WordPress, Squarespace, Medium and Ghost are all popular blogging platforms. Ever wondered which one you should use? Keep reading to find out…
In this post, we’ll help you choose the best blogging platform by going over the pros and cons of the most popular options available.
Table of Contents
1. The WordPress.com Blogging Platform
The WordPress.com Blogging Platform: An Overview
In this post, we’re referring to the WordPress.com blogging platform, not the open-source version of WordPress (WordPress.org) which can be used to create more complex websites. Learn more about the difference.
The open source edition of WordPress is by far the world’s most popular content management system available but it’s important not to confuse WordPress.org and WordPress.com. WordPress.com is a fully managed platform similar to Squarespace. The amount of customization is quite limited when compared to what is possible with WordPress.org which is used for advanced eCommerce stores, popular publications and even our own network of websites including https://kaliforms.com and https://wp-modula.com.
The open source version of WordPress that we use also requires hosting – so that we don’t have to worry about this, we host our websites with Kinsta’s managed WordPress hosting. However, in this post we’re going to be talking about the WordPress.com blogging platform. This version of the platform is more popular with people new to WordPress and web design as it requires minimal management.
In addition to this, moving from WordPress.com to WordPress.org as you grow isn’t a particularly complex process. But should you make a decision to use a platform that you’ll end up growing out of and having to migrate away from?
The WordPress.com platform does have multiple paid plans but it also offers a version that is completely free. With their free version, the caveat is that you have to host your work on a .wordpress.com subdomain which will be a deal-breaker for most of you.
The good news is that for as little as ~ $3/month on their Blogger plan you can get started with a .blog domain which is perfect if you’re starting a personal blog.
|Plan Name||Plan Pricing|
|Free (Best for getting started)||$0|
Prices listed above are as billed yearly (prices may value if you opt for monthly billing) and are subject to change.
With the WordPress.com Blogger plan, you get:
- A custom .blog domain name
- Removal of all WordPress.com advertising
- 6 GB storage space
- Access to email support
- The ability to upload audio files
The Blogger plan allows you to register a custom domain that ends in .blog. Registration for the .blog domain is included with the first year of the plan purchase. If you would like to use another domain extension (such as .com, .org, etc), you can upgrade to any of the other plans available.
With the WordPress.com Personal plan, you get:
- You can personalize your website with a custom domain name
- Remove all WordPress.com advertising
- 6 GB of storage space
- Get access to high-quality email and live chat support with our Happiness Engineers
- The ability to upload audio files
WordPress: The Overall Experience
Overall I find WordPress easy to work with. Perhaps slightly more complicated than Squarespace, Medium and Ghost but if you decide to go with the WordPress.com Business plan then that isn’t surprising because the number of available features is also much higher.
WordPress: Themes and Designs
WordPress is widely known as one of the most customizable platforms available but this does not come without its faults. With so many moving parts websites can be difficult to manage and things can easily go wrong especially if you’re the kind of person that loves trying out new things, installing new plugins and tweaking settings every single day.
While the customization that is available in the free WordPress.com plan is limited, as you grow you can easily upgrade as you wish. Once you upgrade to the WordPress.com Business plan you will have access to most (if not all) of the functionality that is available in the self-hosted version of WordPress – such as installing custom themes and plugins.
Simply put, the WordPress.com Business plan is where things get serious – and is also the minimum plan required if you wish to install any of our plugins on your website. Otherwise, you are limited to fairly basic functionality and are unable to just install a plugin when you realize a feature is missing like advanced WordPress forms. This brings us nicely on to the next topic of discussion – the functionality and integrations available for WordPress.
WordPress: Functionality and Integrations
WordPress is the best platform for you if you plan on having an eCommerce store.
As of right now, WordPress is without a doubt the most powerful blogging platform – it has the most functionality and a large number of integrations to satisfy your desire for automation.
So if growth, customizability, and control are what you’re after then WordPress is the obvious choice but it also comes with a fair bit of responsibility. In comparison with other blogging platforms, it’s important to note that WordPress websites are more difficult to maintain than when you choose to publish your work on a blogging platform like Medium.
