subdomain and accessible under a URL such as yourblog.blogspot.com.

features

  • Simple editor.
  • Unlimited visits / bandwidth.
  • Monetization.
  • Limited customizability.

Interface and ease of use

Signing up is the only step necessary to get your blog up and running. Once you're logged in, you can easily create new content or change the theme of your new blog.

Blogger Interface

The interface is simple and easy to use. There are no unnecessary sections in the dashboard. Complete beginners will find it easy to get started without additional guidance as it is a simple rich text editor.

Prices

Free (with subdomain and advertising).

Blogger vs WordPress

Blogger is intended as an easy solution to help complete beginners create a blog. And if all you want to do is create a simple personal blog or journal, it's not a bad choice.

If you are creating a professional blog or website and want to do business in the future, there are better options such as WordPress.

7. Medium

medium

Medium is more of a social platform to share and read your texts than a pure blogging platform.

The design is sleek and intuitive, and you don't let themes, logos, or layouts distract you. All you have to think about is creating content.

features

Interface and ease of use

Getting started with Medium is extremely easy. Simply log into your Twitter, Google or Facebook account and write your first post.

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Write on medium

You have zero design options and can concentrate 100% on creating and sharing content.

The editor is nifty and the published posts look identical to the editor. The limited options make it very easy to use, but it also creates a tight playing field.

Prices

Medium offers limited access to articles and costs a Medium membership $ 50 / year for full access. From the content writer's perspective, you can host unlimited content for free.

Medium vs WordPress

Medium is an excellent option for writers who just want their blog posts to be read. If you want a domain name and a customizable blog and website, WordPress is the way to go. You can share your articles on Medium even if you have your own blog.

Read more about the pros and cons of Medium vs. WordPress in our guide.

8. Wix

Wix

Wix is ​​a drag-and-drop website builder, but it's also a decent blogging platform for creative individuals.

If you're an aspiring designer or creative soul, but don't want to mess with code or anything technical, you might want to give Wix a try.

features

  • Drag-and-drop website builder (similar to the ones available for WordPress).
  • Wix ADI (AI-Aided Design).
  • Monetization (Paid Plans Only).
  • Up to 500MB of data / bandwidth (with free plan).
  • Ads (Free and $ 4.50 / month plan show Wix ads on your website).

Interface and ease of use

You can sign up by logging into Facebook or Google, or by creating an account with your email address. Once you've signed up, the Wix tutorial will start and ask you a few questions.

If you answer that you don't have a lot of experience, it will suggest that you let ADI create your website.

Wix intro tutorial

ADI uses artificial intelligence to design your website based on a few questions.

Wix interface

The standard dashboard is organized around their drag-and-drop website builder. You can edit items by clicking on them and rearranging them by clicking the arrows in the upper right corner.

It's pretty intuitive and easy to use, but it's easy to waste time getting too fussy about the design instead of focusing on creating content for your blog.

Full control over the design, no programming skills required.

Prices

The free plan comes with ads, a Wix subdomain, and bandwidth limited to 500 megabytes. Plans with monetization and ecommerce functionality start at $ 17 / month.

Wix vs WordPress

While Wix will help you get on your feet in minutes, it is almost designed so that, as a blogger, you can focus on the wrong thing. It's easy to spend hours fussy about the design and resizing individual elements. Advanced features are also hidden behind some pretty expensive plans.

Not ideal for bloggers, but Wix could be a great option for portfolio websites for creative professionals (here's how to build your portfolio in WordPress).

Read more about the pros and cons of Wix vs. WordPress in our comparison guide.

9. Squarespace

Squarespace

Squarespace is another drag-and-drop website builder that gives you full creative control over your website or blog. It's a hosted service so you don't need to prepare a server or domain name.

features

  • Sleek drag-and-drop website builder.
  • Monetization and E-Commerce.
  • Multiple users.
  • Content planning.
  • SEO-friendly structure of the content.
  • Email campaigns.
  • Website analytics.

Interface and ease of use

To create your website, sign up for an account, choose a theme, and get started. The page builder is very easy to use.

Squarespace Interface

By simply moving your mouse over the elements and clicking on them, you can easily change and move text and images on your website.

