Mar 09, 2021
15 Best Blogging Platforms to Start a Blog in 2021
If you’re looking to start a new blog, your first (and most important) choice is which platform you’ll use to power it. Not all blogging platforms are equal and the one you pick needs to have all the features you require to build a successful website.
There are a lot of platforms you can use to set up a fully-working blog and even have your first blog post available for people to see in a matter of hours. In most cases, these blogging tools fall under the category of Content Management Systems (CMS), which are platforms built to help you publish content on the web.
When you’re looking for the best blogging platform, you’ll want a CMS that offers several key features:
- Built-in text editing options. Blogs are mostly text, so the top platforms will need to provide you with plenty of formatting options.
- Comments functionality. One of the best ways to grow your blog is through a thriving comments section. As such, your blogging platform needs to give you a way to enable and manage comments easily.
- Customizability. These days, a lot of CMSs enable you to change your site’s style and functionality using add-ons. This is important even for a simple blog since it gives you the option to add new features whenever you want.
- Scalability. Ideally, you want to choose a platform that can handle a lot of content without slowing your site down, so your blog can grow to its full potential.
- Ease of use. Creating a blog doesn’t have to be complicated, and you don’t need to be a developer to get the job done. The best blogging platform should be simple to learn and use.
That’s a long list of criteria you’ll need to keep in mind while looking for the best free blogging platform for your needs. Fortunately, these days there are a lot of amazing platforms to choose from. Let’s talk about our top picks!
15 of the Best Blogging Platforms Overviewed
Before we dive in, it’s important to understand that all the platforms on this list are self-hosted CMS. They’re all free to use, however you’ll need to procure your own hosting.
Which hosting provider to use is up to you, but if you don’t know where to get started, check out some of Hostinger’s hosting plans.
Here is a list of the best blogging platforms for 2020 based on popularity, features, and ease of use:
WordPress powers over 35% of the web, which makes it a juggernaut. However, that doesn’t mean it’s automatically the best blog platform for you.
What sets WordPress apart is its ease of use, customization options, and extendability. These days, most blog hosting providers enable you to set up your WordPress site with just a few clicks. Then, you can easily find themes and plugins to help you implement almost any feature you might imagine.
Apart from its massive library of add-ons, WordPress has the advantage of a thriving community. If you run into any issues, finding tutorials or other forms of help is simple. To sum up, WordPress is a free and safe blog choice that provides unlimited potential for growth, even if you’re entirely new to blogging. Let’s check out the pros and cons.
- A lot of blog hosting providers offer WordPress-specific plans
- You have access to thousands of add-ons in the form of themes and plugins (free, premium and third party)
- WordPress is easy to use and you can quickly find help if you run into any issues
- Aside from a blog, you can use WordPress to build almost any type of website you want
- Customizing your blog’s style can be difficult without a page builder plugin, especially if you’re new WordPress
- There are a lot of low-quality themes and plugins that you’ll want to avoid
When people debate over the best CMS, Joomla! is one of the names that tend to show up right alongside WordPress. These platforms share a lot in common. For instance, they’re both open-source and provide amazing extendability and customization options.
Having said that, self-hosted Joomla! offers its own unique experience. It gives you a broader range of settings to work with than WordPress does, which you can see with a peek at its dashboard:
While having more settings to play with is useful, it also means that the learning curve is a bit steeper. On the plus side, Joomla! makes your blog very easy to maintain. It’s not common to run into issues after you update Joomla! or any of its extensions.
Ultimately, a lot of people choose to use WordPress or Drupal because both offer more add-ons. However, Joomla! stands nicely between the two free platforms. It’s easier to maintain, it doesn’t require you to be a developer to set up a website, and it offers enough options that using extensions may not be essential. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons.
- It offers more built-in settings than WordPress
- Websites created using Joomla! tend to be easier to maintain, due to its seamless update process
- It’s relatively easy to use, even if you’re new to building websites
- It offers a fantastic help portal with thorough documentation
- It doesn’t offer as many themes or extensions as its main competitors
Drupal is another big name that gets a lot of attention during the best CMS debates. This particular platform is popular among enterprise-level websites since it offers superior performance.
When it comes to the best free blogs, Drupal provides all the features you’ll need to create a fantastic website. It includes built-in content creation functionality, editing features, and much more. However, the platform really starts to shine once you move beyond just blogging.