WordPress: Data Ownership
Given the nature of the WordPress.com blogging platform being very similar to the self-hosted version of WordPress – your data is made portable so if you do decide to migrate one day that is possible. As for the ownership of the actual content, unlike with other networks you aren’t bound to a set of terms and conditions or terms of service that are near as concerning and controlling as those of Medium.
2. The Medium Blogging Platform
The Medium Blogging Platform: An Overview
From a marketer’s perspective, Medium is an easy choice for people just starting out. You don’t have to spend any time building a platform or designing anything – but do you really want to build your audience on a platform you don’t own or control?
I completely understand the allure to use a platform like Medium and I read articles on there from time to time – it definitely is a great place for your work but it also comes with its flaws. Some Medium publications recently started moving over to Ghost.org when they felt threatened that the platform was putting too much of a focus on monetization with paywalls and didn’t want to allow articles of their publication to remain free.
That being said, if you’re considering using Medium as a part of your overall marketing strategy, that would be a really smart decision. This article from Tim Soulo, the head of marketing at Ahrefs (a piece of software/service we regularly use here at CPOThemes) which was conveniently published on Medium is a great read.
Nevertheless, Medium can’t be overlooked as it is without a doubt still among the best blogging platforms available – so, let’s jump right in and take a closer look at it.
Medium.com does not currently allow you to post articles and set a canonical URL – this is extremely important for SEO and can cause duplicate content errors if you also publish articles elsewhere (such as on your own website)
Medium: Pricing (free)
Medium itself is actually completely free to use. You don’t have to pay any sort of monthly subscription in order to create an account or a publication. This makes it an easy choice for casual bloggers who want to share things with an audience in their free time, but don’t necessarily want to invest money into it since they also don’t plan to profit off of their articles.
Medium: The Overall Experience
Medium: Themes and Designs
When it comes to design and customization, Blogger and Medium are the two most limiting platforms. Even if you start your own publication instead of just posting articles on your personal profile, the customization options are very limited – all you can really do is add a logo and choose whether articles should appear as a grid or list.
Medium: Functionality and Integrations
In terms of functionality and integrations, Medium really falls behind like they do with design. Although it is possible to insert/embed iFrame code for certain simple widgets such as email subscription forms, the amount that you can do with this is almost nothing when compared to a platform like WordPress.
Some people may prefer this as it does provide for a cleaner, less pop-up, and ad-infested experience – but it’s still important to know that as time goes by and you may want to change the way certain things work, the chances are that it won’t be possible with Medium so you will end up moving your content elsewhere eventually anyway.
Medium: Data Ownership
We – as I’m sure many others also do – think that maintaining full ownership of our data is extremely important. You might not have heard but a few major publications have recently moved off of Medium because of data ownership issues as well as issues with content being kept behind the infamous paywall.
An example of such a publication is FreeCodeCamp. They, however, mainly moved to a modified version of the Ghost publishing system because Medium shifted towards the paywall model where they mainly recommend paywalled articles because this is what encourages visitors to pay to get around their paywall – and inevitably makes them more money.
In addition to this, FreeCodeCamp founder said that not much traffic to their Medium articles was ever actually coming from Medium itself and that most of it was coming from Google and social media anyway. They wrote about this change in a detailed post on their forums. Personally, I think this example itself would discourage me from solely using Medium for my content and would immediately push me towards an open-source platform like Ghost or WordPress.
3. The Ghost.org Blogging Platform
The Ghost Blogging Platform: An Overview
Despite being founded all the way back in 2013, the Ghost blogging platform started gaining popularity quite quickly in recent years.
Many people decide to use Ghost instead of WordPress because of its simplicity. We all know that getting up and running with WordPress can be a very long process and things can go wrong/break at any time – Ghost clearly fills this gap, making it easy for businesses who want a simple (yet still powerful) platform to start blogging.
One fact that I love about Ghost is the simplicity. It’s just way too easy to do certain things such as write articles, add various things to it, fix meta descriptions, share draft versions among the team and publish your work. Is it the best platform I’ve ever seen in terms of it’s robust capabilities? Probably not. But does it get the job done? Absolutely! Plus, if you ever played Call of Duty, then you’ll have a special bond with the platform’s name.Vukasin Vukosavljevic | Head of Growth at Lemlist
|Plan Name||Plan Pricing|
Ghost: The Overall Experience
Overall, in my experience with the Ghost editor I have found it really nice to work with. Although this might be dangerous to say because so many people disagree – I’m actually personally quite a big fan of the Gutenberg editing experience as well.
