There are a million ways to start a blog but not all of them are great. In fact, if you’ve been following MonetizePros, you’ll know that we strongly advise starting a WordPress blog and have a very detailed tutorial for that on our homepage.
In this post, we’re going to dig deep and compare the best blogging platforms side-by-side and then have an in-depth look into each one as well as their pros and cons.
I'm going to spoil this article for you a little bit.
There are only three options out there that may deserve the title of being the best blogging platform out there and we'll start with those.
These are your best bet 99% of the time, but we've got more options for you towards the end of the article.
Your second best option
The best blogging platform
Most Professional blogging platform
Price: Free but requires hosting
As you saw, we’ve crowned self-hosted WordPress to be the best blogging platform out there. So have dozens of other industry experts and thought leaders and there’s a reason for that, many reasons actually.
WordPress.org has been around since 2003 and they've kept improving it on a daily basis. The company is fairly big and the community is even bigger. In 2016, WordPress.org powers over 25% of the web and you'll see big sites like The New Yorker, TechCrunch, MTV, BBC and Playstation using it for their blogs.
The platform is free and open-source. The only investment involved with a WordPress.org blog is a hosting service, which typically costs $5-10 dollars per month, as well as a domain name.
We've partnered up with a hosting company named SiteGround, who has given our readers a 60% discount for hosting and a free domain name. Click here to claim the deal or here to follow our WordPress.org tutorial.
WordPress.org is super simple to get started with. Following the tutorial we've linked to above, you'll be able to have your blog ready in less than 20 minutes and you don't need to have any design or programming experience.
It's slightly more complicated to use than say Squarespace and Blogger, but it will still only take you a few minutes at most to figure anything out.
If you ever run into any problems or don't know how to do something, there are blogs and forum dedicated to WordPress.org with 500,000+ members ready to solve problems for you. The internet is full of tutorials for even the tiniest changes you'd like to make!
It gets slightly harder to use when you've got a complicated website, instead of a blog. When you want to set up an eCommerce store, a membership site and all of those fancy things - it'll likely take you a bit of time to figure out, but it's still manageable by the average person.
This is one of the most amazing aspects of the platform. You don't need to have any design skills, yet you'll have access to thousands and thousands of options, both free and premium.
The platform runs on "themes" that you can install with just a few clicks. Changing the theme will change your site completely, but keep all of your settings, content and other things of importance.
No matter what kind of vision you have your blog, WordPress will have a theme ready for you!
Here's a random example that I think looks really good!
If you've got money to splurge, you can hire a designer and a developer to make custom solutions - they will all know how to do it for WordPress.
It started off as a simple blogging platform but by now, it's capable of doing virtually anything.
WordPress has over 42,000 free plugins in their repository (and plenty more paid options on the internet) that allow you to extend the functionality of your website with just one click. It's basically the same as apps on your smartphone - it lets you do more things.
Here's just a brief list of things WordPress plugins let you do:
This is one of the very very few blogging platforms on our list that has true freedom.
There are no rules. You can publish whatever you want, post affiliate links, insert advertisements, post twice a day or once a year, talk about politics or whatever your big heart desires.
As long as you're not doing something illegal, you're in control.
This includes the website itself. You've got access to the code, the design and can change the tiniest details, if you desire.
I can honestly say that WordPress is leaps and bounds ahead of all of the other blogging platforms and has virtually no downsides.
Whether you're a hobby blogger, want to start a career in writing, want to start the next big news website or an eCommerce store - WordPress will let you do it and let you do it well.
Although I still recommend you to read about the other blogging platforms we've reviewed below, I can honestly say that none of them can truly compete with WordPress.
Our rating: 10/10
If you're already certain that WordPress is the way to go for you, we're here to help you out.
We've got an extremely detailed tutorial as well as special deals from a hosting company - they'll set you up with a 60% discount and give you a free domain name to go with it.
Price: Starting at $16/month
Squarespace launched back in 2004 but only started getting traction a few years ago. It markets itself as a way to create a blog that stands out.
We put it as the number two best blogging platform because it's just so easy to make a beautiful website.
Their designs and templates are truly good looking and it's pretty difficult to make it look bad. The downside is that they've only got around 100 templates to choose from, which is nothing compared to the tens of thousands that WordPress offers.
