What’s the best blogging platform for 2020 and beyond? That depends on your skill level, needs, and long-term expectations. This guide can help you decide. It’s for anyone who wants to start a blog using a Content Management System (CMS) or drag and drop website builder.
This page looks at all the popular blogging tools so that you can pick the platform which meets your needs. Keep in mind how you plan to blog and interact with the visitors to your site.
Online interaction could be comments, chat rooms, forums, polls, surveys, and more. There are other considerations, too, such as domain names (site name) and web hosting. The average cost of a domain is between $12–$14 per year, depending on where you shop. And the price of hosting can vary from a few dollars a month to triple digits.
Blogging options for beginners
Feel free to skip to the reviews for the 7 most popular blogging platforms if you’re a seasoned blogger. Or, keep reading if you’re new to it all. The reviews will then make better sense, and you’ll be able to decide on a product with more confidence.
What is a blog—exactly?
A blog or weblog is an online, often personal, journal of someone’s life and interests. When a blogger publishes new material, it’s called a post. Blog posts display in chronological order with the latest always at the top.
Posts go into categories so that visitors can easily search through older entries. The structure of a simple blog has a header, main content area, a sidebar, and a footer. Blog structures vary now, but the example here is how a traditional blog page layout looks.
Today’s blogs are not only personal journals to share with others. Now, there are also business blogs, some of which make a sizable income for their owners. Know your reasons for blogging as you choose a software solution for your project.
Popular blog topics
Popular blogs are those that cover trending subjects and issues. But even dull topics presented in a fun way can attract a considerable following. Thus, the blogger is as vital as the blog.
Some examples of popular blog topics include—though not limited to—the following:
- Fashion & style
- Food, especially cooking tips, diets, and healthy eating
- All things music
- DIY (Do It Yourself)
- Health & fitness
- Living and lifestyles
- Travel & adventure
- Sports & action
Bloggers who get the largest followings are those who update regularly. Also, their posts have eye-catching images, videos, and ways for visitors to interact.
Blog vs. website, what’s the difference?
It’s a good question. The simple answer is that there’s little difference now due to the structure of both. Most blogs looked like the example above only ten years ago, but not anymore. Weblogs usually have new content posted regularly. Websites tend to be more static, though. Still, even static sites may include a blog section or a user forum to provide extra value for visitors.
How to choose your blogging platform
It helps to have some clear ideas for why you want to blog. Create a list if you’re still unsure and brainstorm your intentions if you’re new. The blogging platform you choose must offer most or all that you need to succeed.
Below are the primary considerations for first-time bloggers. Add anything else you can think of.
- Free or fee-based web builders?
- Options to monetize
- Overall usability and novice-friendly features
- Safety and security
- Customization and scalability
Let’s go over the above points in more detail.
Free vs. fee-based blogs
Decide on a budget—or none—before you decide to create a blog. It’s entirely possible to publish an online blog for nothing. A 100% free blog means there are no costs, and that includes free themes, web hosting, and a domain name. WordPress.com is a perfect example of a no-fee online blog. Other free blogging platforms don’t include domain names or hosting as part of the package.
Points to note: You don’t have total control or ownership of a 100% free blog.
Options to monetize
Monetizing your online blog may not be something you’re thinking about right now. But you could change your mind if your project starts to see high visitor numbers as the blog grows. Thus, you may want to opt for software that lets you display ads, add affiliate links, or sell products. The 100% free platforms like WordPress.com (different from WordPress.org) don’t let you do this.
Usability and novice-friendly features
Be mindful of features and functions. No blogger or webmaster ever complains that their site is too easy to manage and maintain. User-friendly editors and tools are especially important to new and inexperienced builders. The best software has an intuitive content management system or CMS. Or, you may opt for a What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) editor with drag-and-drop capability.
Safety and security
Hackers do target blogs and websites, but most victims are those who are vulnerable. The biggest problem is with user ignorance or laziness. For example, they use weak passwords or don’t bother to update critical software. Some platforms are known to malicious actors for being easy to exploit.
All the products reviewed here are safe and secure if the blogger maintains them. Make sure you consider safety and security if you decide on a program outside of this guide.
Customization and scalability
All blogging platforms have some customization choices, but they’re not all equal. And not all software is scalable, or it may have a lot of restrictions. Don’t overlook customization and scalability. The blog you build today is unlikely to look or function the same way in the future. Think long term if you’re serious about this. Thus, it’s better to have too many functions and features than not enough.
7 Best blogging platforms Today
Below are 7 mini-reviews for the best blogging platforms in 2020. There are a few others worth considering, but these are among the favorites at the time of writing.
The 2020 best blogging programs are:
The first three are the most well-known, but competition is now rife across all the major players.