Another reason Drupal is a top pick for big sites is that it’s incredibly secure, and is more powerful than either Joomla! or WordPress. However, Drupal is harder to pick up if you don’t have any experience as a developer. Plus, it can be overkill if you just want to set up a simple blog.
With that in mind, using Drupal makes sense if you want to start a blog for your company and you’re willing to invest in a developer (or you are one). Otherwise, you’ll need to do a lot of tinkering to get things working just the way you want. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons.
- Access to enterprise-level security and performance
- Choose from thousands of free plugins and templates to customize your website
- Seamlessly scale your website, thanks to the platform’s powerful architecture
- Use custom Drupal distributions to set up specific types of websites
- The learning curve is very steep unless you have experience in web development
Pyro is a free Laravel-based CMS, which prides itself on being an excellent platform for developers. With blogging, Pyro offers a grid-based layout system, which gives you full control over the way your posts look. On top of that, this platform makes it easy to edit all of your content with its drag and drop tool.
When you get started with Pyro, the first thing you’ll notice is that its dashboard looks both modern and organized:
Overall, Pyro is an excellent option for simple blogs and more complex websites. However, once you move beyond a basic blog, things start to get complicated. You’ll need to customize your website’s code yourself to make any major changes. Likewise, a lot of Pyro extensions are rather expensive, so costs can quickly add up for blogs with a lot of functionality.
- Uses a built-in grid system to get full control over your pages’ layouts
- Run your blog using a modern dashboard with plenty of options
- Implementing advanced features often requires you to have experience using PHP
- A lot of Pyro modules are rather expensive, so costs can add up quickly
If you’re looking for the best blogging platform that offers a combination of ease of use and power, SilverStripe is an excellent option. At first glance, this free CMS doesn’t look as flashy as some of the other best blogging platforms we’ve seen so far, but don’t let that fool you.
This free blogging platforms’ editor enables you to preview your blog posts as you write them. It also provides you with built-in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) options to help you improve your content’s rankings. Moreover, the platform also features error reports, which allow you to monitor any problems with your site from your dashboard.
In our experience, the only area where SilverStripe disappoints is when it comes to free blog templates. There are only a few dozen options to choose from, and not all of them hit the mark. You can always customize your pages using HTML and CSS, but that can be a lot of work if you’re new to creating websites.
- Get access to powerful content management features
- Tackle SEO using built-in features
- Monitor page errors from within your dashboard
- Extend your website using plugins and themes
- The themes available aren’t as good as other platforms
- Editing pages requires basic coding knowledge
If you’re looking for a free CMS that is more on the mild side, then Textpattern might be the best blogging platform for you.
Out of all the platforms we’ve seen so far, Textpattern is the simplest. Its dashboard is a reflection of that fact:
While it does support themes and plugins, its selection of both types of add-ons is bare. Although there are some excellent choices among them, Textpattern assumes that all you need is a very simple blog and that you know enough coding basics to set it up with only a bit of help.
- The most lightweight blogging platform
- Supports Markdown and Textile formatting languages
- You’ll need a basic knowledge of web development and text formatting languages
- The selection of themes and plugins isn’t very big
Serendipity bills itself as a weblog engine instead of a CMS and that’s appropriate given the features it offers. This free platform is all about blogging and it’s a solid option if you’re looking to set up a simple blog with few frills.
While Serendipity does offer templates, most of them are quite basic. However, what Serendipity lacks in style, it makes up for with its blogging-friendly features. For instance, it features a powerful text editor, media management, and advanced taxonomy settings.
On top of that, the free platform also includes built-in spam protection and support for multiple users. In short, it has all the features you’d expect to see from one of the best blogging platforms, and it doesn’t require you to have any background in web development.
- You get access to all the blogging basics you need, in an easy-to-use package
- You’ll benefit from the built-in spam protection features
- Serendipity themes aren’t the most stylish
- The potential for building anything besides a simple blog is limited
Jekyll is unlike any of the other free blogging platforms we’ve featured on this list. This platform works entirely from your command line and doesn’t have a graphical interface. If that’s not something you’re comfortable with, feel free to jump to the next platform on the list.
