Best Blogging Platforms

Would you believe if I said blogging started as a way of digital diary keeping?

The first blogging platform called links.net was invented by Justin Hall in 1994. He made the platform to showcase his writings to the world without going to an actual publisher. (A little history didn’t hurt nobody!) 😉

We have come a long way since.

Today, blogging is a super dynamic space. Just a few years and once-popular platforms like Blogger become obsolete! The new-age bloggers are marketeers, web-developers, storytellers and more – all at once.

With a plethora of blogging platforms out there – one can choose to be a minimalist and focus on the text or be a maximalist with a website that tells visual stories that also sell! There’s one pattern though –  the plug-n-play, easy-to-use, and fuss-free platforms that get the job done, are always winners!

Here’s a list of blogging platforms put together for all you obvious market leaders, ethical alternatives and some clutter breaking newbies. Let’s dive!

Medium : for the ones wanting to go niche

Medium

Medium is ideal for users who simply want to focus on the written word supported with a few relevant pictures. It is an ad free platform which keeps itself running by the income generated through user subscriptions. Since it is ad free, there is no SEO based ranking of words and themes involved. In place of word ranking, Medium has a provision for using upto five hashtags to each of the articles. They help in allowing your article to be discovered by readers searching for the relevant topics. 

Medium is perfect for somebody who just wants to write great articles without being bogged down by the intricate rules of SEO friendly content. It is the perfect library of niche content and articles written by people who are experts in their domain.

Pricing

It has both a free and a paid version. Established writers and publications are encouraged to put their articles under paywall. This leads to an access to a limited number of such articles every month, for the free users.

Paid subscription, which gives you access to all articles costs: $5/month or $50/year

Pros
  • Ad free platform for everyone (paid as well as free users).
  • The focus is on the written word. You don’t have to worry about SEO.
  • Huge readership with several publications having their online presence on Medium.
  • Easy to set up. The draft page looks exactly like the published page. There are no plug-ins for apps or visual design templates to choose from.
Cons
  • Medium owns your content. So if they shut down or ban you, you can potentially lose all the content generated by you.
  • No control over metadata : Meta titles and descriptions are automatically generated for you. You cannot improve the ranking of your articles in search results.
  • You cannot add any Call to Action buttons to check the effectiveness of any article. You can however lead them to other webpages (like your own website).
  • You cannot earn any revenue through your articles if you are not located in the 22 countries where stripe payment is accepted.

Wix: for the ones looking to build aesthetic websites

Wix

Wix is a user-friendly website builder that has gained popularity by word of mouth. One doesn’t need coding knowledge to ace it. If you are looking for a generic but visually appealing website, Wix can be a safe pick. It is loaded with a wide array of templates.

You can use it for personal/ business websites. It is a no-fuss platform that is like a drag and drop tool using HTML5. In the website building landscape, it comes a close second to WordPress and hosts nearly 160 million websites

But here’s the deal with Wix – you are building something using their software and tools which will be hosted on their servers. You will access the website through the Wix panel, not FTP or server dashboard. And that is a tradeoff.

Pricing 

There is no one-plan-fits-all in Wix and you can choose your pricing plan depending on the traffic expected on your websites and the storage requirements. The free plan allows you to host a site, but with a .wix subdomain and with ads running on your website. It may not be conducive in the long run.

US pricing plans vary from $14 to $500+. If you are in India like me, the pricing falls in the range of INR 80/month to INR 500/month.

Pros
  • Boon for non coders : Even if you have zero website building skills, you can start a website using Wix and its drag and drop tools.
  • Great visuals :  If you are in a business that thrives on the visual appeal of your products (photographers, e-commerce stores for clothing, accessories etc), Wix will be the platform of choice. It has over hundreds of templates to choose from.
  • Easy to use SEO features : Wix has constantly worked on upgrading its SEO features to compete with its rival WordPress and Weebly. Now it has several easy to use SEO features that are practical and convenient.
  • Add on apps features : Wix offers a wide range of add on apps (available through their own app store) like live chat with website visitors or having a meeting calendar built in the website.
Cons
  • Speed : Wix websites are much slower than HTML based websites/blogs like WordPress.
  • No Migration : Wix doesn’t allow you to take your website code to a different platform. If your business scales up and you wish to upgrade your website to a different platform, you will be forced to start from scratch.
  • Jack of all : One of Wix’s strengths also causes its downfall. By trying to cater to such a wide range of website needs, Wix loses out to the niche website builders that play to their core strengths.