Sure, it isn’t without its flaws either, but it has made it a lot easier to write and move posts into the Gutenberg editor without the hassle of formatting everything all over again every two seconds.
So if an easy-to-use intuitive dashboard and editor are what you’re after, Ghost definetely won’t let you down because – thanks to the absence of functionality – Ghost is really simple to work with.
Ghost: Themes and Designs
The Ghost platform comes with a number of both free and paid themes that are available in what they refer to as the Ghost Marketplace.
You definitely won’t find it difficult to find a template you really like. Even their standard theme which is called Casper is really nice and used by companies like Lemlist for their own blogs.
Ghost: Functionality and Integrations
For the full list of features that are currently available, please refer to their feature index.
However, if there’s one thing that is really important to point out is that they say that their platform is SEO-optimized out of the box with standards automatically configured. This to me is a huge red flag because I think it’s extremely important to have complete control over your post’s structured data and that is not something that would be possible without being able to install an SEO plugin.
They do however, notably, have quite a few integrations when compared to a platform like Medium that doesn’t have any at all, but this (unfortunately) still doesn’t come close to what is possible with WordPress. If you are a developer or are someone that doesn’t feel the desire to customize their blog – and would prefer to keep it nice and simple – then Ghost is percet for you. It’s clean, simple and comes with some really nice themes. It’s easy to see why some extremely large organizations which aren’t heavily focused on content marketing make use of this platform to host their blog.
This is even how Ghost themselves present their platform as an alternative to WordPress. It is simpler, (allegedly) faster and allegedly also more affordable – which makes them a great platform if you are willing sacrifice customization in order to be able to use a solution that is easier to manage. Ghost is better for publishing and blogging. And WordPress is better for building a dynamic, complex website.
Ghost: Data Ownership
Ghost is a powerful, independent alternative to Medium where you control your content. Due to the nature of Ghost being an open-source platform which you can self-host (if you wish to), you are actually in full control of your data. Thankfully, this means that you don’t have to worry about the platform modifying their terms and conditions overnight in a way that negatively affects your publication.
4. The Squarespace Blogging Platform
The Squarespace Blogging Platform: An Overview
If you’ve heard of Squarespace and still don’t really know much about it, then that’s likely because you’ve heard one of the (what feels like) millions of podcast advertisements that they’ve done over the years.
The main feature which they actively use as their selling point can perhaps also be considered their greatest downfall – and it’s the fact that they’re a closed platform that doesn’t require any updates or maintenance whatsoever. Clearly, maintenance of websites at scale is a problem in the WordPress industry, since it’s even resulted in a number of companies such as WP Buffs coming to the rescue and simplifying the management of WordPress websites.
While it isn’t free, Squarespace can definitely be considered an affordable option for bloggers that aren’t interested in spending much time configuring or designing their website and just really want to get started as soon as they can.
The platform still isn’t nearly as popular as WordPress but is still widely used by some entrepreneurs who don’t have the time to maintain their own websites, such as Nesha Woolery. That being said, it surprises me that many people still opt to use Squarespace when it ends up causing more work for them in the end. For example, in the case of Nesha – because she chose Squarespace for her main website (instead of WordPress), she now needs to maintain additional web properties to house her online course content.
If she would have made the decision to go with WordPress from the beginning, she would now not only have a website and brand identity that is far easier to maintain but would also be reaping the SEO benefits of not having more than one website.
|Plan Name||Plan Pricing|
Squarespace: The Overall Experience
Overall Squarespace does make the web design experience fairly enjoyable and easy. Obviously, there is a lot of negativity around the use of Squarespace platform because web design agencies dislike that it is a closed platform. However, for new bloggers or people who don’t want to spend ages getting their website set up and then maintaining it over the years, choosing Squarespace does make some sense.
I say “some”, because most bloggers I personally know who have started on Squarespace eventually graduated to WordPress.
