Blogging can be a great way to kill some serious time in a more productive way, express and share your ideas and thoughts with everyone, build authority on the internet, connect and network with other people from all over the globe, and of course, earn some money while doing it!
One of the great things about blogging is that you don’t really need a large investment to get started. In fact, setting up and starting a blog doesn’t cost anything at all, if you choose one of the many free blogging platforms out there.
You could, of course, take the self-hosted route: buy a domain, web hosting, and run and manage your own blog. But to be honest, it can be a bit (or a lot) of hassle when it comes to hosting your own blog – you have to manage the hosting, manage the CMS, and develop all aspects of your blog your own self.
Which is a lot to do for the non-techy, or people who simply want a blog to speak their minds or get the word out about something.
And that is where free blogging platforms come in! Here are 5 of the best:
Easily, the best free blogging platform on this list, all things considered (well, at least in my opinion!). WordPress is absolutely fantastic: its free, its loaded with features, it’s very popular (for good reason) – it has a large community of developers working on theme and plugin development (among other things), built-in blog stats, easy integration with social mediums, easy post, page and comment management, is very secure, and to top it all off, WordPress has a brilliant back-end/dashboard/cPanel that is not only quite powerful but also very user-friendly! It takes minutes to sign up for a free blog, get it up and running and be on your way to publishing your very first blog post! All free WordPress blogs come with the extension .wordpress.com, so your blog will look something like YourBlogName.wordpress.com.
2. Blogger (aka BlogSpot)
Blogger is a free blogging platform owned by a little company known as Google All Blogger blogs are hosted on Google’s servers, and in a similar way to WordPress, have a .blogspot.com extension. Blogger, like WordPress, is extremely popular and quite understandably so. In order to get started with Blogger, you need to create a Google account, and setting up a blog takes just a few minutes before you’re taken to your blogger blog’s control panel. Here, you can add and set-up more blogs, and control each blog’s individual settings very easily, such as change elements of the interface (layout and templates), add posts and pages, check stats and tweak other settings. You can also purchase a dotcom domain and add it to your Blogger account if you don’t with the .blogspot.com extension. Two of Blogger’s strengths, when compared to others on this list, is that (a) Blogger blogs tend to rank better on Google (for obvious reasons), and (b) you can integrate Blogger accounts with your AdSense account in order to earn from your blog.
Tumblr has seen an immense rise in popularity, especially recently – it hosts almost a 100 million blogs, and over 44 billion blog posts according to the latest statistics! I wouldn’t exactly call Tumblr a blogging website, as it belongs in the Microblogging category and targets the non-techies out there. But nonetheless, Tumblr allows users to post short blog posts, which can either be text, image or multimedia-based posts (such as an audio/podcast-based blog). Tumblr provides an immense amount of flexibility as far customizability is concerned, and Tumblr blogs are highly-customizable as well – a great variety of themes, free customizable domains, and a whole lot more. You can choose to make your blogs public or private (invitation-based). One of the appeals of Tumblr is that it has a very small learning-curve; a 10 year old could have a blog up and running on Tumblr easily! Tumblr blogs are also said to have a better retention rate than Twitter accounts, which pretty much speaks for itself!
One of the first things that you’ll notice upon opening Blog.com is its similarity with WordPress. Blog.com is powered by WordPress, and hence shares a similar front and back-end with the service. You get access to some really cool and elegant-looking themes and plugins, and pretty much the same usability and functionality that you get with a WordPress blog. In addition, you get 2GB storage space as well (which is less than what your get with WordPress though). Blog.com does shows a lot more ads on blogs hosted on it, however you can pay a small fee in order to get rid of these ads. For me, one of the biggest advantages of using Blog.com is that you get the same amount of features as WordPress, but a better extension (YourBlog.blog.com).
Weebly is free, and provides powerful yet easy-to-use drag-and-drop website builder, which is perhaps its forte! There’s no need to know any technical mumbo-jumbo, and what you have is the ability to build a highly-customized and tailor-made website your own self, within a matter of minutes, all for free! In addition, Weebly also offers powerful cloud-based web hosting, as well as hundreds of themes to choose from. Weebly comes with a great user-friendly control panel, and you can add posts, pages, photos, videos and do just about anything through its intuitive drag-and-drop interface. You can see the complete list of Weebly’s features here.
What would make your list of the best free blogging platforms? Leave your feedback in the comments below!