Are you thinking about starting a blog? Do you need one for personal use or you want to create one to promote your business? Whatever is the case, that kind of step can be very beneficial, but you need to know how to do it right.
Before you start the process of setting up a blog, you need to learn all the details. One of the necessary steps will be picking a blogging platform because you cannot launch a blog without one.
What are blogging platforms?
Read on to dive deeper into the matter and explore the world of blogging platforms from their early days to their rise to popularity.
A blogging platform is a type of software or service that you use to create a blog so that you can publish your content online. Creating a blog involves several steps, but the first one is choosing a system that will best fit your needs. Without it, you cannot proceed to the other steps, and you cannot start your blogging adventure.
You can safely say that a blogging platform is some CMS (Content Management System) since it enables you to easily manage your content once you have your blog up and running.
Tip: One of the best and most popular self-hosted content management systems (CMS) is WordPress.org, also recommended by 90 percent of blogging experts we’ve surveyed.
Blogging is a relatively new concept. Blogging platforms have been around for 28 years but, as you can certainly imagine, they did not look the way they do now. Also, the blogs that were first created weren’t referred to as “blogs,” but rather as “online diaries” or “personal web pages”.
The first ever blogging platform, Links.net, was created by Justin Hall in 1994. Justin was a Swarthmore College student at the time, and he used his blog, or rather a personal web page, to share his thoughts and daily life observations with the world.
It was not until 1997 that the term “weblog” was used to describe those online diaries. The name was brought to life by John Barger, who was one of the first bloggers and the creator and editor of Robot Wisdom, one of the first influential blogs of that time. In 1999, the term was shortened to “blog” by programmer Peter Merholz.
One of the first and most popular blogging platforms was Open Diary. It was launched by Bruce Ableson in 1998 and served as an online journal community where people could read each other’s diaries and leave comments.
In 1999, several powerful blogging platforms launched, all of which are still operating today. They include the famous Blogger, founded by the company Pyra Labs, LiveJournal, founded by Brad Fitzpatrick, and Xanga, founded by Marc Ginsburg, Dan Huddle, and John Hiller.
Rise to popularity
In the early 2000s, more blogging platforms kept popping up, and that was the time when TypePad and the all-time giant, WordPress, came to life, both launched in 2003.
The mid-2000s marked the time when blogging platforms finally became mainstream. Political blogs were on the rise, among many other different types of blogs, including video blogs. In 2007, Tumblr was launched, followed by Posterous in 2008. In 2012, Evan Williams founded Medium, which is one of the newest blogging platforms that seems to be getting continuous momentum.
With all of those great blogging platforms, blogs were becoming the primary channels for online communication for millions of people. More importantly, the new platforms were nothing like the first ones, which needed to be coded and updated manually, as now people could simply download and install them to make a blog, just like today.
None of us knows what the future holds for blogs, but one thing is sure – they are not going anywhere anytime soon. Blogging platforms are here to stay and, given their exponential growth over the years, we are certainly yet to witness their peak in popularity.
Recommended reading: The Best Blogging Platforms & Blog Sites 2017 (Reviewed and Compared)
Favorite free blogging platforms
There are hundreds of different blogging platforms available out there.
For many new bloggers, the availability of free blogging platforms such as WordPress.com or Blogger is tempting. The benefits include being free and quick to start. But having a blog name in this form—yourname.wordpress.com or yourname.blogspot.com is the sign of an inexperienced beginner who probably won’t be taken seriously.
However, if you are short on cash and want to give it a try at blogging, the following ones are the best you can choose from.
WordPress.com is the most famous blogging platform available. It offers both free and premium versions. If you want to try WordPress.com, all you have to do is visit the website and sign up for your free account. You need to enter the name for your blog, choose the theme, and everything else, including maintenance, will be handled for you.
This blog hosting platform is easy to use and there are a huge number of themes and layouts to choose from to make your blog more appealing, as well as plenty of plugins and extensions to make it function properly.
You can use your custom domain, but you would have to pay the annual fee for registering your domain name, so you can go for an entirely free version, in which case your blog’s URL will include the term “WordPress.” It will look like this: yourdomain.wordpress.com.
Blogger is another old but trendy free blogging platform, and it is perfect for beginners. This free blog hosting service is straightforward to use, very reliable and has a lot of free designs and templates to pick from to make your blog attractive. Blogger is owned by Google and enables you to use your Google account to set up your blog so that you can link all of your accounts together.
You need to know that Blogger doesn’t sell domain names, but you could purchase it from Google or any other available domain name registrars.
However, if you want to create a business blog, Blogger might not be your best choice, because it is limited in functions that are necessary for various activities concerning business. Therefore, this platform is best for creating personal blogs or any other informational blogs.