Squarespace: Themes and Designs
Squarespace surprisingly comes with some really nice templates and designs that you can easily use as a starting point for your own website. In my personal opinion, most of them are perfectly suited for minimalists and artistic people such as musicians and designers.
There aren’t any templates that would be suitable for a business website, but if you’re looking for a platform that to house your personal blog in its early stages, then Squarespace’s templates are perfect for you.
It is important to mention that customizing the templates beyond how they currently look and adding additional functionality is extremely difficult due to the nature of Squarespace being a closed-system/platform. In addition to this, all of the templates that are available are heavily reliant on JavaScipt – making them script-heavy which unfortunately results in slow loading websites.
Squarespace: Functionality and Integrations
Squarespace comes with a number of integrations, but this comes nowhere near that of the 50,000+ plugins that are currently freely available on the WordPress.org plugin repository.
It is important to note that the number of available integrations might not be important if all you want to do is get a site up and running on a domain name and start sharing your ideas with the world.
Squarespace: Data Ownership
Due to the fact that Squarespace isn’t self-hosted, you still aren’t really in full control of your data and content, but you are still able to easily migrate from Squarespace to another platform if you ever decide that you want to.
With regards to data ownership, Medium is clearly worst (as mentioned earlier), so to make the best possible recommendation – if you care about data ownership – I would recommend steering clear from Medium, but any other platform you choose will make your data more portable and accessible.
5. Google’s Blogger.com Platform
The Blogger.com Platform: An Overview
Blogger is a free blogging platform brought to you by Google. It makes it both fast and easy for anyone, regardless of their technical expertise to create a blog. The platform first launched back in 1999 by a company called Pyra Labs but was later acquired by Google in 2003 and made into the platform that it is today.
Blogger: The Overall Experience
The only thing you need to get started is a free account on Blogger.
|Blogger.com Pros||Blogger.com Cons|
|It’s free||The platform is quite limiting, you can’t really add any functionality.|
|You don’t need to be good with technology||The number of templates/designs available are very limited and basic.|
|Developed by Google and doesn’t require much management||The platform does not receive frequent updates or feature additions.|
People new to blogging may start with Blogger because it’s completely free and then eventually decide to switch from Blogger to WordPress as their blog grows because Blogger frankly doesn’t provide nearly as much power or customization as WordPress does.
Starting and hosting your blog with the Blogger platform is 100% free with a subdomain like https://cpothemes.blogspot.com. However, if you want to use a custom domain (which we highly recommend) you would need to buy that from a domain registrar.
Blogger: Themes and Designs
Blogger: Functionality and Integrations
To be quite frank, there isn’t much to say about Blogger in this regard. Despite how old the blogging platform is, functionality, integration and customization are all non-existent.
But that might be what you want? Who knows? 🤷♂️
If you aren’t too concerned about functionality and just want a no-frills platform that lets you get started right away (against all odds) then Blogger might still be for you.
Blogger: Data Ownership
With all blogging platforms apart from those that are open-source like Ghost.org and WordPress.org – people often ask, am I really in control of my data? And the unfortunate truth is that you aren’t. You are building an audience on a platform that you don’t own or control.
In addition to this, Blogger is a Google product and – in case you haven’t heard – Google is notorious for suddenly discontinuing and retiring products. However, if you compare Blogger to the Medium publishing platform, I personally believe that there is one way in which Blogger has a small edge and that is because it allows you to connect a custom domain while Medium no longer offers this option.
WordPress vs. Squarespace vs. Medium vs. Ghost vs. Blogger – So, what’s the best blogging platform?
Here’s how to make a decision.
If all you want to do and ever plan on doing is publish articles – but want to make use of the existing audience then Medium is for you. But if you aren’t a fan of Medium and are concerned about the way they handle data ownership, Ghost is a great blogging platform that you control.
However, if you plan on growth and know that you’re eventually going to transform your website from a simple blog into an eCommerce website that also lets people log in and create profiles, then WordPress is the best way to go.
Which blogging platform are you planning to use or using at the moment?
Let us know which platform you chose & why in the comments below – we can’t wait to hear from you! 💬