According to HubSpot data, blogs are among the top three forms of media used in content strategies today.
This isn’t surprising. Whether you’re interested in blogging for your business or as a hobby, publishing blog content offers many benefits. Blogging not only helps you establish authority in an industry — it also drives traffic to your website and enables you to better convert that traffic into leads.
To reap the rewards of blogging, we’ll walk through the process of choosing the right platform for your needs and goals. Then we’ll explore some of the best blogging platforms that can help if you’re looking to add a blog to your business site or to create a stand-alone blog.
How to Choose a Blogging Platform
To select a blogging platform that’s right for your business, you first have to evaluate how its capabilities align with your goals and needs. If you need to boost your visibility in SERPs, for example, look for a platform with built-in SEO tools. If your main priority is to start publishing visual content fast, then you might focus on finding a platform that supports multimedia posts.
Let’s take a look at some essential features that you might need for your blog. You can use this list when evaluating different blogging platforms.
The content editor is the core of every blogging platform. As a blogger, you might be working in this editor every day, so make sure you pick a platform with an editor you like.
You could make a list of must-have and nice-to-have features. For example, maybe your editor must have drag-and-drop functionality and an auto-save feature but it’d be nice to have an option to preview how your post looks on different devices.
Themes and Templates
Themes and templates allow you to customize a blog quickly and easily. When looking at different blogging platforms, check out their selection of themes and templates.
Do they have a lot of options for blogging specifically? Do they have a variety of free and premium ones? What’s the average price of their premium themes? Can you edit the themes and templates to create a truly customized look for your site?
You might also want the option to start from scratch rather than use a predesigned theme.
These are just a few questions that can help you select a platform with the design and customization options you need.
SEO Features and Tools
Optimizing your content for search is essential to driving traffic to your blog. According to a study by Sistrix, sites listed on the first SERP in Google get 88% of the organic clicks for a keyword or phrase, with 28.5% going to the first result alone.
To get on that first page, you ideally want a platform with built-in tools to help you optimize your content. CMS Hub, for example, offers SEO recommendations as you write.
If a platform doesn’t have this type of advanced functionality, then check if you can install a third-party SEO tool. Otherwise, you’ll have to get up to speed on SEO best practices and make sure to implement them on your blog.
Extensions and Integrations
No blogging platform can offer every single feature every single blogger wants out-of-the-box. Besides, your blogging needs and goals will likely change over time as your audience grows or strategy shifts.
That’s why it’s important to select a blogging platform that offers extensions or integrations with third-party tools. Platforms with an ecosystem of apps will be able to scale with you over time so you don’t have to migrate to a more flexible alternative in the future.
Now that you know some features to consider in your selection process, let’s take a look at some of the best blogging platforms on the market.
We’ll divide this list into paid and free blogging platforms, so you can find one that meets your needs and budget. Let’s get started below.
Paid Blogging Platforms
Most premium blogging platforms will offer more features and control over your blog than free platforms. If you have the budget, investing in your blogging efforts now can help you grow over time.
1. CMS Hub
G2 Rating: 4.5/5.0 (1,093 Reviews)
Best for: Rich Functionality
CMS Hub Ideal Users
What sets CMS Hub apart from other blogging platforms is that it’s ideal for both developers and marketers. It has the tools, technologies, and workflows that developers need to build a CRM-powered blog and that marketers need to manage it.
CMS Hub Pros
The biggest advantage of CMS Hub is that it’s powerful but still easy to use. You can start by selecting a pre-designed theme or build your own custom theme. Then, using HubSpot’s blog editor and built-in SEO tools, you can quickly create search engine optimized blog posts with CTAs, forms, and other interactive elements. You can even create multi-language variations of your blog posts and run A/B tests on them to reach a global audience. Before you publish, you can preview how your posts and pages look on different types of devices.
Once you’re ready to start promoting, you can connect your blog to your social media accounts. That way, you can automatically share new blog posts on your social networks in the same place that you wrote them.
