In the mid-1990s, ‘online diaries’ evolved into blogs. Since then, individuals and businesses have created blogs to share information, generate income, or promote their business.
Launching a visually appealing and mobile-friendly blog keeps getting easier. There are free and low-cost platforms that allow even a novice to start a simple website or blog within a few hours.
Not every platform is the same. Some systems limit your ability to transfer the website later without rebuilding it on another platform. Some are easy to monetize and can expand infinitely with your business, while others are primarily for content.
Here are five excellent platforms to get started with your blog quickly at low or no cost, with details to help you choose the right one.
There are two WordPress platforms. I will introduce WordPress.org first and WordPress.com second.
WordPress.org currently powers more than 35% of all websites on the web. It is an open-source platform whose creators have kept it 100% free to use.
You can build any blog or website, including ecommerce, portfolio, forum, paid membership, and all types of business sites.
With WordPress.org, you purchase your unique domain name, like yourbusiness.com, and that is the address for your website. There are no ads, and you own everything you create.
WordPress.org is self-hosted. This means it is free to use, but only if you subscribe to a dedicated host. Shared hosting plans start as low as three dollars a month.
For a standard blog or website, WordPress.org provides several free themes that get you up and running in a few clicks.
- A solid foundation to build SEO
- Highly customizable
- Ownership of your content and full control over your blog’s future
- Can expand your website and add features as your business grows
- Need to subscribe to a hosting company, purchase a domain name, and choose a template
- Easy to do, but a steeper learning curve than some other options
WordPress.org gives you control over every component of your website and is one of the best platforms for bloggers whose goal is to make money.
Created by one of the WordPress.org founders, WordPress.com offers a hosted version of the open-source platform. It lets you seamlessly transfer your blog from WP.com to WP.org at no charge.
With WordPress.com, you do not have to subscribe to a separate host. You can either select the free blog option or subscribe to a paid option.
If you are looking to test out a blog without a big commitment, WordPress.com is an excellent place to start. It is free to start. If your blog takes off, you can expand its functionality later by upgrading to a paid plan or transferring to WP.org.
The free version of WordPress.com includes Jetpack essential features, 3G of storage, and free themes.
- Free version available
- Easy to set up and maintenance-free
- Transfers to WordPress.org for seamless expansion as your business or project grows
- The free version does not allow a custom domain name. Your domain address will be yourblog.wordpress.com
- Ads display on the free version. You do not choose the ads or make money from them
- Limited monetization
Blogger was one of the first easy-to-use platforms on the scene. Launched in 1999, Google acquired it in 2003.
Blogger is free and easy to use. You gain the advantage of Google’s secure and reliable platform. If you have an existing Google account, you have a Blogger account. You can get started quickly with no technical expertise.
Blogger is a good place to start a free hobby blog. Unlike many free platforms, you can monetize your blog with AdSense as your audience grows.
- Free to use
- Selection of customizable templates
- No technical skills required
- Automatic integration with Google’s other services like Analytics and Ads
- Some monetization available as traffic to your blog grows
- Limited growth potential. It’s easy to outgrow the Blogger platform
- Difficult to transition to other platforms as you expand
- Blogger does not receive continuous updates or new features
- No unique domain name — your name will include blogger.com
- Google retains the right to suspend your blog at any time, or even cancel the Blogger service
Wix is a hosted platform with an included web builder. It offers several paid plans, but also provides a free option for bloggers.
Wix arrived on the scene in 2006 when creating a blog or website required technical skills or a big budget. It currently boasts 100 million users around the world.
With the free version, you get up to 500MG storage and up to 500MB bandwidth. You can expand your blog inside Wix as your audience and business grow, but some of the plans with more functionality are expensive compared to a self-hosted option like WordPress.org.
- Free option
- Responsive and easy-to-use drag-and-drop builder
- Get started quickly and build an attractive blog
- Can’t change templates or platforms without redoing your whole site
- Free sites include wix.com in the address
- Limited blogging functions and limited customization of the free blog
- Little to no monetization options with the free version
Medium offers a different blogging opportunity than the other platforms presented here. Medium is not a website builder. It is a community of writers and a publishing platform.
When you open an account as a writer on Medium, you tap into an existing audience. Similar to when you post in a Facebook group or on your Instagram account, Medium is an online space with a dedicated audience.
Medium is free for bloggers, and there are opportunities to earn money on it.
You can build an audience directly on Medium, or start your blog on another platform and then share your material through your Medium account to drive traffic back to your blog.
Medium is an excellent option for bloggers who just want to write. It offers exposure and a built-in community component. On Medium, you can contribute regularly or occasionally, without the steady commitment required to build your audience with a blog.
- Easy to use and publish
- Completely free to use
- Built-in audience
- You can focus on writing, instead of designing and SEO
- Limited customization
- Limited monetization
- You cannot use your own domain name
- While it may help you build your audience on Medium, your blog on Medium is independent of any websites you might create
- Medium owns your audience
Getting Your Message on the Web Is Easy
There are many excellent platforms to get you started blogging, and getting your message on the web is only getting easier.
If you intend to build on your blog or want a website to promote your business, it is challenging to match WordPress.org’s expansive capabilities. WordPress.com offers a pathway to grow later if you are not sure how big you might grow but want to start free and keep your options open.
If you are most interested in an attractive website and want the ability to do it yourself with little or no technical challenge, Wix is a handy way to get started.
If blogging is your true and final focus, then Blogger or Medium are easy ways to get started quickly. On Blogger, your content is yours. On Medium, you have a built-in audience.
You don’t have to spend a penny or understand a line of code to launch a great blog. You just have to do it! But, in case you still have any hesitations, please feel free to contact us—we’d love to help you get started.