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How to Choose the Best Free Blogging Platform – Consideration For Future Growth

How to choose the best free blogging platform
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How to Choose the Best Free Blogging Platform

If you’re reading this you’re likely thinking of starting your own blog but can’t decide on which is the best free blogging platform you should choose.

Ultimately, the best blogging platform is a self-hosted WordPress blog (WordPress.org, not WordPress.com). Why? WordPress now powers 30% of all websites (that’s more than 75 million websites!) and is by far the most popular CMS based platform with more than 60% market share. Consider this also, this recent article published by Scrunch nominating the Top 25 Mummy Bloggers, 13 of the 14 influencers with blogs were using self-hosted WordPress. With so many users, this translates into an abundance of tools, themes, plugins, developers, and the resources and freedom to do whatever you want with your blog. A simple google search will likely get you anything you need to know about doing anything with your WordPress blog. So while not free, a self-hosted WordPress blog is likely the best choice for any blog. If you’ve got about $75 to spend (per year), then you should really consider going self-hosted. We have detailed instructions on how to start your own blog on WordPress.

Ok, ok, true to the post title, I’m only going to help you to choose the best free blogging platform. However, I’m going to compare the free blogging platforms from a different perspective.

There are enough search results on google comparing these platforms’ different features, ease of use, flexibility and so on. So I’m not going to cover all that here again. I’m going to look at what happens when you outgrow your free blogging platform and you finally decide to make the transition to a self-hosted WordPress blog. Trust me, after you’ve spent blood, sweat and tears building your brand, your followers, PageRank, domain authority, and you’re really ready to make some real money from your blog, you’ll be looking to move to self-hosted WordPress.

However, moving platforms can be a tricky task. You risk losing significant web traffic along with your followers, PageRank, DA, etc. One way to avoid this is to start off on a free platform that makes the transition easy.

What is easy? Consider these factors:
– Does the platform let you export your content?
– Does the export file include all details like comments, categories, labels, tags, etc.
– Can you easily redirect your domain name?
– How are images stored and served?
– Do pages import or just posts?
– Can you migrate your followers?
There are others to consider as well.

So, what is the best free blogging platform to choose?

The short answer is WordPress.com. WordPress.com covers all the factors that make a transition to self-hosted WordPress easy. And that should make sense – the software behind wordpress.com is the same software behind self-hosted WordPress. This also makes the learning curve after migrating your blog super easy.

OK, wordpress.com may not be as pretty as a wix or weebly website, but don’t forget this one important critical fact: Getting ranked high on google, building backlinks, building followers, and monetizing your blog, has absolutely NOTHING to do with how your blog looks. Fancy animations, parallax effects, image galleries, etc mean nothing. What matters the most? CONTENT. Seriously, don’t bother starting a blog if you don’t plan on putting in serious effort to write good, relevant content. Forget about how your blog looks, just write!

So with your future blogging career as our main perspective, lets compare the best free blogging platforms that are easy to migrate from.

The Free Blogging Platforms Compared

WordPress.com

Ease of migration: Walk in the Park
Domain Redirection Possible: Yes
Permalink Structure: Same as self-hosted WordPress default
Comments: Imported
Pages: Imported
Menus: Imported
Categories and Tags: Imported
Migrate your followers: Yes
Blog Migration Comments:
Wordpress.com uses the same software as self-hosted wordpress, so not only is the migration process easy, it ensures nothing is lost in the import. Plus, you can connect the Jetpack plugin (made by the same folks who run wordpress.com, Automattic) and import all of your wordpress.com followers so they won’t miss a beat. Whether you’re on the personal plan with your own custom domain, or still using a wordpress.com branded domain (like myblog.wordpress.com), you don’t have to worry about losing page rank or broken SERP results. In the former case your URL’s will be identical, so there’s no need to do anything, and in the case of a branded domain you can just purchase the redirect option for about $15 per year. While none of the blogging platforms here allow you to export your theme/layout/blog design, wordpress.com is the only one where you can actually find the same theme you were using in the free wordpress.org theme repository, so you can keep your blog layout as you had it before, if you want. While not as flashy as some of the others, WordPress.com really is the best free blogging platform to start out on. If you choose to go with wordpress.com and later wish to migrate to self-hosted WordPress, you can follow our detailed instructions here – Move from WordPress.com to WordPress.org – The Complete Step-by-Step Guide.
Blogger2WP’s Best Free Blogging Platform Rating: (5 / 5)

 

Blogger.com

Ease of migration: Doable – Follow the instructionsBlogger to WordPress Migration Flow Chart
Domain Redirection Possible: Yes – depending on your import method
Permalink Structure: Different from WordPress default, but can be matched depending on your import method
Comments: Yes, if using the default comment system (Google+ comments cannot be imported to WordPress)
Pages: Depends on your import method
Menus: Not Imported
Categories and Tags: Blogger only uses ‘labels’, they will be imported and converted to Categories
Migrate your followers: No, but you can redirect your Feedburner feed or Google+ followers
Blog Migration Comments:
Blogger is the second best free blogging platform you should consider. Migration is not perfect, and you can expect to lose some text formatting in posts, but for the most part your blog content will import OK depending on the method you use. After a migration your images in your posts may be referenced improperly and still call up the blogspot/blogger image reference. It’s due to the way blogger serves your images, and there’s no way around this or any easy fix. Just don’t delete your blogger blog and you should be fine. If you were using the Google+ comment system, your comments are not going to import. Since comments help your overall SEO, you will definitely feel some pain here. The next thing to consider is the permalink structure. Blogger’s is different, so after the import you’ll need to run a special plugin that will convert the WordPress url slug to match the blogger one. You’ll also need a custom permalink structure in the WordPress settings to make sure they match. And finally, redirects. If you were using a custom domain, it’s not too bad as you’ll only have to redirect any pages you had using a redirection plugin like Redirection. If you were still on the blogspot branded domain then redirection is also possible, but you need to use the proper import method for it to work. If you use the method (highly recommended) we show in this guide – Move from Blogger to WordPress – The Ultimate Guide – you’ll be fine.
If you decide to choose blogger as your first blogging platform, make sure to stick with the default comment system, don’t use the “Showcase images with Lightbox” option, and use your labels wisely for categorizing your posts. It wouldn’t hurt to also get a custom domain name as soon as possible, but not mandatory.
Blogger2WP’s Best Free Blogging Platform Rating: (4 / 5)

