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. These platforms give you the opportunity to get your writing 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.
But there’s plenty of benefits for both routes. 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 5 Best Blogging Platforms and Blog Sites for 2021
Here are our in-depth reviews of the most popular blog platforms.
- Wix — Best blog builder for beginners
- WordPress with Bluehost — Most customizable blog platform
- Medium — Best for building an audience
- Substack — Best for making money in your niche
- LinkedIn — Best for attracting B2B prospects
#1. Wix – Best Blog Builder for Beginners
Wix is the best blog builder for beginners. No question.
They offer an easy way to create a new blog in just a few minutes. In fact, they’ll walk you through the entire process step-by-step if you need.
Wix gives you hundreds of beautiful templates for any type of blog. Easily customize any web page with their drag-and-drop editor. That means no coding knowledge required.
If you want even more help, they offer an ADI builder. This leverages artificial intelligence to help you build the exact website you want by just answering a few questions.
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—elements like social tools, likes, comments, hashtags, categories, and subscriber forms.
All of the SEO features you need are easy to access as well, from alt tags for your images and internal links to 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 just 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 your copy, 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 a read-time count to show readers roughly how long it’ll take to go through your post, 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.
#2. WordPress with Bluehost Hosting – Most Customizable Blog Platform
- Highly customizable
- One-click WordPress install
- Powerful and reliable
- Prices start at $2.95/month
WordPress is one of the most popular website builders out there.
It’s incredibly flexible and powerful. WordPress allows you to make any kind of blog you want.
That’s not an exaggeration either. Here are some examples of actual blogs powered by WordPress:
- Want a travel blog with a heavy emphasis on splashy travel photographs? WordPress can do it.
- Want to write about personal finance and development while selling info products? WordPress can do it.
- Do you run an incredibly popular social media platform for millions of business professionals across the world and want to give them great blog content? WordPress can do it.
They give you the tools and plugins you need to customize the platform to your exact needs and specifications.
And, it’s fairly simple. 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.
Building a WordPress website takes more time than a Wix website. However, the tradeoff is your website is much more customizable (and powerful).
You’ll be able to add the plugins you want and configure any of WordPress’s hundreds of themes on the backend to make your site look and feel exactly the way you want it to.
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.
#3. Medium – Best Blogging Platform for Building an Audience
- Completely free
- Audience of 60+ million readers
- High ceiling for virality
- Built-in comment section
It’s also where you can find some of the most thought-provoking, incendiary content online. As such, their content has a higher ceiling for virality and you can take advantage of many communities of dedicated readers.
That makes it a great platform if you want to find and cultivate an audience of fans of your writing.
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 each article, as well as a built-in commenting system so you can immediately engage with the writer and other readers.
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.
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.
However, Medium does have some drawbacks:
For one, you won’t be able to have your own customized URL. That can be a big drawback from a brand building perspective.
That said, you can adapt to that by pointing a custom domain to your Medium page.
You’re also going to have to rely much more on their algorithm in the initial stages of building an audience. That lack of control over your own platform could be a deal breaker for many of you.
But, if you already have a pretty well-established community, you could enhance it with Medium’s community.
Pros and Cons of a Medium Blog
Medium is the best all-around traditional blogging platform. It’s where the majority of readers who are 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 a 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 versus 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 in any syndication deal.
You can thoughtfully approach this, but there are some technical how-tos to know.
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.
#4. Substack – Best Platform for Making Money in Your Niche
- Free to start
- Customized URL
- Great for newsletters and blogs
- Make money from subscribers
Substack is a newer platform on the scene that has recently made big waves in the media industry. That’s because they allow you to create a newsletter as well as a blog. You can charge subscribers to your newsletter for your content as well.
One of the best parts: It’s entirely up to you whether or not you charge them—and how much you want to charge them. If you want to put in the work of building a sizeable audience (or if you already have an audience who wants to read your content), this can be a very lucrative way to make money each month and/or year.
Every newsletter you send out can be published on your Substack page that acts like a blog. You can allow readers and subscribers to access as much or as little of this content as you want.
Substack is also fantastic if you have an incredibly specific niche. That’s the beauty of it. They allow you to build an audience for virtually any target interest.
There are Substacks about the music industry, sex and relationships, climate change, and even old letters from famous people. If you have a niche, there’s likely an audience out there you can target with your Substack blog.
This is one of the easiest ways to immediately create a monetized blog and newsletter for free.
Of course there is a catch: If you charge for your content, Substack takes a 10% cut. That means if you charge $10 a month for your writing, they’ll take $1 a month from that subscriber. You get the other $9.
This can add up over time and you might get to a point where you just want to set up your own newsletter platform and make money without anyone else taking such a big cut. However, if you’re just starting out and have less than 100,000 subscribers, I think this is a great way to go.
Pros and Cons of Blogging with Substack
Substack does have a few downsides. You’re going to be extremely limited in the look and feel of your blog’s home. You’ll only have a handful of menu options and the layout is going to look the same as another Substack blog.
The design of your blog is going to be limited to simple color choices for your buttons along with a small logo in the top left corner and a header image.
However, what it lacks in design it makes up for in sheer simplicity and intuitiveness. If I were going to create a newsletter and wanted to make money right away, this would be the platform I choose. It’s a great place to discover new content in specific niche topics I’m interested in and it’s great for being discovered too.
#5. LinkedIn – Best Platform for Attracting B2B Prospects
LinkedIn is the social network for industry professionals.
They boast more than 590 million users, with 154 million of them in the US. And a lot of them are active, with 44% being monthly active users.
LinkedIn used to be basically a resume hosting platform. Think of it 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 your bread-and-butter. 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.
They also have a WordPress-style article editor. This provides more potential for professional, well-produced B2B content than any other social media platform.
Since it’s a social network for industry professionals, it makes it a great channel to access B2B prospects, along with getting quick feedback from peers on thought leadership. Easily turn your audience into partners and customers.
It’s worth noting that there are differences between a LinkedIn post and article. An article isn’t a post and vice versa.
A post is a smaller update you’d share with your feed and connections. Think along the lines of a quick anecdote or pro tip. They’re limited to 1,300 characters, which is about 5 lines.
Articles are longer and more in-depth, of course. 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.
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.”
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 (like LinkedIn) 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.
- One-click WordPress installation
- Fast and reliable
- Easy to get started
- Prices start at $2.95/month
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.