If you are starting out as a freelance writer you need to start blogging, but where do you begin? First, you have to decide what is the best blogging platform to use and what you want to accomplish with your blog.
The best-known blogging platforms are Wordpress and Blogger and with good reason. They've stood the test of time, provide built-in audiences, and they both provide free security certificates for your blog. But they can be constraining if you have specific goals, and there are several other worthy options out there.
We've collected some of the best blogging platforms to explore, whether you're diversifying your content reach or building your freelance writing portfolio from scratch.
No matter which blogging platform you choose, remember to back up your content offsite, because outages and glitches can happen to anyone, and your content is your livelihood.
Let's take a look at some of the best blogging platforms out there for new writers:
Medium continues to grow as one of the top free blogging platforms, drawing businesses and publishers to its ranks. With a clean, easy-to-use content management system, password-free login and analytics at your fingertips, Medium makes sure you'll come back often to post new content.
Like Wordpress.com, Medium has a large built-in audience and an active readership. The paid tier is inexpensive at $5 a month and allows other members to tip you, monetizing your most popular content.
You can also republish your blog posts from another site on Medium with their import tool. The tool is easy to use, and brings in text from any other site along with a cononical tag so Google knows it's not duplicate content. The import tool also features custom link creation so you're not limited to an incomprehensible line of random letters and numbers in your post's URL.
Adding your work on Medium is an opportunity to reach a much larger audience and drive traffic to your own site. The drawbacks? Publishing on Medium means you give up control of your work, and the site's analytics can't compare with Google. If you have content you can't place elsewhere and really want it to be seen, Medium is a good choice.
If you're experienced with the Ruby programming language, Jekyll is a powerful, highly customizable blogging platform according to TechRadar. While it isn't for beginners, the price can't be beat: the site generator is free, and users can also post it on GitHub without incurring any hosting fees.
Jekyll takes your content text files, inserts it into a template, and creates a website ready for uploading. Unlike Wordpress or Blogger, you are in control of every aspect of your site, from custom pagination to layouts and themes. You don't have to worry about databases or comment moderation, because the site is simply your content, presented the way you want it.
If you've ever lost content because an online publisher went out of business and you're a talented techie, you'll appreciate Jekyll.
As the love child of social media and regular blogs, Tumblr reigns with more than 23 million users. The microblogging site is perfect for you if your posts are a little short for traditional blogging yet too long for Instagram.
The interface is easy to use, perfect for mobile blogging and you can quickly switch between accounts. Readers can leave comments on your post, or reblog it with their own comments attached, much like the 'Share' button on Facebook.
According to NBC News, Tumblr recently announced a ban on adult content including pornographic images and videos. The ban was enacted to make the site a more positive place that makes its users feel comfortable. Although banned content will be flagged by the site's AI logarithms, no content will be deleted by the site. Instead, it will be only viewable by the original blogger. There are exceptions to the adult content ban, including nudity in classic art or news stories.
The simplicity of Tumblr means there's not a lot of flexibility in design since your posts appear in a feed with everyone else's. You'll need to create your short-form posts with a visual element if you want to catch people's attention. Lots of pros, but a few cons as well: there's no way to monetize your posts, and Tumblr also doesn't provide blanket security certificates, so your posts will appear with that annoying "not secure" tab in Chrome browsers.
Much like Wordpress, Ghost offers blogging on its own site or a downloadable version you can install to your own site. Both have an incredible amount of plugins, themes, custom domains and widgets, but that's where the similarities end. Ghost is just for content, enabling users to create publications and magazines securely on open-source software.
Unlike Wordpress, you're not limited by themes and plug-ins available onsite; you can upload your own to Ghost and make it unique. It features a simple, two-column interface using Markdown instead of the popular WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) formatting, and has built-in SEO tools, no plug-ins required.
The self-hosted CMS is free, but hosting on Ghost's network currently costs $29 per month for the basic subscription, which allows you to add one other contributor to your roster and covers 1,000 views a month. If your blog explodes, the Ghost Pro Business package covers one million views a month and guaranteed uptime for $199 per month.
If you want your own blog site but hate the stress of building it, Wix is for you. It's similar to Blogger and very easy for non-tech writers to use. You can browse through themes or answer a few questions and let Wix's Artificial Design Intelligence do all the work for you, providing you with a ready-made site tailored to your specifications.
Wix also features drag-and-drop functionality, making it easier to customize your blog. There are paid and free versions, so you can start out free and upgrade to the paid version if you like it: the freelancer monthly rate is currently $14.00.
A mobile app allows you to write posts and manage comments from anywhere. If you team up with other freelance writers, you can add them as contributors to your blog. On the downside, Wix will run ads on your blog, and you don't have complete control over your site.
Evernote is one of the top apps available to writers for note-taking and brainstorming. Postach.io extends that relationship and connects with your Evernote account to publish your notebooks as blog posts.
According to Postach.io, Evernote is your content management system, so all posts must be written in the app first. After you connect it to the site, you can choose themes and select add-ons, like using Disqus for comment sections, social media share buttons, and Google Analytics. It's an elegant blogging solution for die-hard Evernote fans, although it is limited to fifteen themes and doesn't have a lot of plug-in or widget options. The streamlined site is speedy on mobile connections, however.
You're allowed one Evernote account on your Postach.io blog for free; more than that, and you'll need to upgrade to the paid version. Plans range from an annual fee of $5 to $250, depending on the number of blogs you need.
Since Squarespace is a web hosting company, it doesn't offer any free blogging options. If you're looking for hosting, too and want gorgeous visuals, Squarespace may be a good option. The site offers free and paid templates. Both feature Instagram-worthy designer templates that demand attention, and you can add contributors--and unlimited pages--as your blog grows.
Squarespace also supports comment sections so you can interact with your audience, and a blog app so you can post and moderate on the go. Pricing currently starts as $12 per month, which includes a free custom domain. Also, customizing some templates can be difficult for beginners; the site doesn't match Wix for simplicity, although it does give you the option of adding RSS feeds, which Wix doesn't currently support.
Choose the right platform for your needs
Whether you want control over every aspect of your post or prefer to paste, click and not worry about the details, there's a blog site for you. Feel free to experiment with some of the best blogging platforms and find the ones you like. Finding a favorite means you'll post more often and increase the worth of your content.
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