As you publish more content, you can analyze your blog performance to understand what topics and types of content are resonating with your readers. That’s because CMS Hub is built as part of HubSpot’s CRM platform.
CMS Hub Cons
Since CMS Hub is designed to be an all-in-one solution for marketers and developers, it has lots of rich functionality, including activity logging, flexible themes, multi-language support, and more. This is a good thing for most bloggers. But, if you’re an individual or small business just starting to blog, then you may not have the time or expertise to leverage the full power of the CMS Hub. In that case, you might be better off with a simpler or free alternative to start.
CMS Hub Website Example
Below you can take a look at this retailer’s feature-rich blog built on the CMS Hub.
CMS Hub Key Takeaways
- Meets the needs of developers and marketers
- Backed by HubSpot’s CRM tools
- Multi-lingual support, SEO recommendations, and other advanced functionality is built-in
G2 Rating: 4.3/5.0 (8,096 Reviews)
Best for: Themes and Plugins
WordPress Ideal Users
Creating and managing a blog on WordPress will likely require more maintenance than other platforms, but it will provide the extensibility and content management features publishers and other businesses need to create a complex blog.
WordPress was originally created as a blogging platform. Though it has evolved into a multi-purpose content management system, it still has many features and themes for blogging.
WordPress enables you to not only purchase a custom domain and download one of 3,500+ themes specifically designed for blogs — it also lets you add social media buttons, forms, affiliate links, and other features via plugins.
The customization options are virtually limitless with the 59,000+ free plugins available.
You will have to make sure your theme and plugins are compatible and up-to-date. Otherwise, they can disrupt the user experience or break your site. Other maintenance tasks like finding and fixing broken links, updating the core software, and optimizing your database will also be your responsibility. This can be difficult for site owners who don’t have the time or technical expertise to regularly maintain their site.
WordPress Blog Example
WordPress Key Takeaways
- Ideal for publishers and others who want to extend platform via plugins
- Over 3,500 free blogging themes
- Website maintenance can be time-consuming
G2 Rating: 4.4/5.0 (921 Reviews)
Best for: Design
Squarespace Ideal Users
Squarespace is an ideal blogging platform for businesses and individuals creating image-rich content. With Squarespace’s award-winning designer templates and integrations with Getty Images, Unsplash, and Google AMP, you can create visual content that’s engaging and shareable.
While Squarespace only offers about 140 templates, they are all mobile-optimized and fully customizable so you can create a blog that looks the way you want it to. Once you’ve designed your pages, you can use Squarespace’s blogging and SEO tools to create and optimize your content.
Finally, after publishing your blog posts, you can connect your social media accounts to easily promote them. Then use the built-in analytics tool to learn where your traffic is coming from, what your visitors are looking for, and how they’re interacting with your content.
Squarespace offers even more features, from audio files support to newsletter signup forms, but ultimately it’s limited in functionality. That’s because it supports less than 30 extensions, so you’re mostly limited to the features Squarespace provides out-of-the-box.
Since they lack some feature that bloggers needs — like an auto-save feature, for example — Squarespace is not the ideal platform for everyone.
Squarespace Blog Example
Squarespace does allow some bloggers to create beautiful sites, like this lifestyle blog below.
Squarespace Key Takeaways
- Best suited for individuals and brands who want to customize a blog to their personal style
- Small selection of templates but high-quality
- Limited to features and few extensions that Squarespace offers
G2 Rating: 4.2/5.0 (1,338 Reviews)
Best for: Fast Setup
Wix Ideal Users
Wix is a popular blogging platform for beginners who are looking for hosting and blogging tools in one place and who prioritize speed and design over functionality.
