New to blogging? Here’s your comprehensive guide on how to start a blog packed with 20+ expert tips and actionable steps to get started the right way.
Content Marketing | Jan 6
Elise Dopson on April 30, 2019 (last modified on February 11, 2020) • 23 minute read
With content marketing guidelines encouraging bloggers to publish frequently, you’ll spend a bunch of time in your Content Management System (CMS.)
I don’t blame you if you’re looking for the best platform to spend that time in.
So, we asked 66 experts which CMS they’re using to manage their blog.
WordPress.org (self-hosted) came out as the most popular blogging platform among respondents to our latest report, with HubSpot and WordPress.com ranking 2nd and 3rd respectively:
Let’s dig into why these blogging platforms made the shortlist.
There are two types of WordPress sites. Let’s go over the differences:
Wondering which to choose?
Nichole Jackson of Foundation Marketing Inc thinks “WordPress.org offers more flexibility and customization, but if you’re starting out there is certainly no shame in using WordPress.com’s free offering.”
But regardless of which option you’re choosing, there’s no doubting WordPress still reigns supreme.
Our experts love WordPress because:
“WordPress is a complete game changer,” says Jimmy McMillan of Heart Life Insurance. “I’m not being dramatic when I say it has literally changed my life.”
McMillan continues: “Before WP, coding a website and finding an audience for a very niche subject would have been impossible. Now, I can write about my experience, post case studies and help educate potential clients all without knowing anything about the back-end of the web.”
McMillan isn’t the only blogging pro that loves the fact WordPress handles the technicalities of running a website.
Certa Hosting‘s Jeremy Rose prefers “WordPress because it’s very simple to use, and someone who has little experience with such platforms can quickly learn to navigate the platform.”
As does Stefan Palios of PulseBlueprint, who uses the WordPress.com version because he’s “not a coder.”
“There are one-click integrations, systems that just “work” as if my magic (aka a lot of good backend code that I never have to touch), and the support team is aware they are largely dealing with non-coders and their technical help is explained in plain English (both in their documentation and via their support team.)”
The general consensus is that WordPress is an easy-to-use platform, built for non-coders who still want a functional website.
This allows you to:
As Brew Interactive‘s Mae Chong puts it, WordPress is “idiot-proof” because “most people are already familiar with the dashboard,” and there aren’t too many “updates/plugins that require internal updating.”
This means “it’s less intimidating to less tech-savvy people,” according to My IT‘s Perryn Olson.
Summarizing, Tim Stobierski of Pepperland Marketing says: “Virtually anyone can become well-versed in WordPress in as little as a week using it, even if you aren’t technical.”
“But if you ARE technical, you have the power and control to deploy any change that you can think of.”
“The main reason I prefer WordPress is that a whole ecosystem has sprung up around [it],” says Rob Powell of Rob Powell Biz Blog.
“This ecosystem comprises people and companies developing WordPress themes, plugins, and widgets. That means when it comes to customizing the appearance and functionality of your WordPress website, you have far more options than any other platform,” Powell continues.
Data shows there are over 50,000+ plugins in the WordPress directory alone, with new ones being added daily.
This ecosystem has won-over BloggingCage‘s Kulwant Nagi, too: “Whatever you can think to implement on a blog/website is possible in WordPress.”
Nagi has “eCommerce sites, booking sites, real estate sites, content writing platform[s], all built with WordPress,” and the ecosystem that coincides with the platform means “you can plug anything anytime.”
Milad Hassibi of True Recovery also chooses “to work with WordPress due to the nearly endless amount of available plugins”–with the best part being “many plugins from WordPress are free, whereas platforms like Wix tend to charge extra for added features.”
And, according to HomeWorkingClub.com‘s Ben Taylor, this ecosystem “means it’s extremely well-supported and makes a difference in many ways,” making it perfect for “writers and consultants who can hit the ground running with it.”
“Nothing holds a candle to WordPress in terms of ability to customize and power up with well-supported plugins,” concludes Maria of Big Sea.
You’ll already know that optimizing a website for SEO is an important job.
A smart set of SEO tactics is what you’ll need to reach page one in Google, where over 3.5 billion searches are happening each day.
Luckily, WordPress can help on your quest, because “there are so many great themes and SEO plugins that it is hard to beat when it comes to SEO,” according to Jenny Smith of MoveToNewZealand.net.
