Are you ready to kickoff your content marketing strategy, but confused about which platform to choose to start your blog? If so, then you’re in luck. In this post, we’re going to look at the pros and cons of each option so that you can get a clear idea of the best blogging platform for you. A strong blogging strategy can help elevate your personal brand or business as an authority within your space.
WordPress, a popular CMS (content management system), is the most widely-used on the internet today and one of the best blogging platforms available. Technology profiler BuiltWith has identified that 15.8 million websites currently use it, compared to the next most popular CMS system Joomla, used by under 2.7 million websites. Web Technology Surveys found that of websites using content management systems, 58.7% are using WordPress.
There are two versions of WordPress. There is the hosted version, WordPress.com, which allows you to create a blog without the need for a domain, web hosting, or technical hassle. While this is the easiest and least expensive of options, it’s not as flexible as using the WordPress software on your own hosted domain.
Using the WordPress software on your own hosted domain allows you to have full control of the design, functionality, and content on your website. Thanks to its popularity, you can find thousands of themes (templates / designs) to get just the look you want for your website. You can also find thousands of designers who can create something custom or customize a theme that you like into something unique.
You can also find thousands of plugins to enhance the functionality of your website. This means that you can do pretty much anything on your WordPress website, from customizing the search engine optimization settings to adding contact or email opt-in forms to your blog sidebar. You could even start your website as a blog and expand it to include anything you want, including an ecommerce website, forum, membership site, or social network.
As far as content goes, you have the ability to backup your content on a daily basis through the use of plugins, services, and hosting companies. Unlike people who only post to their Facebook page or other social profiles, you never have to worry about waking up one day to having lost your entire profile and thus, all of your content.
In short, there is very little you can’t do with WordPress software on your own hosted domain. This makes it the most scalable platform for your personal brand or business. You won’t have to worry about hitting a limitation that would lead you to having to move all of your content to another platform.
For those who do not like the idea of dealing with the technology-aspect of WordPress, there are plenty of options. You can choose WordPress-specific hosting companies like WP Engine or Synthesis, both of which cater only to WordPress websites and include security, backups, and superior WordPress software support.
This means that you can have the full benefits and features of WordPress with little technology hassle. You can learn more about using the WordPress software on your own domain at WordPress.org, as well as see a showcase of some of the top sites using WordPress.
While we mentioned that WordPress.com is not going to be as flexible as using the WordPress software on your own hosted website, it is the next best bet if WordPress sounds good to you, but you are just not ready to deal with web hosting and seeking out themes and plugins for your website. And it’s a good one for people who want to have the option of easily moving their content from a hosted platform to the WordPress software down the road.
Here’s what you need to know about using WordPress.com:
- There are 374 themes to choose from, 194 of which are free.
- Certain features, such as using your own domain name (you.com versus you.wordpress.com) or having an ad-free website, will require you to upgrade to paid plans starting at $99 per year.
- You can’t install plugins designed for websites using the WordPress software on WordPress.com websites, which will limit your options for things like custom opt-in forms, custom search optimization, and more.
One of the biggest challenges for those who intend to eventually move from WordPress.com to the WordPress software on their own domain are the links. WordPress.com uses a specific link structure (you.wordpress.com/date/post-name/ or you.com/date/post-name/). If you can’t use the same URLs when you move from WordPress.com to your own domain, you will lose the links you have received to your content and the social sharing counts (social proof) for your content.
In short, if your goal is to simply get your content going on a platform that would be easy to transfer to WordPress software down the road, WordPress.com is your second best bet to just using the WordPress software from the start.
WordPress.com does offer an export of your content, should there be any need to do so. With any hosted platform, it’s best to get a backup of your content regularly, in case you should lose your account or the platform should go out of service.
Medium is a hosted platform that has taken off in the last year and quickly become a top blogging platform. It’s beautiful and minimalistic design allows you to focus on what matters most in your content marketing strategy: your content. There are no themes to pick, plugins to install, or features to toggle. You simply write your content.
Signing up for Medium is easy to — you can use your Twitter or Facebook account and get the added bonus of automatically building an audience based on the people you are connected with on those accounts. As new people join, if they are connected with you on Twitter or Facebook, they will also be connected with you on Medium.
