Choosing a platform for your blog is one juicy topic; almost every blogger and online biz owner has an opinion on the matter. And let’s get real, there is no right answer. It all depends on your needs as a blogger and what you want to accomplish. Don’t get me wrong, there are superior choices. Some of them just won’t cut it if you want to flourish as a blogger and make the big bucks. When I created this blog, I quickly realized that selecting a blogging platform was one tremendous decision, and it would take one heck of a lot of research before I could come to a decision. Many bloggers will tell you that if you’re just starting out, it’s perfectly fine to start on a free blogging platform like Blogger.
But what they don’t tell you, is that it’s a strenuous task to actually move your blog over to a better platform down the road.
And that my friends, can be quite problematic, especially if you’re still relatively new to the blogging world.
Which is why I’m going to break down the pros and cons of each blogging platform and explain to you why self-hosted WordPress is always the best choice for serious bloggers.
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. That means, at no cost to you, I will receive a small compensation if you purchase something through one of those links. This helps to run The Beautified Life – so thank you so much!
You see, the reason I feel so strongly about this subject is I truly feel that anyone can start their own WordPress (self-hosted) blog, and I feel that many new bloggers get discouraged because they hear that WordPress can be hard to grasp or even scary.
When in fact, WordPress is not only user-friendly, it was a heck of a lot easier to grasp than I ever imagined.
Probably because I kept hearing how ‘’difficult’’ it was, and how there was such a ‘’learning curve’’. Well, there is a slight learning curve, but it’s no different than starting a blog or website on another platform (yes, even the free ones). When starting a website for the first time, or heck even trying anything new for the first time, you’re going to have to get used to it!
If I’m going to make a believer out of you, I’ve gotta show you the facts. And girl, do I ever have facts for you.
Let’s start with the pros and cons of the most popular blogging platforms:
- Easy to use (drag and drop)
- Security is top of the line (because Blogger is owned by Google)
- You do not own your site. This means they have the right to shut it down at any time, for any reason. You may hear that this is a myth – I can assure you it is not.
- Extreme lack of technical support. Meaning, there isn’t any. Like at all. Yep.
- If you want to transfer to a different platform, it’s a complicated task. AND you risk losing your traffic, SEO, and followers. So, when you’re given the highly misguided advice that you can start a blog then down the road switch over to a better platform like WordPress – they are leaving out a crucial tidbit of information. The task of switching over is near impossible, and you can (and will likely) lose all of your traffic, SEO, followers…basically, everything you’ve worked for. No thanks.
- You are very limited with design, and there are only a couple templates to choose from. And if I’m being real, most Blogger/Blogspot blogs are just plain ugly. Google hasn’t done much to update Blogger over the years.
- Limitations. And is there ever oodles of them. You only have 1MB of space per page, 1G for photos on your entire site, and there is absolutely no comment moderation.
I would say that Blogger is the absolute worst option you could choose. Even if you don’t see yourself becoming a serious or successful blogger – you never know what the future will bring. And yes, I did have a blog on Blogger (several years ago).
I was a teenager at the time, but even then I found the templates visually dull.
- Simple to use. (Drag and drop)
- Great technical support.
- You get to choose from over 500 templates that are updated to conform to the latest trends and designs.
- It’s free to start. They also have premium plans that start at $4 US and go up to $25 US.
- It’s a troublesome task to change templates. Meaning, you have to re-create your pages and posts if you want a new template. So basically completely start over.
- You cannot use a custom domain for your site on the free plan. This means your blog will always look like this: username.wix.com/sitename
- The free and basic plans come with Ads on your site. Sooo not professional.
- Limited customizability. It’s designed to be easy, so of course, it won’t give you as much function as WordPress.
- Their e-commerce options are not nearly as advanced as WordPress. And you also have to pay to even have e-commerce on your site. I’ve heard you can’t send automated emails to your clients after they pay. I would say that is a pretty basic feature that most bloggers or biz owners selling anything would require.
I could see why some new bloggers may be drawn to Wix. They do make it look appealing for the non-coders out there. But the thing is, you don’t have to learn coding to use other platforms, either. At most, you may have to copy and paste a few bits of ”code”, but that is in no way ”coding”.
Overall, Wix just isn’t up to par if you’re a serious blogger trying to make the big bucks.
- Drag and Drop ( easy to use, especially for beginners)
- If you hire a Squarespace web designer or know HTML + CSS, you can create a beautiful website or blog. Some of their templates (themes) are quite gorgeous, but unless you’re an expert with coding, you can’t change or customize anything on your template. And even then, you’re not able to alter code in certain areas,
- Excellent 24-7 technical support.
- All templates (themes) on Squarespace are fully mobile responsive.
- Squarespace is more expensive than WordPress. You have to pay for extra pages, it’s extra to sell more than one product, you would need to pay extra to have more than two contributors on your blog, and the plans work out to be more money compared with web hosting plans you would need on WordPress. Look at it this way: If you’re an entrepreneur who’s wanting to sell a few digital items on your website, you would need to pay for a more expensive plan, which would end up costing you hundreds per month. just to have a store on your blog. BUT, if you were on self-hosted WordPress, you could get quality web hosting for as little as $3.95 with SiteGround, and just download a free plug-in for e-commerce.
- It’s not open source. So, basically what you see is what you get. You don’t get plug-ins to increase function (like on WordPress) only what comes with Squarespace. This limits you quite a bit.
- According to SquareSpaces’s terms of service, they can shut down your site at any time, and they don’t even have to notify you! Their Terms of Service is filled with ultra scary conditions and terms like that one. You can check out their Terms of Service here.
