Pick a Blogging Platform

Now that you have a niche and a name and you know what you want to get out of your blog, it’s time to set up your blog.

The first thing you need to do is pick a blogging platform. These are also commonly called blog sites or blogging sites in case you see the terms elsewhere.

Types of Blogging Platforms

We recommend using a self-hosted platform with WordPress as it gives you the most flexibility and control with your blog. This course goes in-depth about building, customizing, promoting, and monetizing your blog specific to WordPress, but it’s all useful for other platforms too.

But let’s talk about all of the different types of platforms (self-hosted, free, freemium) so you know all of your options.

Self-Hosted Platforms

With a self-hosted platform, you have the most control and flexibility with your blog.

  • You get to choose your own custom domain.
  • You own your blog completely; you are the only one with the rights to use your content.
  • There are tons of design and customization options available for you to make your blog look and perform the way you want it to.

With self-hosted platforms, you need 2 things: a content management system (CMS) to build your blog and a host to store your blog and connect it to the internet. The CMS is often free and the hosting usually costs $4 per month.

WordPress is the best CMS to build your blog. It’s incredibly popular (27% of the entire web uses it), has hundreds of thousands of design and customization features, and it’s free. It’s the best choice for all bloggers from beginners to experts.

As far as hosting goes, we prefer SiteGround. It has better performance, uptime, and customer service than other hosts and it’s pricing is competitive as well (just $4/month).

The great thing about using a self-hosted platform is that you can change hosts at anytime without having to rebuild your site.

If you have problems with your host, just move your blog to another one. Because it’s built on WordPress, you’re never stuck with one hosting provider.

Free Platforms

Examples of free platforms include things like Tumblr and Blogger. As you may have guessed, their these blog sites' biggest draw is that they are free. Unfortunately, as the saying goes: there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

With free platforms, you are making some substantial sacrifices.

  • Your blog’s name:

    Free platforms make you use a subdomain so the URL of your blog will be something like yourname.blogspot.com. It’s long, unattractive, and the sign of an inexperienced amateur. People will be less likely to take you seriously right from the start.
  • Your ability to make money:

    Even though you aren’t paying, free platforms will make money off of you in some way, like putting ads on your blog. You won’t have control over what ads are placed on your blog and you won’t be seeing any of the profits from them. Plus free platforms often have rules against you promoting or selling products for yourself.
  • Your flexibility:

    Because they are providing you with a free service, free platforms have no reason to provide you with options to design and customize your blog. Sure, they’ll have a couple of looks to choose from and you can change the color if you want. But if you want your blog to look unique and professional as well as having increased functionality, you’re out of luck.
  • Your security:

    Free platforms are easier to hack since all of the user data is held by one private company. If someone steals your login information, they can steal your content as well. Since you aren’t paying, they don’t have any real incentive to help you reclaim your work. And it has happened to some people that something crashes and your content is lost. If your content is lost. free platforms don’t backup your blog for you. You will have to start all over.
  • Your control:

    Signing up with a free platform means giving that company rights to your content. They can use it however they want and even change it.

The sacrifices you have to make to earn the free service of these platforms are enough to turn anyone away.

Freemium Platforms

Have you ever heard the term “freemium”? It’s an interesting concept. It’s a pricing strategy where a company offers you a basic option for free, but then charges you for anything more. People are attracted to freemium platforms because they can start for free, thinking maybe they won’t need to upgrade to a paid option.

Unfortunately, the free packages offered from freemium platforms are no better than the ones offered by free platforms. You run into all of the same problems and sometimes even more. Some freemium platforms make your blog load really slowly to encourage you to upgrade for better performance.

By upgrading to one of the paid options, you’ll get better performance, more space, and more features, but it costs twice as much as a self-hosted platform (compare $4 per month to the cheapest freemium plan at $9 per month) and doesn’t have anywhere close to the same amount of flexibility in design and functionality.

I learned the hard way that with a freemium platform, you’re stuck with your first choice.

