Raelyn Tan: Blogging & Digital Marketing Strategist

Can’t Decide What’s The Best Blogging Platform to Use? Answers here.

best-blogging-platform-hori

This is part 2 of 4 of the Blogging For Beginners series.
1. How to Start a Blog – Blogging For Beginners
2. Can’t Decide What’s The Best Blogging Platform to Use? Answers here.
3. 11 Things To Do Immediately After You Start a New Blog
4. 11 Blogging Plugins You Need to Rock Your Blog 

Hey guys!

If you’ve read part 1 of this series on starting a blog, you would realize that I recommend self-hosting your own website.

But you know what? I can read your mind. I know that some of you are still unsure about which blogging platform to use. Tsk tsk, why won’t you listen to me? 🙂

To allay your confusion, I’ve decided to write a post all about which platform you should be using.

Here are some of the common options:

  • Paid Self-hosted WordPress (WordPress.org)
  • Free platforms like Blogger.com or WordPress.com
  • Paid website builders like Wix.comSquarespace.com or Weebly.com

By the end of this post, you will know which option to pick: Which, by the way, is always SELF-HOSTED WORDPRESS. 

Well unless you’re creating your website as a hobby rather than a business.

No questions asked, no room for negotiations. I’ll explain the intricacies of each below.

Wondering what's the best blogging platform for you to use? This is a perfect guide for newbie bloggers who are just starting out on their business journey! WordPress? WIX? Squarespace? Weebly? Or Self-hosted WordPress? Answers here.

Let’s pin this bad boy, yo!

Here’s What You’ll Learn:

  • What the best blogging platform for you is
  • Is there really a need for self-hosted websites?
  • The pros & cons of drag & drop website builders like Wix
  • The pros & cons of free blog platforms like Blogspot
  • The difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com

My Experience Using The Different Blogging Platforms (the good, the ugly, and my regrets…)

I started out the easy way, using Blogspot as a casual blogger. When I decided that I wanted a proper blog with a proper URL (xxx.com instead of xxx.blogpost.com), it was time to make a professional decision for myself.

What did I do? Well, I was lazy and did not want to handle tech headaches and went with WIX. Later on, I moved to Squarespace when my Wix site became really laggy. On hindsight, those were very bad decisions indeed.  (Note: Wix and Squarespace are paid drag and drop website builders)

Initially, it was fun to create my own website with the drag and drop builders. After awhile though, I grew tired. I needed functions (like plugins, or to add certain formats to my website) that just could not happen with WIX/ Squarespace. I realized that if I wanted to expound on the full potential of my blog, it was going to have to be self-hosted WordPress.

The biggest reasons that converted me into becoming a self-hosted WordPress supporter was witnessing some of my friend’s blogs disappear overnight because they did not “own their blog.” Their blogs were taken down by companies like Blogspot or WIX, and their work disappeared forever.

I’ll talk more about this below.

Finally, the worry of having my site disappear overnight gnawed on me enough to push me towards self-hosting my own Wordpress site. I took the plunge and never looked back.

Wait… What’s a Self-Hosted Website?

It means instead of relying on free alternatives or “out of the box” paid website builders, you host your website on servers you own. Most self-hosted websites work using WordPress.

Basically, you own your own blog, not some company!!!

By the way, it ain’t as complicated to use as you think, my friend.

Why the Need For Self-Hosted Websites?

importance-of-self-hosting-website

If you’re having a serious business, you need to own your assets. You need to own your website. You need to own your database. Going for free options or stuff like Wix/ Squarespace will prevent you from doing that.

Blogspot or Wix can have spasms tomorrow and decide to close your blog for good, and there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it. What if you have blogged for 10 years? That’s 10 years of content down the drain…

You can check out how you can create a self-hosted blog with my tutorial on how to start a blog.

Ooooh, Pretty Websites Using Wix & Squarespace! – Yay or Nay?

wordpress.org-vs-wix-squarespace-weebly

These paid website builders (Wix, Squarespace, Weebly and other similar alternatives) allow you to build websites with pre-made beautiful templates and normally you’ll pay a monthly fee to keep your website. They host your website on their servers.

