Building a successful blog starts with choosing the right content management system(CMS) and a good hosting solution. A good CMS gives you absolute control over your content, powerful content editing and publishing tools, version control and backup, security, and multilingual support, among other features.
Although hundreds of CMS are on the market, WordPress ranks at the top of this list as the largest CMS powering millions of websites. Ultimately if you want to set up your blog with relatively less hassle and still get access to unlimited customization possibilities, WordPress is almost always the best platform to create your blog.
- WordPress is the most popular CMS for personal blogs, business websites, or complex eCommerce websites.
- A blog is a website with regularly updated content, often intending to communicate to readers and attract new ones.
- WordPress has an overwhelming number of advantages, but it also has some cons.
- You can easily install and set up WordPress on your own.
- WordPress is free; you only need to pay for the domain and hosting.
What is a blog?
A blog is a website that allows you to share ideas and knowledge, gain visibility, connect with the rest of the world, and potentially generate income. Using a blog, you can demonstrate expertise in your field, establish a brand, and generate new leads for your business.
Blogs are written in a conversational tone and are updated regularly to reflect new ideas and information.
Initially, blogs were meant to act as personal journals or diaries where one could share information and updates, which were then displayed in reverse chronological order. Gradually, blogs have transitioned into reliable sources of information and powerful marketing tools that organizations leverage to build an audience and communicate their brand.
What is WordPress?
WordPress is the world’s leading Content Management System. A Content Management System, or simply a CMS, is a software application that enables users to create, modify, manage and publish content. Simply put, a CMS allows you to easily create a website from scratch with little or no prior coding knowledge.
Designed with usability in mind, WordPress is versatile enough to allow you to build virtually anything from a simple portfolio site to a complex eCommerce site. When it comes to customization, the possibilities are endless with WordPress.
Almost half of the websites you visit will likely be powered by WordPress.
- WordPress is open-source distributed under the General Public License(GPLv2).
- A GPL license gives you the freedom to run the program for any purpose, make changes to the WordPress software and redistribute the modified version.
- WordPress maintains an impressive 64.1% market share of the content management software industry.
CMS Market Share June 2022. Source
Looking for a detailed overview of WordPress? Read our article on What is WordPress?
All the Reasons Why You Should Be Blogging With WordPress
WordPress is highly Customizable and adaptable
WordPress provides an unmatched level of customization capabilities. Even with little or no knowledge of web design, you can easily create any website by choosing from the thousands of available plugins and themes.
Themes allow you to fine tune the appearance and edit the basic layout of your website, the font, background color, and styling of the text. You can also create sliders and upload a custom logo, among other features, without writing a single line of code. There are also advanced methods to customize your WordPress theme. There are three types of themes; Basic, Premium and Custom.
- This article shares an expert pick of the Best Free WordPress themes.
Plugins, on the other hand, allow you to customize or add extra functionality and features like analytics, membership area, payment options, contact forms, and search engine optimization, among others. Plugins are any piece of software that you “plug” into your WordPress site to extend existing functionality or add a new one. There are over 60,000 WordPress plugins that you can choose from, allowing you to create virtually any website.
WordPress is Open Source (free)
WordPress is an open-sourced software, meaning you can download it for free, modify it and redistribute the modified version without any legal constraint or paying a cent.
The open-source nature of WordPress aligns with the WordPress mission, whose emphasis is on designing for everyone with accessibility, performance, and ease of use in mind. The freedoms that come with open-source software have also led to:
- A massive growth in a community of developers that actively contribute to the growth of WordPress.
- Huge number of themes and plugins that allow you to build virtually any website is also a result of the open-source nature of WordPress
- A high number of really talented contributors to the project, hence more accountability, transparency, quick bug fixes, and frequent feature releases.
WordPress is Easy to use
WordPress is beginner-friendly and has a fairly straightforward user interface compared to other Content Management Systems(CMS). It is built with non-technical people in mind. However, mastering all WordPress features requires some learning and getting used to. For instance, customizing themes and using some plugins can prove challenging for a beginner.