Chris Marrano of Blue Water Marketing agrees: “With WordPress, we can upload content and optimize for search more effectively than any of the other platforms.”
Olmsted continues: “Yoast provides you with a readability score and SEO score with itemized metrics and tips for optimizing your content.”
United Capital Source Inc‘s Jared Weitz explains how this readability score is measured by “certain readability factors in the content like sentence length, paragraph length and the tone of voice.”
Steven Kent prefers the WordPress platform for Chief Nation, too, because of “everything WordPress does to support your blog in terms of helping it get indexed, found, and enjoyed by your readers.”
Finally, Fueled‘s Ciara Hautau explains that WordPress’ ecosystem also has “the ability to integrate SEO plugins that allow our content to be crawled easily by Google and be found by our target audience.”
Editor’s Note: Once you’ve optimized your posts in WordPress, use our Keyword to Pageview dashboard to determine whether the keywords you’re optimizing for are driving organic traffic:
WordPress is the most popular blogging platform in the world.
It might not come as a surprise that if you choose WordPress as your blogging platform of choice, HealthJoy‘s Rick Ramos says you’ll get “support, free educational resources on sites like YouTube, [and] a huge selection of plugins to extend its features.”
Jay Kang of Referral Rock explains: “With WordPress, there are a plethora of plugins you can find or you can hire someone to develop a plugin to implement anything and everything.”
The best part? According to Oppilo‘s David Hamilton, “services [for WordPress] are also more readily available and less expensive because developers already know WordPress.”
Adam Connell of Blogging Wizard thinks this sense of support comes from the community of WordPress users: “From finding freely available tutorials to help with troubleshooting issues in the WordPress support forums,” this flexibility means “I can build websites in the way I want to build them – without limits.”
“There are so many plugins and themes available that you can customize your site in an almost infinite number of ways,” explains Ian Wright of British Business Energy.
“For example, if you want to set-up an e-commerce site you can use WooCommerce. On the other hand, if you want to set-up a news site there are themes that can help you there too. […] Need a faster site then choose from one of the top caching plugins.”
Wright continues: “No matter what your needs are, you can probably use WordPress to get you there.”
This ability to customize your website has won praise from Growth Hackers‘ Jonathan Aufray, too: “The #1 reason I prefer WordPress as a blogging platform is that it’s very customizable and can do pretty much anything with it.”
Aufray continues: “You can easily implement your branding, optimizing for SEO and speed is easy, adding a popup form as well as widgets directing to similar posts, uploading and optimizing pictures are easy to do.”
This total control is the reason why Chloe Brittain of Opal Transcription Services recommends the self-hosted version of WordPress.
“You don’t need to be a developer to add advanced features to your site or tweak any landing page just the way you want it. For instance, you can easily add pricing tables, image galleries, maps, portfolios, testimonials, and sliders anywhere on your site — and remove them just as easily.”
“You can build sophisticated websites from scratch in a matter of minutes,” Brittain summarizes.
It’s not just fancy-looking websites that WordPress’ blogging platform helps create. The total control over a website helps bloggers monetize their strategy, too.
“One of my favorite features is that WordPress is self-hosted as opposed to blogging platforms that include hosting because this means you have much more control and customization over your site, as well as more opportunity to make money from ads and even to rank on Google,” writes Stacy Caprio of conversiono.com.
Caprio continues: “When a blogging platform owns your site and the hosting, you have much fewer customization options and some don’t even allow you to run your own ads, making it less than ideal for anyone who wants to have a business rather than a hobby blog.”
Ollie Smith of ExpertSure says the plugins available support monetization attempts; because “the fantastic array of plugins available” helped to increase their blog’s “visibility online.”
As a result, Smith says this increased visibility “permits me to grow my blog, add additional features and make money.”
(You never know, you could be the next one to make over $160,000 through your blog, like Ryan Robinson.)
“My number 1 reason for sticking with [WordPress] is versatility,” explains Dan Hale of Cloud Inspector Web Design.
Hale says that WordPress “has a giant market share which is a huge advantage over other alternatives,” because “any design you can imagine is a possibility for your brand.”
The versatility that WordPress offers makes it future-proof. If plugin or theme doesn’t exist yet, Hale thinks “someone will likely build it.”