With Wix, you have two options for creating your blog. Using the Wix Editor, you can start by selecting from over 800 pre-designed templates that any blogger can use, whether you own a retail business or run a food review website. Or you can start from scratch if you know HTML and CSS. Using Wix Artificial Design Intelligence, on the other hand, you can fill out a quick questionnaire and have a blog created for you.
After you’ve picked or created your template, or had one selected for you with Wix ADI, you can begin writing and editing posts on desktop or mobile, embed Wix’s stock photos and videos or your own media, and organize them into topics.
Once you’re done writing, you can configure your SEO settings to boost your organic reach, push your content to your subscribers with Wix’s email tool, and share them through your social media accounts. You can further foster a sense of community among your readers by letting them become members.
While Wix is more versatile than other hosted website builders, it lacks customization options and content management features, particularly when comparing Wix vs WordPress or another CMS.
For example, to add more advanced elements to the page, like music or maps, you’ll have to add HTML code. This process can be intimidating for beginners, particularly when compared to the ease of installing plugins on WordPress. It’s post editor also isn’t drag-and-drop, which might frustrate some bloggers.
Wix Blog Example
Take a look at this Wix blogger’s site below for an example of a stylish but relatively simple blog.
Wix Key Takeaways
- Ideal for bloggers who prioritize speed and design over functionality
- Option to use pre-designed templates or start from scratch
- Editor lacks drag-and-drop functionality
G2 Rating: 4.2/5.0 (419 Reviews)
Best for: Ease of Use
Weebly Ideal Users
Weebly is another popular blogging platform for bloggers that want everything they need to launch a blog in one place, including website building tools, templates, and hosting. More specifically, Weebly is best suited for creating blogs with lots of content but more basic functionality.
Weebly is affordable and easy to use like Wix, but differentiates itself in multiple ways. The editor supports drag-and-drop functionality for both posts and pages, for example. You can create more complex layouts by adding elements like forms and image galleries as well. You can also add more sub-levels to your navigation menus, which allows you to organize larger amounts of content.
All Weebly templates are also mobile-optimized, which means you won’t have to do any additional editing or rearranging for mobile.
While Weebly offers more functionality than most website builders, it does lack flexibility when compared to WordPress or another CMS. For example, you can’t drag and drop elements anywhere on your posts and pages or edit parts of the underlying source code. These restrictions do make Weebly easier to learn and use than most platforms, but they can frustrate more advanced users.
There’s also been some pain points since Weebly was acquired by the ecommerce company Square. A prime example: users who select that they want to create a website will see the standard Weebly editor, whereas users who select that they want to create a website with an online store will see a completely different editor called the Square Online Builder. This has caused some confusion among users.
Weebly Blog Example
Take a look at this Weebly blog below, which is content-rich but not feature-rich.
Weebly Key Takeaways
- Ideal for content-rich blogs
- Editor supports forms, image galleries, and other advanced elements
- No access to source code
6. Craft CMS
G2 Rating: 4.1/5.0 (35 Reviews)
Best for: Customization
Craft CMS Ideal Users
Craft CMS is a blogging platform designed for developers, designers, and web professionals.
Craft CMS Pros
With Craft’s personalized content modeling, powerful templating, and option to edit your source code, you can completely control the appearance and functionality of your site — if you have the necessary experience.
Craft CMS also offers an image editor, collaboration tools, and a localization feature that can translate your content to specific languages. You can now also manage multiple blogs from within a single Craft install. To analyze your content’s performance, you can integrate Craft CMS’ dashboard with Google Analytics.
Craft CMS Blog Example
Craft CMS Key Takeaways
- Advanced functionality including personalized content modeling and localization feature
- Free version for single admin accounts
- Requires some web development experience
G2 Rating: 4.5/5.0 (51 Reviews)
Best for: Enterprise Content Marketing
Contently Ideal Users
Contently is a robust blogging platform that’s ideal for enterprise companies with large budgets but few internal editorial resources.
