Top 8 Best Free & Paid Blog Platforms Reviewed (For 2018)


2.WordPress.com (online)

In a sentence: Hosted blogging platform built with the WordPress software.

WordPress.com is a hosted version of WordPress. This means that instead of having to download the software and install it yourself, all you need to do is sign up for an account at WordPress.com, and you can start blogging in a matter of minutes. Used by many influencers, such as Tim Ferriss and even Jay-Z (LifeandTimes.com).

For a step by step guide, you can check my how to start blogging guide.

​Three plans available: $0 – great for basic blogging, $99 / year – great for professional blogging, $299 / year – great for advanced business solutions.

Do you get your own domain?

​By default, you get a subdomain like example.wordpress.com. You can add a custom domain as well (doing so on the free plan costs $18 / year; for paid plans a custom domain is included).

Any prior skills required? / Ease of use.

​Much easier to use than the self-hosted version of WordPress, due to the fact that you get much of the heavy lifting taken care of (hosting, site setup, basic configuration).

You still need to go through the on-screen wizard, but it’s relatively simple. Plus, there’s the official getting started guide. After the setup phase, using this blogging platform on a daily basis to publish your posts is extra easy.

​There’s a couple of hundreds of themes to choose from, and if you opt for one of the premium plans, you also get the opportunity to customize the design you’re using.

Overall, WordPress.com keeps things simple and doesn’t deliver as many design options as self-hosted WordPress.

​Popular features like sharing, stats, comments, and polls are included, but there’s no option to install third-party plugins.

​Yes, you get your site hosted for no additional payments.

  • Hobby bloggers.
  • Anyone who wants to start a blog with no investment at all.
  • Professional bloggers.

Who’s WordPress.com perfect for?

Overall, WordPress.com is a simplified version of self-hosted WordPress. It delivers all of the most essential features, but also leaves a big chunk of them out.

If you care only about blogging and don’t want to experiment with your site’s custom features then WordPress.com is going to be sufficient for you.

  • ​Get started in minutes.
  • ​Hosting and subdomain included.
  • ​You can use it for $0.
  • ​No possibility to install custom themes.
  • ​No plugins.
  • WordPress.com can pull the plug on your blog at any time if they find your actions not in tune with their rules.
  • ​Can be blocked in some countries, thus requiring a VPN from a neighboring country to log in and publish.

3. Blogger

In a sentence: An old-school hosted blogging platform.

Blogger is one of the oldest blogging sites out there. Currently, it’s run by Google, so all you need to sign up is your standard Google account. Similarly to WordPress.com, Blogger takes care of all the technical heavy lifting, allowing you to just focus on creating content.

blogger

Do you get your own domain?

​By default, you get a subdomain like example.blogspot.com. You can hook up your custom domain too, but you have to acquire it separately.

Any prior skills required? / Ease of use.

​Blogger is easy to use, albeit a little outdated compared to some more modern solutions like WordPress.com or Medium. Setting up your blog is still very easy and quick. No skills required to start blogging under Blogger.

​Just a standard layout editor (content/sidebar). Apart from that, there’s not much you can do in terms of the design of your blog.

​No external plugins available.

​Yes, Blogger takes care of hosting your blog for no additional payment.

  • ​Hobby bloggers and personal blogs.

Maybe 10 years ago Blogger could have been considered a huge hit, but right now it’s a shadow of its former self. I don’t advise using it for anything other than personal blogs.

  • ​You can get a blog started in under a minute.
  • ​Simple interface for content creation.
  • ​Hosting and subdomain included.

4. Tumblr

In a sentence:
A hip microblogging hosted blog platform with a social network aspect.

Tumblr is one of the best blog sites optimized specifically for bloggers who want to publish short-form content, such as micro-blogs, quotes, images, videos, and animated GIFs. Tumblr is also a community of users, ready to promote and comment on each other’s work.

tumblr

Do you get your own domain?

​By default, you get a subdomain like example.tumblr.com. Hooking up your own custom domain is possible too (you need to get the domain elsewhere)

Any prior skills required? / Ease of use.

​Absolutely no skills at all required to start and run a Tumblr blog. The interface is the most user-friendly one of the 8 blogging platforms we’re reviewing here. Tumblr blogs are easy to set up and easy to run afterwards.

​There’s a lot of designs you can choose from, although many of them paid.

​Yes, Tumblr hosts your blog for no additional cost.

  • Hobby bloggers.
  • One-topic blogs.
  • Microblogs.
  • Blogs publishing different types of content (quotes, posts, images, videos, etc.)

