When it comes to creating your own blog, you have two options:
The first is to build a website and host your blog there. Building your own website and blogging on it is the old-school way to build a blog. You have two ways to do this:
This requires more work upfront but you’ll own and control your site completely.
The other option is to use a blogging platform like Medium or LinkedIn. Even if some of these platforms aren’t technically blog platforms, you can get success from them by treating them as blogs. It’s a lot easier to get in front of millions of people and takes less than 15 minutes to set up. The downside is that you’ll be beholden to their rules and algorithms.
Because of that, we ultimately recommend you use Wix if you’re a beginner to blogging. It’s easy, customizable, and you have more control over your content.
In this guide, I’ll break down how to set up your blog and help you pick which blog site, software, or blogging platform is best for you. Let’s get to it.
The Top 4 Best Blogging Platforms and Blog Sites for 2021
Here are our in-depth reviews of the most popular blog platforms.
Wix – Best Website Builder for Blogging
Wix is the best website builder for blogging. No question.
This is the easy route for building a blog. As such, it’s a close runner up to WordPress for the best blog platform.
Wix offers you beautiful templates for any type of blog. Easily customize any web page with their drag-and-drop editor.
The blog manager is also simple and intuitive, with analytics and SEO built right in. It’s simple to add the basic features you might want on your blog too: social tools, likes, comments, hashtags, categories, and subscriber forms.
All of the SEO features you need are easy to access too: alt tags for your images, internal links, SEO titles and descriptions (that are different from you post title), and nofollow tags for external links. Wix blogs have an automatic email subscription feature and a social media bar beneath each article for sharing on Facebook, Twitter, and more.
To build a blog on Wix, you’ll sign into your account and pick a template. There’s a Blog template category, which is a great place to start. Once you have your template selected, I suggest updating the font, colors, and logo to personalize your template and help it stand out from the rest.
Writing a post is as simple as clicking Create a Post, writing, and adding images. You can save drafts, or even give other contributors writing privileges for your site. This is all just as easy from a mobile device as from a desktop — no app required.
Make sure that you update your SEO settings for every post: this is what’s presented in the search results page and is critical for ranking in organic search.
The resulting post will have an automatic read-time count, like a Medium post right next to the author’s name, which I also like a lot. I also like the ability to live-chat with your readers in the Wix app. If you build a real community in your blog or are open to answering reader questions in real time — say about an online course you’re offering or a webinar that’s coming up — then it’s a cool feature.
Pros and Cons of Creating a Wix Blog
Wix is a fantastic option if you want a simple, but powerful blogging platform. With its drag-and-drop website builder, it’s an easy option if you’re looking to have your blog on your own site, rather than on a blog platform or service like Medium or another form of social media.
The downside is you’ll be paying a subscription fee and you’ll be locked into Wix’s themes and tools. So, you’ll trade some convenience for some flexibility. For most users, we think this trade-off is worth it.
WordPress with Bluehost Hosting – Best Blogging Software for Flexibility
WordPress is one of the most popular website builders out there.
That’s because it’s highly flexible and powerful. No matter what you want from your blog, it can be done with WordPress.
To build your own site, you’ll need to buy a domain name, get web hosting, and set up your WordPress account.
The quick answer: Go with Bluehost.
Not only is Bluehost one of the most popular web hosts, it’s also ready-made for WordPress. They even recommend using Bluehost as a hosting option.
With just one click, you’ll be able to get your WordPress site up and running within minutes.
Bottom line: If you’re making a WordPress website, make it with Bluehost.
You will need to spend time configuring your site, that includes picking a theme, configuring it, setting up your WordPress settings, adding SEO WordPress plugins, getting all your content uploaded. For first-time bloggers, it can be overwhelming.
That’s the trade-off with WordPress. It’ll do anything you want but it takes more time to learn than an easier platform like Wix.
One important thing we should also mention is WordPress’s seamless integrations with sales funnels tools such as Salesforce or Hubspot. It’ll work with these tools to help you gather leads and turn them into paying, satisfied customers.