If you’re not intimidated by the command line, however, Jekyll has a lot going for it. It’s the best blog platform if you’re looking for something ultra-lightweight and allows you to create blazing fast static websites.
With Jekyll, you’ll need to use HTML, CSS, Markdown text, and Liquid templates to create simple sites. The philosophy behind Jekyll is to remove as many frills as possible from the content creation process and enable developers to set up blogs in a matter of minutes.
Despite its straightforward approach to blog building, Jekyll does support basic features such as pages, blog posts, custom layouts, and categories for your content. However, it doesn’t use databases or support site comments.
- Lets you run your entire blog from the command line
- Support’s blog taxonomies
- Helps you create static websites using HTML, CSS, Markdown, and Liquid templates
- It’s only a viable option if you’re very comfortable using the command line
- Customizing Jekyll websites requires some basic HTML and CSS knowledge
- It doesn’t feature a visual text editor
Now, let’s take a look at Subrion. If we had to compare this free blogging platform to one of our earlier entries, it would be WordPress. In fact, the first impression you get when you log into your dashboard is that it looks very slick:
As far as features go, Subrion packs all the basics you’ll need for blogging. It enables you to set up blog pages and posts, and it includes a robust text editor. It also offers built-in SEO features and plenty of other functionalities.
One of the best features Subrion offers is it allows you to manage subscriptions for your website. That means you can use it to set up a private blog, for example, and you can even monitor your earnings from your dashboard. It also supports themes and templates, although it doesn’t offer as many options in either department as other blogs do.
- Lets you easily set up blogs and other types of websites
- It is simple to implement subscriptions for your site and monitor your earnings
- It provides access to several plugins and themes
- It doesn’t offer as many add-ons as other blogging platforms
If you’re looking for a robust free platform that doesn’t require you to use many plugins, Ghost is a worthy option. It comes with plenty of tools that let you publish and manage posts easily.
Ghost also has built-in SEO features, including automatic sitemaps, metadata for every blog page and post, canonical tags, and permalinks. Moreover, it provides integrated AMP support, which can help your blog load faster on mobile devices and rank higher in search results.
For teams, Ghost offers user-administration features for assigning roles and permissions. And since this platform has an automatic content backup system, it can prevent loss of data.
However, Ghost has a steep learning curve since it utilizes a Markdown editor instead of a visual editing page. It is also built on Node.js, which isn’t generally supported by many hosting providers.
- Collaborate with your team with ease
- Provides SEO tools, so you won’t need to rely on third party plugins
- It has integrated AMP support to increase mobile loading times
- It doesn’t have child themes
- Requires time to learn how to work with Markdown
With Postleaf, users won’t need to worry about the sizes of their pictures. This free platform can automatically resize images based on the dimensions that a visitor’s browser requests. What’s more, crop, flip, rotate, and even blur photos easily when you use Postleaf to start blogs.
Postleaf features a zen mode editor that lets users write without distractions. It comes in two interface versions — day and night mode. This editing page doesn’t have font, size, and color options, which helps the writer focus more on the content.
Managing your web files is also simple with Postleaf. With its integrated file manager, users can easily drag and drop images to upload them. This feature also supports multi-select, deleting, downloading, and image previews.
Another notable feature that Postleaf has is a quick blog post. This function makes it possible to create a draft or post your ideas instantly from your phone.
Postleaf is a self-funded project with no dedicated support team, so it can be challenging to get help when facing issues. But you can leave a comment on its community forum.
And like Ghost, Postleaf is also coded in Node.js. If you’re more into PHP development, it might take more time to install and use it.
- Automatically generates responsive images
- Its zen mode editor lets you focus on the content of a blog post
- Helps you to manage web files with ease
- Drag and drop feature
- Finding resources that can help you solve technical issues can be challenging
Omeka is designed specifically for sharing online digital collections, like images, videos, and audio recordings. This free blog maker is suitable for scholars, librarians, and museum professionals.
Although Omeka isn’t as customizable as other free popular blogging platforms, many academic institutions opt for this service due to its impressive features for creating online exhibitions.
Omeka has a built-in exhibit plugin that can combine items on your blog with any narrative text. This tool can also configure your exhibits with different themes or logos.
Users can let their visitors contribute and share images, articles, and other files with Omeka. Visitors are also able to share their favorite content on social media networks.
