In fact, blogging is one of the most effective ways for large and small businesses to generate new leads that convert into sales and revenue.
There are countless success stories of entrepreneurs and businesses turning their ideas into multimillion-dollar enterprises via blogging, although there are other reasons for starting a blog in 2021.
The best part is that anyone can start blogging for free.
There are dozens of free blogging sites, and even free web hosts, but not all platforms are created equal and some offer better opportunities for growth, exposure, and monetization.
While self-hosted blogs require a unique domain and hosting company, they do offer huge advantages over even the best free blog sites.
Check out our detailed comparison guide to the best blogging sites to find the right platform for your new website!
- What Is a Blogging Platform?
- Why Use a Blogging Platform?
- How To Choose A Blogging Platform
- Best Free Blogging Sites
What Is a Blogging Platform?
A blogging platform is simply a piece of software that lets you publish your posts without having to set up a website on your own. It is a kind of content management system that lets you take control of what you publish.
One of the key points here is that you don’t need to be a technical expert to use a platform like this. There is no need to be able to write code or design web pages. The setup is easy and intuitive to carry out.
You will typically be able to add content to your blog in a word processor type setting. Adding images and videos is also very easy to do. So, how does a blogging platform differ from a traditional website? The truth is that the differences between websites and blogs have narrowed a lot in recent years.
It is no longer the case that websites are formal, static sites compared to informal, constantly changing blogs. However, there are still some powerful reasons for using a specific blogging platform to get your blog off the ground rather than using a more traditional website.
We will look a bit more at the basics behind these platforms and then at a few of the best options around now.
Why Use a Blogging Platform?
Can you start blogging without using a blogging platform? Yes, but you should take the following points into account before making your decision:
- Cost. Setting up a website and getting it hosted can be an expensive business, especially if you lack the technical skills to do the work yourself. Many of the best blogging platforms are free to use or only charge a relatively small amount.
- Ease of use. Anyone can use a blogging platform and start publishing content in no time at all. If you can use a word processor like Microsoft Word then you will be able to use a blogging platform. This means that you can concentrate on what you write rather than worrying about technical matters.
- Presentation. It is worth pointing out that blogs are usually presented in a way that makes sense to the reader. This is because the latest posts appear first. It is also easy for you divide your individual articles into categories to make it easier for readers to find exactly what they are after.
- Lots of help and support. When you build your own website you will either be on your own or relying on the people who did the work for you. On the other hand, with a blogging platform you get a lot of help and support to make life easier. The most popular platforms have a strong online community as well as their own support teams.
- Range of add-ons and plugins. Many bloggers are perfectly happy with the basic package offered on their chosen platform. However, there is also the option of using add-ons for a more personalized experience. This includes the likes of anti-spam, SEO optimization and password plugins to increase security.
How To Choose A Blogging Platform
Below is a comparison of the top free blogging platforms, details of their pros and cons, and why they’re the best free blog sites.
To be comprehensive, we reviewed WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, Wix.com, Weebly, and Squarespace, respectively.
If, after reviewing our comparison chart, you decide that WordPress is the best blog platform for your needs, check out our tutorial to set up your own blog.
What to Look For
The features covered in the last points give us a good idea of what to look for in a blogging platform. If you find a platform with good support and lots of useful plugins then you will feel happier giving it a go.
What other issues should you look out for as well? The following are a few of the things that will help you to make a sound decision:
- A good blogging platform won’t let you down. Few things are worse for a busy blogger than finding that their blog is down for hours a time. Check what other users say about its reliability before you take the plunge and start using one of these platforms.
- Nice designs. You will want an attractive, welcoming blog that encourages people to explore it. The top blogging platforms offer a range of designs for you to choose from.
- Cost. As mentioned previously, you can choose from both free and paid platforms. The cost is, therefore, likely to be a factor in your decision. Will you find a platform that is good enough for you to consider paying extra to use it?
- Hosting. Do you want a hosted platform that makes your life easier or would you prefer to self-host to get more control? Some platforms offers both options, while others only give you one possibility.
- Can you grow your blog on here? Most bloggers start off modestly but have big dreams for the future. If your site gains popularity and is a real success then you need a platform that can help you to grow. Moving to a different solution in the future is a messy business if you don’t make the right decision at the start.
Overall, it’s a good idea to go through a few other people’s blogs to see which ones catch your eye. Are there certain designs that appeal to you and that you think would be right for your own blog?
If so, then check what platform they are using.
