How to Make Money With These 6 Blogging Platforms (Paid & Free Blogging Sites)

Written by on September 2, 2018

Some blogging sites may feel better on your wallet, but many aren’t ideal if you plan to monetize your blog. The best blogging platforms to make money are going to differ greatly from the free options. A comparison and a deeper understanding of the topic will help you choose the best blogging platform for you.

As a beginner blogger, it’s very easy to get overwhelmed by the options that you have when you first start your blog.

You need to set up all of the following: domain name, hosting, blogging platform, blog themes, etc., and you really need to have all of this decided BEFORE you take the first step.

I’ve added sections about monetizing a blog in this article because the blogging platform and hosting that you choose can affect HOW you plan to monetize your blog.

It’s very important to begin with the end in mind when you start the process of choosing the best blogging platform.

Before we get into what the best blogging platforms are, let’s talk about what a blogging platform IS and more specifically, how it differs from blog hosting (because you need both).

 What is a platform for blogging?

Well, let’s start with an understanding of the basics of how websites operate.

All websites are composed of tons of line of written code that work together to build the appearance of the website. When you build a website from scratch, you must manually write every single line of coding.

Thankfully, I can help customize this for you!

A blogging platform serves as the “bones” or the foundation of your blog.

It contains pre-coded templates that let you avoid the coding grunt work to get your blog online.

Blogging platforms don’t technically cost money because they all offer free hosting plans, but you must beware of starting a blog with a free blog hosting site.

What is a blog hosting site?

All blogs and websites must be hosted by a server to actually take your blog “online.”

Blog hosting companies contain TONS of these servers and exist solely to make sure that your blog is online and people can access it.

All blogging platforms offer a free hosting plan when you choose their platform, but most of them also offer paid packages too (called self-hosted plans).

Our #1 recommendation for blog hosting for beginners is PlanetHoster. I have been with PlanetHoster for over two years and can’t recommend them enough!

So, why would I want to pay for blog hosting when I have a free option?

In general, free blog hosting sites are better for people that want to start a hobby blog and have little desire to monetize their blog.

There are several limitations that come with free blog sites, including:

  • Ability to make money with ads
  • Ownership of your domain name
  • Access to plugins and other ways to customize your blog
  • Storage space
  • Access to premium themes
  • And more…

You can read more about the differences between free and self-hosted blog hosting in this article: The Difference Between WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org (free vs. self-hosted)

The biggest limitation with free blog hosting sites is how it affects your ability to monetize your site, which brings us to our next section.

How do bloggers make money?

You need to have an idea of how you are going to make money with your blog so that you don’t choose a blog hosting site that prevents you from monetizing your blog the way that you want to.

There are several ways to make money blogging, including the following:

  • Ad Revenue
  • Sponsored Posts
  • Affiliate Marketing
  • Selling Your Own Products and Services

You can also check out this article for further insight into how you can make money blogging: How do bloggers make money?

If you are planning to put ads on your site, which is one of the first ways that most bloggers monetize their site, you CANNOT use a free blogging site.

In fact, the free blogging sites will actually put their OWN ads on your site and collect the ad revenue that the ads generate.

Finally, let’s move on to the real meat and bones of this article – the comparison of the blogging platforms!

What are the best blogging platforms?

I’m going to go over the six largest and most popular blogging platforms and then follow it up with a couple of additional free blogging platforms.

WordPress

self-hosted blog wordpress.org

WordPress is the #1 most widely used blogging platform in the WORLD!

There are two versions of WordPress: WordPress.com (free) and WordPress.org (paid).

The free version comes with the same limitations that I described above, so rest of this section will be about WORDPRESS.ORG (the self-hosted, paid version) that comes with access to a LOT more features. 

By far the best part about WordPress.org is that you get access to THOUSANDS of plugins that allow you to customize your blog in a variety of ways, including adding contact forms, email forms, social media buttons, and so much more.

Other blogging platforms are not as widely used, so they have less plugins, themes, and other customizations to choose from.Let’s look at the practical side of that.

When you’re trying to install social media buttons or some other feature on your blog and you Google how to do this, the articles on the first few pages of your search will all be for WORDPRESS plugins – not relating to Wix, Squarespace, or any of the other blogging sites that we will discuss.

Pros:

  • More control over your blog design
  • Access to thousands of plugins and themes to customize your blog
  • Great customer support plus TONS of articles written on using the platform
  • Easier to integrate with most other software as you grow your blog

Cons:

  • A little bit more of a learning curve compared to some other blogging platforms
  • You need to handle your security and backups

Price: As low as $2.75/month but varies depending on which blog host that you use to host your WordPress blog

Bottom line: You will have FAR more blogging tools to choose from if you choose WordPress.

WordPress offers the best price for the most customizations, including themes, plugins and other software integrations.

Our recommendation: Pair WordPress.org with a great hosting plan like PlanetHoster. You can sign up for PlanetHoster for as low as 10% percent discount (through my discounted link) and install WordPress on your site in just one click! Your PlanetHoster plan also comes with a free domain name as well!

I also have a free step-by-step tutorial for starting a successful blog that will walk you through the process!

Wix

wix blogging platform

Wix is probably best known for its drag-and-drop software. This makes it incredibly user-friendly with a much smaller learning curve.

