Most times, we get caught up in the mix of trying to decide where to start. We tend to ask questions such as, “What is the best free blogging platform?”, or “how do I choose the platform that is the best for my blogging goals?”
For beginners, it’s usually much of a headache. You can get confused by the very many reviews, comparisons and recommendations on the internet.
From WordPress to Medium, there are several arguments on which is the best free blogging platform to build and grow a blog on.
While you might want to try out other free blogging platforms, just like I did while starting, it’s advisable to understand what makes a blogging platform better than the other.
Most users talk about the hosting cost, user experience, scalability, community, among other factors. Whilst these might be crucial to choosing your dream platform, it is worth knowing that you cannot get all these features from a single platform.
Hence, you will want to choose one that is close to your goals and needs.
What if you don’t know the features to expect from a platform, how do you make your choice? I bet you, with numerous platforms available out there, you will find yourself in a sea of options.
Getting confused and frustrated will be quite easy!
However, there is a way out of this!
By comparing a few things, one after the other, you’ll be able to streamline these platforms and select the best for your needs.
So, here in this post, I will take you through the critical features or factors to expect in a blogging platform.
Then, we’ll move on to determine which platform is best suited for a particular goal. For example, if you intend to start a business blog or personal blog, which platform will give you the best return?
Best Free Blogging Platforms
Having used several blogging platforms over the years, and equally interacted with other users, I have found these platforms to be the very best among others.
So, permit me to briefly describe each of this blogging platform.
There has been quite an argument on WordPress being the best blogging platform, especially for beginners. Most arguments pick out features such as ease of use, flexibility, security and scalability as the key advantages.
WordPress.org is a free blogging platform but requires a domain name and a hosting plan to use, except you intend to test-run the platform on a local environment.
With thousands of themes, plugins and widgets, you can add intriguing and cost-effective features to your blog.
For instance, you can use a WordPress page builder to design a wonderful and nice-looking blog.
Note: WordPress.org is different from WordPress.com. Blogs on the latter are hosted by WordPress and require a custom plan to use a custom domain with any plan.
Blogger is free and requires no experience to get started. If you’re new to blogging and want to learn the basics of blogging, Blogger will be a nice place to start.
With free hosting, you will be mostly concerned with managing the contents of your blog.
However, blogger does not grant full control of the hosting environment. Though you can add media elements such as images, videos and audios, the control you have over other features such as hosting files, HTML files, etc, is completely limited.
Luckily, for blogger enthusiasts, you can operate a fully functional blog with a custom domain of your choice.
Joomla, just like WordPress, is a content management system, that allows users to create websites and blogs relying on the power of themes and gadgets for extensibility.
Joomla is a simple but a powerful blog hosting platform. It offers several features to enable you to create and manage a successful blog.
You can download the free software and install on a custom hosting plan and domain. Joomla has collaborated with HostGator to provide cost-effective hosting with excellent features.
It’s ideal for businesses and individuals seeking alternative CMS for hosting their blogs and websites.
WordPress.com is a free blogging platform with powerful features to help you build a blog to the very top. Blogs on this platform are directly hosted by the WordPress system. You can use the free version with a .wordpress.com domain, e.g. yourblog.wordpress.com.
Alternatively, you can purchase a custom domain.
To use a custom domain name with WordPress.com, you’ll need to subscribe to one of their hosting plans.
The basic plan goes for $3/month and offers limited features.
Though, the business plan gives you enough features to build and manage a blog, the level of control on some of the hosting features is limited.
Aside from that, this is a very good platform you can start with and learn everything there is about blogging.
Yet another content management system (CMS) with powerful features and a rich community. Drupal is a flexible, scalable and an easy-to-use (though it requires mastering the basics) platform.
Just like WordPress and Joomla, Drupal runs on a core that is driven by modules, themes and extensions (or plugins).
These features improve the performance of Drupal blogs.
According to the developers, “Drupal powers over 2.1% of websites [and blogs] on the internet.”
Notably, The University of Colorado, Sevilla Football Club and the Economist are hosted on this platform making Drupal a well-recognised platform.
Medium is a free blogging platform that started in 2012 and offers an easy-to-use interface and features. With Medium, you can start a blog, publish contents, grow your audience and promote your brand.
If you’re concerned with contents alone and not the design of your blog, then Medium is for you.
However, you’ll be limited to features that don’t support some of the monetising methods like ads placing and e-courses.
The good news is that you don’t need coding skills to start a blog on Medium. Similarly, you can easily reach an already existing audience with quality contents.
Choosing the Best Free Blogging Platform
As expected, the concern is in choosing the best free blogging platform for your blog. Yeah, we’ve seen a few of these platforms above but is that all you should know?
