The best free blogging platforms in 2021

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imageThe best free blogging platforms allow you to carve out an online presence to showcase your work or share your hard-earned knowledge and experience without having to pay for hosting.There are simple blogging options that do everything for you, allowing you can get up and running quickly using ready-made templates, even if you have zero web design or coding skills.Meanwhile, those who are comfortable with web technology can go for more advanced options to customise their blog to get exactly the look and feel desired

Below we round up the best free blogging platforms available now, from quick and easy template solutions to full online publishing platforms that can do much more besides blogging (if you suspect that you want more than just a blog in the long term, check out our best website builder guide).Unsure about how to get into blogging? Our guide to how to start a blog can help out there; otherwise simply read on for quick links to our top three best free blogging platforms, or scroll down further for our full selection.

The best free blogging platforms: top 3

01.

Wix: The best free blogging platform for beginners

Wix makes it easy to build your own website, with over 500 customisable templates to choose from, enabling you to get up and running quickly for free or at a bargain monthly price of £3/$3.54 for the paid plan.It also has a 30-day money-back guarantee.

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02.Weebly: one of the easiest free blogging platforms

Weebly doesn’t have all the options that Wix has but it’s even easier to use, especially if you’re starting out with your first blog.Paid-for plans to start from £4/$6, but even the free plan has hosting included.

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03.

Substack: an alternative free blogging platform

Substack isn’t exactly a blogging platform; it’s designed for creating email newsletters, but your creations can just as easily be read as a blog.It offers a simple CMS based on the written word and a free account that gives you your own web space.https://substack.com/

The best free blogging platforms in full

The best free blogging platform for beginners

Reasons to buy

Reasons to avoid

If you need a quick and easy way to get your blog online without needing any web skills, Wix is the best free blogging platform to look at first.It offers a drag-and-drop website builder with tons of free templates to play with, including many that are specifically designed with blogs in mind.

You get 500MB of online storage and 1GB of bandwidth with a free Wix account, and once you’ve signed up you can get straight into it, even if you’ve never built a website before.

Note, though, that with a free Wix website, you’ll have an ad for Wix inserted into it and a Wix domain name.To remove these, and unlock other features like an online store and Google Analytics, you’ll need to take a look at Wix’s paid-for plans, which are very economically priced.You can carry on having a free website for as long as you wish, but the option to upgrade to cheap paid-for plans means its possible to scale up if you want to make your blog more professional in the future.

The second best blogging platform for beginners

Reasons to buy

Reasons to avoid

If you want something even easier to use than Wix, then in steps Weebly .The two platforms are close rivals, offering quite similar experiences.

Weebly has fewer customisation features than Wix, but the upside of that is that if you’re new to the game, you’ll find it quicker and easier to get your blog up and running.

Like Wix, Weebly is based on a drag-and-drop system, which lets you quickly create a website using a template.Like with Wix, the free plan includes a Weebly ad but includes hosting.You also get access to customisable layouts, several free themes, and all the social sharing features you need to help send your blog posts far and wide.Again, you can upgrade to a paid plan for more customisation options.

Blurring the line between blogs and newsletters

Reasons to buy

Reasons to avoid

Substack is a newsletter platform rather than a blogging platform, but it actually works perfectly well as a blog too (in fact, many users treat it like one and Substack even describes itself as “the home of great blogging”).Although its main focus is on email newsletters, Substack offers a free account that comes with web space included.

Your newsletters get archived here so anyone can read them and subscribe for further updates, so you can also treat this as a blog.

If you want stunning presentation and snazzy web features, Substack will most likely leave you unimpressed since its focus is very much on making the written word look good in email format.It does, however, provide a basic CMS with text formatting tools and the ability to embed images, video and other web content to spruce things up a little.

What really makes Substack interesting, though, is that it offers the potential to start earning money from your posts.While you can publish for free, if you start to pick up a following, you may be able to turn that into paid subscriptions.

