If there is something which many people find confusing before diving into the blogging community, it is – whether to create a blog or website for their online presence. Nowadays, there is not much difference between a blog and a website. You can go with any blogging platform if your only goal is to make money blogging. Long back, websites were just static web pages which weren’t updated often and blogs were sites where the content was updated often, that is, new content was added to the site every now and then and these posts were displayed in a reverse chronological order (latest post first).
A blogging platform is a piece of software or an online service which allows you to create and publish your content on the internet, and anyone with access to an active internet connection can lookup and read your content. A blogging platform is quite similar to a content management system as it allows you to manage and keep track of your content online. Remember how WordPress started out as a content management system? Now, it is the world’s largest blogging platform powering around 30% of the internet.
Those were the days when website builders and blogging platforms were entirely different. Nowadays, you can use a software like WordPress to create anything you want, be it a personal blog or a full-fledged business website.
Differences Between A Blog And Website
A blog is a place where the content is updated often and everything is informal. Also, there is more interaction between the blogger and the readers in the form of comments and discussion. Most of the time, the content shared on the blog is informative and educational. On the other hand, content on a website is static and the language used is very formal – there is a professional touch to everything present on the website. Also, there is very less to zero communication between the site owner and the reader. It like just like a one-way communication from the site owner to the reader. Websites usually contain information on the products or services offered by the company or business. All businesses have websites but most of them do not have a blog, which is very sad. Having an actively updated informative blog can help these businesses in their marketing efforts, like getting more leads which will later result into sales and conversion.
Best Free Blogging Platforms
There are many blogging platforms out there which provide users with a free blog on their service with optional upgrades, the most popular one being WordPress.com (not to be confused with WordPress.org – the free software powering self hosted WordPress sites). Other top free blogging platforms include Medium, Blogger, Tumblr, Weebly, Svbtle and Pen.io. If you need a free blogging platform which you can install and self host on your own server, then you can go for WordPress.org or Ghost. Both of them are rock solid and trusted by top brands and companies. WordPress is feature-rich with a large community of people working towards its development while Ghost is simple yet sophisticated with quite a small number of developers working around the clock to maintain it.
If you are just looking for a place where you can share your thoughts and ideas online, then any of the above mentioned free blogging platforms are good for you. But if you want more control over your blog like site ownership and customization, adding or removing new features, tweaking site appearance and functionality, making money online, etc., then you should go with a self-hosted blogging platform like WordPress.
WordPress.com VS WordPress.org
As I had mentioned quite some time back, WordPress is the most popular blogging platform (powering around 30% of the internet) and it is still growing. But there are two version of WordPress itself – the self hosted version (WordPress.org) and the fully managed WordPress.com version. The core software powering both versions are the same. But on WordPress.org, you can only download the free WordPress software. You will need to purchase a separate web hosting plan for it and install the software on your server. On the other hand, everything is managed for you in WordPress.com – you can just sign up and create your first blog in a minute or two.
Advantages And Disadvantages Of WordPress.com
- Creating your blog is totally free on WordPress.com
- WP.com blogs are easier to set up and manage
- No need to break your head on SEO
- All updates are managed
- No separate cost for hosting
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Inbuilt spam protection
- Very high security
- Nearly no downtime
- Free CDN (Photon)
Coming to disadvantages
- Need to upgrade to paid plan for adding custom domain name
- Only 3GB storage space on free plan
- Cannot upload audio and video files on free plan
- WordPress.com ads displayed below blog posts to cover hosting costs
- No timely support on free plan (only access to community forums)
- Uploading custom themes & plugins supported only on WordPress.com Business plan
- Most of the premium themes are very costly
WordPress.com is for people who want to just blog and not maintain other aspects of running a successful blog like doing the hard work to keep it running smoothly.