Tumblr is the blogging platform for you if you’re not planning to turn your blog into a business project, or if you don’t care about advanced features and extensions. Great solution for small blogs with not a lot of content and irregular posting schedule.

  • ​Community aspect – Tumblr is a social network as much as it is a blogging platform.
  • ​Free.
  • ​Hosting and subdomain included.
  • ​User interface that’s ultra easy to use.
  • ​Built-in styles for various types of content.
  • ​No extensions or plugins.
  • ​Limited features compared to the other platforms on this list.

5. Medium

In a sentence: A publishing blog platform for your stories and articles.

Medium has grown in popularity a lot during the last couple of years (more than a million people have joined Medium). In short, it’s a community of writers and bloggers, all using the same looking site design to share their opinions and stories on various topics.

medium logo

Do you get your own domain?

​Not included. Everybody gets to publish under their profile (e.g. medium.com/@name/). However, quite recently Medium enabled its users to hook up their own custom domains to individual stories on Medium. Again, this means that individual stories can now use custom domains, not individual user profiles.

Any prior skills required? / Ease of use.

​Not at all. Medium is extremely easy to use. All you need to do is sign up, and you can start publishing your stories/posts right away. No learning curve at all.

​None. Everybody gets the same design.

​None. Although Medium has some great publishing and typography features built-in.

​Yes, Medium handles it completely.

  • Writers looking to build their brand. Medium is great to get instant readership for your stories.
  • Hobby bloggers.
  • Company blogs hosted outside of the company’s website.

In the end, Medium is great if you want to publish individual stories that aren’t necessarily related. Medium helps spread your content by using custom algorithms as well as editorial curation. If you just want to “experiment with this blogging thing,” Medium is the way to do it.

  • ​Very easy-to-use interface.
  • ​Other users can help you work on your content.
  • ​Free.
  • ​Great typography settings.
  • ​No custom designs. Everyone’s profile looks the same.
  • ​Medium has control over your publications.

6. Ghost

In a sentence: Downloadable blogging software, and a hosted blogging platform.

The main idea behind Ghost was to make it a simpler version of WordPress … something that would be just a blogging platform, without all the advanced content management features that have been introduced in WordPress recently.

ghost logo

​The downloadable version is free. The hosted – pro – version stands at $8-$200 depending on the number of blogs you want to run and the traffic volume you’re expecting.

Do you get your own domain?

​No, you don’t get a domain with your plan, but you can hook up an external domain easily.

Any prior skills required? / Ease of use.

​The answer’s two-fold here. If you’re getting the downloadable version then setting up your site will take some time and skill around web servers and such.

For Ghost Pro, the setup is quite simple. Using the platform on a daily basis is very easy to grasp too, although the interface is a bit “geeky” – with the Markdown split-screen support and all.

Nice library of themes to choose from, many of them paid though. There are also premium themes available on the web.

​Things like SEO, social media, comments, etc. are already built-in. Apart from that, no external plugins for Ghost.

​If you get the downloadable version, it’s up to you to find a webhost and install the software there. For Ghost Pro, hosting is included.

  • Bloggers who want to use the newest and freshest technical solutions available.
  • Hobby bloggers passionate about web development.
  • Bloggers who like to experiment with new platforms.

With all of Ghost’s awesomeness, it’s still not the best blogging platform to build a pro-blog or a business blog with. It lacks some important features, and is more of a beta project overall.

  • ​Designed as a blogging site above all else.
  • ​Very clear writing and publishing interface.
  • ​Fast and optimized for SEO.
  • ​Not as customizable as WordPress.
  • ​No plugins or extensibility available.

For running a blog on Ghost (downloadable version) you will require web hosting –

>> Again, I recommend HostGator for this.

hostgator testimonial

7. Squarespace

In a sentence:
User-friendly online website builder and website hosting service.

Squarespace is one of the best all-in-one website building solutions out there. You can use it to launch blogs, business sites, e-commerce stores, and much more. Fun fact, Squarespace is the only platform on this list that invested in a Super Bowl ad (twice).

squarespace logo

​Subscription-based, $8-$24 / month.

Do you get your own domain?

​Yes, you get a custom domain with your subscription.

Any prior skills required? / Ease of use.

​No. Squarespace is ultra easy to use, even if it’s your first time building a website or blog. The interface is clear, intuitive, and powerful. Publishing new content is simple as well, and their custom LayoutEngine lets you arrange your blog content however you like through drag-and-drop.

​A number of great-looking and modern designs to choose from. Squarespace makes it a goal of theirs to always go with the trends and stay on top of what’s popular design-wise.