#1 WordPress.org for bloggers
Released: May 27, 2003 | Price: $0.00 | Includes hosting/domain: No | User base: 75,000,000
WordPress (WP) | What bloggers like
There are over 75M WordPress (WP) users globally, and not only because it’s free. It takes less than 15 minutes to download and even less time to install. Moreover, WP is a stable, secure content management system (CMS). It sports simple menus, buttons, and an impressive new editor called Gutenberg. Users can choose from 7,540+ themes and more than 50,000 plugins.
Search engines love WordPress, and there are plenty of plugins to enhance SEO further. WP users can now build and customize a blog or website with zero skills or knowledge of code. However, there’s a learning curve if you decide to exploit the more advanced features. Finally, the vast global WordPress community keeps things fresh, updated, and supports users.
Tried and tested platform
Search engines love WordPress
Customizable and highly scalable
Thousands of plugins and themes
Open source software
Bloggers can monetize WP
Global support community
You can spend a fair bit on extras
Web hosting and domain are extra costs
User must update software regularly
A magnet for malicious actors
Most site owners continually look for new and exciting ways to make their blogs even better. But WYSIWYG site builders only have so many tools, templates, and apps to experiment with. A project built using WordPress.org has zero restrictions, so there are no limits on where you can take it. For these reasons, WordPress continues to be the favored platform for millions of bloggers.
#2 WIX (windows installer XML) for bloggers
Released: 2006 | Price: Free and fee | Includes hosting/domain: Optional | User base: 180,000,000
WIX | What bloggers like
Wix’s popularity has exploded in recent years. Over 180M users across 190 countries now use it as their preferred blogging platform. The reason is because it’s now the easiest of all the website builders to use bar none. It’s an excellent choice for those who want to monetize their projects. Best of all is that you can be up and running with a brand-new site in no time.
The Wix toolset has over 300 templates (themes) and 200+ apps (plugins) and growing. One of the neat features is the free interactive forum. Forums can be an excellent way to engage with blog visitors. Wix also built SEO features into its platform to serve computers and mobile devices. They include rapid load times, fast indexing, secure hosting, Robots.txt files, and more.
Wix toolset | Premium vs. free plan
New bloggers have more than enough tools and features with the free plan. You can always upgrade if the time comes when you need a little more of everything.
There are four Wix premium services, and paid subscribers get seven extra benefits:
- Users can add a custom domain
- No Wix ads on your pages
- 500+ MB of storage
- 1GB+ bandwidth
- Online payments (business premium)
- Faster, 24/7 VIP support
- Includes Google analytics
Flexible platform, easy to use and maintain
Intuitive drag-n-drop interface
An impressive choice of apps
Option to animate text
Artificial design intelligence (ADI)
Priced plans are a tad expensive
Not easy to change templates
Slowish load times on some mobile devices
#3 Blogger by Google
Released: August 23, 1999 | Price: $0.00 | Includes hosting/domain: Yes | User base: Unknown
Blogger aka Blogspot | What bloggers like
Blogger by Google was once the be-all and end-all of free blogging software. It’s got a lot of competition today, but don’t write it off yet. It’s a perfect practice platform for anyone who wants to experiment with blogging. To start, simply log in here with a free Google account. You click New Blog from within the interface, give it a name, choose a URL, and save. That’s it, you’re good to go.
Designing and publishing blogs could not be simpler. Adding new pages, editing, and site maintenance is child’s play. There are various templates (themes) and gadgets to customize your project. Blogger blogs display well across all popular browsers, i.e., Chrome, Firefox, MS Edge, and Safari. Google owns Blogger, and that makes it’s safer and more secure than most self-hosted sites.
There are no hosting or domain fees for a free blogger account. However, you can add a custom domain if you want to. Users can even monetize their blogs using Google AdSense ads. The table below highlights Blogger’s pros and cons.
100% free blog publishing platform
Super-easy to use with little to learn
Range of templates with flexible layouts
Feature-rich for an all-free platform
Preinstalled SSL certificate
Protected by Google’s secure platform
Can make money with ads
Tools and customization restrictions
Low-average third-party templates
Google can delete your precious blog at any time
#4 Medium blogging platform
Released: August 15, 2012 | Price: $0.00 | Includes hosting/domain: Yes | User base: 85–100M
Medium | What bloggers like
Medium is another 100% free online blog publishing platform. It’s an interactive program for writers, readers, experts, and journalists. It’s unique compared to other blogging software in that it’s more of a social network than a personal blog. New users can start to publish their articles the moment they create an account. Medium is sure to add new features over time to widen its appeal further.