Contently allows you to manage your entire content creation process in one place. You can create and visualize your editorial strategy with their customizable production calendar tool, organize your blog posts with their tagging tool, and effectively collaborate with your team on projects by leveraging their advanced workflow tools. You can even pay for Contently’s well-vetted freelancers to write some of this content for you.
Before publishing your content, Contently’s smart content review tools will ensure your content is aligned with your brand, optimized for search, and legally compliant. Finally, to refine your content strategy, Contently enables you to compare your content’s performance against industry benchmarks, quantify its ROI, and measure its performance by topic, format, and sources directly in your dashboard.
The biggest drawback of Contently is that it’s beyond many small businesses’ and individual’s budgets. With prices ranging from $3,000 to $25,000 per month, Contently is one of the most expensive blogging platforms for enterprise companies.
Contently Blog Example
The Royal Bank of Canada, one of North America’s largest banks, uses Contently to streamline content creation across 14 marketing departments. Check out its blog below.
Contently Key Takeaways
- Can manage entire content creation process
- Deep-dive analytics
- Pricing only feasible for enterprise companies
G2 Rating: 3.9/5.0 (338 Reviews)
Best for: Community Building
Joomla Ideal Users
Joomla is an open-source CMS with advanced content and user management features that are built directly into the platform. This makes it an excellent WordPress alternative for creating community-centric blogs.
Joomla offers rich built-in functionality as well as thousands of extensions. For example, Joomla allows you to create custom post types, manage hundreds of users, and publish content in multiple languages right out of the box.
It also offers some great extensions for blogging. EasyBlog by StackIdeas, for example, provides a much cleaner drag-and-drop editor than Joomla’s built-in editor. You can also enable star ratings on your blog and automatically publish posts to your social media platforms with this extension.
Because of its robust built-in functionality, Joomla does have a steeper learning curve than a CMS like WordPress so it’ll require more time to set up. It also offers a smaller selection of themes and extensions than WordPress, which can limit your customization options.
Joomla Blog Example
Below is an example of a Joomla blog built with EasyBlog.
Joomla Key Takeaways
- Advanced content management features
- Steep learning curve due to robust built-in functionality
- May require blogging extension like EasyBlog
G2 Rating: 3.8/5.0 (375 Reviews)
Best for: Flexibility
Drupal Ideal Users
Drupal is a highly flexible open-source CMS that’s best suited for advanced users, as well as enterprise companies, with complex blogging needs who are looking for a self-hosted solution.
Drupal has hundreds of out-of-the-box features and modules. If you know how to use them or have the time to learn, then Drupal will provide you more power than other open-source platforms.
Specifically, Drupal supports a wide selection of taxonomies, content types, page templates, blocks, views, and more for creating and managing lots of different types of content. It also has advanced user permissions so you can provide site admins, content editors, and other stakeholders personalized access to specific content. This — along with its multilingual capabilities, Layout Builder, and other modules — will allow you to create and manage large, complex blogs
If you don’t know how to use Drupal’s out-of-the-box features and modules, and you don’t have the time to learn, they can be confusing and hinder your blogging efforts. In that case, you might be better off with a simpler platform.
Drupal Blog Example
Below is a Drupal blog that features all of the add-ons and modules developed by the site owner.
Drupal Key Takeaways
- Best suited for technical users with complex blogging needs
- Powerful content management features
- Advanced user permissions
Free Blogging Platforms
While free blogging platforms might offer less functionality and flexibility than their premium counterparts, many can still provide the blogging tools and customizations you need to start blogging. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular options below.
G2 Rating: 4.3/5.0 (23 Reviews)
Best for: Privacy
Write.as Ideal Users
Write.as is a lightweight blogging platform that’s ideal for individuals looking to create simple blogs with a minimalist design.
Offering a stripped-down editor with nothing but an auto-save feature, Write.as offers the experience of writing in a virtual journal. Write.as is also free to use and doesn’t support ads.