​A range of the most important features built-in from the get-go, plus there are external plugins available through another site.

  • Business owners who need a great-looking and optimized website, and a blog to go alongside.
  • Artists, musicians, photographers, creatives in general who want to blog and also showcase their work in an effective way.
  • Restaurants, cafes, etc., running a company blog.
  • Users with no design skills who want to be able to build a blog from scratch on their own.

Overall, it’s potentially the best blogging platform for anyone who wants to build a professionally looking website or blog all on their own. No design skills are required, and the whole process is very straightforward.

That being said, if all you need is a blog – without the additional stuff – then there are more suitable solutions out there.

  • ​Great customization capabilities and easy to use interface.
  • ​Hosting and custom domain included.
  • ​No design or development skills required.
  • ​Drag-and-drop content building.
  • ​24/7 customer support.
  • ​Can get expensive over time when we add up the monthly subscription costs.
  • ​(This will sound strange) Too feature-rich if all you need is a simple blog.

8. Wix Website Builder

In a sentence:
User-friendly online website builder and website hosting service.

To say this simply, Wix is basically like Squarespace, but different. It offers similar features in terms of its website-building and blog-building ability, but the execution is of a slightly different style.

wix logo

​Subscription-based, $0-$18 / month.

Do you get your own domain?

​By default, you get a subdomain like example.wix.com. You can also add a custom domain that you already own.

Any prior skills required? / Ease of use.

​Wix is very easy to use when it comes to launching a new website. However, you do need to go through a couple of additional steps to add the blog module. Nothing too difficult but still. Overall, Wix gives you a step-by-step wizard to get through the whole process.

​More than 500 designs available.

​There’s a number of essential site management features built-in, and apart from that, you can also extend your site through the Wix App Market.

  • Quite similarly to Squarespace, business owners who need a great-looking and optimized website, and a blog to go alongside.
  • Users with no design skills who want to be able to build a blog from scratch on their own.
  • Artists, musicians, photographers, creatives in general who want to blog and also showcase their work in an effective manner.

Who’s it perfect for?

Wix Website Builder is an interesting alternative to Squarespace, especially for users who don’t have a budget to invest and would like to keep things free.

That being said, the blog module isn’t that configurable. So if what you want most of all is a blog, you’re better off with another platform.

  • ​More than 500 designs to choose from.
  • ​Free plan available.
  • ​Drag-and-drop content building.
  • ​Great support, plus an online knowledge base.
  • ​Limited blog customization possibilities, especially compared to other solutions on the list.
  • ​Not a dedicated blogging platform.
what is the best blog platorm

Conclusion

In my opinion, most blogging platforms on this list have their place on the market. Please pick the persona that describes you best to see the perfect solution for you:

I want to build a professional blog for myself / my business, and I want to be in full control of it.

I want to be able to install new plugins, change themes, and overall make my blog fit my needs hand-in-glove.

WordPress.org – Get started on WordPress.org today with this step-by-step guide.

I need a blog right now, and I have no money to invest!

WordPress.com

I’m starting a microblog!

I’m starting a photo-blog!

I’m an artist, and I want to share my work with others.

Tumblr

I’m starting a personal / hobby blog, and I will be publishing mostly written content.

WordPress.com

Medium

I want to grow as a writer / blogger and connect with other like-minded people.

Medium

I’m passionate about modern technology, and I want to work with the most cutting-edge blogging platform out there!

Ghost

I’m a business owner. I need a website and a blog to go alongside, and preferably in the same place (domain).

Squarespace

Wix

I have no design or development skills at all.

Tumblr

WordPress.com

Medium

Squarespace

Wix Website Builder

Our Pick

We believe that WordPress outperforms all other platforms. It is powerful, easy to use, affordable, and the most flexible of all available blogging platforms. Here are all the reasons why you should use WordPress.

And to make it even more powerful, you may want to use hosting services. Do not worry if you haven’t chosen the hosting yet.

We reviewed them for you. And after rejecting all the knock-off deals and worse quality service providers we have a clear winner: HostGator.

hostgator testimonial

That way, you can play around with all of these different blogging platforms and get started with actual hosting and unlimited blogging freedom!

This concludes our review! But what do you think? Are you a fan of any of the blogging platforms described here? Feel free to share in the comments below.

 

–> How to Start a WordPress Blog in 20 Minutes – Free Guide [Updated July 30, 2018] <–

Editor’s Recommendations:

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Top 8 Best Free & Paid Blog Platforms Reviewed (For 2018)

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