When starting your blog, you will have to decide on a blogging software (also called content management system – CMS) for your blog. A CMS is where you manage your website and the content that is displayed on it.
How your blog works and what it looks like will depend on what CMS software you use to run your blog.
There are literally thousands of CMS software/blogging platforms out there. Some of them are completely free (such as WordPress), and others can cost literally thousands of dollars every month.
Although choosing a CMS software may sound like a really difficult task, it’s actually not that difficult if you know the pros and cons of the many different platforms available.
If you are just starting out, I recommend not wasting time comparing different blogging platforms. There are too many of them out there and finding the perfect one will take hours of learning how they work.
WordPress is the world’s most popular content management system (CMS). WordPress powers 40% of all the websites on the web. And if you limit the data to websites only using a CMS, then WordPress’s market share is 64.7%.
What is WordPress and why it’s the best blogging platform
WordPress is a content management system designed to be used by anyone and everyone. To use WordPress, you don’t need a Master’s Degree in Computer Algorithms.
With WordPress, you can get your blog up and running within minutes.
To run a blog on your domain name, you need to have a CMS installed on your website’s server. The CMS then allows you to easily create and manage the content you wish to publish on your website.
A CMS such as WordPress is the pre-condition for your blog to exist.
Unlike most content management systems on the market, WordPress is open-source. That means you can do whatever you want with it. Most CMS software limits what you can and cannot do.
The best part about choosing WordPress is not that it’s completely free but that it’s used by over 30% of the websites on the Internet making it one of the most popular blogging software on the Internet.
WordPress is supported and actively developed by a community of programmers and designers.
Now that you know what WordPress is, here are some of the reasons why you should go with WordPress and why I love it:
Made with beginners in mind
WordPress is designed to be used by everyone from beginners to expert programmers. That means it’s super easy to use and managing it doesn’t require much knowledge.
Not only that, but there’s also a ton of information on the Internet about WordPress.
If you have a question about configuring WordPress or customizing it, chances are the question has already been answered a hundred times on the Internet and the answer is just a Google search away.
Security and reliability
WordPress is an open-source software developed by programmers around the world. If the community finds a security loophole in the software, it is fixed within a day or two.
Because WordPress is the most used blogging platform on the Internet, big corporations (e.g. New York Times, BBC America & Sony Music) use it and some of them donate resources to help develop and improve the software.
WordPress community has a lot of plugins to offer that can extend the functionality of your website with just a few clicks.
These plugins can help you do anything you want with your WordPress blog.
Want to add an ecommerce section to your website/blog? Install the free WooCommerce plugin and you can do it within a minute or two. (If it’s 100% e-commerce then Shopify is the best option).
Need a contact form on your website? Install the free Contact Form 7 plugin and you can do it in a minute.
Even though there are thousands of plugins already available for WordPress, you can always hire a developer to create custom plugins for your website.
WordPress is open-source and allows you to customize its functionality as much as you want.
Why you should self-host WordPress (avoid WordPress.com)
Once you have decided to go with WordPress as your content management system, you have to choose between WordPress.org and WordPress.com.
Both are created by the same company called Automattic and both use the same WordPress software.
The difference between the two is that WordPress.org is the site where you can download WordPress and install it on your server.
WordPress.com, on the other hand, allows you to create and host a WordPress blog on the WordPress.com platform. It takes care of web hosting and domain registration.
The reason why I recommend hosting your WordPress blog on your own server (aka self-hosted WordPress or WordPress.org) is that it gives you complete control over your website.
If you host your website with WordPress.com, you will not be allowed to install custom plugins. WordPress.com limits you to only the plugins that are approved by the company.
That means, that if a third-party plugin is not approved by the WordPress.com team, you cannot install it and that includes plugins that you create for your website on your own.
- Open source and free – you own it!
- You own your website and all its data (i.e. your site will NOT be turned off because someone decides that it’s against their Terms of Service).
- Blog design is fully customizable, unlimited plugin options, and no branding whatsoever.
- You are in total control over your own monetization efforts.
- Powerful SEO features (so people can find your site on Google).
- You can start or add an eCommerce store or membership site.
- Small monthly cost (around $50 – $100/year + web hosting).
- Doesn’t let you pick a custom domain name (i.e. will be something like yoursite.wordpress.com).
- Your site can be deleted at anytime if they think it violates their Terms of Service.
- Has very limited monetization options (you are not allowed place ads on your site).
- Doesn’t let you upload plugins (for email capture, SEO and other things).
- Has limited theme support so you’re stuck with very basic designs.
- You have to pay to remove WordPress branding.
- Very limited SEO and analytics, i.e. you cannot add Google Analytics.
The choice is of course entirely up to you, but if you want to take full advantage of your blog then WordPress.org is the recommended way to go when starting a blog.
Plus, getting cheap blog hosting from Bluehost, you can be up and running with WordPress installed and powering your site in just a matter of minutes using their automatic WordPress installation after signing up.
Why you should never host your blog on platforms such as Wix and Squarespace
There are some platforms out there that offer drag-and-drop website builders such as Wix and Squarespace.
Although these platforms are good for beginners, they limit you in a lot of ways and I strongly recommend you to stay away from them.
Because when you host your website with software such as Wix or Squarespace, you lose control over your website.
If Wix decides that your blog’s content doesn’t satisfy their policies, they can kick you off their platform and delete your blog without any prior notice. You will lose all your data and content when this happens.
Platforms like Squarespace and Wix (and Wix competitors or Squarespace competitors) limit what you can do with your website and how much you can extend it. Not to mention, they can delete your blog and all its content any time they want.
This is the same reason why I recommend that you avoid WordPress.com.
Getting started with WordPress
Want to get going quickly with WordPress but don’t really know where to start?
WP101 is one of the most popular WordPress video tutorial sites in the world and has been widely praised as the gold standard for WordPress video tutorials
WP101 tutorials have helped more than two million beginners around the world learn how to use WordPress to create and manage their own websites.
Here are a couple of video tutorials to help you get started with WordPress:
Step 1. Pick your blog’s name & domain
Step 2. Find a web hosting provider
Step 4. Set up your blog (with Bluehost)
Step 8. How to find your blogging niche
Step 9. Use free stock photos & graphics
Step 11. Sites for outsourcing blogging tasks
Step 12. Develop your blog’s content strategy
Step 14. How to make money with your blog