Are you thinking about starting a blog but you feel overwhelmed by the number of options available when it comes to choosing a blogging platform?
- Which platform is the easiest to use for a beginner?
- How much control do I have?
- Can I use my own domain name?
- Should I use a hosted platform or a self-hosted blogging platform?
- What are the costs?
These are just several questions I'm going to answer to in this post.
Hosted vs Self-Hosted Blogging Platforms
There are probably hundreds of hosted and self-hosted blogging platforms and services.
However, we need a blogging script that we can install on your web host. Therefore, we are not going to use a hosted platform like wordpress.com, blogger.com or tumblr.com.
What is a self-hosted blogging platform?
A self-hosted platform or script means that you'll have to host the site yourself.
Instead of having your site already hosted and managed by a hosted service, you will have to install, do the maintenance work and optimize your blog by yourself.
I know that sound like extra work, and it really is, but you will see the benefits in the long-run.
Don't worry if you are a beginner or if you have no technical knowledge. Just follow every step in my guide on how to start a WordPress website from scratch, and you will be able to do everything without having to pay an expert to do the work.
Why not a hosted platform?
The answer is simple. Because you want to have full control over your blog.
With many of the hosted platforms, you have different limitations. The most commons are the inability of adding your domain name, limited storage space for your files, cannot save backups of your content and database, you cannot install what templates you want, you don't have access to site's source code, and so on.
You don't want to depend on a platform to tell you what content you are allowed to add to your site, what ads to display, etc.
Most of these hosted platforms are designed for beginners, and it's doubtful to find big companies or well-known bloggers who have their blogs powered by these platforms.
Instead of using a hosted blogging platform, we are going to look for a self-hosted blogging platform.
Popular Blogging Platforms
There are many self-hosted blogging scripts and content management systems (CMS) that you can use. Most of these are free, open source and have been developed for years.
Some of the best candidates are WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Ghost, Typo3, SilverStripe, and ExpressionEngine.
Several of the platforms mentioned above are content management system, but there are also a few that are or have started as blogging platforms.
I won't start a comparison between all these platforms because that could take me a whole day. Instead, I will get straight to the point and reveal my number one choice, which is WordPress.
I use WordPress for years, not only for blogs but also for different niche or presentation sites.
While today WordPress can be considered a full CMS, it has started as a blogging platform, and it's still designed and optimized for blogging.
WordPress.com vs WordPress.org
WordPress is the world's most popular blogging platform. It's used by millions of websites around the world and has two versions: WordPress.com and WordPress.org.
WordPress was first released on May 27, 2003, and it's actively developed since then. The WordPress core code is open source and every web developer can contribute to the development of WordPress.
WordPress.com - is a free hosted blogging platform.
WordPress.com allows every person who wants a blog to start a free blog without any costs. Your blog will have a name like myblog.wordpress.com, where "myblog" will be your chosen name for your blog.
The hosted service also has a few premium plans that give you various options in addition to the benefits of the free plan.
This version also has several limits. Some of the restrictions are unlocked when you upgrade to a higher premium plan, but WordPress.com it's still a service designed for beginner bloggers and for small businesses who want a blog.
For a medium or large business, you will have to use the self-hosted WordPress version.
WordPress.org - is the free self-hosted version of WordPress.
Unlike the WordPress.com service where the technical part of setting up a blog is already taken care for you, for the self-hosted version, you will have to download and install the script on your web hosting server.
That automatically means that you will need a domain name (or a subdomain) and a web hosting plan.
However, with the self-hosted version of WordPress, you will have the full control over your site, including your site's files and database.
This is the WordPress version you'll need for your blog.
Many people who hear about WordPress easily get confused between these two versions. I hope now it's more clear what every version is for.
Below in this post, I will only talk about the self-hosted version of WordPress (WordPress.org) and not about WordPress.com.
Besides the fact that it was actively developed since 2003 and is the most popular platform for blogging, WordPress is free, open source, easily extendable, has a large community of developers and supporters and has various SEO benefits.
Because WordPress core script is intended to be kept as lightweight as possible, there were not added all the possible features in the main script (in fact, that would have been totally crazy, a nightmare to maintain, entirely out of the purpose of WordPress, and impossible). That's why the WordPress plugins were created.
A WordPress plugin is designed to extend or alter the core functionality of WordPress, without of the need of editing the main code.
WordPress has tens of thousands of free and premium plugins. Anything you want to achieve, there are high chances that there's already a plugin for that.
Are you bored of the aspect of your site? Then you can quickly change its theme, and your website will have a new look in no time.
WordPress has a huge number of free and premium themes. With the help of a theme and plugins, you can turn your website from a simple blog, into a Classified Ads site, an e-commerce store, a portfolio site, business presentation site or anything you can think of.
While out of the box, WordPress is not fully optimized for the search engines, there are many SEO plugins that allow enhancing the capabilities of WordPress in this field.
The sites created with WordPress usually occupy the first results in the search engines for most of the search queries. It's almost impossible to search for a popular term and not to find at least a website that is built with WordPress on the first page.
Performance and Speed
Because it already has many integrated features, WordPress is not the fastest software. Still, you can effortlessly improve the performance of your WordPress website with a caching plugin. Besides caching, you can further improve the performance of your website by delivering the static content from a content delivery network, by installing an image-compression plugin, a plugin for cleaning the database periodically, and so on.
WordPress has plugins for almost anything.
Ever since has been released, WordPress has been actively developed and improved by the huge community that stands behind it.
Because the web technologies advance at a fast pace, it's very important for a software to be continuously improved and updated and WordPress has a long track record of updates.
There are other countless advantages of using WordPress, especially if your goal is to start a blog, but that would take me a whole day to cover all of them.
I think now you know enough things about WordPress and why it's the best candidate to power your blog.