So you are ready to start a blog? Where do you even begin? You will need to choose which blogging platform to host your blog on. We’ll go through the 3 major blogging platforms and what you decide will be based on your goals for your blog.
If you’re not sure whether you’ll enjoy blogging and you just want to keep a journal of your life then a free platform would be best. A platform is free because they host your site. All you need is a blog name and you can have a blog set up in minutes, it’s that simple.
Blogger is a free blogging platform which is owned by Google is easy to set up and get started blogging. Once you choose a name, your blog address will be http://www.yourname.blogspot.com. It doesn’t make for a pretty url so you also have the option of purchasing your own custom domain to make it http://www.yourname.com. This looks more easy on the eyes and sounds much more professional.
- easy to use
- template designer to easily change fonts, colors and layout
- easily integrate Google products like adsense, analytics and Google+
- no storage maximums
- blogspot url unless you purchase your own domain
- don’t have complete control over blog
This is another free blogging platform based on the free WordPress software and hosts the blog for you. There are limitations in what you can do but it is super easy to set up and get writing. There are numerous free themes in their repository but if you want a premium theme, then you’ll need to pay. Your blog url will look like this: http://www.yourname.wordpress.com. If you’d like to purchase your own domain through WP.com, you can. If you purchase your own domain elsewhere you will still need to pay to redirect it which will cost $13/year.
If you need more storage space to host your media files like pictures and videos that will start at $20 per year. If you want to remove 3rd party ads from your site that will cost $30/year.
WordPress.com does not allow the use of plugins like WP.org can and you cannot monetize your site including ads and affiliate links.
- easy to set up
- variety of free templates to choose from
- no plugins
- can’t monetize site unless through in house ad program
- theme customizations, site redirects, extra storage cost extra
- don’t have complete control over blog
Both of these free platforms host your blog, that means that you do not have complete control of your site, should you violate their terms of service they can pull down your site. I had a site that was mistakenly marked as spam, which had no content on it and they pulled it down and put it back up a month later. With free platforms, there is no customer service. WordPress.com has a support forum but it’s hit or miss with receiving a reply to your questions.
If your goal is to earn an income with your blog and this may become a business one day, then you should consider blogging on WordPress.org from the beginning. Transferring over later is possible but will get more complicated the longer you wait.
WordPress.org (Self-hosted WordPress)
When you are self-hosted, you own your blog and it is hosted by you where ever you decide to purchase hosting, and you install the free WordPress software onto your domain (which you need to purchase as well). The downside to being self-hosted is that it will cost you money to do so but it also means that you are in charge of your site and it does require some technical knowledge. A domain name can cost up to $10/year and hosting can run anywhere from $3 per month and up based on your plan. It will cost less if you choose to pay for a year in advance versus paying monthly.
You will need to learn how to back it up and should any issues arise it will be up to you to contact your host to resolve them which is important to ensure that the security on your site is the best that it can be.
- you own your content
- flexibility with plugins
- ability to add on stores, affiliate programs, membership sites…
- costs money for hosting and domain name
- must maintain security and plugin updates
- troubleshoot blog issues
Whatever you decide you want to think about your goals for your blog and review what the best options for you will be. Since both Blogger and WordPress.com are free, I’d snatch up both blog names on those platforms and play around with the blog. You will get a good sense of how they both work by just getting started.