I've been blogging at HowJoyful since 2010 and even though all of these years of blogging do not make me an expert by any means, there are things that I know now, that I wish someone had explained to me way back when I first started. Like, where should I start my blog?
So today, I am sharing a table with the major factors that should influence your desition when it comes to blogging platforms.
So I am going to use a few posts that I had already written for my Design website and I am going to update them and share them here (along with some new content of course!) because I know that they can help some of the ones that are just venturing in the Blogging world.
In this new section I am going to cover the most frequent questions I get asked by my clients, but if you have a special topic you'd like me to blog about, just mention it on the comments and I'll try my best to cover it.
So to start, I am going to talk about blogging platforms.
I will cover the 3 most popular ones with my clients (Blogger, WordPress.com, and WordPress.org)
How to choose the right platform for your blog
When starting a blog or when having a re-design most bloggers question what platform they should go with?, and to be honest it's about band-with, size, investment, and flexibility.
Personally, I started in Blogger, BUT I moved to WordPress.ORG after 3 months. I did this when I realized how limited I was on the designs aspects, how the pages worked and the fact that during that month, Blogger crashed and I had no way to recover my content.
The thing is, when you play in someone else's platform, you are subject to their rules.
WordPress.ORG gave me the flexibility of design I needed and also allowed me to set up the automatic backup of my blog in case something happened. And trust me, I've used that feature more times that I would want to.
but I would like for you to make your own choice, so I want to cover the options as best as possible.
So to start, note that there are two different WordPress, one is the free software you install in your own Host (.org), you are in charge of installing and updating, the other is self-hosted, meaning it's run and updated by WordPress.com, you have an account, log-in and start blogging.
The comparison table
Free software, but you need to pay web hosting and domain*
Level of customization allowed
MEDIUM: You can customize the CSS file purchasing an upgrade normally $40/yr but it will only change the style sheet and fonts – so you can NOT run a custom theme.
Set up level
You will need to set up a database and then install the WordPress software in your host.
Only requires you to set up an account. You can have multiple blogs under the same account.
Only requires you to set up an account. You can have multiple blogs under the same account.
You have to manually update the software and plugging, you will get a notification on the dashboard when a new version is available.
The update is automatic for the software, no plugging allowed.
Automatic updates and usually they will notify you in the dashboard when new features are added.
Up to 10 pages
No. Does not support 3rd party scripts or most HTML codes.
Yes, you HAVE to set it up with a custom domain.
Yes. You can link your domain (www.domainname.com) to your blog paying about $15/yr. Your default link is something like
Yes. You can link your domain (www.domainname.com) to your blog for FREE. Your default link is something like
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** Widgets are HTML or PHP code added normally on sidebars or footers. Example: Google Friend Connect, BlogHer, PassionFruitsads, Counters, Google Adsense, etc.
So, If you are considering to start a blog with serious aspirations and consider advertising or blogging for profit, I would recommend you to go with a self-hosted option (WordPress.org) The software itself is free, but you will need a hosting account to install WordPress.
Nowadays, most Hosting companies offer a one-button install of WordPress.OG, back in the day you had to manually install and mess up with databases and things that were too complicated for the average user, especially when starting.
WHERE TO HOST YOUR WORDPRESS.ORG BLOG?
Once I moved out of Blogger, I went to an unnamed blogging company that seemed like an awesome deal, but once my blog passed the 10,000 monthly visits, they wanted to charge me double what I was paying!
That same day I moved everything to Bluehost and stayed with them for about 4 years, the only problem I kept having with them was that everytime my traffic would spike, or something would go viral (One time I had a post reach 500,000 pageviews a day before the whole site went down for about a week!!!) I would have to upgrade in hopes that it would not happen again.
I was tired of it and this year (2018) I switched to Siteground and it has been smooth sailing ever since.
The thing though is that I am paying Siteground what I used to pay for a private server in Bluehost, but for a shared server. So the price is more, but I needed that peace of mind.
