AN important thing to consider when wanting to start a blog is where to write your blog. There are paid options and those are good, but let’s be real, not everyone KNOWS they want to blog. This part of the blogging process is something that can be difficult when you don’t absolutely know that blogging is your passion. We have here four contenders that are easy to use and free: Medium, WordPress, Blogger, and Kinja. Which of these is the best blogging platform for beginners?
First, you should know what a blogging platform is:
When one wants to begin writing, but they don’t have excessive writing prowess, they can go to the internet to gain said experience. The number one way to do so is with a blog which can be done for various price points. Some blogs can be done for free while others can be upgraded down the line.
When choosing a platform, you should consider what you need. Do you need it to be professional? Do you already have a domain you want to use? How customizable do you want it? Is someone else going to blog with you? Each platform is different in every use-case. So, without much more ado, here are four platforms that I believe are the best blogging platforms for beginners.
Medium is the first one on the list. Here you can create stories or articles without much fret. It’s a free to premium service that allows you to blog as much as you want.
- Very user-friendly.
- Embed videos from YouTube, Vimeo, Soundcloud, and more.
- Provides an estimated read time for those short on time.
- Has no word count minimum or maximum.
- You can post as frequently as you want.
- No coding is required.
- You can make money via their partner program.
- Not customizable.
- There is a small monthly or yearly fee if you want to read more than three articles a month by another user.
- No custom domain. It’s tied to Medium.com.
- No custom favicon (icon next to the web page name)
- Seemingly no way to add another author to your blog.
I personally don’t care for Medium, it is easy to pick up and write on but, that sacrifices a lot of customization. If you’re a blogger who wants control, like me, over the site’s design or usability, then you’re better off passing on Medium. It also doesn’t help that I do like having at least a second-level or sub-domain name. Instead what you get is a page on the site which says your username, followed by the article you publish then a slew of letters and numbers.
By far the most popular in the list, WordPress powers thousands probably millions of sites (including this one) across the internet. In fact, about half of the internet is powered by this CMS (Content Management System) whether you know it or not. It’s not a just a CMS though as you can make just about any type of website with this platform using the massive list of plugins they have from third-party developers. But, for the sake of this comparison, let’s focus on its blogging capabilities. A lot of the cons are able to be fixed by becoming a paying member.
- Highly customizable via themes or your own custom one.
- Allows for a custom favicon.
- Large selection of plugins / add-ons.
- Plenty of tutorials are openly available online.
- Constantly updating.
- Multi-author enabled.
- You can make money easily via Google Adsense and a plugin.
- You can potentially run your own ads anywhere on the site.
- Needs tech know-how in some cases.
- Doesn’t have an immediate host.
- Maybe daunting at first.
I personally use WordPress and find it simple enough to use and free. All that you need to worry about is finding a host and writing content. Of course, the only reason I say it can be user-friendly is that it may require some work in the coding side of things. That being said, it isn’t mandatory and only depends on how serious you are about blogging and making your site your own.
Blogger is a Google-owned and simple blogging platform that has made its rounds as an even more simple way to blog. This one is a bit odd, in my opinion.
- Somewhat customizable.
- Quite user-friendly.
- Doesn’t require much setup.
- Custom favicon enabled.
- Allows for a third-party URL.
- Able to turn on HTTPS (provided by Google Trusted Service).
- Multi-author enabled.
- Can connect Google Adsense directly through the website.
- Allows you to customize HTML.
- Long default URL.
- Not too many unique themes.
- Watermark isn’t easy to get rid of unless you have CSS / HTML experience.
I haven’t used much of Blogger because it’s too simplistic to me. I don’t like the design of the site but, I do see the appeal as it’s simple to use, manage, and easily customize to an extent. You can even add multiple authors which is something I tend to prefer when I start a blog. I think the biggest thing that sets it apart from the rest of the sites, though, is the ability to turn on HTTPS which is a more secure connection than its counterpart (HTTP). This can absolutely be a place to begin and get a feel for blogging or blogging with a team.
Whether you know it or not, you’ve seen Kinja as a platform. Kinja would be known by those who view sites owned by Fusion Media Group. Sites like Kotaku, Deadspin, Clickhole, The Onion, and more run on this platform.
- Easy to start.
- Pretty user-friendly.
- Easy to maintain.
- Already designed to be sleek.
- Custom favicon enabled.
- Allows embedding of videos from YouTube and other platforms.
- You can customize what shows up on the navigation bar.
- Allows you to customize the “search engine title” along with the sharing title, description, and the image seen on social media.
- Allows you to categorize the article with two to three easy clicks.
- Not a lot to customize on the front-end.
- There is no other version, so you are stuck as an average user which comes with some limitations.
- Average users can’t use another domain. They stuck with a [username].kinja.com.
- Average users can’t add multiple authors.
- Can’t run your own ads anywhere you want.
- Watermarks on the top and bottom of any page of your site.
- Very little useful how-to videos and articles for the platform.
- Iffy support.
I want to be perfectly honest and say I’m not entirely sure how money is made through this platform. I know you can, but I don’t know how. Now, what do I think of the platform? It absolutely has a lot of potential in my eyes. The platform could grow to be one of the best platforms out there for beginning bloggers. But, as it is right now, with them seemingly hogging the features many regular users lack, it feels only partially complete. I look forward to hopefully seeing an update sometime in the future that will completely address and implement many of the features this platform doesn’t have.
To give you my perspective on all of the platforms, I really do enjoy Kinja’s design, but a lack of multi-author capabilities is a deal-breaker for me. I found Blogger to have its own draws, like being a platform that allows users to have their own domain which they can buy at a cheap price by Google’s own domain seller. The HTTPS aspect being tied to your domain than a third-party one like all the other platforms (with the exception of WordPress) was also a major plus.
Medium even had a slight draw as you could see how long it may take to read through posts. That draw, however, falters as you are told to pay them to read more than three posts a month. This isn’t going to apply to everyone, though, as you may not be interested in reading what others write on the platform.
Finally, WordPress is WordPress. You are getting a mostly free platform with the only real cost being the domain and hosting. You have a lot of control over the blog’s design. It also helps there’s a very active theme and plugin-creating community, always looking for a feature to code to improve the experience.
Now that we’ve gone through the pros and cons of all the platforms and I gave my own opinion, now begs the real question: What is the best blogging platform for beginners in 2018? Overall, it depends on what you need.
In my eyes, the best blogging platform for beginners, excluding WordPress if we’re going exclusively free, without having to buy anything, I would say Blogger.
This is taking into consideration that you want to upgrade down the line. If you search how to get rid of the watermark, you can find people explaining how. If you want to get a separate domain name, you can do so for a yearly price of anywhere between $12 to $30 depending on the top-level domain (.com, .net, .org, etc.). While I don’t like the generic design too much, I can see that it’d be good for a beginning blogger.
That being said, there are plenty of other platforms that offer experiences that can rival the blogging platforms listed here. So, I encourage the use of most platforms you can find, you never know, that platform might be what you’re looking for.