Pros and Cons of Blogging with WordPress
The main reason to use WordPress is for its complete scalability. No matter what you want to build or how big you get, WordPress can handle it.
They have plugins and widgets for every need. And if you really want, you can start changing the code yourself. WordPress is open-source which means you can do whatever you want with it. If you know PHP or are willing to hire a developer, you can change WordPress however you like.
Plus, WordPress is incredibly popular. That means if you have any questions, there’s likely a wide variety of tips, tricks, and solutions you can find online.
There is a catch: You have to learn WordPress, the plugins, your theme, and how to write posts well. It’s a lot to take in when building your first site. If you just want to launch your site so you can start blogging right away, WordPress won’t be the easiest option.
Medium – Best Traditional Blogging Site
Medium is home to more than 60 million users. These bloggers and content creators focus on crafting niche content for readers to settle down and read.
I dig it. The platform, was founded by Twitter co-founder and former CEO Evan Williams as a response to the hyper-short limits of Twitter, hence the name Medium.
Medium is where you can find some of the most thought-provoking, incendiary content online. Their articles have a higher ceiling for virality, and you can take advantage of many communities of dedicated readers.
From personal experience, I know that when I read on Medium, I read with curiosity and intent. I’m ready to put in some time reading. It also helps that they give you an estimate of how long it’ll take to read the article.
Posting with Medium is super simple too. There’s a clean, white WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor. Basically, as you type, you see what the post will look like when it’s published.
You’ll find that tips and tricks to format your post are a little hidden in the simplicity of the interface.
Don’t stop at this point though. Instead of just a profile, I recommend creating a Medium Publication. This gives you the option to add other writers and editors to your blog. More importantly, it gives you a lot more options for controlling what is essentially your blog homepage.
Above, a consecutive stream of your posts. This is all you’ll get with a Medium profile.
Below, the more magazine-style layout you’ll get with a Medium publication.
One is a simple chronological feed and the other is a designed page with useful menu options. When you create a publication like REI’s, you also unlock the ability to send a newsletter to all of your followers.
Pro Tips for Blogging on Medium
- If you are syndicating your actual blog, use the Import feature. This is essential for SEO.
- To start a bulleted list, simply type an asterisk or a dash.
- There are two types of quotes. Use a block quote by clicking the quote icon once. Click it again for a pull quote.
- Drop caps add a little editorial weight. To make the first letter of your paragraph larger, and give it that designed look, highlight the letter. The option will appear.
- Use TK to leave yourself notes. This is an old journalism trick — there are no words with TK in them in the English language. If you’re writing something that needs a placeholder, use TK and Medium will alert you if you try to publish with one still in place.
Pros and Cons of a Medium Blog
Medium is the best all-around traditional blogging platform. It’s where the majority of readers who’re looking to read classic blog-style posts are right now.
It’s the perfect platform for if you have a lot to say — and you want an audience to make your content must-read every day or week.
The downside is built into the choice of picking to create your own blog or build one on a platform — you won’t own the traffic and you won’t be able to do things like sell ad placements, for example.
Deciding to blog on WordPress vs Medium isn’t an either-or choice. You can also publish your site and re-publish some posts on Medium to take advantage of its benefits, just like you would any syndication deal. You can thoughtfully approach this, but there are some technical how-tos we’ll get into below.
You’ll need to import your posts to Medium properly and set the canonical tag, so you’re not penalized by Google (at worst) or simply out-ranked by the Medium version of the post (at best). Overall, though, I prefer to see each channel as a separate channel and create and publish unique content for that channel.
LinkedIn – Best Blog Site for Business
LinkedIn is the most popular social network for professionals of all stripes.
They boast more than 590 million users, and 154 million of them in the US. And a lot of them are active with 44% are monthly active users.
LinkedIn used to be basically a resume hosting platform. In a lot of ways, it was like a job-hunting dating app: you’d go on if you were looking to hire or looking to get hired but not much else. In the last few years that has changed dramatically.