I will be discussing these platforms under specific hosting features expected of a blogging platform. With these features, it’ll be quite easy to decide on what is best for you.
So, let’s ride on…!
No one wants a difficult experience in managing his/her blog, not even you. In the world of today, time is precious. So, rather than spend time fixing and addressing technical issues every now and then, it’s better to focus on improving your blog.
Most importantly, beginners should be able to easily set up their blogs and master the available features without technical skills and in less time.
For instance, changing the appearance, dimensions, patterns and layouts shouldn’t require flattening a mountain to achieve.
Otherwise, beginners or users with no technical background will find it difficult to maintain their resources.
For small business owners who blog for business, flexibility gives room for time management, rapid growth and resource control.
Whilst WordPress.org, Drupal, WordPress.com and Joomla tend to offer a varying range of flexibility, it’s worth noting that several extensions, plugins and gadgets are required to make them as flexible as needed.
However, WordPress.org, Drupal and Joomla offer the very best flexibility. Choose a host, buy a domain, then set up the software with ease and get started.
More so, there are several plugins and widgets you can rely on, without coding skills, to carry out tasks that supposedly require expertise.
No need to tell you that we share the internet with those bent on making others look sorry. Attackers can extremely exploit the very little vulnerability on your blog.
So, the security of a blogging platform is of great importance.
Controlling logins, stopping spam, managing data-privacy and eradicating hijacking are some of the major features a secure platform offers.
Common vulnerabilities can arise from a bug in a code segment. Hence, avoiding Cross-site scripting, brute-force attack, keylogging, SQL injection among others is critical to ensuring wholesome security.
For example, custom hosting companies such as BlueHost offer free SSL certificate that adds an additional layer of security to your blog.
Most CMS provide levels of security but you have a part to play in ensuring that your blog is safe. WordPress.com, Joomla and Medium provide high-level security features.
WordPress.org, just like other CMS (Drupal and Joomla) provide some security features. However, it relies on the custom hosting system and the other features such as plugins, themes and widgets to provide the needed levels of security.
Blogger’s total control on the hosting of your blog makes it a top pick here. Blogger provides cutting-edge security features that limit most of the vulnerabilities that other blogging platforms experience.
More so, you only have to contribute a little towards strengthening the security of your blog.
The goal of most bloggers is to make money blogging.
As a result, pro bloggers seek platforms that give them control over how they integrate features that allow them to make the most from their blogs.
To earn from your blog, you need to plan and implement effective strategies. It’s generally a good idea to have a platform that gives you the room and control you seek.
For instance, hosting webinars, publishing premium contents and selling e-products on some of these platforms is either not possible or quite difficult.
Choose a platform that provides several monetising avenues and features. This will enable you utilise several monetising ideas on your blog.
Blogger is not friendly when it comes to monetising a blog but affiliate marketing, ads placing, AdSense and Sponsored posts are all possible to carry out.
WordPress, Joomla and Drupal integrate monetising features. With these features, you can earn from your blog. You can use strategies such as premium membership, webinars, podcast, affiliate marketing, sponsored posts, Ads placing, among others.
Medium, on the hand, has limited features for making or increasing your earnings via blogging.
If you are serious about making a living from blogging, then you should consider using WordPress.org on a custom hosting plan and domain. Also, Drupal or Joomla provide monetising support
Sometimes, things get techy and you cannot over-rely on the available technical support for reasons such as slow response time, technicality and communication hitches.
In such a case, you can either:
Most of the best free blogging platforms have communities where experts are readily available to help you solve the problems you encounter.
All you will need to do is to join the community and post a question describing your challenges in clear terms.
Depending on the community size and technicality of the members, you’ll get answers relevant to your scenario.
However, the community size is not the most important factor, but the relevance and expertise of the community’s “Heroes and heroines.”
Sadly, Blogger does not command huge followership. For this reason, very few persons create templates and gadgets for blogger blogs.
On the contrary, there are robust communities for Joomla, Drupal, WordPress and medium. You can easily get answers to your questions and concerns from these communities.
Ease of use
Not everyone has technical skills, and as such, simplicity is very important.
Most bloggers have no background related to web design or development. Yet, they’re able to manage their blogs on the available platforms.
For some platforms, it’s not that easy to set up and run a successful blog. You either need the technical know-how or simply hire someone to handle that for you.
But this isn’t what we want. I mean you and me.
We need a platform that we can easily set up, tweak to suit our needs and develop to our profit.
While a few of these platforms are way below ease of use, most of them are actually easy to use.
To determine the ease of use of a particular blogging platform, consider the following:
Having YES as answers to the above questions gives a ‘green card” to deem the platform as being easy to use.
So, let’s take a dive into some of the experiences I had with most of these platforms, and what other people are saying about them.