Medium is yet another blogging platform that has been getting more and more popular among bloggers. The main reasons for that popularity are its elegant design, the fact that it is very beginner-friendly, and the fact that no setup is required.
Medium is like a hybrid of blogs and social networks, which makes it very appealing to its users. To start your blog on Medium, all you need to do is sign up, and you can choose to create your account using some of your social media accounts. Although it has a momentum, Medium needs more of it, as the platform has an enormous potential that is yet to be fully discovered.
Favorite self-hosted and freemium blogging platforms
Just as there are plenty of free blogging platforms, there are some reliable self-hosted and freemium options. Self-hosted platforms are free, but you need to find a web hosting provider to install it on their servers. With freemium options, you will get try out period, and then you would have to start paying.
As we’ve mentioned above most pro bloggers, use WordPress.org to run their blogs. Let’s look at the most popular choices in this category.
WordPress.org is the most popular self-hosted blogging platform out there. If you choose this platform, you need to purchase your domain name and your web hosting separately, but the platform is free to download and install. It is incredibly easy to use and has numerous customization options, with literally hundreds of premium themes and more than 42,000 plugins to choose from.
This platform has grown into the most popular CMS and it is perfect for professional bloggers and those who want to monetize their blog. However, it is also excellent for all those who want to simply have complete control over everything regarding their blog, including 100% ownership of their entire blog content.
TypePad is one of the oldest premium blogging platforms that is perfect for both beginner and professional bloggers. It is very user-friendly, includes an easy setup and allows you to buy a custom domain. It is very stable, incorporates easily with social media and, even if you are not very tech-savvy, you can be sure that you will get the hang of the platform in no time.
However, there are not so many options to choose from when it comes to features and plugins, so it may seem a bit expensive when compared to a number of free platforms that offer so much more in terms of design, plugins, and flexibility.
Ghost is a blogging platform that offers both free and premium versions. While the free version is easily downloadable, it doesn’t include web hosting, nor does it come with a domain name, so you would need to purchase both. The premium version, Ghost Pro, includes both web hosting and a custom domain, as well as the complete maintenance of your blog.
All of the Ghost’s plugins and extensions are built-in, and there are a lot of themes for designing your blog, but you need to pay for most of them. When it comes to the ease of use, Ghost Pro is much simpler to grasp than the downloadable version.
However, both versions require quite a lot of skills, so this platform is not for beginners. You need to be a lot tech-savvy not only to create your blog and use all of the features but also to install the software in the first place. Therefore, if you are a beginner, Ghost is not a smart choice for you but, if you are an expert, you will find it interesting.
Famous website/blog builders
There are a lot of website builders that are excellent not only for making websites but also for creating blogs. More and more people realize that, as website builder providers are making their products more and more appealing to bloggers, with plenty of useful features for creating blogs and making them efficient. The following are the best website/ blog builders you can choose from.
Weebly is one of the most popular website builders that attracts a huge number of users because it is unbelievably easy to use. It is very intuitive, and you don’t need any programming skills whatsoever to use it. It includes a domain name, but you can choose your own if you want to. Your blog will be hosted with them, and it could be tricky to switch to another hosting provider if you decide to move your blog.
Weebly’s designs and plenty of themes are beautiful, and it includes a responsive design, which is a huge plus. However, it does have some potential drawbacks. Limited image storage, not so many options for image editing, and no email services. Nonetheless, this website builder is one of the best ones you can choose from to create a blog.
Wix is a very user-friendly website builder that offers more than 500 professional-looking templates and designs for customizing your blog, most of which are mobile-friendly. You get a domain name in all the plans, but it allows you to use a custom one that you have previously purchased.
Wix includes web hosting but, if you wish to move your blog to another hosting provider after some time, you will not be provided an option to do so, so you would have to build everything again from scratch. Also, once you have chosen your design templates, they are complicated to change.
However, this doesn’t mean that Wix is not a great website builder because it is. It is excellent for beginners and, once you get a grip on it, you will certainly be amazed by all of its options and features it offers.
Squarespace is yet another modern website builder than more and more people are using to create blogs. It is hosted, very user-friendly, and you get a free domain, but you can use a custom domain name if you have one. When it comes to exporting your blog to another web host, Squarespace offers exporting only to WordPress.
Squarespace is perfect for anyone who doesn’t have an idea of how to build a blog entirely on their own, so it is an ideal solution for those with no design skills. It is super easy to use and has a very intuitive interface. You get a bunch of modern designs to choose from, and all of the necessary plugins and features that you need are already built-in.
Since you need a blogging platform to create a blog, it is vital that you learn everything you can about them before you can choose the best one to meet your every need. Narrow down your list with the aforementioned best blogging platforms available, and make sure you check out the best blogging platform reviews, so that you can make a more informed decision. You will be able to choose the right blogging platform for you, and that choice is essential for the functionality and effectiveness of your blog.