Ghost : for the ones who like it fast and slick, no fuss

Ghost

Ghost is an open source blogging platform written in javascript. Ghost, publicly released their first version in 2013, after a successful kickstarter campaign that raised £196,362 in 29 days. Unlike Wix or WordPress, Ghost has a minimal design interface with a limited number of design templates to choose from. There are two variations for bloggers.

  • Downloadable self hosted free version
  • Version hosted on Ghost’s servers

Ghost is designed to be fast, minimal and sleek. It has a two panel editor which enables you to enter text on one panel and immediately see how it will appear on the other panel. In other blogging platforms you have to save, upload and then check how it appears on the final webpage.

Pricing

Ghost doesn’t offer a free hosted program. There is only a 14-day free trial period. Pricing ranges from $29/month (if billed annually, otherwise it is $36 for monthly billing) for a basic account (upto 100k monthly views) and goes up to $199/month (if billed annually, otherwise it is $249 for monthly billing).

Pros
  • Fast, light weight & minimal : Ghost runs on modern Node.js which makes Ghost CMS ultra fast.
  • SEO optimised without the need to add any extra load to CMS.
  • Membership management : Since most serious users have ad blockers installed on their systems, you will need to move to a subscription based revenue model. Ghost has a built in dashboard that allows you to manage your subscribers and accept payments, all within your website.
  • Optimisation : Completely optimised to smaller screens (tabs & mobiles).
  • Easy import from wordpress : a two step procedure allows you to import all the content from your WordPress blog to Ghost. If you use a highly customised WordPress template, you might have to manually fix a few things after the data import.
  • Open sourced : code available on GitHub. There is constant development on it and Ghost has a huge online community willing to offer users support when needed.
Cons
  • No Free Version.
  • Requires technical knowledge : It is not an ideal platform for beginners.
  • Limited themes available : Ghost doesn’t offer customisation options. If a visually appealing, unique website is your aim, Ghost is not the right platform for you.

Proseful : for the minimalism lovers

Proseful

Proseful is a free blogging platform with simple features, suitable for long form writing. It is an honest blogging platform with the focus on writing. It doesn’t try to be a website building tool (like WordPress or Wix). If you feel that beauty lies in simplicity – Proseful is the way forward for you.

Pricing

Proseful offers free and paid versions. Users have the option to choose from either of the two plans mentioned below.

  • a monthly payment plan at $7/month. 
  • an annual payment plan at $69/year.
Pros
  • Free Version : Beginners or people experimenting with blogging will love this platform
  • Easy to use without any complicated features.
  • Focus on your brand : The paid version allows you to completely remove Proseful’s branding and let your own brand run the show.
Cons
  • It’s too simple : In a world with TikTok & Instagram, Proseful is too simple a platform. 
  • Does not offer SEO / meta tags for the free version.
  • Does not let users leave comments on your blog if you are using the free version.

Bloggi : for the sellers looking to generate leads

Bloggi

Bloggi platform is optimised for both search engines and social media platforms. The hardest part of any blogger is to direct visitors to their blogs. Bloggi tries to solve this issue by combining both SEO and social media channels feed into your humble blog. It is compatible with video hosting websites like Youtube, Vimeo too. 

Bloggi was launched around a year ago, with the simple thought that blogging should not have to be complicated or dull. Therefore it aims to be as simple as putting up an article on Medium and still have the useful features of WordPress or Wix. 