If you’re building a business blog, the audience on LinkedIn is premium: 45% of LinkedIn article readers are in upper-level positions (managers, VPs, Directors, C-level).
In an article for Forbes, “Is LinkedIn Poised To Be The Next Big Social Network … For Brands?”, Ryan Holmes nailed what’s great about the platform, “Hardcore LinkedIn users know that there’s a certain warm professionalism that underlies many exchanges on the platform. In short, LinkedIn offers a kind of stability, civility, and real value that’s sorely needed on some social platforms.”
I agree completely. The platform has a ready-made culture and set of expectations that a business blogger would dream of creating on their own site.
LinkedIn is a social network. Your influence grows in proportion to the size of your network. The more posts you publish, the more connection requests and followers you’ll attract.
Writing consistently not only expands your network, but it also reinforces the message about the depth and breadth of your knowledge of the subjects that you write about. — Glenn Leibowitz, “10 Tips for Writing LinkedIn Blog Posts That Expand Your Influence” for Inc.
Publishing doesn’t make you a LinkedIn Influencer, unfortunately. That’s a hand-selected group of people that rotates throughout the year “to include only the most engaged, prolific, and thoughtful contributors and to ensure that their expertise matches our members’ interests,” according to LinkedIn.
An article isn’t a post and vice versa. A post is a smaller update you’d share with your feed and connections. Think quick anecdote or pro tip. They’re limited to 1,300 characters, which is about 5 lines. Articles are longer and more in-depth. They’re something that the broader LinkedIn audience would be interested in reading. A person who reads your article can also follow you from there, so they’ll be alerted when you publish your next article. Any articles you publish will appear in the Articles section of your LinkedIn profile.
Pro Tips for Blogging on LinkedIn
- Be clear about who you are and what you’ll be talking about it. Stick to that topic and don’t stray.
- Post regularly. Even posting once or twice a month — consistently over time — will add up. Twice a month is 48 times a year. In five years, you’ll have nearly 250 posts. That’s huge.
- Share drafts with colleagues and friends for feedback.
- Use the stats related to your posts as a tool: create more of what’s working, less of what’s not.
Want to improve? Check out LinkedIn’s own course on getting better at blogging on the platform, Writing to be Heard on LinkedIn. Because when they own the platform, what’s good for them is successful content that people want to read and engage with.
Pros and Cons of Blogging on LinkedIn
If you’re blogging about business, or something related, like management, then I’d say to build your blog on LinkedIn. There’s a pre-existing community of people there talking about those topics and ready to read your posts too. You’ll be able to build business followers, which is different than a “connection.”
The audience on LinkedIn is premium: 45% of LinkedIn article readers are in upper-level positions: managers, VPs, Directors, and C-level. If you’re building thought leadership, brand value, or community, rather than trying to make money, I recommend going to where your audience is rather than trying to woo them over to where you are. Build content for them where they already are and they’ll love you for it.
You’ll be able to build your network and your business opportunities, but like all blog platforms, the cons here are that you’re beholden to the algorithm and don’t own the site or the traffic.
How to Choose the Best Blogging Platform for You
The right platform for your business is ultimately going to be unique to your brand’s needs.
However, there are a few elements that we believe are universal applicable when it comes to looking for the right blogging platform.
Below are the four criteria we used to choose and rank our blogging platform picks in this article. Use them to help you when researching and deciding on the right one for you.
Easy Learning Curve
If you’re a new blogger, you probably don’t want to start out with an overly complex platform. You might feel ambitious and want to learn how to create a big website, but I highly recommend not doing so for two reasons:
- You’re going to get burned out—fast. It’s easy to bite off way more than you can chew in the beginning. When that happens, you’re going to end up getting tired of your blogging project very fast. You might even abandon it completely as a result.
- There are much easier (and better) ways to do it. All of the platforms on this list are easy to use, but some are easier to pick up than others.
So find a platform that lets you launch quickly, cheaply, and easily.