According to Dave Nevue:
If you’re new to blogging, Blogger might be the easiest platform to start
With Blogger, you can easily add texts, images, videos and audio components to your blog posts. However, you’ll have to link these components or media from an external source such as YouTube, Google Drive, among others.
For WordPress, getting best performance comes with a learning curve. Luckily, you can access lots of tutorials online on how to build a successful WordPress blog.
Starting a blog requires vision and proper planning as this is crucial to long-term success. But, do you really need to start with a budget or not?
The answer to the above question depends on how you want your blog to perform on the start.
You can actually start without a budget and later upgrade to something more professional. Or simply grab the bull by the horn and get things moving immediately.
It’s often advisable to assess the available options and compare with your needs.
Such assessment includes the choice of a platform.
Some of these platforms are available for free, while others offer premium features to enhance your blogging experience.
Both WordPress.org, Drupal and Joomla software are available for free but you’ll have to acquire a domain name and hosting account to use any of them.
WordPress.com and medium are equally available for free but with limited features. To access these features, you will have to upgrade your account to any of their available plans.
Also, you might need a domain name if you intend to discard the free domain name usually in this format:
Blogger, on the other hand, is completely free without limitation to the features. You can use blogger to publish posts and share media without having to upgrade your account to any paid plan.
However, just like every other platform, you might need to purchase a domain name from an external registrar – such as NameCheap or GoDaddy – to give your blog a unique feel.
Well, everyone wants to have full control of his blog. I personally like it when I can control what goes in and out of my blog. Similarly, I want to dictate the features, colours, quality control measures, among other things.
Having such control requires a better understanding of the web, such as file management, database ethics, security and processes.
Beginners might find such responsibility completely overwhelming.
However, it pays to have control over your blog because you can easily make decisions and take prompt actions to improve your business.
While some of the available blogging platforms offer such control, many others limit the level of access you have.
Google completely restricts users from accessing server files on blogger. Serious bloggers who begin with Blogger, often switch to WordPress.org because of this.
Similarly, WordPress.com and Medium have limits to how users to access and configure files on their platforms.
That makes WordPress.org, Drupal and Joomla the best here. On a self-hosted platform, you’ll have access to all files, databases and configurations. You can decide on the behaviour and database structure of your blog since there is that autonomy.
Technical hitches abound and there is nothing you can do to escape this. From database errors, files access denials to unresponsiveness, you’ll have to deal with technical concerns.
For those who aren’t web developers or without a programming background, major technical issues can be frustrating and discouraging.
Even experts sometimes get fed up when a major technical hitch occurs.
Addressing these hitches requires the support of the platform’s experts and ‘gurus’. Fortunately, a number of them provide relevant technical support to aid you to overcome the concerns.
Believe me, though, not every one of them offers the best technical support. Sometimes, you can have your complaints in their waiting list for days without any response.
Imagine such a long cue of uncharacteristically slow costumer relations standing between your blog and goals.
So, I have WordPress.com to be the best in delivering timely, cutting-edge and applicable technical support.
What of WordPress.org, Drupal and Joomla, you may ask?
Well, any hitch on these platforms will either be answered by your webmaster [that’s if you’re not the one in charge] or the technical support team of the hosting company.
Luckily, there are several forums and communities where you can get solutions.
Blogger users will have to suck it out as there is limited support for this platform, though a few bloggers with experience publish articles to help beginners out.
Medium and Drupal, on the other hand, have a functional technical support system, but you can’t completely rely on this.
Making your choice
I cannot overtly say one platform is the best free blogging platform because of individual preferences and choices.
However, on an average scale, WordPress.org assumes the top spot because of its flexibility, readily available community of expert developers, autonomy, scalability and monetising features.
Whatever platform you would want to go for should depend on your defined blogging purpose.
Do you want a completely free blogging platform without the need to upgrade to a premium plan? Then Blogger is the best for.
Or you’re in need of an industry-recommended platform that gives you control over your blog, WordPress.org should be your choice.
Maybe for you, it’s a platform with a less technical requirement. So, you want to focus on creating content and growing your audience. Medium, WordPress.com and Drupal will be your choice.
One thing you shouldn’t forget is that not all these platforms integrate the features for the growth of a real blog.
You would want to make money blogging, and grow your authority in whatever niche you choose
There are quite a number of blogging platforms you can give a tryout but understanding what it takes to be a blogger requires the right platform that suits your blogging Goals.
WordPress.org, Drupal, Medium, Joomla and Blogger are all unique and deliver services that accomplish their goals.
Doing a bit of exploration with these platforms will equally give you understand about the best free blogging platform to utilise for your full blogging career.
For the time being, I’ve left you with so much to ponder on, though I’ve provided the necessary clues to help you make the choice.
Digest, assess and make your choice.