Advantages And Disadvantages Of WordPress.org
- You can install WordPress on your own server
- You can upload any custom theme and plugin
- You can easily touch and change the code
- Allows you to fully customize the site
- Access to all back-end WordPress tools
- Unlimited storage space (limited only by your hosting plan)
- You can fully optimize your site for SEO by installing SEO plugins
- Premium themes are much cheaper for self hosted WordPress
Coming to disadvantages,
- Costlier than WordPress.com as you need to pay for web hosting
- Need more technical knowledge to maintain your site
- All updates have to be done by you
- Limited bandwidth (depending on your web hosting plan)
- Proper security measures have to be taken to protect your site from hackers
- Site downtime due to hosting server going down at times (due to overload or DDoS attacks)
- Incompatible plugins and themes can break your site
Nowadays most of the blogging platforms allow you to create and maintain a website along with your blog and vice versa. Using WordPress, you can create and have a blog within your website, that is, your site’s homepage will be a static page which is effectively a website and you can add a blog section to the same site where you can publish new content often.
“A blog with a static homepage is nothing but a website”
Blogging Platform Alternatives
If you fall into the other category of bloggers who want to use a website builder for managing their online presence and activity or you do not want to use WordPress because (I don’t know why you’re doing this) someone said you so, there are a few popular website builders like Squarespace, Wix and Web.com waiting for you on the other side of the shore. But keep in mind that it is not recommended to go with website builders these days. Gone are the days when they were ruling the web design & development industry and anyone with a good internet connection and some money could easily put their site on the internet.
Best Blog Hosting Providers
If you are going with WordPress as I had recommended above for creating your first site, then you obviously would need the best blogging host. Don’t get fooled by companies or people promising you free blog hosting with own domain name – it is NOT possible at all. If they give you everything for free, then how on earth would they make money from you then. Be it whichever self hosted platform you choose, you need to go with good web hosting providers.
Choosing a good web hosting company shouldn’t be a great deal for you as I myself have compiled the list for you. I would recommend you to go with Bluehost or SiteGround as they are the best web hosting companies for bloggers and small businesses. Also, they come with 1-click WordPress installation which allows you to set up your blog within minutes. You can choose either Bluehost or SiteGround for registering your domain name and buying your hosting package. But, it is always better if you keep your domain name registration and web hosting plan separate so that you don’t get locked in to one vendor and regret later. If you haven’t chosen a domain name yet, go ahead and read my post on how to choose the perfect domain name for your blog.
Optimize Blog Posts For SEO
If you don’t know how to optimize your blog posts for SEO, then, there’s no way you can improve your search engine rankings. But hey, worry not. Here are some tips for on how to improve your on-page SEO.
- The first and foremost step is to create useful and in-depth content which is worth sharing.
- Next, do some keyword research using a free tool like KeywordTool.io or a premium SEO tool like SEMrush to find the best keywords related to your topic.
- Add meta description to your blog posts. Only then Google will understand your content and know whom you are targeting.
- Don’t publish low quality content just because you don’t have anything to post.
- Harness the power of social media, make sure you reach your content in front of many eyeballs.
- Optimize images for SEO. Here’s useful guide by Yoast.
Here are some useful WordPress plugins that will help you in optimizing your blog for SEO.
Make Money Blogging
Many blogging platforms allow you to only share content and not effectively monetize it. Even WordPress.com doesn’t allow users to display advertisements on their site but they are relaxed about affiliate marketing (except ClickBank links). If making money through Google AdSense is your only goal, you can go with Google’s Blogger platform instead. On WordPress.com, you can apply for their in-house advertising program WordAds once you have a custom domain name and have reached a minimum of 15,000 page views per month. If you want to display advertisements from any ad network of your choice, then you must go with a self-hosted solution like WordPress.
The easiest way to make money from blogging is by adding an affiliate marketing business to your blog. Also, you can sell your product or services straight from your blog. Lastly, you can ask for a donation from your readers. If your content is really useful and worth reading, your genuine readers won’t hesitate or think twice before donating to your blog. I have outlined these four blog monetization techniques in this post. If you haven’t started your blog yet, just go ahead and read this post. It will give you an idea on which blogging niche to choose, best practices for setting up your blog and every information you will ever need to start your own blog from scratch.
Thus I hope that you found this post helpful in understanding what a blogging platform is, differences between a blog and a website, differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org – their advantages and disadvantages, best blog hosting companies, on-page SEO techniques and blog monetization options for making money online.