Best CMS for SEO
To increase the visibility and credibility of your blog, you need to pay attention to SEO from its inception. Generally, WordPress is considered the most SEO-friendly CMS platform in the market. WordPress gives you access to a range of plugins such as Yoast SEO, All-in-One SEO, SEO press and many more that specifically allow you to optimize your websites with the latest SEO techniques.
Here are some of the reasons why WordPress is the best CMS for SEO:
- Customization options using themes and plugins provide the best user experience.
- Mobile responsive themes are already optimized for access on mobile devices, and you don’t need to do anything.
- Pretty Permalinks allow you to include keywords in your URL, improving your search rank and making them readable for your users.
- Optimize images by adding alt tags and descriptions. Alternatively, you can also use a plugin to add tags to your images automatically.
- Social Media plugins that allow you to automate social media campaigns and embed social media buttons to allow users to share your content.
Millions of people around the globe use WordPress, partly because it is easy to use and open-source software. There is a likelihood that a WordPress community exists in your area as well. A thriving WordPress community means that countless tutorials and videos are created online daily. Meetups are also organized all year around the globe in different locations.
The WordPress community is also known to be very welcoming. You can always ask for help online and get instant help. If you can’t wrap your head around setting up something on your WordPress blog, it is likely that someone else has figured it out and documented it online.
WordPress is Secure
WordPress is considered a secure website-building solution and is committed to ensuring security for all its users. Although it is impossible to completely rule out vulnerabilities and malware attacks as technology evolves quickly.
Here are some key points to consider:
- Security Guidelines – To further enhance the security of your blog, you can also use features such as password protection for folder contents. You can also easily set up an SSL certificate from your hosting service on your WordPress site.
- Security Plugins – WordPress also gives you access to security plugins that protect your site from malware, hackers, and suspicious activities. Some of the common security plugins to help you protect your site include Sucuri, Wordfence.
- Backup Plugins – These are helpful in data recovery in the event that there is a security breach, human error, natural disaster or a migration that can lead to data loss. A WordPress backup will ensure that you retain a perfect copy of your website alongside your data. Learn more about WordPress backup options here
- Update Software – A simple but effective way to ensure that your site remains safe is through timely updates of your WordPress, including all the themes and plugins, whenever there is a new release. WordPress releases frequent updates and security patches often meant to fix security vulnerabilities. Learn How to Update your WordPress Plugins
Want to feel more secure? Explore our WordPress Security Guide and learn How to Defend your WordPress Site
Are there any downsides to using WordPress?
WordPress is the best CMS available today and the most popular. However, with all the pros and praise it receives, it is easy to overlook some of its drawbacks. Let’s examine some of them.
While WordPress is freely accessible and downloadable, other services are required to complete your setup which will need to be purchased, including:
- Domain registration and a reliable hosting plan.
- Premium theme and plugins – While many themes and plugins are freely available, not all will meet your needs.
- Web Designer/Developer - In cases where you need to make extensive changes that may require writing some code beyond your understanding, you may also need to hire professional help.
For more info, here is our article Is WordPress Free: What is Free and What Will it Cost You?
WordPress contains a dizzying amount of features and thousands of themes, and plugins. If you’re new to WordPress, understanding and making the most of these features can be overwhelming. Although there are many accessible WordPress tutorials out there, at times you may need to hire someone else to help you set up your site which comes at a cost.
Need some guidance? Learn How to Choose a WordPress Theme
Although WordPress is a very secure platform, it is often targeted by hackers, malware and spamming attempts due to its open-source nature and popularity. The most common WordPress vulnerabilities are Plugin vulnerabilities, with themes and core software following. Therefore update wordpress plugin and themes, and deactivating plugins which are not in use is advised.
WordPress maintenance and security patches are taken care of, but it is your responsibility to adhere to the required precautions. These include using strong passwords, frequent security scans, and routine backups.