Medium and LinkedIn are really good options in that regard. The learning curve is very easy—you just create an account and you can start publishing immediately after.
You also don’t have to worry about things like domain names, web hosting, or even page customization with these choices. The platforms take care of all that for you.
If you’re not afraid to get your hands a little dirty, then I highly recommend Wix. They’ll ultimately give you the best combination of simplicity and website power.
Perhaps the most important decision you can make for your blog is what topic you’ll be writing about. This is going to determine your audience, its size, and your ultimate success.
No matter what you choose, though, you’re going to want to make sure that your blog allows you to customize its look and feel to fit your topic’s niche. This helps develop your blog and brand’s identity, and create a stronger relationship with your audience.
As you can see above, the websites that we reviewed do not all have the same level of customization. Platforms like Wix and WordPress give you many more opportunities to customize everything, from your website’s colors and article layouts to your domain name and the fonts that you use.
In fact, both Wix and WordPress offer thousands of themes you can use in order to choose the exact look and feel you want from your blog. They’re probably the best option if you want to go for a more traditional blog and own your own platform.
Websites like LinkedIn and Medium offer limited customization options, only giving you the ability to change your logo and the images in your blog posts. However, the tradeoff is that they offer better ways to grow your audience.
Readership Growth Tools
Good blogging platforms offer you different tools to grow your audience. This could come in the form of SEO tools (to help your posts rank better in search results) or they could help connect you with new readers on their own platform.
For example, Medium is a great blogging platform if you want to easily tap into a large, existing audience and go viral. Their algorithm can help your articles be discovered by interested readers in their newsletter or on their main feed. Medium sites also come with a built-in commenting system that lets you generate engagement as well.
Wix and WordPress have a variety of marketing tools, such as integrations with Google Analytics and SEO dashboards to help grow traffic. This is great if you want to have a much more hands on, under-the-hood approach to your growth strategy.
Let’s be real: You want to make money with your blog. That’s totally fine. In fact, we encourage you to do so.
However, the blog platform you ultimately choose is going to have a massive impact on how much money you can possibly make and how you make it.
For example, with LinkedIn, you’ll be the most limited in your profit making potential. That’s because the platform won’t allow you to implement typical blog profit-making strategies such as on-page advertising.
Medium offers its Partner Program that allows writers to earn money on their articles based on “member engagement.” That means if other people read, comment, and like your story, you’ll be paid by Medium on the strength of that. But, you still won’t be able to earn money from advertising.
Of course, you can still use those sites to make money via strategies like affiliate marketing or selling coaching and other freelance services. But you’ll also be completely beholden to their algorithm for traffic. That means one algorithm change can mean the difference between making money and completely shuttering your business.
That’s not an exaggeration either. Algorithm changes have been notorious for shutting down once successful blogs by throttling their traffic.
If making money is important to you, then I highly recommend controlling your own platform by building your own blog with Wix or WordPress. That way, you won’t have to worry about algorithm changes ruining your traffic and you’ll be able to implement as many or as little profit making methods as you please.
Recap of the Best Blog Sites and Blog Platforms for 2021
Best Website Builder for Blogging — Wix
If you want control over your own site and keep things easy, go with Wix. It’s a drag-and-drop editor that’ll get you up and running quickly, and you’ll still be building your blog on your own website, not on someone else’s platform.
Best Blog Software for Flexibility — WordPress with Bluehost Hosting
I’d recommend going this route to anyone serious about customizing your site and need complete control.
Best Traditional Blogging Platform — Medium
If you’re not creating your own site and your blog is a classic blog — long-form posts about a topic that’s meaningful to you — I like Medium. It has a built-in audience that’s interested in reading and an interface that’s seamless.
Best Blog Site for Business — LinkedIn
Blogging about business or hoping to be a thought-leader in a certain industry? You could go with Medium, but a more rabid and useful audience might be waiting for you on LinkedIn. I know, it might not seem like a blogging platform, but LinkedIn users are really engaged and content-hungry.