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 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.
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
Wix: for the ones looking to build aesthetic websites
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.
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.
Ghost : for the ones who like it fast and slick, no fuss
- 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.
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).
Proseful : for the minimalism lovers
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.
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.
Bloggi : for the sellers looking to generate leads
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.
- Free version is available with limited features.
- The Pro plan costs $5/month or $50/year which offers a 7 day free trial.
Imprint : for the content junkies who’d like the rights reserved
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
Unicorn Platform : for the ones focusing on landing pages
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.
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.
Storychief : for the ones looking for content marketing feats
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.
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.
WordPress.com : for the ones who like to bet safe
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..
WordPress offers a free version for personal bloggers which can be upgraded. The cost of a website can vary from $500 to $50,000.
Weebly: for the drag and drop game lovers
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.
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.
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.