Undecided about WordPress? Read more about the Pros and Cons of using WordPress here
Other Popular blogging platforms
Tumblr is a popular free social networking and microblogging platform that allows users to create short blogs, referred to as a Tumblog. Praised for its simplicity, content management, and aesthetics, Tumblr gives you the flexibility to customize each of your Tumblogs with different themes, which are mostly free. Alternatively, you can also use a professionally designed theme.
Setting up a Tumblr account is fairly straightforward. All you need is an email, username and password. Like other social media platforms, you can connect with users and share multimedia via a post. You can also use Tumblr as a search engine to find a wide variety of creative content, from music, videos, gifs, and memes based on your interest.
Although Tumblr is a free platform, in early 2022, they announced that it will be rolling out an ad-free browsing experience for web and mobile for a monthly fee of $4.99.
- Free SSL certificate.
- Free hosting
- Unlimited storage.
- No ads on themes or onboarding adverts.
- Simple and intuitive dashboard.
- You can have multiple blogs(Tumblog) if you want.
- Limited customizations on blogs.
- Widespread misinformation.
- The vast presence of bots can be annoying.
- Sexual and explicit content despite the 2018 ban.
Blogger is a free content management system developed by Pylabs and acquired by Google in 2003. Blogger is one of the earliest blogging platforms. The platform aims to give anyone the ability to quickly set up a blog and share it even with no prior technical knowledge.
You only need your email address to sign up for the platform in a few clicks. Once you sign up, you get a free BlogSpot domain. However, you can also use a custom domain register through a third party and connect it to your Blogger blog.
- Easy to see and get started with.
- User-friendly interface.
- Free web hosting and SSL certificate.
- Good uptime.
- Free and unlimited storage.
- Easy to integrate with Google services.
- Basic blogging tools and limited customization for your themes.
- Bad domain and URL structure.
- Basic templates and no plugin access.
- Blogger does not receive frequent updates and poor support.
- Difficult to monetize your blog.
Launched in 2004, Squarespace has grown from a simple hosting service to the largest web design platform supporting millions of websites worldwide. Designed for small businesses, freelancers, independent professionals, photographers, and anyone looking to establish an online presence. Squarespace also has eCommerce functionality in all its plans.
Using Squarespace, you can easily set up a professionally-designed blog that can be customized to align to reflect your brand. You can promote your blog using Squarespace’s built-in marketing and design tools.
Start Squarespace with a free trial and when your trial period ends, you can choose from the four pricing tiers: The basic personal plan starts at $16/month (paid yearly). It’s ad-free and includes a free custom domain name for 1 year.
- Simple and easy to use.
- Many professionally designed templates.
- Free SSL is included in all plans.
- Built-in tools for marketing and SEO.
- Responsive and mobile-optimized websites
- Features behind a Paywall.
- Add-ons can be pricey.
- Many workarounds may require some coding.
- Integrations are limited to a few services.
Essential questions to ask yourself before signing up for a blogging platform
Everyone wants to start their blog, get a huge following, and make money from a WordPress website or become famous. However, although you may have a great idea and a lot of excitement to get started, it is important that you don’t miss the important steps.
Here are some questions to help you choose the right blogging platform:
- What is the purpose of your blog?
Choosing a specific niche and sticking to it is much more likely to grow your audience at a faster rate than if you choose to write about unrelated topics. Regardless of the blogging platform you choose, it is important that you choose a niche that interests you and also one that you know about. Narrowing down your niche also makes coming up with new ideas easier.
- Is your blogging a hobby, or does it have a professional application?
If you want to do blogging as a hobby, then, in that case, you may not be concerned about monetization, a custom domain or highly advanced customization features. In this case, choosing a blogging platform is much easier. However, if you’re pursuing blogging professionally, then you should carefully select a blogging platform that will allow you to blog professionally, monetize your content and have access to all the advanced features you’ll need.
- What is your level of experience?
Some blogging platforms are more intuitive than others. If you’re new to creating and designing websites, you may want to choose a platform that customizes most things for you. Choosing a platform that is easier to learn also reduces the time you have to spend learning. For instance, if you’re new to WordPress, you may have to spend some time learning about plugins and themes.
- Who owns the content?