THE BEST HOSTING?
Bluehost is the most affordable options and they have worked really hard to implement a better customer support (that was something a lot of people have complained before, but I never experienced.)
As a user, I've seen the improvement first hand and I would recommend them no question asked. You can get started with BlueHost for less than a cup of coffee a month, right here.
Siteground is the more reliable option, and that comes with a higher price tag. The speed increase and free backups alone made it worth it for me, but also you have a higher threshold for traffic and depending on the plan you select, you can have multiple websites and SuperCacher for super fast loading.
IMPORTANT: If you are just starting, you might want to go with the more affordable option. You can always switch hosting companies as necessary, one thing that should never do is stay with a company you are not satisfied with =]
THE LOOKS OF YOUR BLOG
The Design part is also easy now (compared to when I started back in 2010) because themes are so advanced!
My favorite themes lately are from BluChic, I love how clean, minimalistic, feminine and most importantly, you will not need the Genesis framework in order to make them work so that makes thme VERY affordable in comparison to the ones that require Genesis, all you need is the theme and that's it! Check out the Maggie theme here.
Another of my favorites and the one I am currently using in my blog is the Enfold Theme by Kriesi, I love that just like the Bluchic themes it does not require Genesis and that it has many different ways to customize pages, shop, portfolio and landing pages. It's also one of the few I've found to be search engine optimized and it is translate-ready. Also, it has a bomb editor that makes custom pages super easy! I can not recommend it more (plus their tech support is always so fast and resolve all the issues I've had so far) Get the Enfold theme here.
THEMES WITH GENESIS
But what is the Genesis Framework? In short, Genesis is the bones of most themes. Designers sell the “skin” (aka Theme). Genesis is one of the most powerful frameworks for blogs, and that is why so many bloggers prefer it to power their blogs.
But, as I mentioned before since Genesis is the bones that your blog will have, to make it pretty, you will still need a theme on top of the framework.
Most of the designer that works with Genesis, offer bundles so you can purchase both things together (most packages listed by Studiopress include a theme AND the Framework) If you want to read more about it, I recommend this Genesis guide for beginners guide where you can find answers to most questions. And if you already have the framework, I definitely recommend the following themes:
- Glam theme: This one is my favorite from Restored 316, they also have this super handy quiz to help you select the template that would work best for your business or blog.
- Pretty creative theme: Is my favorite theme (and for obvious reasons hehe) from Pretty darn cute design, they also have additional themes that you should definitely check out, they are all so pretty!
- Boss pro: This one is probably my favorite theme from Designs by Bloom, a super close second option for me would be Simply pro. I absolutely love the minimalistic, but yet a super chic look of both of them and the best part is that all of their themes have Woocommerce integration, so if you plan to sell physical items, everything is already set up =]
IS YOUR BLOG JUST A HOBBY?
If you blog as a hobby and have no plans of monetizing in the future, I would suggest you consider Blogger or WordPress.com – the set up is super easy and there are a variety of very economical templates, as well as some free ones and while they might not have quite the same level of features, for someone that does not need much they are perfect!
Resources I love at the moment
Below you can check my favorite resources to learn and make money with your creativity!
- SKILLSHARE: Is an awesome platform to learn lettering, photography, marketing and just about anything you need. I have a yearly subscription because I think that's an unbeatable value. If you want to give them a try, use my link to get 2 FREE MONTHS!
- SHOPIFY: I switched to Shopify about 3 years ago and I love how easy it is now to have orders and my shop no longer goes offline and I never have customers unable to checkout, if you are thinking about opening a shop give them a try! FREE for 14-days.
- ZAZZLE: Thinking about selling products with your art? give Zazzle a try. They have an incredible amount of products that you can customize and tools to create a branded storefront that you can promote. Open a store here.
And that's it my friends! I hope this helps you understand the differences a little better and if you are looking for more check out this post by Darren from Problogger.
And if you want to save it for later, just pin this image!
I hope you have a wonderful day!