6 Best Blogging Platforms – Cheap and Free Options

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Paul Mahony

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2019 November 26th

best-blogging-platform

Blogging is a great way of earning additional income and sharing your knowledge with other think-alikes.

To make the experience pleasant both from design and technical perspective, you'll need to find a powerful platform to host your blog.

So what are the features of the best blogging platform? 

As a blogger myself I think that there are 3 key things - ease of use, design, and reliability. This way, you can set up a website in minutes and easily write all your posts. A beautiful and responsive design provides a pleasant user experience. And reliable hosting makes sure that your site is actually available.

Throughout the years, I used many platforms - both good and bad. So right now, I picked my favorites of all time that are pleasant to use, reliable, and have beautiful design options.

Here are the 6 best blogging platforms to choose from:

  • WordPress (Best blogging platform that's also free)
  • SITE123 (Powerful blogging features and designs)
  • Blogger (Intuitive setup process is great for beginners)
  • Medium (Option to post your content behind the paywall area and get paid)
  • Ghost (SEO Optimized blogging platform)
  • TypePad (User-friendly interface and great support)

1. WordPress

Price: free

Recommended for: people who want a tried and trusted option.

wordpress.com homepage

Powering over 34% of the internet, WordPress is the biggest CMS originally launched as a blogging platform. But at this point, it became very complex and requires additional expenses for hosting and domain names. This is where WordPress.com comes in.

It's a website builder/blogging platform that's built on WordPress CMS and simplified to fit even beginners. It features a free plan that includes both hosting for the blog and a subdomain.

It grants you an easy-to-use blogging platform that is quick to set up and will help you become acquainted with the joys and hardships of blogging before deciding to fork out some cash.

However, using a WordPress.com free plan does limit your customization abilities. For starters, you will have to use a .wordpress.com subdomain, negatively affecting your branding - and the data/bandwidth limitations are both going to be quite serious.

This is why for some serious blogging, I suggest getting a premium plan. Or if you're an advanced user, simply choosing a good WordPress hosting plan and installing WordPress from there.

However, right now I'll only talk about what WordPress.com can offer - it's the best fit for first-time users to get a taste of what blogging is like. 

WordPress.com Allows Flexible Budget

WordPress has a very wide pricing range - from completely free to $45/mo. 

As I talked before, the free plan doesn't give you a custom domain - yourdomain.wordpress.com subdomain will have to do. It also has a 3GB disk space limit and other limitations in regards to theme and plugin use.

Other plans are much more flexible.

  • The Personal for $4/mo gets you a .blog domain for establishing your brand as well as more design possibilities.
  • The Premium for $8/mo offers a free domain, advanced designs, premium themes, and site's monetizations.
  • The Business for $25/mo is a fully managed WordPress hosting option with premium themes and plugins included.
  • The eCommerce for $45/mo allows you to create a fully working eCommerce store to sell your blog merchandise.

So as you can see, with WordPress.com you can go from 0 to a fully functioning online store alongside a powerful blog. It's a great option for beginners with big plans for the future.

Pros

  •  Huge blogging community
  •  Easy to use
  •  A reliable cloud hosting platform

Cons

  •  No custom domain options for free WordPress.com package

2. SITE123

Price: free

Recommended for: bloggers with big ambitions.

SITE123 HomePage

SITE123 is not entirely dedicated to blogging websites although it's still one of the best options on my list. It combines ease-of-use, stunning templates, features of a powerful website builder, and last but not least - a powerful blogging platform.

Because SITE123 does not focus only on blogging, it has a bunch of other features you can benefit from. It is a powerful website builder that offers not only dozens of responsive templates but also features to get you noticed:

  • Tools for SEO so your blog can be found.
  • Email marketing so you can send newsletters.
  • Other marketing tools so you can monetize your blog.
  • eCommerce capabilities so you can sell your own products.

Being tied to a platform that is dedicated entirely to blogs limits your future possibilities. So choosing a site builder like SITE123 is a good choice. Especially considering that its blogging features are no less than those offered by other platforms.

SITE123 has templates designed for blogs specifically, commenting system, RSS, post scheduling, as well as powerful social media integrations.

You won't be missing out on anything. And just to be sure, there's a free plan available - of course, domain is not included and storage is limited. But to try SITE123 out - it's a nice option.

Premium plans start at $4.68/mo and can be upgraded to $15.48/mo. All of the plans include a domain name, domain privacy, SSL certificate, and professional email.

So all in all, SITE123 offers great value for money as well as tons of useful features.

Pros

  • Very user-friendly
  •  Powerful blogging features
  •  Free plan is available
  •  Great customer support

Cons

  •  Design flexibility is rather limited

3. Blogger

Price: free

Recommended for: those looking for a simple free option.

Best_Blogging_Platform_Blogger

One of the earliest blogging platforms in the business, Blogger is one of the most popular options available. Its focus on content is a huge plus for a content-rich start to your online presence.

Blogger was one of the first and most famous blogging platforms, and the fact that it is still around, shows that it certainly knows a thing or two about this whole 'blogging thing'.

The intuitive setup process is hard to beat for somebody who doesn’t know their HTML from their CSS. So, if you're a beginner and want as little fuss as possible, Blogger may be the right choice for you.

The downside of its simplicity is that there are fewer templates to choose from than a lot of other blog platforms. There is also a lot less control over customization. That means that when you grow your audience and become successful, Blogger might not grow very well with you.