If you’re dissatisfied with your website’s performance (poor loading time) and want to move your blog, you have to spend the time copying and pasting all of your content to a new platform. Everything will have to be designed and customized all over again. (I’ve done this before. It’s incredibly frustrating and time-consuming).​

We recommend using a self-hosted platform and now you can understand why: they offer the most control, flexibility, and options and are very affordable.

Self-Hosted Platform Setup

To set up a blog with a self-hosted platform, you need a content management system (CMS) to build your blog and a host to store it and connect it to the internet.

We recommend WordPress as the best CMS to build your blog. It’s easy-to-use, has an abundance of design options and functional capabilities, and it’s free.

Most web hosts support WordPress so you have many different choices, plus if you ever encounter problems, you can switch hosts very easily. We recommend SiteGround because we have found that it has the most uptime, best performance, and best customer support.

In this course, we go into great deal about how to set up your blog, customize it, build your content, promote it, optimize it, and monetize it all on WordPress. The information translates to other CMS’s as well, but you’ll get the best results if you use WordPress.

Below, we’ll talk more about the benefits of WordPress and SiteGround.

Why We Like WordPress

WordPress is a website content management system (CMS). You use it to build, customize, and manage your blog. It’s arguably the most powerful and easiest to use CMS there is. Julian and I exclusively use and recommend WordPress.

The best thing about WordPress is that it’s easy enough for beginners to use while being powerful enough to satisfy experts. Here are some other reasons why WordPress is the best:

  • It’s the most popular platform

    27% of the entire internet uses WordPress. That means there’s tons of support and resources all over the web. If you ever need help with anything, just type it into your search engine.

  • It’s highly trusted

    The New York Times, USA Today, CNN, Fortune.com, TIME.com, Spotify, CBS Local, and NBC all use WordPress.

  • It’s secure

    WordPress is open source, which means there isn’t a single company in charge. It has crowdsourced security and software development. That means the people working on it are striving for the best quality, not making some parts bad in hopes of charging you for upgrades.

  • It’s used all around the world

    It comes in 56 different languages.

  • Customization and easy-to-add features

    WordPress offers hundreds of thousands of templates and plugins to enhance your blog’s look and increase its functionality.

WordPress works for everyone from beginners to experts. It works for us and it’ll work for you too.

Our Recommended Host: SiteGround

A web host provides server space (to store your website) and internet connectivity (to display your website to the world).

Choosing the right host is important because it’s responsible for keeping your site online, ensuring peak performance, and protecting your content from being lost or stolen.

Julian and I have experience with many different hosting companies including HostGator, BlueHost, iPage, and InMotion. We’ve moved our sites from one to another for a few reasons, but mainly due to performance issues, having to pay extra for backups, and poor customer support.

Now we recommend SiteGround because it has the highest uptime, best performance, and best customer support. It also has added incentives like a free domain for life and backups (at least daily) included in every plan. Here are some of the other reasons we like SiteGround:

  • Uptime

    Uptime is the percent of time your website is online and visible to your visitors. SiteGround has the highest uptime at 99.99%. All hosting companies have some failures, but SiteGround uses special software to “sniff out” problems and fix them before they even happen.

  • Performance

    Performance is how fast web pages are loaded. SiteGround loads web pages 15% faster than other hosts. Other hosting companies buy more and more servers to handle increasing traffic, which makes more room for mistakes. SiteGround uses state-of-art technology (SuperCacher) so it can offer consistent peak performance. It also has servers all over the world so no matter where your visitors are, they can load your blog quickly. Other hosting companies usually only have servers in a few states in the U.S.

  • Customer Support

    SiteGround has instant chat and phone support, a 10-minute customer support ticket response time, and a 30-day money-back guarantee. We've always received help right away when we've had questions.

  • Extras

    SiteGround offers many extras that other hosts leave out including:

    + Free backups with every plan (other hosts charge extra for this)

    + Free domain for life

    + Free email hosting for your website (<Name>@YourWebsite.com)

    + Free WordPress support 24/7

    + A ton of WordPress tutorials (basic to advanced)

We’ve been using SiteGround for almost 2 years now and have been very happy with it. In the next section, we’ll walk you through signing up with SiteGround so you can get your blog up and running!