Best Free Blog Sites
How hot is WordPress? Well, 1 in 6 websites in the world run on it, making it the most popular blogging platform.
In addition to being a great free publishing tool and search-engine friendly content management system (CMS), WordPress works for everyone from amateur bloggers to large-scale businesses primarily because it offers a vast array of paid and free custom themes and plugins.
This makes WordPress highly flexible, scalable, user-friendly, and search engine optimized. In my opinion, WordPress is the best blogging software available, and I build my sites exclusively on this platform.
As a user, you have the option of building a blog at WordPress.com (not recommended) or creating a self-hosted WordPress blog on your own server and domain using WordPress.org (highly recommended).
WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org – Why You Should Buy Hosting
If you’re interested in ever making money blogging, offering freelance services, or turning your blog into a business, then you absolutely need to pay for web hosting. Thanks to the wide array of customization options, it’s simply the best blogging platform out there.
With a self-hosted WordPress blog, you can make money by setting up banner ads, inserting affiliate links, selling products, creating online courses, or any other way you want to monetize your blog.
You have complete control of your website, including design, functionality, and user experience.
If you want to be taken seriously as a blogger and have the potential to earn a part or full-time income blogging, starting a self-hosted WordPress blog is the way to go, and that requires making a small investment in hosting
Fortunately, I’ve personally negotiated a special 40% off discount with BlueHost so your hosting costs can be as low as $2.95 per month and you get a free domain too.
Check out my tutorial to learn how to start a WordPress blog and become a legitimate blogger.
- Flexibility. You can run anything on WordPress, ranging from a food or mommy blog to an e-commerce store selling products, gifts or jewelry.
- Price. The WordPress software is free and you only pay server and domain costs.
- Reliability. WordPress has a team constantly updating its software and security.
- Variety and Customization. WordPress is open-source, therefore encouraging developers to build thousands of custom themes and plugins. Because of this, WordPress is almost completely customizable.
- Hosting. To get the most out of WordPress and its features, you must host it on your server. This adds domain and blog hosting costs, but if you plan on making money online as a blogger or freelancer, a self-hosted WordPress site is a great long-term investment.
- Coding. Sometimes customization demands a little coding, although you can have a beautiful WordPress site right out of the box. After all, WP does have over 3,000 designs to choose from.
The Bottom Line:
If you want to start a blog with a clean, professional design, WordPress offers the best combination of tools.
While there is a learning curve, not all blogging platforms are as intuitive and powerful as WordPress. You can either build a site from scratch, or choose a free or premium theme to get started.
Just remember that, to really make money online as a blogger, you must pay a hosting provider and create a self-hosted WordPress blog. That means using WordPress.org over WordPress.com. If you’re a business owner, or you’re serious about blogging, WordPress is the obvious choice.
One of the first blogging platforms, Blogger was formerly known as BlogSpot. This Google-owned service is most popular among casual bloggers who write or share online for fun.
Blogger is best-known for its instant setup and easy-to-use system. However, the number of blogs I come across that are still on Blogger seem to be dwindling, as many migrate over to WordPress to unlock additional functionality.
Each user can register up to 100 blogs here, so it’s suitable for someone who wants to try their hand with a few different blogs. One advantage over WordPress is that you can use your own custom domain name for free, which is something that WordPress charges for.
This is one of the longest-running blogging platforms, as it has been around since 1999. Google bought out the company behind it (Pyra Labs) in 2003. Since being bought by Google it has had both Picasa and Hello integrated into it, making it easier to add photos.
The fact that Blogger is part of Google brings some other benefits too. For example, it is possible to earn money more easily on here because it supports Google’s AdSense.
An opinion held by some bloggers is that this is a good platform for getting started with. However, as a blog grows it may make sense to switch to WordPress.
- Stability. Blogger.com has been around long enough that it is very stable, especially with Google’s support. It’s also very secure.
- Monetization. Making money via Google AdSense is easy thanks to its simple integration.
- Simplicity. It’s a very simple platform to understand, even for beginners with no experience.
- No Customization. What you see is what you get, and you can’t customize Blogger even if you change the back-end code. It’s also tough to set up your blog with your own domain name.
- Lack of Style. Themes and designs on Blogger are limited, and there are no plugins for additional functionality or features.
- Lack of Support. There is little community support on Blogger in contrast to the larger developer community on WordPress. It is not updated very often with new features.
The Bottom Line:
If you’re looking for a platform to share your written thoughts but do not want to pay for the flexibility of hosting your own blog, I recommend Blogger.com. It’s one of the best free blogging sites for casual bloggers and you’ll have a blog setup within 15 minutes.Just be mindful that changing your mind later and converting your blog to a self-hosted WordPress site will cause hardship.