Note that there is no free plan, so you can only access the website without paying during the 14-day free trial period.

Prices

Personal plans start at $ 12 per month (when paid annually).

Squarespace vs WordPress

Squarespace is fully customizable, and their Premium plans offer some pretty impressive options for e-commerce, but the company demands "a little too much control".

Here is what I mean. In their ToS, Section 2.2, you can read:

2.2. Your license for us. When you make User Content available through the Services, you grant Squarespace (including our third party hosting providers acting on our behalf) a non-exclusive, worldwide, perpetual, irrevocable, royalty-free, sublicensable, transferable right and license to grant User Content use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works therefrom (e.g., those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make to make User Content work better with the Services) publish, publicly display, publicly perform and distribute for the limited purpose of enabling us to provide, improve, promote and protect the Services. This section does not affect your rights under applicable data protection laws.

I want to make this clear: they do not "steal" any of your content and all rights that you have over them and that still belong to you. Still, you might find that, say, one of your photos is being used to promote their platform. While this may be nice to experience at times, it is not always the case and permissions should not be granted by default.

That said, Squarespace is used by ~ 2.5% of all websites that use a CMS, and is indeed a great option for those looking for an all-in-one platform without worrying about technical issues.

Read more about the pros and cons in our Squarespace vs WordPress comparison guide.

10. Weebly

Weebly

Weebly is the last website builder on this list, also aided by a nice drag-and-drop builder. They offer a free plan where you can create a website and post it on a yourblog.weebly.com subdomain.

features

  • Drag-and-drop builder.
  • 500MB of storage (free plan) / Unlimited storage (all paid plans).
  • Monetization ring
  • Unlimited visits / bandwidth.
  • Basic lead capture.

Interface and ease of use

Again, it's quick and easy to get started. Nothing technical, no servers, no preparation required. Just log in and choose a theme.

That opens the website builder, which is almost intuitive and uses a block system that you can use to customize the design.

Weebly interface

The experience is slightly disappointing, even hosted WordPress has page builder plugins that offer the same or better designs and usability.

Prices

Free with a subdomain, $ 5 / month to connect your domain, and pro plans start at $ 12 / month.

Weebly vs WordPress

While setting up self-hosted WordPress takes a little more preparation, you can get equally good page builders and better customization options.

Weebly is an easy way to get started and could be a good place to start your first personal blog or website.

Read more about Weebly vs WordPress in our dedicated post ..

11. Typepad

Typepad

Typepad was a cutting edge blogging platform in the early days of blogging, but it has lost momentum over the years. Seth Godin ran his blog on Typepad until 2018, but then he switched to…. WordPress!

features

  • Multiple users.
  • Monetization
  • Password protection.
  • Content planning.

Interface and ease of use

The interface is out of date, as is the feature list. If you like simple, retro designs, it's not bad. It's not exactly difficult to use, but it's also not intuitive. Maybe it reminds you of the WordPress dashboard a few years ago.

Prices

Plans start at $ 8.95 per month for unlimited storage and bandwidth.

Typepad vs WordPress

When it comes to Typepad, it's not a worthwhile WordPress alternative. Even if you want a simple option, you'll need to prepare a DNS and domain name for Typepad. The hosted WordPress.com option is easier to use, has a fancier interface, better looking themes, and costs less than Typepad for pro plans.

Fun Fact: Typepad was the very first blogging platform I worked with in 2005.

12. LiveJournal

LiveJournal

LiveJournal was one of the first online blogging platforms on the Internet, now owned by Russian media company SUP Media. LiveJournal is a mixture of a microblogging platform and a social network.

features

  • Content planning.
  • Community.
  • Analytics.
  • Remove ads (paid feature).

Interface and ease of use

The interface is a bit outdated, but not exactly difficult to use. It's also not intuitive if you ask me. Maybe it reminds you of the WordPress dashboard a few years ago.

LiveJournal Interface

Prices

Most of the features are free, but there's the option to unlock more with a Pro plan that sets you up at $ 19.95 a year if you choose to use automatic payments.