There is a free version as well, but it is even more limited than the free version of WordPress. There are very few customizations offered on the free version and you are stuck with Wix ads on your site.

The paid version is really the only way to go if you are looking to make money with your blog.

Pros:

  • Easy-to-use drag-and-drop software makes it incredibly beginner-friendly
  • Less of a learning curve when building your site

Cons:

  • Far fewer options for themes and third-party plugins
  • Plans are less flexible due to lack of hosting options
  • Costs extra if you want to build an eCommerce store on your site
  • Free version is very limited and includes Wix ads on your site
  • Far fewer software integrations than WordPress

Price: $11/month and up, depending on what hosting plan you choose

Bottom Line: Wix is easier to use than WordPress, but it’s quite a bit more expensive for a paid plan and ultimately more limited as far as customizations available.

It’s much easier to get started and design your blog on Wix, but you will ultimately hit roadblocks in your growth due to the limitations of plugins and other software integrations.

Squarespace

Squarespace is one of the best blogging platforms to make money

You’ve probably heard a lot more about Squarespace lately because of how much they have ramped up their advertising. I know I see it all over Facebook and YouTube.

As of right now, Keanu Reeves, aka most likeable guy ever, is their spokesperson. What a power move!

Squarespace, similar to Wix, also has a drag-and-drop software, making their user interface great for beginners with no prior website design or coding knowledge.

Pros:

  • Beginner-friendly, drag-and-drop software
  • Great for small businesses

Cons:

  • Far fewer options for themes and third-party plugins
  • Plans are less flexible and more expensive to add eCommerce stores and other add-ons
  • Far fewer software integrations than WordPress
  • Significantly more expensive than the previous options discussed

Pricing: Starting at $12/month

Bottom Line: This is a great option for those that are less tech-savvy, but you will still find yourself with limitations and fewer options down the road when you are looking to grow your blog and monetize it.

Squarespace is ideal for small brick and mortar businesses looking for an online presence but not for full-time bloggers looking to run their entire business online.

Weebly

Weebly is yet another drag-and-drop website building, although it’s lesser known than Wix and Squarespace and has fewer options.

Pros:

  • Beginner-friendly, drag-and-drop software

Cons:

  • Very few software integrations available
  • Significantly more expensive

Pricing: Starting at $8/month for a very limited plan

Bottom Line: If you are going to go the route of the drag-and-drop software, go with Wix instead. It provides more options and customizations and much more bang for your buck.

Other Free Blogging Platforms

The free blogging platforms described below are all going to have the same limitations that other free blogging sites have, but I still felt that they were worth mentioning and comparing in this article.

Blogger

Blogger free blogging site by Google

Blogger is actually owned by Google, so it’s one of the only free blogging platforms that you can install Google AdSense on and earn ad revenue. You also get access to Google Analytics to track stats on your site.

Unfortunately, you will still run into the same problems of limited access to third-party software and plugins. Blogger also isn’t updated very often, so the software that is available can sometimes be outdated and less reliable.

Aside from the ability to earn ad revenue, it is still much harder to monetize your site with Blogger.

There are no paid hosting options and you also can’t have your own domain name (your blog name will have “.blogspot.com” in the URL).

Tumblr

tumblr free blogging platform

Tumblr is a great place to network with other bloggers and content is shared regularly in the form of “re-posting.”

This adds an additional way to get exposure to your content that other platforms don’t have because it is somewhat of a “social” media platform itself.

That being said, the design capabilities are extremely limited on Tumblr. You are limited to a set of themes or templates to choose from.

The design and software limitations of Tumblr make it much more difficult to monetize your blog.

One upside of Tumblr compared to Blogger is that you can purchase your own domain name to use with your site.

Medium

medium free blogging platform

Medium is a much different blogging platform from the other options that I have described so far because it is actually a community of writers and bloggers.

While Medium is easy to get started and set up a basic web page, it’s not ideal for those looking to build an online business.

Medium is more of a place to write, have your thoughts heard, and connect with others. You cannot put ads on your site and you don’t own your audience.

On a traditional blogging platform, you drive traffic to your blog, own your social media accounts, and can build an email list.

With Medium, you don’t own any of these sources of traffic and do not have the usual list-building tools available to you.

How can I start a blog and make money?

To summarize our above comparison of the best blogging platforms…

WordPress.org + a paid hosting plan (like PlanetHoster) is the only way to go if you are serious about starting an online blogging business and growing it quickly.

I recommend PlanetHoster as your hosting provider because they have incredible 24/7 service and one of the best reputations as far as hosting providers go. It’s also what I have used for 2+ years now.

WordPress.org is free with a Bluehost plan, and your plan also comes with a free domain name.

This blogging platform and blog hosting plan will give you access to thousands of themes, plugins, and other software integrations to customize your blog as well as allow you to monetize your blog exactly how you want it to.

If you don’t start out with WordPress, I can guarantee that you will be switching over to them somewhere down the road anyway.

Here are the next steps to start a blog and begin your journey to monetizing your blog:

  1. Choose a blog niche.
  2. Select a good domain name.
  3. Sign up for PlanetHoster + WordPress.

Okay, that’s it for this one! Create something awesome today and please leave me a comment below if you enjoyed this article on the best blogging tools for beginners or have any questions for us!

 



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