Joomla is often compared to WordPress, as it is also an open source content management system. It is a self-hosted blogging platform. What that means is that you will need to arrange a domain name and web hosting for your blog.
Their own site says that they are “trusted by millions”. The limited figures available suggest that it is the second most widely used content management system for bloggers, behind WordPress. Joomla has been downloaded 88 million times since being launched in 2005.
This is a highly versatile system as you can use it to create all manner of different blogs or websites. There are many varied templates that you can use to design your blog with Joomla.
In addition, you can also add extensions that give you access to more useful features. However, it should be noted that there are far fewer options with this platform than with WordPress.
Another potential drawback for bloggers is that it can be tricky to get support. In most cases, you will have to rely on reaching out to the community of users to find solutions to any problems that run into.
If you aren’t technically minded or experienced in running a website then you may worry about feeling as though you are out on a limb. The platform is generally easy to use but you could struggle if you run into any problems.
In addition, you will only want to use Joomla if you are comfortable managing your own security issues, updates and backups. The platform itself is free but you will need to pay for a domain and hosting if you are going to run your blog using this service.
- Range of themes and extensions to choose
- Free to use
- Highly versatile
- Need to arrange own domain and hosting
- Can be difficult to find support.
Tumblr differs to the likes of WordPress and Blogger in that it is a micro-blogging platform with a strong social media side. However, it does also have a number of elements in common with those other platforms.
Figures from the end the 2017 showed there were over 375 million blogs on Tumblr. In early 2016 traffic was reported to be 555 million visitors each month. It was bought by Yahoo in 2013 and then moved into the hands of Verizon Communication in 2017.
Among the most interesting things about Tumblr is the social network aspect. This gives you features that allow you to follow other blogs, reblog their posts and share content easily using built-in tools.
Tumblr is an especially powerful way of quickly blogging multimedia such as videos, images and GIFs. The platform offers a fair number of different themes that can be used to give your blog exactly the look that you’re after. You can also opt to add themes and apps from a third party developer if you prefer.
However, it should be pointed out that it has a fairly limited number of features, which may prove frustrating if you want to grow your blog over time. Some blog owners find that they need to move from Tumblr on to something like WordPress or Blogger after a while. However, it is quite tricky to do this.
Tumblr is free to use although you can pay to use a custom domain if you prefer. Once you are set up you use a dashboard to control everything, with a live feed of the blogs that you are following on it.
From this dashboard it is possible to add comments or likes, as well as reblog. You can also upload your own posts from here and connect it to social media sites.
This is a good option for a certain type of blogger; one who wants to use the power of social media and is interested in posting multimedia as well as text articles
And one of the most attractive parts of Tumblr are the totally free plans. But keep in mind, Tumblr is closer to a social media platform than a website builder.
- Easy To Start and Post. When it comes to ease of use, you can’t beat Tumblr. You can start a Tumblr blog in less than 5 minutes, and all you have to do to publish something is pick your post-type (image, video, link, or text), input your content and click “Publish”.
- Multiple Blog Management. Tumblr’s basic Control Panel makes managing multiple blogs effortless.
- Themes Options. Tumblr has a huge array of beautiful themes to choose from.
- Mobile Friendly. The Tumblr blogging platform is mobile friendly via dedicated smartphone apps, supporting a blogger’s desire to post on-the-go using SMS, email, or audio message.
- Not Optimized For Text or Writing. Tumblr’s design is so highly visual that text-heavy blogging is discouraged. If you are interested in building a high traffic website focused on written content, Tumblr should be your last choice. Otherwise, Tumblr can be a great choice for a humor blog utilizing memes, images and/or videos.
- Security. Tumblr lacks good caching and anti-virus plugins. This can result in a slow loading or hacked site.
- Devalued Content. Tumblr’s heavy emphasis on sharing tends to devalue original content found in more traditional blogs, especially textual content.
The Bottom Line:
Tumblr is the best free blog site for casual bloggers who specialize in visual content (humor, photography, food, art, etc.) and have no interest in looking professional.
Wix is one of the top contenders to WordPress when it comes to ease-of-use and functionality. With the drag-and-drop interface, users can construct a beautiful website from scratch in mere minutes. It also comes with templates that can help new users create a well-composed and presentable site.
Just like WordPress, Wix also has the functionality needed to build just about any site. It even has eCommerce support — perfect for small business owners and independent sellers. For beginner’s looking to quickly launch a site, this platform is a great option.
