Picking a platform for your blog may not be at the top of your priorities, but chances are whether you’re just getting started or feeling like you’re due for an upgrade, you’ll consider what platform you’re using or “should” be using at least a few times during your blogging career. Most people just jump right into the free options when they’re getting started, but with several great options out there, I thought I’d share a few points on each one to help you get a better idea of how I view the platforms if you’re trying to decide which one is right for you and your brand!
If I had to pick, I’d say Blogger is the most popular option for people who are just getting started blogging and don’t know where they plan on going with it. This platform is super easy to use, so it makes a great starting point for people who are interested in creating their own space online. Although I didn’t actually start my own blog there, I’ve worked with tons of clients who love(d) the platform, many of whom have actually decided to stick around and grow their brand there. Here are a few key points for Blogger if you’re thinking about using the service:
- It’s a perfect place to play around and learn how to customize your site with basic HTML and CSS.
- There are literally thousands of affordable, responsive templates if you’re not interested in learning code.
- Google states that you own copyrights to all of the material you post / upload; however…
- As stated in the Google Terms of Service, “When you upload, submit, store, send or receive content to or through our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content…. This license continues even if you stop using our Services.“
- Design wise, there’s a lot you can do over there that you can’t do on WordPress’ free option, but it’s quite limited compared to other platforms.
- You don’t have to purchase a domain or hosting to use this platform.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Struggling to decide which blogging platform you should be on? This post might help!” quote=”Struggling to decide which blogging platform you should be on? This post might help!”]
This is another super basic platform, but it’s a little more sophisticated than Blogger. I started out on this platform, and I’ll say it was pretty easy to work with from the beginning even though it does have its own set of limitations. If you think you might want to have a self-hosted WordPress blog one day, this is a great platform to start on so that once you make the move you already know how to do things. As I mentioned, this platform is pretty limiting, which is ultimately why I (randomly) made the switch to the self-hosted platform less than a year after I started blogging. Here are a few key points on this free version of WordPress:
- There are less themes available for customization on this platform, and if you purchase one you can only get what’s offered in the WP store.
- You can pay for upgrades on the platform to get a domain set up or have the ability to go in and really customize your site.
- You’re unable to use things like Passionfruit Ads (if anyone uses that anymore), and other sites with scripts required to populate a feature on your site.
- Copyright and intellectual property aren’t as easy to find in Automaticc’s Terms of Service, but they state, “By submitting Content to Automattic for inclusion on your website, you grant Automattic a world-wide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, modify, adapt and publish the Content solely for the purpose of displaying, distributing, and promoting your blog. This license allows Automattic to make publicly-posted content available to third parties selected by Automattic (through the Automattic Firehose, for example) so that these third parties can analyze and distribute (but not publicly display) your content through their services.“
- You don’t have to purchase a domain or hosting to use this platform.
The first not free option! I’ll say, I run my site and another on the self-hosted WordPress platform, and I love it. I’ve been on this platform for nearly 3 years (I jumped on here half a year after I started blogging). There’s a lot more involved when running your site on this platform, but I will say it gives you the most freedom to do what you want. However, it’s super easy to break your site if you have no idea what you’re doing. Using this platform itself doesn’t cost, but there are costs associated with it, which can vary in price depending on where you purchase them. Here are a few key points on this self-hosted version of WordPress:
- There is total, 100% freedom with your design on this platform. There are thousands of themes and probably thousands of designers willing to work with this platform.
- Unlike the previous two platforms, you not only own all of your content, but there’s no one out there that can use your content without your permission simply because you’re using the platform.
- Unlike the free version of WordPress, you can use scripts within your site to run Passionfruit Ads or something like LeadPages.
- You do have to purchase a domain and hosting to use this platform, but how much it costs depends on who you purchase from.
- Lots, and lots of fun plugins to play with to help accomplish things on your site like Click to Tweets, security, newsletter signups, and related posts.
Ah, the new, popular girl at school, am I right? It seems like over the last 6 months a lot of people are jumping ship from self-hosted WordPress and moving their party over to Squarespace. Don’t get be wrong, I don’t blame them. The platform is incredibly easy to use (I used it as part of a job for 10 months), and there are many designers / bloggers like Lauren who make the platform look incredibly appealing. This platform is perfect for people who want a clean website or blog without investing in working with a professional! So, here are a few key points on Squarespace:
- Very affordable monthly / yearly fee for the platform that includes a custom domain.
- As far as I know, there’s no such thing as “breaking” your site like you can with WordPress due to the limitations of the platform.
- Squarespace backs up your site in real time, so if something ever goes wrong they’ll have a version to help restore your site to.
- There are not a lot of template choices for the platform and to dig deep into customization, it can require a bit of knowledge.
- This platform appears to be super easy to sell through, but the commerce side comes with its own lengthy set of terms to read.
- There are no plugins.
Of course there are other options out there like Weebly and Wix, which I highly recommend you stay away from (for many reasons). Other platforms include Typepad and Tumblr, both of which would come with their own pros and cons that you’d have to consider prior to launching a blog or migrating to those platforms!