Ownership of content is key if you want to become a successful blogger. Platforms that allow you to retain ownership give you the right to share your opinions without censorship. Retaining ownership of your content also means that you can move to another platform with your content and value without any restraints.
- Is it SEO friendly?
A platform that is SEO friendly is key to building an audience for your blog. Since search engines are the primary source of most traffic on the internet, a platform that is not search engine friendly can seriously impair your ability to build a meaningful audience.
- How much does it cost?
Cost can be a significant factor in blogging. While some blogging platforms are free, some may charge you a monthly fee before accessing some premium features. If blogging is a hobby and you do not wish to incur any costs, then you should opt for a free platform. However, a paid platform within your budget is okay if you want more features and customizability.
How To Get Started with Self-hosted WordPress
Ready to get started on your own self-hosted blog? Here’s what you need to do:
1. Buy your Hosting & Domain
While there are countless options when it comes to hosting, choosing the right hosting platform will simplify your WordPress installation and setup. We recommend Hostarmada and CloudWays.
- HostArmada is a managed WordPress hosting platform with optimized load speeds and a cPanel-based Web Hosting. Other notable features include free SSL for all websites, free Website Migration, free Web Server Caches and Daily Backups.
- Cloudways is equally a managed WordPress hosting platform on your preferred cloud providers (Digitalocean, AWS, Google Cloud, Vultr, And Linode). Other features that make CLoudWays outstanding include unlimited WordPress websites, vertical scaling, 1-Click Actions, block storage, and enhanced security features.
2. Install WordPress
You can easily install WP on your own. WordPress can be installed in a few different methods, including manually with the aid of an FTP client or via an installer provided by a web hosting service.
You do not require any technical expertise to install WordPress. You can refer to our comprehensive guide on installing WordPress.
3. Choose a web host optimized for WordPress
Find our list of the best Managed WordPress Hosting Providers
4. Choose a suitable theme
If you’re not a designer or programmer, WordPress themes allow you to quickly set up a website and customize it. Themes also allow you to make your website attractive, unique, and perfectly suited for your brand. Choosing a WordPress theme for your WebSite is one final step in setting up a WordPress site.Explore the Best WordPress themes for every niche and how you can use them
5. Install a WordPress Theme
Installing a theme is pretty straightforward. You can install a theme from the official themes directory or from third-party developers.Learn how to install a WordPress theme here
6. Learn How to customize a WordPress theme
The easiest way to customize a theme is through the WordPress customizer. If you wish to make design-focused changes, the Customizer gives many options depending on your theme.
To access the Customizer:
- Click the Customize link in the admin bar at the top of the screen.
- On the admin page, click on appearance> Customize.
- This will open the Customizer.
This article goes into the details of How to Customize WordPress Themes
7. If you’re migrating your blog from another platform, you can easily import your content
Most WordPress hosting services have a WordPress migration service that takes care of the whole process at a fee. However, if you have some knowledge about the migration process, you can also use plugins that automate part of the migration process. Alternatively, you can hire an expert to help you with the process.
In this article, we have defined WordPress, what a blog is, and reasons why WordPress is the best CMS for your blog. We also note some of the downsides of using WordPress and key questions you should ask yourself before choosing a blogging platform.
To help you get started, we have highlighted the steps you can follow to set up your self-hosted WordPress platform and further listed resources to help you learn more about WordPress.
Finally, we also curated a list of other popular blogging platforms that you can check out, their advantages, and their disadvantages.
Next Steps: What now?
- Find the Best WordPress Hosting Provider
- Learn how to install WordPress
- Learn how to make your first WordPress site
- Find the Best WordPress Themes for Blogs
Further Reading (Useful Resources)
- How to use WordPress: A beginner’s guide to building a WordPress Website
- How To Install a WordPress Theme
- How to Make Money from Your WordPress Website
- WordPress Speed Optimization: 23 Ways to Speed Up Your WordPress Site
- 30 Best Free WordPress Themes to Build an Awesome Site
- 15 WordPress Features You need for your site
- What are WordPress Widgets? What They Are and How to Use Them