- Easy to Use: User-friendly drag and drop functionality that makes creating basic websites quick and easy
- Free option: Wix has a free option that will help get you started and allows you to test the platform before purchasing a package. This does not include the ability to use your own domain, and requires that you run their ads on your site.
- Great templates: Packages come loaded with pre-built templates, saving you time and letting you focus on growing your business.
- Automatic backups: Wix automatically creates backup points for your website that you can restore any time.
- Pricing: Wix is easy to use, but that comes at a price. The cheapest ad-free option is $14 per month.
- Functionality: Started templates are great, but for additional modifications there isn’t much flexiblity. If you’re cool playing within a limited framework, Wix is for you. But if you are looking for a high level of customization, we’d suggest going with self-hosted WordPress.
- Site Speed: Like the functionality, there is only so much you can do with a Wix site in terms of site speed. The sites are quick enough, but they could be better. Your hands are tied with what you can do to actually speed up your site.
The Bottom Line:
In my experience as a digital and advertising matchmaker, the most popular no/low cost website builder is Wix. I’ve seen many agencies and early-stage companies use Wix and benefit from it’s low-cost/high-value ratio. It’s not for everyone (you’re “leasing” a hosting website that is template-based), but it’s fast, cheap and good enough for many.
Weebly is another easy-to-use option for aspiring site owners with no technical background.
With its intuitive drag-and-drop site builder, you can build professional-looking blogs and websites in no time. If you want to go deeper into customization, you can also access and modify the design codes of your site.
Just like SquareSpace and Wix, Weebly also has eCommerce functionality. It also offers a selection of pre-configured themes for business websites, online portfolios, personal blogs, and event websites.
- Easy to use: Weebly is one of the easiest website builders to use. The entire service is geared towards beginner bloggers and website owners, so you can expect the entire process of building a site to be as user-friendly and friction less as possible.
- Template Library: Weebly’s site builder is loaded with tons of templates and themes that are ready for use. These resources make launching a new site quick, leaving you to simply swap out text, pictures, and wording.
- Weebly Mobile App: One cool thing about Weebly is that they offer a mobile app build. This sets them apart from most other website builders. You can build an iOS and Android app using a similar drag and drop builder as you would if you were building a website. You can also work offiline using this builder.
- Free plans don’t get a domain: As you would expect, the free option that Weebly offers does not come with a domain. If you’d like to connect a domain to your free account, it’ll be an extra charge. The company’s pricing isn’t cheap.
- Limited functionality: Weebly websites are limited in functionality. Like with Wix, you must play within the CMS and plugins that the company offers. Free is good, but if you need extra plugins and control, we’d suggest WordPress.
- Customer service comes at a price: Free plans come with limited support. If you’re looking for live chat or phone support, think again. Free Weebly hosting plans have access to FAQs and their help center, but that’s it.
The Bottom Line:
Weebly is a great option for people looking to quickly throw together a website. If you’re a small business owner and simply need an online presence with minimal effort, we’d suggest checking it out. But if you’re a blogger looking to grow an audience or a business owner looking to drive leads through your website, we’d highly suggest taking the time to learn WordPress or paying to build a site the right way from the start.
SquareSpace is often compared with Wix due to their similarities. When it comes to site creation, both platforms offer a drag-and-drop website builder. Both also has eCommerce support and all the tools necessary to build an online store without writing a single line of code.
However, when Wix and Squarespace are compared side by side, SquareSpace has a bit more depth. It also has a built-in analytics dashboard to help users optimize their site over time. The only downside is that it is not as easy or flexible as Wix regarding design and customization.
- Templates and Designs: Squarespace’s website builder comes standard with pre-built templates and designs for you to use. This makes designing easy without having to create things from scratch if you don’t want to do so.
- Support: Unlike most free blogging platforms, Squarespace provides users on the free plan with support options like live chat. Their support reps know what they are doing and make getting help quick and easy.
- Page Speed: The speed of websites on Squarespace could be drastically improved. While you shouldn’t expect a high-performing blog from a free blogging platform, you should be able to expect decent enough speeds, or at least the ability to speed them up yourself using plugins and optimization. This is one area Squarespace should improve.
The Bottom Line:
Squarespace is high on my recommendations in the drag and drop website builder category. Its natively designed templates are very stable and meticulously engineered and can be adapted to suit almost any business need. The emphasis on great design removes the need to hire a separate web designer. Though there is a slight learning curve required to get the most out of the platform, once you master it you’ll use Squarespace for everything.-
The options above are some of my favorite free blogging sites in 2021. But I also know of a few that you might not think of.