This isn’t a path that will appeal to everyone, but if you gain an audience and you’re prepared to put in the time to build your personal brand, Substack’s a straightforward and low-risk way to make that pay.

The best blogging platform for finer control over your design

Reasons to buy

Reasons to avoid

WordPress.org is huge.

Launched in 2003, it now powers around a third of the world’s websites and it’s easily one of the best free blogging platforms in the business (note that this option is not 100 per cent free.The open-source site-building software is free to use, but note that with WordPress you’ll need to pay for web hosting and a domain name to get your blog online).The plus side of paying for your own domain and hosting is that any ads that appear on your blog will be ones that you’ve put there and are making money from.

WordPress.org is incredibly powerful, but it isn’t exactly easy if you have no web experience.You’ll have to put in some hours if you want to use it effectively because the CMS takes time to get to know and getting the best results usually requires learning at least some web design skills.You can pick up the basics in our article on how to make a website , but you’ll also need to acquaint yourself with WordPress’s extensive documentation (our guide to the best WordPress tutorials can help).

However, for anyone wanting a great range of customisation and usability, WordPress.org is the gold standard.

Check out our guides to the best free WordPress themes and best WordPress plugins .As a final note, make sure you don’t confuse WordPress.org with WordPress.com – we’ll look at the latter next.

Free blogging platform for hobbyists and enthusiasts

Reasons to buy

Reasons to avoid

It’s easy to get confused here, but WordPress.org (above) and WordPress.com are two quite different things.

The first one, which we’ve just looked at, offers a powerful web design platform but leaves you having to pay for hosting and a domain name.If you don’t want to pay for hosting and all you need is a straightforward website building tool, then in steps WordPress.com , a separate service from the same company.

Aimed more at beginners and hobbyists, WordPress.com is just the ticket if you’re after one of the best free blogging platforms but don’t fancy delving into documentation.It’s easier to use and offers free hosting, 3GB of space and a branded domain name ending in .wordpress.com.

Just beware that it doesn’t give you anywhere near as much ability to customise your site’s look and feel as WordPress.org, and your blog will feature third-party ads that you have no control over.

You won’t be able to add ecommerce features or place your own ads either.That said, if you’re a beginner or casual blogger who just wants to dip their toes and get a site up and running with minimal fuss – and no cost –WordPress.com can be a good option.

The best blogging platform for scalability

Reasons to buy

Reasons to avoid

Joomla is a versatile, powerful web platform that can be used to create about any sort of website you require, and it’s one of the most popular alternatives to WordPress.org.Like the former, it’s free and open-source, but again you’ll need to pay for a domain name and hosting (although you can create a free site on launch.joomla.org ).and you’ll need to put in some time to get the best results.

Joomla has hundreds of templates to use and customise, and lots of extensions for adding extra features and getting your blog looking just the way you want it.It doesn’t have as many themes and add-ons as WordPress.org, but if you’re able to roll up your sleeves and do some of your own coding, you might well find Joomla to be the better bet, especially if you want a larger, more complex site.

If you foresee your blog growing into something bigger that you could potentially make money from, this is probably a more scalable solution.

The best blogging platform for nervous newbies

Reasons to buy

Reasons to avoid

Site123 says it’s ‘by far the easiest free website builder’ and it’s plain to see why.Getting your blog up and running is incredibly straightforward, and if you need some help along the way, there’s a 24/7 live chat feature to help out.

The platform provides a selection of ready-made styles and layouts and gives prompts along the way to help you transform them into the site you want.

Don’t expect miracles; the results can look a little basic when compared alongside more advanced platforms, but if all you need is a simple blog with comments, post scheduling and social media integration then you get that here.Note that like with most other free blogging platforms, Site123 makes its money by placing ads on your site.