- You can only use Stripe as a payment method, and it’s not available in all countries. Yes, that means NO PAYPAL. This puts major limitations on your business, and you could (and certainly will) miss out on sales.
- You cannot export all of your data – if you choose to move to another blogging platform. Like most other things will SquareSpace, the export feature is limited. You can export some things, but others like product pages, albums, audio, video blocks and text, cannot be exported.
- Squarespace blogs (the larger ones) can get quite slow, and I’ve heard downtime can be a problem too. Since Squarespace is taking care of everything, it is really out of your control.
Overall, I would say that Squarespace would be the second best option (First, being WordPress.org). But it’s still lacking some key elements that for me, are deal breakers. Plus, if you want a rockin’ website that sells more than one product (digital or physical product), you’re forced to upgrade to a pricey $200-400/year plan. Not to mention, the terrifying Terms of Service over at Squarespace.
4) WordPress.COM (Not to be confused with self-hosted WordPress.ORG)
- No Maintenance. Backups and updates are taken care of for you.
- It’s free. (But that’s only because you’ll be stuck with annoying ads on your blog. limited features, and really not much choice in anything.) But hey, it’s free.
- You’re forced to choose from a much smaller library of themes, and you’re not allowed to download most third party themes. So, those cute themes you saw on Etsy, or perhaps you had your eye on a lovely Studio Press genesis theme – they are out of the question. (Unless you go with WordPress.ORG). You also can’t alter anything in the themes.. even move something around a little bit – now allowed.
- Your blog will have advertisements on it. (Unless you upgrade to a more expensive plan, and even then you have to apply to receive some of the money that’s being made with those ads).
- You’re unable to use any custom plug-ins. WordPress.com does come with certain features that are similar to plug-ins, but it’s nowhere near the hundreds of thousands of plug-ins you can find on self-hosted wordpress.org. There is one exception to this of course. You have to pay literally THOUSANDS of dollars a month to have access to the plug-ins that we have at wordpress.org. Craziness.
- You’ll have to pay extra, a lot extra, to have simple features such as more space for your blog, videos, modifying your fonts, and audio files. And if you want to monetize your site, you have to upgrade to at least the premium plan.
- Your website is owned by WordPress. In their Terms of Service, they state that they can and will terminate you at any time, with or without a reason, effective immediately. That is just not a chance I was willing to take.
5) WordPress.org (Self-hosted).
- Total control, freedom, and customization of anything you want. You can change anything you want, there are no restrictions.
- Hundreds of thousands of plug-ins at your fingertips. There is a plug-in for absolutely anything you could possibly want to do. There are no limits.
- There are thousands of stunning themes you can choose from. You can purchase themes from WordPress or from any third party developer you wish. And when you use a theme, you make building your website easy as pie.
- Maintaining your website is actually a breeze. I’m sure you’ve heard that a downside to being self-hosted is that you have to deal with updates and everything yourself. Well, you do. But all you’re doing is clicking a button. Not rocket science in the least. You get a notification that a plug-in or WordPress needs to be updated, then you click ”update”.
- SEO is effortless. On self-hosted WordPress, you have the ability to use any plug-in you wish. So you get access to the fantastic Yoast SEO plugin, that basically takes care of everything for you. I highly recommend checking this plug-in out, if you don’t already have it.
- Surprisingly, it’s quite user-friendly and not difficult to get used too. You’ve likely heard horror stories that have told you how problematic WordPress.org can be. But, I can assure you that anyone could start a blog on here. I had no clue what I was doing, and I was able to grasp it within a day, max. Don’t get me wrong, I still have things I need to ask for assistance with here and there, but overall – it’s been a hell of a lot easier than I could have ever imagined. And if the whole ‘drag and drop” design has got you convinced that a platform like Wix is the best for you, just keep in mind that self-hosted WordPress has plenty of plugins that will do that for you. So even WordPress can be ‘drag and drop”.
- More prone to spammers and hackers. You are slightly more likely to face a problem with spammers or hackers on self-hosted WordPress. But, if you download a decent security plugin ( I recommend the free plug-in WordFence), then you shouldn’t have any issues.
- Slight learning curve. Like anything in life, it will take time, to get used too. But this will be the case with any blogging platform you choose. I have found it pretty straight forward. There have been times I’ve needed to ask help from the experts, but I’ve also learned a lot along the way.
It all comes down to the kind of blogger you envision yourself being.
Self-hosted WordPress makes up over 27% of the websites on the web – and has become the industry-standard. There’s a reason for that.
I’m not saying you can’t have a nice looking blog on another platform – I’m sure you can. But, as you can see from the pros and cons for each one, they come with certain restrictions or will end up costing you more in the long run.
Why go through all of that?
There are MILLIONS of WordPress tutorials around, one of my favorite resources are WP Beginner. They literally have a tutorial for every issue you could run into. My biggest help though has been the fantastic Facebook Groups like Melyssa Griffin’s Blog + Biz BFF group.
If you’re ready to take the leap and start a profitable blog, I have a blog post called Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Starting a Profitable Blog that will take you through every aspect of it.
If you aren’t going to invest in yourself why should anyone else?
I hope you enjoyed this post! Let me know why YOU decided to go with WordPress?
- Ultimate Beginner’s Guide To Starting a Profitable Blog
- 7 Tips to Skyrocket Your Blog’s Traffic Using Pinterest
- How I Plan to Make a Full-Time Income Blogging in 2017