Pricing

  • Free version is available with limited features. 
  • The Pro plan costs $5/month or $50/year which offers a 7 day free trial.
Pros
  • Social media integration: ease of integration without using complex tools or plugins. 
  • SEO friendly: The basic SEO will b taken care of, hassle-free.
Cons
  • New in the market : It is just a year old so there aren’t too many users who you can bank upon if you have a doubt about something. Unlike WordPress, Medium or Wix you cannot depend on the online community to help you with roadblocks.
  • Lack of branding options : You cannot remove the Bloggi branding. No matter how interactive and user friendly your blog is, Bloggi doesn’t give you the option to use your own branding (in the form of header / logo etc).

Imprint : for the content junkies who’d like the rights reserved

Imprint

Imprint is a social blogging platform created keeping the pitfalls of Medium in mind, built with a mission to make knowledge accessible to all. It works just like Medium, with the critical difference : the users own the rights to their content. There are other improvements too like there are no paywalls in Imprint. There is no limit on the number of articles users can view (without the monthly subscription). Another drawback of Medium that Imprint seems to have acted upon, is the interaction with the visitors on your page.

The Imprint authors/contributors have the options to earn revenue through subscription model and email newsletters with their followers. Basically you can build your own online community, with a custom domain and branding.

Pricing : Free 

Pros
  • Ownership of content.
  • No paywalls.
  • Make your own brand : Imprint is designed for authors to build their own online community. You can interact with them, sign them up for newsletters.
Cons
  • It is new and a limited number of users are on it. Not many people are aware of it.
  • It aims to be a place for all domain experts, but unlike Medium, not many people are actively using it.

Unicorn Platform : for the ones focusing on landing pages

Unicorn

Unicorn Platform was launched as a static landing page builder. But version 2.0 allows users to create fully functional websites with inner webpages. Within a month of the version 2.0 release users had created around 600 new websites with 29 of them having a custom domain. It is immensely popular with the startups in the field of mobile apps, SaaS and tech startups, since it is meant to be a platform tailored to their custom needs.

Pricing

Unicorn Platform has a free version. Pricing of the paid version varies from $8/month to $28/month if you choose the monthly plan. If you choose to pay a yearly sum, they offer a discount equivalent to 2 months of subscription charge.

Pros
  • Since they are a new blogging platform, they are constantly looking at adding new features requested by the users. The creators of this platform are extremely responsive to their user needs.
  • It is tailored to the needs of tech startups who are staring out and don’t have the resources or time to build a dedicated website.
Cons
  • There is a huge gap in quality between the generated landing page for free users and the customised one created for the paid users.
  • You have to pay $18 or more if you want to replace Unicorn branding with your own company’s branding or create a blog with more than 10 blog posts.
  • You have to pay to own your own domain.

Storychief : for the ones looking for content marketing feats

Storychief

Storychief is designed to be a single platform to manage all the content you or your business creates. It manages everything from blog posts to social media calendars. You can manage everything from creation, to feedback, to content approvals, to publish it on social media channels, all in one place.

It goes the extra leg to help you manage the internal communication within your company too. Storychief allows you to share your social media feed with your employees and use them to amplify the message to the online universe.

Pricing 

There is no free version for the platform. Since it is made for small – medium sized firms who would want to keep their social media engagement in house, they offer subscription plans for minimum 4 users. Pricing varies from $120/month ($90/month if billed annually) to $750/month.

Pros
  • One platform to manage all content : The biggest advantage of this platform is that it allows you to handle your entire marketing communications and corporate communications process in a single platform.
  • Customer support : They have a library of great tips and tutorials that help the new users in get accustomed to their platform.
  • SEO Support : They offer an in app SEO tool that allows you to improve your page ranking.
Cons
  • The user receives an email notification for every change, comment posted, comment edited on the platform. It may work for bigger organisations but can be overwhelming for a small team working on the platform
  • Not supported in all languages : If English is going to be the only medium of content then this platform will work. But if you have to use other languages, be cautious. They might not be supported by Storychief.

WordPress.com : for the ones who like to bet safe

WordPress

I don’t think we need to elaborate on WordPress. I mean come on! Who doesn’t know them? In case you have been wondering why this is listed so far down the list, the main reason is because we felt that WordPress doesn’t really need any more publicity.