Here's an example of a Squarespace-powered blog:
It has a lot of in-built functionality, such as being able to create an online store, nice landing pages, fancy galleries and so on.
The problem is that you can't really expand on this functionality. There are around 190 external plugins available for Squarespace, which is not enough, and they come with a hefty price tag. Some basic plugins such as video backgrounds cost as much as $60.
The platform itself already comes with a price. Prices start at $16, paid monthly, which will add up pretty quickly. Add in the plugins you'll have to buy and it'll end up as a pretty expensive project.
On a more positive note, they do have 24/7 customer support to help you out. Which is still nothing compared to the WordPress forums with 500,000+ members and hundreds of live chats dedicated to it.
I personally wouldn't use Squarespace as a blogging platform, it has much more potential as an eCommerce store but they do take fees from that and Shopify is a much better alternative when it comes to online stores.
Our rating: 8/10
Price: Starting at $10.80 / month
Site123 claims to be the easiest free website builder, and they do a really good job at this! I built my website in less than an hour with their beautifully designed templates and customizable layouts.
It is important to note for bloggers that you can not ad Adsesne or another Ad Network to their platform, and is more conversion focused for lead generation. It is best suited for smaller businesses, entrepreneurs, events, lawyers, construction companies, and anyone looking to build and edit their own professional websites fast.
Here's an example of a Site123-powered blog I created in minutes:
You can tell it was the type of product built from the ground up with conversions and sales in mind. For other businesses that want a very reasonable priced and super professional website with hosting, Site123 allows you to try for free and has options to grow with your business. I personally recommend using Site123 for a personal blog or business website.
Our rating: 9/10
Even though it's the oldest blogging platform out there and even has "blogger" in it's name - I'm not very comfortable giving it the third position, but I will.
The only reason it made it to #3 in our list of the best blogging platforms is because it's free and takes under a minute to get started with.
It was launched in 1999 and is owned by Google but it is clear that they've put zero effort into growing the platform. It's still one of the most popular ones out there, although there's little to no reason for it.
The biggest problem with blogspot is that it's ugly. I really cannot paraphrase that, it's just ugly.
They do have a few themes here and there but it doesn't change the overall look of the blogs. Of course, it's possible to make something good looking on the platform but I've almost never seen it done.
Even then, it would require somer serious programming knowledge and it still wouldn't be comparable to WordPress designs.
Here's an example of a very popular Blogspot blog:
It just doesn't look professional.
The main complaint people have for this platform is that you're going to have a domain name like MonetizePros.blogspot.com but it's a stupid reason. You're actually able to use a custom domain, although I'm pretty sure they charge a higher price for it than regular domain registrars.
I'd love to talk about functionality and compare it to WordPress and Squarespace, but Blogspot simply doesn't have any! It's a super basic blogging platform.
Alright, alright - you've got some basic widgets that you can use, like the live gold prices in the image above, as well as calendars and comments.
Compared to other options, it's literally an online text editor and a place to publish - that's it.
On a more positive note, it is very easy to use Google AdSense on Blogspot because the platform is owned by Google. Then again, AdSense is never very difficult to set up.
There are a lot more cons to balance it out though, no worries!
Google has very strict rules about what you're allowed to do on Blogspot and they won't hesitate for a second to permanently ban you.
You'll never be allowed to do affiliate marketing, you won't be allowed to use any other ad networks than AdSense and of course... You'll never be able to sell your website.
These are some pretty big problems, if you're creating a blog with the intention to make money.
If you know that blogging will never, ever be anything serious nor important for you and you just want to mess around, Blogspot is your best bet since it's so quick to sign up for it.
Our rating: 6/10
Price: Free with expensive upgrades possible
We already told you about WordPress.org before. WordPress.com is it's little brother.
It's virtually the same thing but you will not have to buy hosting to keep the website up. Because they provide the hosting, it's extremely stripped down compared to "real" WordPress.
Because WordPress hosts this for you, they'll have to make their money back somehow. This means that they will place ads on your website and keep 100% of the revenue from it. So much for "free".
The blogs still look amazing - at least ten times better than Blogspot for example! You'll be able to switch between a little over a hundred themes but they're not as good as what you'll see with the .org version.