Plus, Andrew McLoughlin of Colibri Digital Marketing thinks “WordPress is a pretty robust, adaptable platform, that provides a good middle ground between convenience and utility.”
“We don’t have to manage our own servers in-house, for instance, but we can develop our own site exactly to our specifications.”
McLoughlin thinks the fact WordPress’ platform is “constrictive” helps them “take control of our content,” as well as have “all the freedom we need.”
Did you know that over 50,000 websites are hacked every day?
Not only can hacks result in obscure content being posted to your website, but the process of regaining control (and deleting said content) can cost time and cash.
WordPress offers a range of security plugins to combat this, but Charlie of Imaginaire Digital loves the platform because “you’ve got the security of knowing that you’ll be able to post more or less what you like.”
“There isn’t a worry of having your blog discontinued due to an infringement of the terms of service,” Charlie explains.
It’s clear that WordPress is maintaining its stronghold over websites all over the world.
Summarizing, Emily from Cosmitto thinks it’s a “why invent the wheel?” situation: “These days, WordPress.org is about much more than blogging. You can build your entire website with this platform, using a range of themes and plugins to increase functionality.”
HubSpot‘s platform launched in 2005 (compared to WordPress in 2003,) yet is quickly rising the ranks to win the popularity contest.
Almost 20% of our experts use HubSpot to manage their blog.
“HubSpot is attached to a much larger and robust set of features, like email marketing, SEO tools, content strategy tools, social media tools, digital ad management tools, and reporting,” explains Jake Fisher of Bridges Strategies & Digital Marketing.
The difference between HubSpot and WordPress? When using HubSpot to manage your blog, the featured are built-in.
Chantelle Stevenson of ClearPivot says the all-in-one platform allows bloggers to handle various things within the HubSpot dashboard, such as: “Adding CTA’s […] is easy to do within HubSpot blogs, with tracking being sent directly to you, versus having to do additional steps such as inserting CTA code, tracking code, or having to track user engagement from another source.”
Nina Weigel of SalesSation GmbH & Co. KG explains you can also use the all-in-one tool to “manage your lead contact information within the CRM”–which is why Weigel thinks “this saves you annoying system changes and offers you a better view.”
“HubSpot is a fully hosted solution,” writes Dijy‘s Ari Haas, making it “completely worry-free when it comes to speed, performance, and security.”
“There’s no “what the blanks?!” it just works.”
Accelity Marketing is a HubSpot agency, so it makes sense that they run their blog through the platform. But their partnership isn’t the sole reason for selecting HubSpot as their blogging platform.
Cass Polzin says they’ve chosen HubSpot because their team “have access to analytics which is beneficial in understanding which posts are performing well.”
The analytics branch of their all-in-one solution helps bloggers with a variety of tasks–as Nextiny‘s Gabriel Marguglio explains: “When you have your blog in HubSpot, […] you can track what your leads are engaging with.”
“You can identify which blog [posts] are bringing more and better visits to your website, which blog [posts] are assisting people to convert into leads, and ultimately which blog [posts] are helping you close more customers.”
Marguglio thinks this “ability to understand visits attracted by your blogs, CTA clicks, and conversions from or assisted by blogs allows you to modify your content strategy over time.”
It’s this analytical data that convinced G2‘s Jakub Rudnik to switch from WordPress to HubSpot.
Rudnik explains: “With WordPress, you’re always managing plugins and seem to be patching a platform together. With HubSpot, almost everything you need is available out of the box. And the biggest thing is the data. It’s so easy to tie your publishing, CTAs/conversion, and email marketing efforts together.”
Summarizing, Joan Santua-Malata of Marketing Media Cloud says: “From the latest content strategy to new marketing ideas for online business development, HubSpot gives you exceptional results where real-time data is available.”
Editor’s Note: View these analytics in Databox, with customized dashboards to combine metrics from HubSpot and Google Analytics for accurate reporting.
“I prefer HubSpot’s blogging platform because of the way it stores CTAs with the landing page URLs,” writes THAT Agency‘s Katie Weedman. “This makes it super easy to add them into your blog with just one click.”
Other blogging experts also mentioned the fact HubSpot was easy to use–including David C Aaronson from Digital Inbound, who enjoys how easy it is to review content through the platform.
Aaronson explains: “The review process in the HubSpot blog module and its ability to manage and change the blog template for an individual blog post gives HubSpot the edge for versatility.”