Sounds cool. But not really. 😀

Pros of Paid Out-of-the-Box Website Builders:

  • Simple and very user-friendly – Point and click site builders are available
  • You can get a website up very quickly
  • Your website will look very professional and beautiful

Cons of Paid Out-of-the-Box Website Builders:

  • Smaller support community & support forums as compared to WordPress
  • Website builders have limited functionality that may strangle your business – For example, WordPress Plugins can give you almost any functionality you can dream of which you can’t find in Wix or Squarespace.
  • WordPress has the functionality to grow your business in all aspects which Wix/ Squarespace may not have – SEO, analytics, landing pages, membership sites, etc.
  • Google has recently announced temporary de-indexation of Wix websites – self-hosted WordPress is the way to go to rank higher!
  • Pretty pricey compared to upkeep compared to free / self-hosted alternatives.
  • You don’t really own your website, as compared to self-hosted websites.

You may be tempted to use Wix, Squarespace or other similar alternatives over WordPress because it gives you a pretty website very quickly. However, you won’t find anything more powerful or flexible than WordPress. Most websites on the internet use WordPress – and not by accident. Wix, Squarespace, etc. starts strong but finishes weak.

Let’s tackle the elephant in the room: Is Wix/ Squarespace/ Weebly REALLY much cheaper than self-hosted websites?

In general, these paid website builders are more expensive in the long run as compared to self-hosting your own WordPress website.

Hosting for your own servers probably cost about $3-5/month. (Of course, I’m not counting in any extra costs you incur for picking a premium website theme, which is a one-off cost). On the other hand, paid website builders like Wix are easily 2x or 3x more expensive per month.

Who Should Go For Wix/ Squarespace/ Weebly?

People who are just setting up your website to look pretty and don’t require any extra functions. For instance, if you’re an artist and all you want to do is to display your artwork.

What About Free Options?

wordpress.org-vs-blogspot-wordpress.com

Free options refer to stuff like blogspot.com or wordpress.com. You create your website fast and free. You don’t own anything.

Back when I was in secondary (middle) school, I had a diary on blogspot.com to record my immature thoughts and opinions. In many ways, that’s the only kind of blog that should be on a free platform.

Pros of Free Alternatives:

  • FREE
  • Simple to create and maintain

Cons of Free Alternatives:

  • Functionality and ownership aside, free blogs appear less professional than paid ones. It’s a fact that xxx.com will look more professional than xxx.blogspot.com, even though there may be small exceptions. If you intend to build a solid audience who will buy your stuff and see you as an expert, you’re better off having your own site.
  • You don’t have your own domain name. A self-hosted option gives you your own fancy pancy domain name.
  • Free platforms may also limit your advertising options which shrink your blog revenue.

Also, some of the cons that were previously mentioned applies here as well:

  • Smaller support community & support forums as compared to WordPress
  • Free platforms have limited functionality that will strangle your business – For example, WordPress Plugins can give you almost any functionality you can dream of which you can’t find in free alternatives.
  • WordPress.org has the functionality to grow your business in all aspectsSEO, analytics, landing pages, membership sites etc as compared to free platforms.
  • You don’t really own your website, as compared to self-hosted websites.

Who Should Go For Free Platforms? (Blogspot, WordPress.com, etc.)

Casual hobby bloggers that are just blogging for fun and not taking blogging seriously.

What’s the difference between the free WordPress.com & the self-hosted WordPress.org?

difference-between-wordpress.com-wordpress.org

Here are the 4 biggest differences:

  • Who owns your website: For WordPress.org, its yourself. For WordPress.com, it’s WordPress.
  • Cost: You’ll have to spend a small amount of money every month on hosting to host your own self-hosted website with .org, while the .com is free.
  • Control & Flexibility: .org has more flexibility and features, .com doesn’t. The .com version does have some premium upgrades like having your own custom domain name and installing premium themes, but you only get the full suite of functions when you host your own website with .org.
  • Custom Designs: .org allows you to have custom website designs, but not .com.

In a Nutshell, Here’s Why You Should Opt for a Self-Hosted WordPress Site:

  • Own your own assets for a secure business
  • Open up the full flexibility and functionality that a website can have
  • Better standing with search engines
  • Not as expensive as you thought and well-worth the effort

I hope this helps, and have a great day ahead building your blog!

xx Raelyn 🙂

Proceed to part 3 of this series, 11 Things To Do Immediately After You Start a New Blog.

This is part 2 of 4 of the Blogging For Beginners series.
1. How to Start a Blog – Blogging For Beginners
2. Can’t Decide What’s The Best Blogging Platform to Use? Answers here.
3. 11 Things To Do Immediately After You Start a New Blog
4. 11 Blogging Plugins You Need to Rock Your Blog 

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