Teams can also use it like Google Docs to share updates, proposals, and works-in-progress (for a monthly subscription).
Write.as does require you to use Markdown, a syntax that uses special characters to format text. For example, you’d type in asterisks to create bullet points, hashtags to create headers, and [Link] to add a link. The syntax is not difficult to learn, but it might require some practice. If you’d prefer to simply click a button to create bullet lists or add hyperlinks, then you’ll be better off with one of the free platforms below.
Also, while Write.as is free to use, you’ll have to upgrade to its pro plan for $6 per month to connect a custom domain name, install a custom theme, remove the nofollow tag from your links, and more.
Write.as Blog Example
Check out an example of a Pro blog below.
Write.as Key Takeaways
- Best for individuals who want a minimalist interface and design
- Requires you to learn and use Markdown syntax
- Free version is ad-free
G2 Rating: 4.1/5.0 (76 Reviews)
Best for: Simplicity
Blogger Ideal Users
Blogger is a free platform designed for newbie bloggers. While it lacks many content management features, Blogger is more feature-rich than most free blogging platforms. For that reason, Blogger is perfect for individuals looking to create lifestyle blogs as a hobby or to make some extra cash.
The biggest advantage of Blogger is how easy it is to create and customize a relatively basic blog.
To get started, you just need to create an account with Google, select a template, and get publishing. You can purchase a custom domain, optimize your SEO settings, connect your blog to Google Analytics, optimize your posts with Adsense, and even edit the HTML and CSS of your site — but you won’t be able to do much beyond that.
To get a better sense of the platform’s limitations, you can compare Blogger vs WordPress or another CMS. With Blogger, you can’t install plugins to extend the functionality of your site. You can’t create different content types, like portfolio pages. And you can’t change the default display of your content from reverse-chronological order to, say, your most popular posts.
In short, if you need the content management features and customization options of a CMS, then look into alternatives to Blogger.
Blogger Blog Example
Take a look at this personal blog below for an example.
- Best suited for lifestyle bloggers
- More feature-rich than other free blogging platforms
- Can’t create custom post types or change display of posts
G2 Rating: 3.9/5.0 (26 Reviews)
Best for: Multimedia
Tumblr appeals to personal bloggers and brands alike. While bloggers might be able to use this as their only platform, brands tend to use it as one platform among many to show their personality.
Tumblr combines the power of blogging and social networking in one highly-visual publishing platform.
Tumblr offers everything you need to create a professional-looking site. You can select from hundreds of free and premium themes and add multiple pages, sidebars, social sharing buttons, comment sections, and more. You can also buy a custom domain name from a domain name registrar rather than use the free subdomain: yourusername.tumblr.com. If you have HTML coding skills, you can further customize your site.
When you’re satisfied with your site’s design, you can start creating and publishing multimedia post types. Featuring photos, GIFs, links, chat dialogue, audio files, and video in your content makes it more engaging, memorable, and shareable.
Since other users can easily like, reply, and reblog your posts on their Tumblr as well as their other social accounts, right from their dashboard, this is an excellent platform for engaging and fostering an online community.
There are restrictions on the site that can frustrate users. For example, you can only schedule (or “queue”) 50 posts in a day, which might limit your ability to plan and execute a long-term content strategy. You can also only upload videos under 100MB and in MP4 format and only track 20 tags at a time. Furthermore, your site can be suspended at any time if you’re found in violation of Tumblr’s community guidelines.
Tumblr Blog Example
Vogue has a highly visual and multimedia-rich site on Tumblr. Check it out below.
- Ideal for publishing multimedia posts
- Restrictions on what you post, when, and how often
- Ideal for individuals and brands to engage with followers
Get Started Blogging
Once you identify your blogging goals and needs, you can select a blogging platform with the functionality and flexibility you’re looking for. Ideally, your platform is like CMS Hub, combining ease of use and power so you can start blogging and reap the benefits in SEO and traffic.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in April 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.