“HubSpot is also comprehensive with several special features accessed via navigation buttons. My favorite is inserting videos into a blog post with just one button click and saved YouTube URL.”
…But if you can’t find a way to make something possible directly from HubSpot’s dashboard, that’s not to say it’s totally off limits.
Beacons Point‘s Casie Ost says you can use integrations, such as “your G Suite account to import your Google Docs right into their draft module. Their new draft composer is also nice because it allows you to make edits and leave comments for the writer to review before publishing (similar to Google Docs).”
According to Julia Tiedt of SmartBug Media, “HubSpot is not only aesthetically pleasing but also built for success.”
“There are checks and balance that ensure a [user] has published content congruent with SEO best practices. They also make it incredibly easy to add additional features like embedded videos, CTAs, and images,” Tiedt explains.
There’s no doubting that HubSpot is a strong contender for the race to the best blogging platform.
As Melissa Fiorenza of Creative Communication Associates says: “Across all pages, everything is clean and user-friendly. Their customer service is also fantastic; they’ve gotten back to me very quickly whenever I have questions.”
Summarizing, Boundify‘s Emilio Garcia says the HubSpot blogging platform “allows us to focus on strategy, planning, implementation, and evaluation instead of investing time on improving speed, security, and integration with marketing and sales tools for nurturing and customer acquisition.”
(Bonus: If you’re looking to gain more blog subscribers, 310 Creative‘s Chris Leach thinks it’s the best option because visitors can “subscribe to the HubSpot blog and automatically get email updates [when] new blog posts get published.)
Medium was ranked as the 4th most-popular blogging platform amongst our experts.
Fit Small Business‘ Thomas Pickett prefers Medium because “their overall experience is focused on the users and their content”–an important factor to consider when choosing a platform for your blog.
“It’s gone from just a blogging platform to a growing community of knowledgeable content creators, industry professionals, and even a place that encourages transparency for potential presidential candidates.”
Pickett continues: “With microblogging platforms like Twitter spitting out short, simplistic jabs at punchy topics and headlines, Medium is becoming a platform for nuanced conversation and growth.”
Our experts also love Medium because:
Clickbait and popup ads are running rife in the blogging world.
Medium can resolve both, according to Anoushka Chopra of Outgrow: “It attracts a lot of traffic since it is among the few platforms that prioritize audience over ads, hence there are no click baits or gimmicks to distract you from the quality content each top creator has to offer.”
“Medium is a great way to connect with your audience and grow your following,” explains Best Company‘s McCall Robison, because “Medium has a feature that lets users connect Twitter and Facebook accounts”–something Robison says allows publishers to “immediately connect with your same social media followers who also have a Medium account.”
There’s no doubting that Medium is a content-focused platform, whose specialty is building communities.
That’s the reason why Storage Vault‘s Kraig Martin uses it for blogging: “The platform is incentivized to share the best performing pieces of content, meaning that you get back the effort that you put into it.”
For this reason, when Rubix.io post content to the platform, Andrew Hamilton says “it will garner a decent amount of traffic over time without us having to do any marketing.”
Albacross‘ Oksana Chyketa says this happens because Medium’s “engagement-based algorithm won’t let your content stay unnoticed.”
But what if you’ve got the resource to promote your content even further?
Kraig Martin continues: “If you’ve got an established social media team, putting some effort into outreach and promotion can really help to boost the performance of the article, catching the eye of Medium staffers who will then promote your work even more.”
Chances are, you don’t have a ton of technical knowledge when starting your blog.
Faizan Ali of Awesome Motive thinks that makes Medium the perfect blogging platform: “It does not require any coding,”–meaning you can “focus solely on writing, instead of designing a website.”
Since launching in 2003, Squarespace is quickly growing a huge customer base–including Deniero Bartolini of D. L Bartolini Trading Inc, who uses the blogging platform “because it has such amazing themes and they all appear flawlessly on mobile.”
Bartolini continues: “Squarespace is designed for people that want to cut to the chase and only deal with the creating aspect of dealing with a blog. I never had to use any code which is a great + for me. [Plus,] its drag and drops features make it super easy for me to shuffle things around when I need to.”
Squarespace runs using a What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) editor–a program that allows developers to see the end result while writing code.
Leslie Crewes from Blurban Planner Company prefers the WYSIWYG platform to WordPress because it’s “user-friendly for individuals savvy with their business but not with web development and coding.”
