If you want to try blogging, it is best to start with free blogging platforms. It is a no-brainer. The following major question is, “What is the best blogging platform right now?” And the answer is… it depends on what you want to achieve. There is no one-size-fits-all blog platform. Different bloggers have different needs, and different blog platforms are better suited to those needs. Finally, “best” will be determined by you and your circumstances. Having said that, each of the platforms we’ll be discussing shares some characteristics (besides being free). Before we get started, let’s take a quick look at them:
- There’s zero maintenance hassle. There’s no need to be concerned about software updates, CSS or HTML tweaks, data backups, or cyberattacks because they’re all handled by someone else.
- They’re easy to use. Each platform caters to newcomers and beginners to varying degrees. You could get started right away if you have only a basic understanding of technology.
- Customization is limited, which is great when you are just starting. The limitations will help you focus on what’s important: the testing of your ideas.
Now let’s take a closer look at five free platforms you can choose for a powerful start in blogging.
1. Medium: a simple, beautiful blogging platform that embraces minimalism.
Fast facts: Founded by Evan Williams in August 2012 to much fanfare it has grown into a giant. According to the New York Times, this rapidly growing blogging platform had 60 million unique visitors per month as of May 2017.
How to use the platform: Medium offers several ways to register, including signing in with one of your social media accounts. That’s it! Click the GET STARTED button and you’re done! After you’ve signed up, click your avatar in the top-right corner of the page and then click “New story.” You’ll arrive at a simple, drag-and-drop editor. Every change you make gets automatically saved in the background. And as you type, you begin to see exactly how your finished post will appear to your readers.
Medium gives you a chance to be featured in front of their 60+ million readers for $0. Why not to try it?
If your story gets enough love from readers (they click a “clap” button to show their approval), it may be featured as one of Medium’s top stories on their app and website, as well as in their “Daily Digest” email.
Summing up: Medium is a platform for everyone. As its founder Evan Williams once put it: “Medium is not about who you are or whom you know, but about what you have to say.” However, Medium will unlikely be a good choice for micro-influencers and bloggers focused on visual content rather than writing.
- Built-in audience of over 60 million readers
- Good for all blog types
- Excellent typography — your blog will look professional
- More business-friendly than WordPress.com
- Monetization is possible with the Medium Partner Program
- Little customization
- Though Medium offers stats, you won’t be able to link to your Google account and use Google Analytics
2. WordPress: Best Sandbox platform
Fast facts: WordPress.com, which debuted in 2005, is a turnkey content management system (CMS) based on the open-source WordPress.org software. Over 409 million people visit WordPress.com’s network of blogs each month, viewing over 21 billion pages. WordPress websites, in short, are very popular.
How to use the platform: Signing up for a free account takes only a few minutes. Go to WordPress.com and click the “Get Started” button, enter your email address, a username, and a strong password, then add up some details about your blog, choose an address for your site and, finally, click “FREE” plan option. WordPress.com’s “free for life” plan gives you numerous features, including:
- A free WordPress.com subdomain
- “Jetpack” essential features
- Community support
- Dozens of free themes/templates.
Summing up: WordPress.com is a solid CMS platform for almost every type of blogger, on top of this, WordPress.com is good for more than just blogging. You can also use it for projects and e-commerce stores, which isn’t something the other free
platforms can claim. However, WordPress appears to be too amateur for a professional blog for your company.
- Suitable for a variety of blog types
- Solid support articles and forum
- More design options than other free platforms
- Shorter learning curve if you choose to transition to self-hosted WordPress later
- Site builder that’s good for more than just blogs
- Premium plans are available, for those interested
- Not ideal for business
- You can’t install premium or free WordPress themes and plugins from third parties
- Lack of community makes it difficult to build an audience from scratch
- WordPress advertising and banners may appear next to your content
3. LinkedIn: Best Choice for Professionals.
Fast Facts: Primarily used for professional networking, LinkedIn also offers a publishing platform with 560+ million users.
How to use the platform: Starting on LinkedIn is easy, you will be required to enter your email, educational background and a reason for joining LinkedIn. For LinkedIn members publishing content will be easier than on WordPress.com, Medium, or any other blogging platform. All you need is to click the “Write an article” button and start writing.
Summing up: LinkedIn is all about nurturing business relationships, that’s why it is a great choice for anyone who wants to reach professionals and businesses. Useful content on LinkedIn has a chance to get noticed by those outside your list of connections. If one of LinkedIn’s editors sees your article and decides to feature it on one of LinkedIn’s numerous channels, your work gets exposed to a giant audience of interested, like-minded professionals.
Tip: Want to increase the chances a LinkedIn editor will see your article? Share it on Twitter and include “tip @LinkedInEditors” in your tweet.
- Good for professionals and business blogging
- Clean, simple design
- Ease of use — publishing platform is built right into your LinkedIn profile
- Built-in audience of like-minded professionals
- Only good for professionals and businesses
- Very few customization options
- You can’t schedule posts for future publishing
4. Instagram: number one for visuals.
Fast Facts: Founded in 2010 Instagram is now one of the largest social media sites in the world owned by Facebook. With over 1 billion users worldwide it still shows consistent growth.
How to use the platform: Enter your phone number or email address, your name, your desired username, and choose a strong password. Then click the “Sign up” button. Or skip all that log in with your Facebook account. Instagram is perfect for micro-blogging. But first you must create a great image, upload it to the platform and then write a short, limited to 2200 characters only, blog post.
Summing up: Anyone interested in highly visual topics should use Instagram. If you can combine great visuals with short, punchy posts, you can have a lot of success using Instagram as a microblogging platform. When writing captions, keep in mind that there is a 2200 character limit.
- Great for visual topics
- Ideal platform for microblogging
- Well-suited for a target audience that primarily uses mobile devices
- Limited to 2,200 characters
- Limited to one hyperlink in your bio
5. Guest Blogging: a good way to become a subject matter expert in your field.
Fast facts: Someone else’s popular blog can sometimes be the best platform for your work. Why? Because it has the potential to provide instant credibility.
How to use this option:
Check to see if the blogs you already like to read and that are relevant to your niche, accept guest post submissions. Examine their “About” and “Start” pages. Check out their “Contact” page. They may make it simple by including a “Contribute” or “Write for Us” link in their navigation menu or footer.
You can also utilize Google’s and Twitter’s search capability, searching for Blogging” + “guest post”; “Blogging” + “contribute”; “Blogging tips” + “write for us”.
Summing up: By guest blogging, you can get your words in front of pre-existing, relevant audiences, increase your credibility, and boost your authority. However, it is not an effective method of increasing traffic to your blog.
- Write for interested, targeted audiences
- Fastest way to build your authority and reputation
- Not an efficient method for getting traffic to your own website
- Getting published on quality sites is hard work