Depending on their settings, anyone connected to you on Medium will be alerted to new posts you write and posts you recommend on Medium. This means that if someone recommends your post, their audience will be notified about it. Hence, you’re getting built-in content promotion.
With that said, there are no customization options for your Medium blog. You can’t add opt-in forms to a sidebar that doesn’t exist. You can’t add your own social sharing buttons. You can’t customize the SEO fields. It’s simply a place to create and consume content.
While that’s not a bad thing, especially for those who are looking to simply build exposure for their personal brand, it may not be the best thing for businesses. Especially those looking to convert readers into customers, as the best you can do is link back to your main website.
Medium does offer an export of your content, should there be any need to do so. With any hosted platform, it’s best to get a backup of your content regularly, in case you should lose your account or the platform should go out of service.
LinkedIn has been allowing industry experts to blog on their network for a while, and recently, the option has been expanded to most LinkedIn members. To use LinkedIn’s blogging feature, you will just need to find the Publish a post button on your personal profile news feed. It will be right next to the buttons to share an update or photo on LinkedIn.
This brings to light the first major limitation of LinkedIn Publisher — you can’t use it with company pages. With Medium, you can simply sign up using your company’s Twitter profile. But on LinkedIn, you have to use your personal profile.
While that limits you from creating a blog for your business using LinkedIn, it does allow you to tap into your personal profile connections in a unique way. LinkedIn sends a notification to all of your first-degree connections (people you have connected with on LinkedIn) when you publish a post on your personal profile.
Your connections don’t have to opt-in to this, and the only way to opt-out is to unsubscribe from the notifications dropdown itself. This makes your first post on LinkedIn special in the sense that everyone will get notified about your first publication. After that, it will depend on whether you have left enough of an impression for your connections to stay subscribed to your notifications.
So be sure to make your first post on LinkedIn count so that people will want to hear about your next one.
Similar to Medium, you have no real customization options for your LinkedIn blog. You can add images and text to each piece of content, but there are no themes to choose from or sidebars to build. Again, the only call to action you would be able to include would be a link back to your website.
Another downside to using the LinkedIn platform is the fact that you have no real control over your content. If LinkedIn decided to kill off their blogging platform, downloading your content and importing it to another platform would not be very seamless.
Facebook offers a feature called Notes for profiles and pages to use to share long-form content. The key difference at the moment is that Notes for profiles has been upgraded to a Medium-like format. Notes for pages is still using the format that existed years ago, which is clunky at best.
This means that you can blog using Notes on your personal profile or business page. While notes tend to get a little better visibility in the Facebook news feed, it isn’t much and your connections are not notified of a new note publication unless they have explicitly signed up for notifications from you.
For those looking to build up their reputation specifically on Facebook, Notes are a good way to go. You even get a little content promotion from the Notes page, where people can see notes published by their connections.
Similarly to Medium and LinkedIn, there are no customization options for your Facebook Notes, other than adding images and text to each of your posts. Calls to action can only be made with a link back to your website.
Also, exporting your content must be done through a full export of your entire account history. If Facebook decides to kill off Notes, you will have to export all of your notes and re-enter them on a new platform.
Using All of the Platforms for Distribution
There is an alternative to choosing one platform over the other, and that is to choose them all. While it might sound a little overwhelming at first, the goal isn’t to create unique content for each of these platforms. Instead, you will create one unique piece of content on your main platform and distributing that content on the other platforms mentioned above (Medium, LinkedIn Publisher, and Facebook).
Here’s why you would want to do this. You are going to have fans that prefer discovering content on Medium. You are going to have people who are connected to you on LinkedIn, but not anywhere else. You are going to have people who scroll down your Facebook profile page looking for more info about you.
Distributing content from your main blogging platform to other platforms allow you to get more reach for your content. All you have to do is find a way to summarize the main post and link back to it in posts on the other platforms.
You can expand this strategy to include some of the other best blog platforms too including Tumblr, Blogspot, Quora, and pretty much any other platform that allows you to share long-form content. In addition to reaching your audiences on those networks, you will be building links that Google search can follow back to your main piece of content to index it.
So instead of considering an all or nothing strategy, consider an all strategy instead. The more you distribute and promote, the better your overall content marketing results will be.