Which blogging platform should you use?

Which blogging platform should you use?

I think there’s a lot of confusion in the blogosphere around blogging platforms. There’s an ongoing debate around whether Blogger or WordPress is better, if going self-hosted is worth it and what the hell else is out there if you’re not interested in any of the above. I’m going to attempt to write a comprehensive guide of the pros of each of the more popular platforms, in the hope that it will help you make a decision. I will also touch on the cons of each platform, but I think they are more likely to be subjective, so won’t necessarily apply to everyone.

WordPress

I ran a poll on Twitter to see what people were currently using, and WordPress came out on top. It’s not a platform I’ve ever really used, but it’s clearly a popular choice and with good reason. Below are some of the positives of WordPress.

  • It’s free
  • Easy to use
  • You can download your own templates
  • Access to Jetpack stats
  • You can gain followers just through WordPress itself

I think the last point in particular is a real positive of using WordPress. With other platforms, people don’t tend to follow your blog directly and they might use a feed reader like Bloglovin’ instead. But with WordPress.com, fellow WordPress users can follow each other with the click of a button. Leaving comments is super easy as well between WordPress users, as it auto-fills a lot of your details.

The main negative I’ve heard about wordpress.com is that it can be expensive once you’ve worked through all the free options. For example, although you can access hundreds of themes on the free version, you are limited with customisation. When you want to upgrade there are a number of plans to choose from, ranging from £3 – £20 per month. Most bloggers would only need the personal or premium plans, but these still add up.

Which blogging platform should you use?

Blogger

A close second to WordPress in my poll is another free hosting platform, Blogger. I myself started out on Blogger before I went self-hosted in March last year. I’d used the platform for years for various college and uni projects, so it made sense to use what I already knew, but there are other reasons to use it too. For me, there were a few main points that stuck out.

  • It’s free
  • Easy to use
  • You can download your own templates
  • You can attach your own domain name for free
  • There are plenty of widgets you can use for cusomisation

That said, the main reason I moved from the platform was because techinically Google own your blog, not you. You may own the domain name and have written all the actual content, but the blog itself is hosted with Google so it’s not really yours. In my opinion, Blogger is the best option for people who aren’t sure if they’re going to stick to blogging. However it has certainly proved itself as a winner with more ~serious~ bloggers too!

Self-hosting with wordpress.org

I think self-hosting is where a lot of people get confused, but I promise it’s not all that complicated! Basically, you pay a company to host your blog for you on their servers (as opposed to having someone like Google do it for you for free). I have heard of people spending over £200 a year doing this, but I promise you it doesn’t have to cost that much! I personally host with lcn.com and I just renewed it for £47.94 for the year (not including my domain which I pay for separately). You can certainly find good deals on hosting if you shop around! Just make sure you know exactly what you’re paying for. So, what are the benefits of self-hosting?

  • You own your blog
  • You can download endless plugins and widgets to completely personalise your blog
  • You can download your own templates
  • You can use your own domain name

However, there are a few more negatives to hosting your blog yourself. For starters, you’re responsible for managing all the updates and backups of your site. This is pretty simple to do (and some hosts may even cover the backups for you) but it’s still something extra to think about. The cost is also a factor that puts people off, though as I’ve said it doesn’t have to be crazy expensive.

Which blogging platform should you use?

Squarespace

I’ve called in some outside help for this one! I briefly considered Squarespace before going self-hosted because I’d heard great things about how easy it was to use. Ultimately it looked to be a more expensive choice for me, but I’m still very intrigued by it as a platform. Here are some pros as told by Cindy and Gwennan.

  • Easy to use
  • Super snazzy pre-built templates which are really easy to customise
  • Has an app for blogging on the go
  • Can buy your domain through Squarespace so everything’s in one place
  • You can pay for hosting all in one go or spread the cost throughout the year
  • Squarespace support and chat means you’re never left with questions

Squarespace definitely has a lot going for it. As I mentioned above, one of the main downers from my perspective is the cost, but they do student discount – thanks for the tip Gwennan! Gwennan’s other slight bugbears with the platform are the difficulties she faces when trying to get into the code side of things (which can usually be sorted out with a quick Google) and the lack of customisable widgets due to the fact that there aren’t a huge amount of bloggers using the platform.

I know I’ve missed a few (Tumblr being a big one) but I feel like these four are the most popular platforms in the Blogosphere right now so I thought I’d start with them. Let me know which platform is your favourite and why you chose it. Would you ever consider switching?


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Deciding which blogging platform to use can be difficult, so I've written about some of the pros and cons of the Blogosphere's top platforms. Which do you use? | lazythoughts.co.uk
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