Some bloggers like Medium as there’s nothing to set up (build). Moreover, it connects you to existing online communities that share similar interests. The large and growing audience base is one of the platform’s main attractions. Others WILL interact with you if your published content is good enough.
Free to use; includes hosting & domain
Simple to use with intuitive CMS
Content displays well for readers
Large and still growing user-base
Option to embed tweets and video
Decent mobile app
Built-in word counter
Inline discussions and comments
Content accessible to Medium members only
Medium has the power to close your account
Little control over display and design
#5 SQUARESPACE blogging platform
Released: 2003 | Price starts: $12/Mo. | Includes hosting/domain: Yes | User base: 1,800,000
SQUARESPACE | What bloggers like
Squarespace is not free to use, but it is popular. There’s nothing to download, and new users get hosting and a domain as part of the deal. The learning curve is steeper than some platforms, but don’t let that put you off. Even a novice can create a beautiful website in a few hours from the drag-and-drop interface. The 100+ templates, snippets, and features are outstanding.
Blogging features include categories, comments, and the option to add an RSS feed. Users can log in to their blog from anywhere with a connected computer, laptop, or mobile device. Not all Squarespace features are accessible from the latter, though.
Squarespace includes free SSL certificates with its own and third-party domains. That gives you peace of mind with your blog’s security. SSL is vital if you plan to monetize your blog with an online store and process payments directly. Lastly, Squarespace support gets lots of positive feedback from its members. There’s also a useful Squarespace Community Forum.
Outstanding template and designs
Free 14-day trial period
Manage your site on the go
Four mobile apps
In-depth help guides and video tutorials
Ideal for amateurs and professionals
Support and community forum
Not free, but exceptional value
Learning curve is a tad on the steep side
Page speeds not as good as some rivals
#6 Weebly Blogging Platform
Released: September 2006 | Price: $0.00 | Includes hosting/domain: Yes | User base: 12,000,000
Weebly | What bloggers like
Anyone who wants to build a blog fast and with minimal fuss should consider Weebly. It’s a beginner-friendly drag-and-drop site-builder with a bunch of useful blogging tools. This platform is free for basic use, and that includes blog hosting and a domain name. For advanced features, there are fee-based pricing plans, i.e., Connect, Pro, and Business.
New users can create stunning interactive blogs, websites, and online stores with ease. You can also build, edit, and maintain projects from mobile devices using iOS and Android apps. Weebly blogs and sites display correctly on iPhones, iPads, and all popular smartphones. The beautiful templates are available in modern, classic, and minimalist designs.
There’s one downside, though. That is, Weebly lacks the flexibility of a WordPress.org site. That’s why new users should consider any future plans for their blog before committing.
Weebly’s security features include password-protected pages and SSL certificates for eCommerce sites. It has an handy and active Community Forum to support members.
Free basic plans, paid plans available
Easy to create sites; quick to customize
Build and maintain via mobile devices
Click, drag-and-drop site builder
Weebly app center (third-party apps available)
Active community support forums
Some users may find it lacks flexibility
No custom domain with the basic plan
All the best features come at a price
#7 Tumblr Blogging Platform
Released: February 19, 2007 | Price: $0.00 | Includes hosting/domain: Yes | User base: 475,000,000
Tumblr | What bloggers like
Tumblr is an excellent choice for casual bloggers. Users can post a variety of content from within its user-friendly drag-n-drop dashboard. It’s super-easy to manage multiple accounts. There’s tracking for likes, comments, and re-postings of your blogs. Tumblr themes and customization tools keep everything neat and straightforward. Advanced users can customize their blogs with HTML editing.
The Tumblr platform supports text, images, links, chat, video, audio, and other media. Another neat function is that you can get it to auto-post to Twitter and Facebook. Other standout features include tagging, post scheduling, inbox, and messaging. Tumblr provides SSL security for its themes.
The downside to this platform is that it has limitations at the basic editing level. Those who want more flexibility and full control will have to buy custom themes and a custom domain. Tumblr support comes with two options. One is the all-new support forum; the other is via an online ticket system. There’s no longer e-mail support, which was pretty non-existent anyway.
100% free to use
Easy to manage multiple blogs
Lots of giveaway templates
Ability to comment, re-blog, and like posts
Auto-posts to Twitter & Facebook
Custom domain option
Inbox & messaging
Lacks in-depth analytics
Support response is notoriously slow
Modem blogging platforms offer several ways for bloggers to publish content online. Some are readymade and ready to go. Others let you build unique blogs for free, while others offer paid plans at different levels. The best blogging platform for you is the one that checks all your boxes. But if you want full control and ZERO restrictions, then WordPress is by far the best option.
It’s easier to decide once you know what you want your blog to look like and how you need it to function. Consider costs, customization options, and any limitations before you buy anything.