Here's an example of a typical WordPress.com blog:
You will not have any access to the websites code so functionality is slightly limited as well. You can make some very basic changes to the themes but that's about it.
You will not be allowed to display any advertisements on your WordPress.blog before you reach 25,000 monthly visitors. Then you will have to apply for their "Ad Control" program and they will keep 50% of your earnings.
As with other platforms that are hosted by some company, you will have to follow their rules. It's pretty easy to get your WordPress.com blog deleted.
I like WordPress.com a little more than Blogspot because of the design, but I'd still recommend WordPress.org or Squarespace over this any day.
Our rating: 6/10
Tumblr is owned by Yahoo and was created in 2007 by David Karp. It's super popular, but isn't your traditional blogging platform.
It's considered a micro-blogging platform - you won't see long articles like on other blogs, but rather tweet-like notes and lots and lots of pictures.
It's a completely free solution and only takes a few minutes to sign up for - all you need is an email address.
It's a fairly quirky platform so the designs tend to look pretty unique. Most of the templates are directed towards gallery-type sites, not real blogs.
Then again, 1,000+ templates are available so you may be able to find something that works for you.
Here's a completely random example:
Functionality is super basic. There are no plugins available for it and you will not be able to change most of the code to customize things. You can post text, photos, videos, gifs, audio and that's about it.
Ecommerce stores, email list building, advertising, split-testing, search engine optimization and all of that fun stuff is off the table. There's no way to do it with Tumblr.
As always, it's owned by a company and they're hosting it for you so in theory you will not be allowed to monetize it.
Yahoo happens to own one of the biggest ad networks on the planet so they will likely start showing ads on your behalf soon enough.
I'd recommend giving Tumblr a shot if you're either some kind of artist who needs to post photos frequently and display them in a nice way or if you're a fan of short-form content posted several times a day.
If you want to make money, build an audience and make a difference - this one isn't for you!
Our rating: 6/10
Medium.com was started in 2012 by Twitter co-founders, Evan Williams and Biz Stone. Even though it doesn't have a whole lot of age to it, it has taken off rapidly. We've got some pretty big names, who love publishing on Medium. For example: Ryan Holiday, James Altucher and Jason Fried.
I absolutely love Medium as a reader. It's safe to say that some of my best reads in the last year have been published on the platform.
While most blogs are now chasing their readers emails, advertising revenue, affiliate income and whatnot, Medium.com has removed all of the clutter.
The platform is extremely minimalistic and focuses 100% on the content. Their true WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor lets you create content with ease and without distractions.
You will not be able to have a custom domain name or even a subdomain on Medium. All of your posts will be gathered to your user profile.
The design of your profile and the posts themselves is not customizeable to maintain the minimalistic and clutter free image of Medium.
Here's an example for you as well:
Your posts will be plain text, images and video. This means the majority of content published there is of superior quality - the author has no hidden intentions behind publishing it.
The platform is well optimized for search engines and articles posted there will often show up in Google results. You've also got built in analytics, a social aspect to it and a few more bells and whistles.
While I love it as a reader, I wouldn't use it as a blogger. It's difficult to build up a true audience, you will not be able to monetize your efforts and most importantly, you won't be building an asset.
I'd recommend Medium as a supplementary platform for people who already have huge audiences and lots of influence, because Medium articles tend to go viral pretty easily once you get traction.
Our rating: 7/10
Price: $8.95/month and up
Having been around since 2003, it used to be the go-to platform for celebrities blogs. Paris Hilton's blog was there, Will Wheaton's and the marketing legend Seth Godin has been posting there for a decade, every single day.
Nowadays the blogging platform is pretty irrelevant, especially for a "premium" service. It has virtually zero benefits to it compared to other options but the list of cons is lengthy.
They've got a fair few templates for your blogs design but they're outdated compared to options from say Squarespace or WordPress.org. Here's an example of the design Seth Godin has on his Typepad blog:
You've got limited access to the code so in theory it's possible to make some changes to the design and functionality, but it's going to be complicated.
Functionality is limited to a few plugins that they support, such as integrations with Paypal donations and a few other websites.