What’s more, Omeka lets users import metadata sets or create their customized metadata vocabulary, allowing their visitors to search and find any information on a site quickly.
Though Omeka includes all necessary tools to create comprehensive digital archives, it might not be the best free option for an individual or group project. Installing and using it requires coding knowledge, so it needs more people and resources to maintain and develop a site.
Omeka also lacks in plugins, giving you fewer options to boost your site performance.
- You can create narratives based on groups of items
- Allows you to collect media files from visitors
- Easily shares your content on social media networks
- Provides metadata fields on each item that conforms to Dublin Core
- It’s not very flexible and can be difficult to use
- It doesn’t provide many plugin options
Another free blogging platform that offers a modern and straightforward interface is ImpressPages. It comes pre-built with a drag and drop editor, making it easy to create blog posts or pages without using any code. It also has a user-friendly dashboard that helps you build a free online blog in no time.
Since ImpressPages supports plenty of content types — images, HTML code, and videos, for instance — users can use this CMS for building other types of websites aside blogs.
ImpressPages also provides free multilingual support for your blog. Its translations engine can interpret any string in your code with ease, so you won’t have to use any plugin to make your blog accessible across the globe.
Should you want to upload any content and make it downloadable, use its built-in file widget to add the item to your site. Plus, you can utilize the form feature of ImpressPages to create a subscription form and grow your email address list.
No need to worry about SEO when using ImpressPages, since it’s designed to make your site rank higher in search engines. Some free tools it includes are auto sitemap generations, social media, and SEO friendly URLs.
However, ImpressPages doesn’t have a lot of extensions and themes. But if you have the technical knowledge, you can customize and enhance your website’s performance using code.
- Features a user-friendly interface
- Your website can easily be multilingual
- Supports plenty of content types
- The number of themes and plugins available is fewer than most CMS platforms
- Lack of documentation on how to use the platform
14. CMS Made Simple
As the name implies, this CMS ensures an effortless experience of creating and managing content. With its robust WYSIWYG editor, users can make changes and see the preview on the same page.
CMS Made Simple doesn’t include unnecessary functions that you won’t use, which can slow down your site’s loading performance. Instead, you can pick the modules that best fit your needs.
Besides modules, CMS Made Simple also offers themes, dynamic menus, tags, and translations. Nevertheless, this platform still requires coding knowledge of at least HTML and CSS to get the best out of it.
If you need a module or a web design that doesn’t exist in CMS Made Simple archive, you might have to code your own add-on or hire a developer to create the feature.
That’s why CMS Made Simple is mostly suitable for designers or developers since it has all features and flexibility to create a powerful website fast and easy.
- Features drag and drop editor to make content creation easy
- Provides plenty of modules to extend a site’s functionality
- Allows you to make changes using shortcodes
- Customizing your website requires technical knowledge
If you plan to sell products on your blog, Soholaunch is worth a try. This free blogging platform comes with a comprehensive shopping cart feature, including tools such as payment options, exchange policies, and coupons.
Soholaunch also utilizes an easy to use visual editor. You can customize your website by adding elements such as text, photo albums, online forms, and maps.
Make sure to use its blog manager features, as it has a clean interface and includes useful blogging functions, from unlimited entries to blog archives.
To help you capture targeted visitors, Soholaunch enables you to give a unique title, description, and keywords to each page. This platform can also create static versions of your web pages, making them more accessible to search engines.
Another plus point of Soholaunch is its event calendar feature. With this tool, you’re able to advertise upcoming events and sell registrations on your website.
Unfortunately, Soholaunch’s plugins aren’t available on the latest version of this platform. Still, all impressive features that it offers out-of-the-box are enough to create an impressive blog.
- You’ll be able to sell products on your blog
- Its blog manager includes all essential features to create content
- The editor is simple to use for beginners
- Add-ons aren’t available on the latest version
It’s important to pick the best free blogging platform for your specific needs. We’re big fans of WordPress, but it’s not the only strong option. Each of the best blogging platforms we’ve covered on this list shines for certain types of projects and users.
Remember that each of these free blogging platforms is self-hosted and will require a web host. Make sure to check out different hosting options and compare the costs per month. Look for extra perks like a free custom domain name or integration with Google Analytics.
Do you have any questions about how to pick the best blogging platform to build your site with? Let’s talk about them in the comments section below!