It has the most top of mind recall value when you think of blogging platforms.It is clearly the market leader in the blogging space. You can’t really question their dominance when 35% of the internet is powered by them

WordPress comes in two variations : wordpress.org and wordpress.com. WordPress.com is meant for personal bloggers with no business interests. But if you intend to make money off blogging or run a blog for your business, then wordpress.org is meant for you. Without further ado, let’s jump to the pricing..

Pricing

WordPress offers a free version for personal bloggers which can be upgraded. The cost of a website can vary from $500 to $50,000.

Pros
  • Market leader in the blogging platform. Just the WordPress reddit community has over 1 million members. So if you have trouble making anything click, there are literally a million people out there who will be able to guide you in the right direction.
  • Available in over 100 languages. Yes everything from Hindi to Ukrainian, everything is possible on WordPress.
  • There are a wide range of plugins available for every niche requirement.
Cons
  • WordPress websites are built using PHP which is pretty archaic. It may have been the best thing out there 10 years back. But Node.js, the latest kid in the block (Ghost uses this) has shown how slow WordPress is.
  • Multiple plugins might have a conflict with each other. Enjoy trying to figure out which plugin is causing the smoke and which is causing the fire. 
  • WordPress has a security issue. If you think I am lying : read this.

Weebly: for the drag and drop game lovers

Weebly

Weebly is another drag and drop website builder with a few dozen mobile friendly themes. It is easy to use for beginners. Even large websites (with over 100s of pages) can be managed with ease on Weebly, provided they don’t have any complex features. What I mean is that if it is a 100 page listing (like a museum site), Weebly will work smoothly. But if you are building an ecommerce portal with >500 visitors, you will have a hard time. 

But Weebly is constantly evolving. They have even made provisions to add a bit of your own code, if you want. So it would be handy to have a web developer on your team to fine tune your website. 

Pricing

Weebly has a free plan with a weebly ad running at the bottom. But at $12 a month you get to use your own domain name and google ads credit worth $100, which makes it a pretty good deal. Otherwise paid plans can vary from $12 to $38/month. The pricing is pretty simple to refer to (images mentioned below). Remember that the domain name is free for the first year only. Second year onwards it will cost you $19.95 annually.

Pros
  • Easy customization with user friendly features.
  • Affordable : Compared to other platforms Weebly offers a damn good deal. A free domain worth $20 and google ads credit worth $100, just by paying $12/ month, is worth investing into.
  • SEO settings are easy to use and update.
  • Has a strong support community to seek help and ideas.
Cons
  • Ever since their acquisition by Square, they have reduced the number of updates and changes to the platform.
  • Limited customizations and plugins (especially for somebody used to WordPress).
  • Migration to other CMS is complicated and difficult to achieve.

Conclusion

Everybody is moving towards personalisation. The era of one size fits all is gone. Most people will switch to different blogging platforms based on their specific needs. These specific niches may not enjoy mass following but people will be willing to pay to access something that suits their taste

There will be another group of people for whom a successful blogging platform would be an amalgamation point for all the possible ways you want to express yourself. The best platforms would be the ones that can create a space where all forms of content :  text, image, video can co-exist.

This blog should act as one single touch point for all the social media presence of a person, or a brand. If a blogging platform manages to successfully create such a universe it will be a win win for all.

What do you think? Drop in comments.

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Brik De Maeyer
2 months ago

Hi Mani,
Thanks for mentioning StoryChief. I wanted to clarify that the 2 cons you’ve listed are not correct. We do support all languages (even our SEO optimizer) and a couple of months ago we introduced a revamp of our notification system.
Could you update this in your article? Thanks again for adding us!

Alexander Isora
2 months ago

Hello!
Alex here, the CEO of Unicorn Platform. Thanks a lot for mentioning our tool in the list!

There is a huge gap in quality between the generated landing page for free users and the customised one created for the paid users.

Honestly, I did not get this one 🙂 Free plan websites equal to paid websites. The only differences are in the variety of available integrations and having a custom domain.

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