I spend a lot of time hanging around in Facebook groups. One of the big questions I hear is about blogging platforms. People are always asking about WordPress or Wix or Squarespace or even Blogger. It’s definite one of the MOST critical decisions you will make with your site. Spoiler alert: I have three sites on WordPress.org, so it’s probably not a big mystery which platform I’m going to pick!
However, let me just get this out of the way. IF you are simply hosting a website as a hobby. You just wanna share pictures or recipes with family, or just run sort of an online diary. Then, by all means pick one of the four free(ish) platforms – Blogger, Wix, Squarespace, or WordPress.com. They’re free or very cheap and you won’t have to contend with the technical challenges of managing a serious website.
I’m not going to lie to you. It takes a lot of time and commitment to build a serious and legit website. So, understanding which would work better for you is VERY important. You’re going to be dealing with this website for a loooong time.
Sidebar: When I say WordPress, I mean WordPress.org. There are two blogging platforms called WordPress, which I frankly think is very CONFUSING. WordPress.com is sort of like WordPress with training wheels. All the tech stuff is handled for you, but the trade-off is that you can’t do anything they don’t want you to do. Which usually includes making ANY money from ads or from your content.
To monetize or not to monetize? That is the question
Here’s the thing – if you ever want to ANY make money from your website, that could be the deciding factor. Most of the simple blogging platforms come with a lot of rules about monetizing. Some of them won’t let you run ads, some of them don’t allow affiliate links, and they can remove or change features with no notice. And if you break their many rules, they can DELETE your whole site with no warning. That would totally suck, wouldn’t it? And technically, they OWN your content. It’s written right into the terms of service.
To me, it’s like the difference between renting an apartment or owning your own house. In an apartment, you can’t paint the walls or change the carpets, or redo the landscaping. Now, that’s good if you just want an easy place to live where you don’t have to mess with that stuff. But when you have your own house, you can go to town! Knock down walls, add rooms, change colors, plant trees, etc. That’s what life with WordPress is like. You can move in and make yourself at home. Complete with some of the inevitable headaches of home ownership.
The Pros and Cons of WordPress
Yes, there is a learning curve with WordPress and yes there is some work involved. And yes, you will BREAK it. I said I wasn’t going to lie, right? I have broken my site on more than one occasion! Probably like 10 occasions. That’s why I have backups and lots of friends in Facebook groups to advise me.
Usually SiteGround can fix it for me (their tech support is AWESOME and so quick!). See HERE why I like SiteGround so much. On very rare occasions, I’ve had shell out some big bucks for a tech person. Maybe twice. But I’m techy and I like the tech stuff. Your mileage may vary. But millions of people are living very happily with their WordPress websites. If they can do it, you can do it too!
There’s also about a zillion YouTube videos and blog posts and forums to learn all the tech stuff for FREE. I will tell you, it is easier to start with the right platform from the get-go than to migrate your stuff over later. When I moved from Blogger about five years ago, I had over 800 posts, hundreds of pictures, and thousands of comments that all had to be moved over to WordPress. And it was a big hairy pain!
In Conclusion – Which of the Blogging Platforms is the BEST?
So, if you’re wondering, the answer to my recommended blogging platforms is WordPress.org. You’re shocked, right? You own your content, you can run ads, your can set up payment platforms, it’s the real deal. And the money isn’t so bad. Your domain is about $12 bucks a year – cheap. Hosting with SiteGround is less than $5 a month to start. If you’re thinking about it, I’d love it if you used my link (because they pay me money) – SiteGround link.
A good theme is going to run you about $50-$80. Do not say the words “free theme” to me. That’s going to be my next post when I get a minute, but here’s it in a nutshell. Hackers, complicated bits of code, hackers, mobile functionality, hackers, compatibility with plugins, and definitely hackers. You get what you pay for and a reputable developer will issue updates as they are needed for new threats. Free themes – not so much!
This is the premium theme I use on all 3 of my WordPress sites. It’s beautiful, customizable, easy to set up, and it’s fully mobile responsive and hacker resistant. (Anyone who says a theme is hacker-proof is feeding you a line of bull!) It’s called Isabelle and it’s made by a company called Bluchic. I’m a huge fan – I use their themes, landing pages, AND social media templates.
And yes, this is my affiliate link if you’d like to check it out. If you purchase it through my link, I’ll set it up for you at no charge in your choice of colors. Yes, I’m not a big fan of this much PINK. I changed mine to navy blue with gold, turquoise with zebra print, and emerald green and gold on my sites so each one looks completely unique.
How I Can Help You with the WordPress Stuff
And if you get in a spot and you need some help with your WordPress set-up, that’s a new service I offer. I can set up a new site from scratch, change themes or hosts, check your set up for security and functionality, make sure you’ve got all the right plugins. Can’t beat that! If you need some help, leave me a comment and I’ll get back to you with a quote.
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