It looks more basic than most other platforms, has a steeper learning curve, costs money and doesn't offer anything unique. It's a mystery to me why people still use this in 2016.
Our rating: 3/10
Price: Free but requires hosting
Drupal is like WordPress.org, it's not just a blogging platform but a fully functional content management system. Often used to build professional websites, eCommerce stores and even online forums - it does come with blogging options, too.
I've been involved with online businesses for over 7 years now and have learned a fair bit of code over the years.
I would not even touch Drupal with a stick. It's one of the most technical and complicated content management systems out there and has a very steep learning curve.
There's not a whole lot of bad things to say about Drupal - it's a very powerful platform but it needs to be in the right hands.
Here's an example of a Drupal powered blog:
The main problem with Drupal and why some people are strongly against it is because the wrong people are using it.
You'll often see small businesses with no budgets for developers starting their sites on Drupal and they won't be able to manage it properly. Hence the extremely ugly designs, as if it was 1997 all over again.
It could be called the best blogging platform, but only if you've got a 100+ person corporation with plenty of developers and an urge to start a blog for your business website, that already happens to be running on Drupal.
Our rating: 8/10 overall, 5,5/10 for blogging
Price: Free but requires hosting
Joomla is very similar to both WordPress.org and Drupal - it's a full-blown content management system.
Honestly there's not much to say about it, it has all of the same features as Drupal but is slightly easier to use.
While Drupal and WordPress can be used for virtually anything, Joomla is best when it comes to eCommerce stores and social networks. It has blogging features as well, but it's more of an extra rather than their main value proposition.
It comes with around 900 free themes to use and it's easier to customize than Drupal but still requires extensive technical knowledge.
Here's an example of a typical Joomla blog:
All-in-all, it works perfectly well for bloggers but definitely doesn't deserve the title of the best blogging platform. If you've already got a Joomla eCommerce store and want to start a blog - it'll work out, but won't be an easy feat.
Our rating: 7/10 overall, 6/10 for blogging
Price: $6.90/month and up
Wix is yet another website creation tool that allows "drag and drop" web design and content creation. The main focus of it is creating business websites and eCommerce stores but they also have a very popular blogging module.
They've got 510+ professional templates for you to use and modify, all without having to know any code. The themes are divided into specific categories to suit your industry - ranging from automotive to photography.
Here's an example of a Wix blog:
The drag and drop functionality is one of the best ones in the industry but the platform as a whole is very overpriced.
For the cheapest package, which is $6.90/month, you get very limited storage and bandwidth for the website and they'll even display ads on it on your behalf, that you will not make money from.
The blog module is poorly optimized for search engines, which makes traffic generation difficult and it's in general very difficult to modify and expand upon.
I'd recommend it for a small business website that you don't have time to properly create, but as a blogging platform it's pretty disappointing.
If drag and drop is your thing, you don't mind the price and don't mind spending a bit more time to publish a simple blog post - it's an alright solution.
Our rating: 4/10 for blogging
Price: Free with overpriced upgrades available
This is definitely the most popular free website builder out there and also comes with drag and drop features, so it's fairly simple to use.
The main problem with it is that your website will be domainname.weebly.com. They do offer an upgrade to purchase your own domain name, but they charge a 3X higher fee for it compared to others, which to me is a blatant scam on their part.
It's a great way to start a basic website and blog very very quickly and with no costs to it, but the blogging feature is a hassle to use. It would likely take me ten times more time to upload three blog posts on Weebly when compared to say WordPress or Squarespace.
The designs look great but are very hard to customize because you've got no access to the code (neither HTML nor CSS). When you have no experience, it's easy to ruin their designs because the drag and drop editor is very robust.
Here's an example of a Weebly blog:
Honestly, I wouldn't recommend this for almost anything. Not worth the hassle.
Our rating: 3/10
Having years of experience in blogging and spending hundreds of hours messing around with different platforms, I'm 100% comfortable in saying that WordPress.org is the best blogging platform.
It's the only one I use nowadays and I don't see a change coming in the near future.
It's leaps and bounds ahead of everything else out there, it's free and even after so many years, still growing rapidly.
It's a no-brainer.
If you'd like to learn how to create a blog on WordPress.org, I've written an in-depth tutorial showing you exactly that. Click the button below to get started!