Share blog posts with the Hubpages community

Reasons to buy

Reasons to avoid

Hubpages is another potential solution if you’re looking to avoid getting bogged down in code.It’s a blogging network with plenty of sections to choose from, including Arts and Design, and it aims to help bloggers connect to a wide audience, share their posts with the community, and even earn some money from advertising and affiliates.

However, with Hubpages, you’re tied into the platform’s own system and you don’t get any control over how your blog looks and feels.On the plus side, ths makes getting started fairly quick and easy.If you’re simply interested in expressing yourself online through words rather than through design, it could well be worth investigating.

A unique platform to future-proof your blog content

Reasons to buy

Reasons to avoid

If you want to ensure your blog keeps up with design trends without having to go back and redesign all your old posts, Contentful is one of the best free blogging platforms to consider.Its unique ‘API-first’ approach keeps content separate from design.

This means that if you decide to give your blog a visual update, the new look will be instantly applied to all your old content.

So if, a few years down the line, you decide you want a completely different site, it’s easy to bring everything in as it’s set up to be portable from the start.

The best free blogging platform for developers

Reasons to buy

Reasons to avoid

Not turned off by code? Then you might want to take a look at Jekyll , a blogging platform firmly aimed at developers.Give it some text files with optional markdown and it’ll turn them into a static site that you can host anywhere you like.Jekyll is the engine behind GitHub Pages, which means you can host your blog there for free.

Making your blog with Jekyll avoids the need to work with technicalities such as databases, upgrades and so on, so there are fewer things to go wrong, and you can build something from scratch.

An old favourite that’s still going

Reasons to buy

Reasons to avoid

Tumblr was one of the sharpest looking free blogging platforms when it appeared back in 2007.It may be showing its age now – in fact, you might even have forgotten about it, but it’s still one of the best free blogging options around.It offers some great social features, including the ability for users to follow your posts.

It’s also delightfully straightforward to customise a Tumblr theme to create your own look, and while there aren’t exactly a lot of layout options, it’s a solid easy platform for long-form blogs or image-based posts.

There’s also the benefit that you can upload from anywhere thanks to Tumblr’s mobile apps.

Google’s own veteran blogging platform

Reasons to buy

Reasons to avoid

Another old favourite, Blogger is ready and waiting for you to sign in if you have a Google ID (and let’s face it, we all have a Google ID).Like Tumblr it might bring back memories of what already seems a distant past, but it’s still not to be overlooked considering how easy Blogger makes it to get a blog up and running, with plenty of themes to choose from.As long as you’re not expecting much in the way of flash design options, this is hard to fault for creating a simple blog.

Twitter founders’ blogging platform for longform content

Reasons to buy

Reasons to avoid

Many bloggers want their own domain with only their own content, but if you simply want to share your thoughts with the world, that might not be necessary, and a more magazine-like experience might be worth considering.Medium is one of the best free blogging platforms if your main focus is on writing rather than images, and, again, if you’re not too concerned about customisation.

While you don’t have much control over things, the average Medium site looks and feels like clean, well-designed magazine website – one on which anyone can publish their own articles.

It was created by Twitter’s founders as a platform for longer articles rather than snappy micro-posts, and while Substack (see number three above) may have taken a bite out of its market, it’s still a solid platform for keen scribes and for tech CEOs and other thought leaders who want to share their thoughts.It’s a polished, streamlined experience, and a good platform to consider if you want to lend your writing some gravitas.

Niche blogging platform for experienced developers

Reasons to buy

Reasons to avoid

For experienced developers who prize strong security and powerful features, SilverStripe could be one of the best free blogging platforms to consider.It’s a free, open-source CMS that’s easy to use once it’s set up, but you’ll definitely need web skills to get that far.you’ll also have to arrange your own domain name and hosting.

Key features include a web-based administration panel, which enables users to make modifications to parts of the website, a WYSIWYG website editor, rich-text editing, quick embedding of videos, and a drag-and-drop, tree-based navigation structure.

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