There are plenty of ways to make money blogging online. It doesn’t matter if you are strictly an online marketer, a site owner or even a blogger… the principles are always the same. Someone is going to need to buy something for the business model to work!
It doesn’t matter if you are pushing a free dating offer and getting paid for it, or making money by pushing visitors to Amazon.com… at the end of the day, people need to spend money for other people to make money.
In the world of blogging many of us are making money by creating our own digital products or selling advertising on our sites. One method for making money online that most of us might not be considering is the option to create an online store and sell products. If you don’t want to hold any inventory of your own, then dropshipping is also an option.
The problem for many people is that that they don’t know where to get started or even how to set an online store up. I was in this same place several years ago when I started an online store of my own. I actually went through a bunch of different services and wasn’t happy with many of their backends.
I recently came across Shopify.com and they have been working on some pretty cool stuff. I’ve seen their name around for a while, but after looking deeper into what they have going on, I wish they were around when I was running my previous store.
To get a better idea of what they offer and how easy it is to setup a store using their platform, check out the quick 58 second video below.
What I like most about Shopify is that you don’t need to worry about coding and getting your hands messy to create a site. They already have 50,000+ customers and over 100 different templates for you to choose from.
“But that’s for e-commerce,” I hear you say. Not really. Shopify has some pretty amazing options, and it helps that they’re capable of taking potential customers’ financial details in case you ever want to expand your business and sell merchandise. You won’t pay the same bill as someone who actually sells products and everything is practically plug-and-play.
Medium and Quora
Although Medium is not as robust as WordPress regarding functionality, it is a very promising platform for simple blogging. Design-wise, the platform can make your blog as beautiful as possible when viewed across multiple devices. It also offers bloggers a clean workspace so they can channel all their focus on content creation.
Just take note that, as a free-hosted platform, you need to use a separate service if you want to register and use your domain. However, users still have no control whatsoever on how the platform looks or works.
What does each site look like? Quora. Medium. 100% of branding is for Quora and Medium because Quora owns Quora and Medium owns Medium.
You own nothing on these sites because you use each free platform as a free user, having zero branding power, virtually no monetizing potential, and no potential for any genuine growth if you attempt to blog on either platform.
100% of the time, anybody who needs blogging tips visits my blog over trawling through blogs on Medium and Quora. Who in their right mind looks for a blog on a free platform for the most respected, trusted, credible, timely information on that topic?
This would be like being a massive sports nut who visit the sports blog category of Quora for the latest, greatest sports news. Of course, no sports fan would do that! All real sports fans religiously follow espn.com because the brand and branded website inspires us to trust the site, and, the brand, through the professional presentation of the site.
Why do you waste time blogging on Quora and Medium? Fear. Fear of losing aka spending aka investing money on a domain and hosting. Fear of wasting time on a hosted platform, for the significant time and energy you need to put into running a self-hosted blog, before you see any financial return.
Face that fear. Release that fear. Proceed from a generous, genuine energy guaranteed to goad you to invest money in a domain and hosting for your self-hosted WordPress blog.
Not Blogging Anyway
Newsflash; technically, you are not even blogging on Quora or Medium because you are a user on a free website 100% branded for Quora or Medium. You are a USER on each site using a blog function but no way in Hades do you blog because the only bloggers in the world own their website, own their blog, and flat out pay for their domain and hosting. If you own the site, you are a blogger.
If you do not own the site, you are not a blogger, because you are a website user on a free platform using a blogging function. Again; observe my home page above. Click my link. Look around.
Quora and Medium users are 50 billion light years away from my blog because my blog is branded, one of a kind, and, my blog is me. Nothing on earth looks like my blog because my blog is tailored for the Blogging From Paradise brand.
Any user using the blog platform on Quora or Medium simply promotes the Quora or Medium brand because the blogging function is 100% branded for Quora or Medium. Why brand each site when you can buy your domain and hosting, and brand yourself?
You can actually succeed and live your dreams on a self-hosted platform. Not so, attempting to blog on Quora and/or Medium.
Best Blog Sites
Ultimately, when comparing WordPress vs Blogger vs Tumblr, WordPress’s software provides the best value.
There are many reasons a majority of bloggers choose to start a blog with WP – it offers the best combination of features, design, flexibility, power, and user-friendliness. Blogger and Tumblr are easy to use, but they lack the features and customization choices of WordPress.