“I can easily walk my clients through blog posts, revisions and edits made through their Squarespace blog than I can for, say, WordPress which is more complicated,” Crewes summarizes.
demandDrive‘s AJ Alonzo also prefers Squarespace to Medium because “the editing ability on Squarespace outpaces Medium by a lot […] and it’s easy on the eyes.”
Alonzo continues: “All in all, Squarespace is easy to use, has powerful (enough) editing capabilities, and helps boost our SEO. If I had to pick one of those things, it’s ease of use – migrating or starting a blog is incredibly simple and creating high-quality posts requires little to no effort.”
Previously known as ‘Blogspot,” Blogger is a platform many bloggers start their websites with. It’s free to use, but the number of websites hosted on Blogger has begun to decline in recent years.
However, Mike Schiemer of Bootstrap Business uses Blogger for his website because:
Plus, Schiemer says there’s been “no downtime ever in the 10 years I’ve used it”–a huge necessity for any blogger with a global audience.
When we asked Sean Pour for SellMax‘s blogging platform of choice, they said: “I prefer Grav because it’s a flat file CMS.”
(A flat file CMS simply means a site that doesn’t have a database. It saves data using text files, instead.)
Pur continues: “I transitioned to Grav from WordPress for this very reason. We did not want to have a database, and we found that WordPress was always having security issues. Grab makes security much easier, as not having a database helps keep you secure from many well-known security issues.”
Grav might not be the perfect fit for new bloggers though, as Pour explains the platform “might be a little bit more difficult to get started with, but once it’s setup, it is very simple.”
“Webflow’s collection-based CMS provides much-needed flexibility for businesses who need more than just a blog,” writes Grow Hack Scale‘s David.
“As an education company, we were looking for a platform that had robust features which would grow alongside our business.”
Since using Webflow as their blogging platform, David says their team have been able “to build the following things on our website with just a single hosting plan:”
Not bad for one piece of blogging software, right?
Attio‘s Alex Vale echoes the advice already shared here, and thinks “SEO is key for creating blog traffic.”
…It’s no surprise why 45% of marketers believe blogging is their most important content strategy.
Vale uses Ghost‘s blogging platform to help with this; because of the “ability to define key elements for SEO including alt text, anchor text, metadata, Facebook and Twitter cards all within the platform.”
If you’ve got the technical know-how, experience writing code, and a passion to build websites, there’s no reason why you couldn’t create your own, custom blogging platform.
Scandiweb‘s Viesturs Abelis thinks the DIY approach is perfect because you have “full ownership, control, and understanding on the blog – implementing & modifying features to our heart’s content allows us to give readers the experience we want them to have, without ever settling for anything.”
It’s a sentiment shared by Michael Alexis, who says: “My favorite blogging platform was actually one I coded myself.”
Alexis continues: “When I was learning PHP, one of the exercises was to create a blog from scratch. The end result was extremely light-weight and fast, but lacked much of the advanced functionality of supported platforms.”
(Alexis ended up reverting back to WordPress because he says: “I value the library of plugins, which allows me to focus more time on writing content.)
If you’ve read this far and another blogging platform has caught your eye, you might be wondering whether it’s possible to change your CMS (without the headache.)
The short answer? It is possible.
Samuel Schmitt uses Medium in conjunction, but plans on migrating to WordPress over the coming months: “[Medium] has the minimal viable features to start blogging and build an audience: an excellent editor interface, simple stats, and an active community of writers/readers to engage with.”
However, Schmitt plans to migrate his blog to WordPress “to have more control over the user experience, better analytics, and integration with more tools. I want to own my content.”
Schmitt won’t leave their Medium account to rot, though. Once they’ve made the switch, Schmitt plans to treat Medium as a “gateway – such as other social networks, hosting some articles and redirecting the visitor to the main blog.”
…But what happens if you want to use several platforms at the same time?
It’s a strategy used by the team at Codal, as Clare Bittourna explains: “We first publish blog posts to our website’s blog on WordPress, but then also post them onto Medium in order to get the content in the eyes of more people!”
Summarizing, Bittourna says: “Using both of these [platforms] is beneficial and a good process if you’re trying to gain revenue from content distribution.”
Content Marketing | Jan 6
Marketing | Jan 4
Content Marketing | Dec 29 2020