LiveJournal vs WordPress

I honestly believe that LiveJournal could hardly find a place on anyone's preferred list of blogging platforms in 2020 as it gave me the experience of using an anachronistic tool. Still, if your audience speaks Russian, you might find LiveJournal worth a try.

13. Tumblr

Tumblr

Tumblr is a popular microblogging website, albeit a lot less popular than it was a few years ago.

Interestingly, Automattic, Tumblr, the company behind WordPress.com, acquired Tumblr from Verizon in 2019, so we could see some exciting changes to the platform in the years to come.

features

  • Auduience and sharing.
  • Unlimited uploads / visits / bandwidth.

Interface and ease of use

Tumblr has a sleek interface and you can broadcast your first post live in seconds.

Tumblr interface

The great mobile interface makes it easy to write short articles from your phone. It's also a great place to read content and get inspiration for your next work.

Tumblr dashboard

Prices

Free of charge, with unlimited storage / bandwidth.

Tumblr vs WordPress

If you're an artist or photographer and want to start a blog to share your art instead of building a platform for your business, Tumblr could be a great option for you.

It's easy to join and share your work in just a few steps. There is an integrated audience that you can reach.

But if you want full customizability of your blog and total control over your content, WordPress is the way to go. Here's how to import Tumblr into WordPress.

14. Instagram

Instagram may not fit your vision of a blogging platform, but in some cases it can be the best place to build an audience considering how it has grown.

features

  • Audience and sharing.
  • Unlimited uploads / visits / bandwidth.
  • Engagement tools.

Interface and ease of use

As if you didn't already know what Instagram looks like, well, it's really easy to use. The only downside to the Instagram interface is that you can't add posts from your laptop without a workaround.

That makes it inconvenient for any writer or blogger who prefers lengthy content.

Prices

Free, with unlimited storage / bandwidth (just like Facebook).

Instagram vs WordPress

After you've read this far, it's only fair that you get our answer to the question: What is the best blogging platform and why?

Spoiler Alert: We think the best choice for most serious bloggers and businesses in general is WordPress.

There may be alternatives that will get you to publish your content faster, but WordPress is the best option for people who want to make their blog a long-term platform for their online presence and business.

What's the best blogging platform?

After you've read this far, it's only fair that you get our answer to the question: What is the best blogging platform and why?

Spoiler Alert: We think the best choice for most serious bloggers and businesses in general is WordPress.

There may be alternatives that will get you to publish your content faster, but WordPress is the best option for people who want to make their blog a long-term platform for their online presence and business.

What's the Best Beginner Blogging Platform?

That depends on your intent with the blog. Probably the best option anyone looking to create a personal blog is a free hosting solution like WordPress.com, Blogger, or Medium.

If you just want a place to share your art, Tumblr or Instagram is a great place to start.

But if you want to create a corporate blog for businesses and attract visitors and customers, a self-hosted host like WordPress or Drupal gives you the most options for future expansion.

Which blogging platform is best for making money?

WordPress has the most options for expanding your blog, both with plugins for ad placements and affiliate marketing, as well as developing a full-blown ecommerce store or website for members.

Which blogging platform is best for writers?

If all you want to do is find an audience online, Medium could be the best place for new writers to share your knowledge.

But if you're a published writer and want to run a professional platform, build your existing audience and assets like email lists, self-hosted WordPress is the way to go

What's the Best Blogging Platform for SEO?

Self-hosted solutions that give you full control over the page content, like WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla, are the best for SEO.

WordPress is easy to set up, and many great SEO plugins allow complete beginners to create SEO-friendly content. Of course, you also need a reliable host with fast loading times for the best results.

Ready to start blogging 💻? Read this guide to see which platform is best for you! ⚡️Click to Tweet

Summary

Not only do the best blogging platforms provide bloggers with a place to write their thoughts, they also provide all of the tools they need to build a fan base and even a business.

This is what sets self-hosted solutions like WordPress apart from the others on this list.

If all you want is a personal blog, or to share and get feedback on your writing, a hosted solution like Medium or WordPress.com might be better for you.

Ultimately, the best blogging platform depends on your goals and your current situation. For us - obviously - there is nothing quite like WordPress.

What about you? What is your favorite blogging platform?


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