What is a blogging platform, anyways?
A blogging platform is a CMS (content management system).
So, first off, even before you think about your design you need to pick where you’re going to blog. Like a lot of people I started off on Blogger/Blogspot and then moved over to WordPress.org after a few years. Both of these platforms are very user friendly and design friendly, too. Design friendly meaning if you have even just a little bit of HTML and/or CSS experience you can customize my your blog to your heart’s content.
Blogger is a free blogging platform. It does have widgets available to keep you from touching code, but it is mostly centered on adding Google products to your blog. Ultimately, if you want a very simple set-up, Blogger could work for you. It’s easy to edit and publish posts and it has a ton of tools built it. Keep in mind, as I mentioned above, as you grow your blog, other blogging platforms will have more options available to make your life easier.
If you’re not interested in a ton of customization options, WordPress.com is the way to go. You won’t be able to add plugins, install custom themes or edit your HTML, but you will get a basic blogging platform that’s free and easy to use. If you ever want those options, you may switch over to WordPress.org.
Tumblr is a free social blogging platform that’s designed to take most of the effort out of actually blogging. Initially, blogging meant writing, lots of writing with minimal images. On Tumblr, it means sharing something cool that you found online and occasionally attaching a caption. It’s kind of a mix between Pinterest and blogging. It doesn’t mean Tumblr can’t handle original content as well, but it’s not designed for anyone who is looking to create a long-form blog. If you simply want to share neat stuff and have a social network built-in to your blog so you can easily interact with other users, Tumblr is your jam.
WordPress is pretty well-known as the most popular blogging software around. It’s what I use here and for my design website, too. WordPress offers hundreds of free themes, and there are many great themes you can buy. It’s a very strong platform and if you’re looking to write more long-form posts and create a more traditional blog without too much effort, WordPress is probably your best option. You’ll need to host your own site and install the latest version of WordPress, and then get to designing/setting everything up.
Squarespace is a paid blogging platform that offers easily customizable themes. Squarespace is more versatile than your average blogging platform, however, as it’s completely capable of creating websites as well. The entire interface is web-based. (If you need help learning they offer a great set of tutorials and more & more bloggers are using Squarespace and posting tips & tricks to help others.) Basically, Squarespace was designed to create really nice web sites very quickly and easily without the need for the end user to have to figure out where to host their software, how to install it, and how to best set it up – it’s just all included.
There are more blogging platforms out there, to be sure, but these are the ones I come across the most often.