 

Wix.com

Ease of migration: PITA (Pain In The A$$)
Domain Redirection Possible: No
Permalink Structure: Different from WordPress, but can be matched
Comments: Imports most of the time
Pages: Not Imported
Menus: Not Imported
Categories and Tags: Not Imported
Migrate your followers: No – unless you’re using MailChimp or a similar service
Blog Migration Comments:
Wix is up there with being one of the more difficult imports. And by difficult, I don’t mean technically challenging, it’s just a real pain. For example you’ll use the WordPress RSS importer to import your blog posts, but the importer currently isn’t compatible with PHP7 so you’ll have to get your host to switch to a PHP5 version while you do your import. When you do manage to get your Wix RSS feed saved, Wix only includes the most recent 50 posts in the feed. So if you’ve been on there for a while  and amassed a few hundred posts, it’s going to take you a LONG time as you need to manually open, copy, and paste every single post from the 51st one onwards! Further to that, the Wix permalink structure includes the text “single-post/” in every post url, so you’ll either need to add that to your custom permalink settings in WordPress settings and continue to live with that, or create a redirect for every single post. With Wix there’s also no way to setup a domain redirect, so if you’re still using a Wix branded domain, you’re out of luck. You will lose page rank and domain authority for some time. While Wix layouts can be pretty awesome and you can really get creative on your blog design, you can’t take it with you and all that hard work you put in will be lost. In summary, I cannot recommend Wix as a good choice as a free blogging platform. If you still decide to start on Wix I recommend you get a custom domain name as soon as possible (though you’ll have to upgrade your plan which costs the same as self-hosted WordPress anyways), use a comment system like Disqus to make migrating comments easier, keep all your url slugs lower case (trust me on that one), and try to move to self-hosted WordPress before you get to the 50 post mark.
Blogger2WP’s Best Free Blogging Platform Rating: (2 / 5)

 

Weebly.com

Ease of migration: Average
Domain Redirection Possible: Yes
Permalink Structure: Different from WordPress, but can be matched
Comments: Depends on your import method
Pages: Depends on your import method
Menus: Not Imported
Categories and Tags: Depends on your import method
Migrate your followers: No – unless you’re using MailChimp or a similar service
Blog Migration Comments:
Weebly turns out to be not a decent free blogging platform to start out on. Like Wix (worse actually), Weebly only includes your ten most recent posts in your RSS feed. Fortunately, the folks over at WPBeginner have created a neat tool that will get around this limitation and also import all of your comments, pages, and categories. I also like the fact that Weebly allows you to add a redirect so you can easily redirect your Weebly branded domain to your own custom domain. Having said that, your ability to easily migrate from Weebly to WordPress in the future will depend on the WPBeginner tool still being available, and Weebly not changing how their site functions in order to block the tool or not allow redirects.
Blogger2WP’s Best Free Blogging Platform Rating: (3 / 5)

 

Tumblr.com

Ease of migration: Average
Domain Redirection Possible: Yes – however not SEO friendly
Permalink Structure: Different from WordPress, but can be matched
Comments: Not Imported
Pages: Not Imported
Menus: Not Imported
Categories and Tags: Not Imported
Migrate your followers: No
Blog Migration Comments:
While importing content from Tumblr to WordPress is relatively easy, if you’re keen on writing and building a blog you can later monetize, I would recommend you stay away from Tumblr as a free blogging platform. At the very best, you will only be able to import your post content and nothing else. And while a Tumblr branded domain name can be redirected, this will only benefit your site visitors. Search engines won’t recognize the redirect and you will lose any rankings you had built up.
Blogger2WP’s Best Free Blogging Platform Rating:   (1 / 5)

 

Squarespace

While Squarespace is not free, I’ll still give the service an honorable mention on the “why would you even bother” list of blogging platforms. Their marketing folks must be geniuses considering even their personal plan costs more than a self-hosted WordPress setup and people are still signing up! You face the same restrictions as all of the other free blogging platforms, pay significantly more than your own WordPress site, and migrating is about as much fun as migrating from Wix! Looks pretty though. Stay away folks.

 

Final thoughts on Choosing the Best Free Blogging Platform

There’s no doubt in my mind, from where I sit (at my desk migrating blogs that have grown too large for their free platforms) that the best free blogging platform to start out on is wordpress.com. At some point (if your make it big) you will want to migrate your blog to self-hosted WordPress and wordpress.com is the best choice for free blogging platform for moving with little to no disruption in terms of SEO, backlinks, page rank, and domain authority.

Happy to hear your thoughts!

 

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