Choosing a blogging platform is like choosing a home. It’s never too late to change, but it’s kind of a pain in the butt if you do. Moving sucks depending on how much crap and treasures you have, which is why you should choose wisely at the start.
I’ve built websites using WordPress, Squarespace, Wix and Shopify. If platforms were homes, this is what they would be:
- Wix: Apartment
- It might be awesome and easy at the time, but if you don’t play your cards right you could be there forever.
- Squarespace: Condo
- The customization options might be more limited than a house without enough room, but it’s a legitimate home nonetheless.
- WordPress: House
- There may be regular maintenance, but it offers endless amounts of customization and a foundation that is all your own.
- Shopify: Storefront in a Retail Space
- It’s best suited for selling products without inviting people to come over and chill which could be your thing.
How to Choose a Blogging or Online Business Platform
The easiest starting point is who you are and what you’re hoping to do with the site. Below are common use cases, along with the pro’s and con’s of each platform.
You want to write.
Maybe you’re new to blogging and simply want to share your opinions or perhaps you’re a writer who wants to turn your content into a business.
- Medium – You want to share your thoughts with an existing readership base and don’t care about customization, owning your content or future monetization.
- Self-Hosted WordPress – Owning your content is important to you, and you see yourself doing it long-term. You want to create a brand that could potentially be monetized someday.
|Pricing||Free||~ $165 initially + $4/month hosting|
|Pro's||Active, engaged online community where people are more likely to discover your work||- Good long-term solution
- Ownership of your content
- Potential to monetize
- Many themes and plugins make your site fully customizable
|Con's||- Very little customization or branding|
- Do not own content
|- Requires more setup time
- Marketing and SEO needed for articles to be discovered
You want a personal or company site that highlights your services or work.
Perhaps you’re a personal trainer who wants to highlight their services or a videographer who needs to set up an online portfolio. There is an option for whatever personal or professional site you have in mind.
- Squarespace – You want light landing pages that feature your services with beautiful, simple templates that are easy to use and mobile responsive. Themes can easily be swapped out and features storefront themes that include e-commerce.
- Wix – You want to be able to quickly customize your site without coding needed. Thanks to Wix’s drag and drop, you can place your content anywhere you want within the template. However, you’re unable to switch between templates so if you plan to have your site long-term, WordPress is worth the additional setup time.
- Self-Hosted WordPress – You have a lot of content, and you want to own it. Your business is established, and the site will be used long-term. You might also want to sell something one day.
|Pricing||- Free 14 day trial|
- $12/month for blog
- $26/month for online store
- Hosting included
|- $11/month for basic|
- 14 day money back guarantee
- Hosting included
|- ~$165 initially
- $4/month hosting
|Pro's||- Beautiful templates|
- Easy to set up and use
- Can easily change between templates while maintaining content
- Mobile responsive
- Comes with custom domain
|- Many templates to choose from|
- Drag & drop functionality to easily place your content however you want within the theme
|- Many themes to choose from
- Plugins allow you to easily add a variety of functionality from email signups to Google Analytics
- Since it's on your hosting, you own the content
- Can swap out themes without losing content
|Con's||- Only 60 available templates (but all of them are beautiful)|
- Since they host the content, you don't own it
|- Unable to switch themes without losing content|
- Not automatically mobile responsive (requires configuring the mobile views)
- Since the host the content, you don't own it
|- Can be difficult to find the best themes since there are so many
- Each theme offers a different admin view and functionality (Pro + Con)
- Requires more setup time at the start
You want to sell stuff.
You can still sell through your own site, Etsy and other marketplaces at the same time. If you’ve just started selling handmade goods, I would start with Etsy. As your store and brand grows, then create a Shopify site. For manufactured goods, Shopify is the way to go.
- Etsy – You want to test out handmade goods in an established marketplace where people are already actively searching and are not trying to build a brand yet.
- Shopify – E-commerce is your main business, and you want the best online storefront to customers to purchase and for you to manage orders and inventory.
|Pricing||- $0.20 per item to publish|
- 5% transaction fee
|- Basic plan is $29/month
- 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction
|Pro's||- Great for handmade or locally produced goods where users are already searching|
- Easy order fulfillment and management
- Marketing options within Etsy
|- Easy, beautiful templates
- Straightforward ordering workflow
- Plugins available for customization
- Easy order fulfillment and management
|Con's||- Lack the customization and branding of having your own shop||- Price per month|
If you want to test the waters of writing and are looking for an engaged community, start with Medium. If you’re more serious about establishing a blog, go with WordPress.
If you want to quickly put together a site that showcases your services or work without the need for a lot of customization, I would use Squarespace or Wix. If you want to build a site that will grow with you long-term and offers a lot of customization, I would suggest WordPress.
If you want an online shop, I would start with Etsy if it’s handmade. Either way, Shopify if your best bet for creating a great storefront that is easy for both your customers and you.
Here is what you do now:
- Medium: Sign up for an account and start posting
- Squarespace: Sign up for a 14-day free trial, starting with choosing your template
- Wix: Sign up for a Basic account
- Etsy: Sign up for an account and start adding products
- WordPress: Set up your hosting and domain
If you have questions, let me know. I’m here for you.