Also, if you don’t have a custom domain, you have to live with being a subdomain of Blogspot. This might be enough to put the majority of you off, but that doesn't mean blogger isn't still a great platform for those simply looking to blog!

Pros

  •  Powerful hosting by Google
  •  Built-in SSL certificate
  •  Easy to monetize with AdSense
  •  Free custom domain mapping
  •  Easy to use for any level

Cons

  •  Blogspot subdomain if you don’t have a custom domain
  •  Lack of flexibility for blog's growth
  •  Lack of template choice
  •  Lacking in customer or community support

4. Medium

Price: free

Recommended for: users looking to offer premium content behind a paywall.

Best_Bloggin_Platform_Medium

Medium is quickly becoming one of the best free blog sites around. But how could it not? All you have to do is sign up and you're ready to go!

It has a simple and intuitive editor and reliable media formatting. It also allows you to connect to most of your social media accounts, helping you grow your audience. The site also hosts your content while you retain all rights, and all the work is pretty much done for you.

You can even make money off this platform. Medium offers an option to post your content behind the paywall area of the site and you get paid based on the number of reads and engagements you receive. How cool is that?

The drawbacks are that there is currently no option to redirect a custom domain (domain mapping), nor is there a way to customize the design. It's simply a 'what you see is what you get' platform for complete ease of use.

Pros

  •  Extremely simple: Sign up and go
  •  Intuitive editor
  •  Possibility to get paid for your posts
  •  Media formatting features

Cons

  •  No options for a custom domain
  •  No design customization options
  •  Designed only for writing

5. Ghost

Price: from $29/month

Recommended for: users looking for the most modern, lightweight option available.

Best_Blogging_Platform_Ghost

Ghost is taking the blogging world by storm. It was started by a former employee of WordPress - and boy does it show. It has the beauty of WordPress’ blog features but none of the stuff that weighs it down, such as plugins and updates that affect your themes.

Everything you need from a blogging platform is available.

Ghost offers SEO tools to help get your blog noticed, cache to speed up your blog, and social media sharing to let others know when you've written a post.

best_blogging_platform_ghost-markdownIt also has a simple and straightforward dashboard with a detailed tutorial guide right in front of you. Using a system called Markdown, a sort of abbreviated HTML, the tutorials make it easy to follow along as everything is laid out.

Ghost is like the love child of Medium and WordPress. It focuses on your content and your stories while giving you the luxury of being able to customize and use a custom domain. This really does make for a cool and personal blog.

Unfortunately, if you want anything more than that, you’re out of luck. So, keep that in mind while deciding whether or not you’re going to ghost this option.

Pros

  •  Clean and attractive themes that are easy to use
  •  No troublesome plugins
  •  Open source installation is free with independent hosting
  •  Socially responsible non-profit business model

Cons

  •  Currently focused on content only, more complex sites are not supported
  •  No free option on the Ghost server

6. TypePad

Price: from $8.95/month

Recommended for: users looking for easy-to-use custom themes.

Best_Blogging_Platform_Typepad

As its name suggests, TypePad is another hosted platform created just for blogging.

And honestly, if you only want to have a simple blog (and never plan to expand past that), this type of platform is the best way to go.

TypePad is a great start if you're looking to build a unique site design for your blog.

It offers users a huge range of themes, however, you must be aware - some of them are extremely outdated. With saying that, though, there are still a bunch of fresh and modern themes to choose from.

TypePad also offers a user-friendly interface which makes it great for beginners. Also, similar to WordPress, it also offers widgets that help you customize your site to make it your own. The options are slightly limited with TypePad, though, but it’s still an easy way to build a clean and dynamic blog that showcases a personalized look.

As for the pricing... well, this is where TypePad starts to go a little downhill. Although it offers a free 14 day trial with all of its plans, there is no permanent free plan to take advantage of. I also think that, for the price, there are better options available if you're looking for a more custom blog.

Pros

  •  Very simple and easy to use
  •  High-quality, responsive customer service
  •  Good variety of themes
  •  AdSense integration
  •  Custom domain mapping

Cons

  •  No open source option - users limited to TypePad server
  •  No free packages
  •  Minimal customization options

Finding the Best Blogging Platform to Start Your Blog

Now that I have narrowed it down and covered the best and worst features of each of the most popular blog sites, the next step is to decide which of these platforms is most suited to you.

Do you want an easy way to start?

If so, Medium or Blogger are two of the best free blog sites that offer the simplest and fastest ways to get a blog started. These platforms really are great blogging platforms and offer a great start for beginners!

SITE123 is also some of the easiest ways to start a website - together with advanced blogging features it's a great premium option.

Do you want to leave the option open to expand your site?

Then WordPress.com has the best deal going for versatility and being able to change the function of your site. There is a reason why WordPress hosts over 34% of live websites today, and that's because it offers it all, going way beyond just a blogging platform.

If you're still unsure, however, then I'd suggest testing out a few of these different platforms. The more you expose yourself to the differences of each, the better you'll recognize your needs and be able to choose the perfect platform for you.

And, that's all from me! So, what do you think - which of these platforms would you nominate as the best blogging platform? Please feel free to let me know in the comments!


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Written by Paul Mahony

Paul joined the Hosting.Review team right from the start as a content writer and marketer. He was the person responsible for establishing a trademark for in-depth web hosting evaluation and superb review articles. Before joining Hosting.Review, Paul was working on various projects as a freelancer. Paul spends his free time reading fantasy books and graphic novels.

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