When I first started blogging 8 years ago, I didn’t really know anything about blogging platforms, I just knew I wanted to start a blog. Choosing a blogging platform kind of happened in the spur of the moment and it was only after I started to see limitations with my platform that I wished I had tested before deciding for one platform.
Throughout the years, I switched my blogging platform from Blogger to WordPress, started a Tumblr blog on the side, and lately I started using Squarespace as a blogging platform to promote my boutique marketing agency.
Changing my blogging platform throughout the years was quite a hassle, and it also damaged my SEO, so I hope these tips will help you choose your blogging platform wisely from the very beginning. This will help you become comfortable and successful with your blog from the start and it will allow you to put your time and energy where it really matters, in growing your blog!
So how do you choose the best blogging platform? In this post we are going to walk you through the 6 simple things you need to consider when choosing a blogging platform.
1. Identify Your Niche
This line might sound like a cliche by now, but finding your niche before you start your actual blog is really so important! Choosing a blogging platform really depends on what type of blog you want to create. Do you have more recipes on your food blog, or maybe more pictures on your travel blog, or maybe you also have a shop you want to add your fashion blog?
Figuring this out and even making an outline of what your blog will cover and even look like is key when are just starting out. This will help you plan ahead and setup the key must haves your blog should have (ie. a sidebar with Instagram posts, a way to embed and share recipes, a contact form etc). With this in mind, it will be easier to reference the various blogging platforms and figuring out if they have functionality and even theme styles that fit with your profile. (Check out my step-by-step guide on starting and building a successful blog in 2018!)
2. Choose a blogging platform that’s easy to use, but still powerful
If you are just starting out, I highly recommend looking at a blogging platform that is easy to use, intuitive and doesn’t require too many technical skills. Most of the blogging platforms boast simple setup and installation, however things can get more complicated if you are to host the blog yourself through a server provider. WordPress for example is by far the most advanced and complete blogging platform, but setting it up might require some assistance if you have never done this before. SquareSpace on the other hand may be suitable if you need quick setup and you can probably create your blog in one day.
3. Determine if you will have a free or self-hosted blog
Most blogging plaftorms are hosted by the actual brands providing them ie. Blogger, WordPress.com (Not the same as WordPress.org), Tumblr, Wix or Medium. Although it might be tempting to get started with them, you really need to decide if you want your own custom URL: colorfulmacaroons.com, or if you want to stick with the free version that will look something like this: colorfulmacaroons.wordpress.com. You also need to take in account if you want to monetize your website in the future, or add different widgets down the line.
There are a lot of advantages to choosing a Free blogging platform (easy to setup, reliable hosting, network of bloggers etc.), however there are also limitations, especially when it comes to customizing your blog, domain name, theme, branded emails @yourdomainname and many others.
From personal experience, I strongly recommend going for a self-hosted blogging platform with a renown hosting provider such as BlueHost or GoDaddy. Although it takes a bit longer to get set up and you have to deal with some hosting costs, it will really pay off on the long run, as your blog will grow from an SEO perspective, and you get to build your blog from the beginning without having to transition it to a self-hosted platform after some time. Both of these hosting sites offer simple installation guides with most blogging platforms, so with a bit of googling you will be able to do it yourself without much design work involved.
4. Look at what customization does the blogging platform support
All blog platforms come with different widgets, plugins or integrations that expand the functionality of your content, and you should make sure you are not missing out on these! If you are just planning to create a pretty standard blog, you will probably find decent options for add-ons on most blogging platforms, however if you want to really personalize your blog and include different types of content such as videos, an Instagram shop, or maybe an e-cookbook, I recommend looking at a more robust blogging platform that offers lots of plugins and integrations.
The winner is … are you ready? Yes, it’s WordPress! I know – predictable, but WordPress is king at this having by far the most options when it comes to other blogging platforms. The runner-up however is a new favorite of mine, SquareSpace. Their blogging platform is pretty solid and provides integration with various third-party services and apps such as a Shopify e-shop, calendars, recipes and more.
5. Are there enough themes to work with for designing your blog?
Creating your blog will most likely be easier if you have a wide selection of themes and resources to choose from when it comes to design and customization. I recommend taking a look at a few theme marketplaces such as Envato Market and then searching for WordPress, Blogger or Tumblr themes and looking at the results. Sort by the themes with the most positive reviews and take some time to look at their specifications and also the comments other people posted. This will help you better evaluate the must have features of a theme and get a better understanding of what you will need.
Most of these themes have demo versions so you can get a real feel of how the information will be displayed on a live website. I have bought a few themes on EnvatoMarket so far and both had a 12 month support and a big knowledge base of step by step guides to setting up your theme, which proved very useful. You may also get the option to purchase additional support for just a little bit extra, but that may go a long way if you are new to implementing a theme.
6. Do it yourself or ask for help from a professional?
The best advice for this is to really listen to your gut feeling and your skills! There are a few ways to go about it and it really depends on your skills and know-how.
- If you have some HTML and computer experience you can definitely set up your blogging platform by yourself if it comes to WordPress, Blogger or Wix. Blogs like Squarespace and Tumblr are probably the easiest to setup and you don’t really need to have technical skills.
- You can also take a look at YouTube tutorials and follow the instructions from your server provider. In most cases when it comes to installing a blogging theme, you might even find setup services that you can pay for to get everything up and running. EnvatoMarket has this and probably other theme marketplaces as well.
- On the other hand, if you do decide you are in a bit over your head, you can try hiring a few hours of blogging implementation support from freelancers on UpWork. Just by searching the name of your blogging platform.
We hope these tips will come in handy for choosing the blogging platform that will fit you best! Stay tuned for more resources on how to be a better blogger!