Blogging can be a pain in the butt when it comes to management. Hosting your own blog has its perks — flexibility and customization — but it could prove troublesome if you don’t have much technical knowledge. Plus, self-hosting a blog requires renting server space. What if you don’t want to deal with any of that?
For a while, if you wanted to blog for free you were stuck between WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, and a few other alternatives that weren’t so good. Nowadays, you have an ocean of free blogging platforms that will serve you well depending on what you want to do.
No complicated online setups. No plugin management. No hosting costs. If you’re looking for a fast, easy, and free way to get started blogging, check out these platforms.
Roon is a beautiful and simplistic blogging platform that looks and feels very clean. There’s absolutely no setup necessary (except signing up for a free account) and you can be writing your first post within one minute, literally. Yet, despite its simplicity and ease of use, there are some powerful features that are just as easy.
- Roon blogs use a responsive design.
- Maintain multiple blogs under one account.
- Write posts in Markdown or Rich Text modes.
- Export your blog data in Markdown format with one click.
- Extend functionality with premium addons.
- iOS and Mac apps are available for writing new posts.
One downside is that Roon does not support theming so all blogs will essentially look the same. You can change the accent colors but Roon prides itself on its minimalism, which is great for the most part. Just not when it comes to theming.
Nancy took us through a review of Roon last year.
Postach.io is a unique blogging platform in that it uses your Evernote space to create your blog posts and pages. Want to write a new post? Just write up a new note in the Postach.io notebook in your Evernote account and mark it as Published. Once your account syncs, it’s done! Editing and deleting is just as easy.
The real benefit is that Postach.io will always be as powerful and flexible as Evernote. There are plenty of apps that you can use to write notes in Evernote, which means you can use those same exact tools to write Postach.io posts. If you already use Evernote, Postach.io can be integrated in less than a minute.
Posts can be formatted in Rich Text if your Evernote app supports it (the most flexible would be to use the web version of Evernote) or you can format your posts directly with HTML or Markdown. As for comments, Postach.io utilizes the Disqus commenting system, which you can enable in your Postach.io settings.
Throwww is interesting because it isn’t like most blogging platforms. Instead of creating an account that manages all of your past blog posts, you write and submit posts that can only be accessed through a link that’s given once posted. That’s it.
This is obviously good for writing one-off blog entries to be shared on social networks like Facebook. However, Throwww does allow you to sign-in using Twitter and post it as a tweet, so Throwww could be useful as a sort of blogging extension to Twitter.
There’s very little functionality to Throww, which is expected since it’s all about blank canvas minimalism. However, posts do support comments which are threaded and scored using an upvote/downvote system that’s reminiscent of Reddit.
All in all, Throwww is great if you don’t need a centralized location for all of your blog entries. If you want to write something here and there whenever you feel like it, you can. It’s simple and fast, perfect for the lazy blogger who just wants to write.
Medium is a new free blogging platform made by the same co-founders who made Twitter. It seems a bit strange that they would go and create a new service that pretty much competes directly with their current brainchild, but Medium is different enough from Twitter that it may draw in a different demographic. Whether that’s true or not is still to be seen.
The drive behind Medium is all about grouping blog posts together in order to create context. Instead of authors having a central blogspace, articles are placed into thematic “collections” (which can be open to the public or invite-only) and as readers read certain articles, they’ll automatically be exposed to similar articles from similar collections.
In one sense, this takes away some control from the writer, but it also frees up the writer to write as he or she pleases without feeling the pressure of having to cultivate an audience for “their blog.” Medium handles all of that in the background.
Nancy recently walked us through a review of Medium.
If you’ve done any sort of blogging platform research at all, you will be familiar with these three already. They’re at the top of the “free blogging platform” food chain and they won’t be losing their spots any time soon. Consider these if you want a tried-and-true solution rather than banking on a new service that may or may not survive the years to come.
WordPress is the world’s largest blogging platform and provides the most functionality out of any free hosted service. Blogger, formerly known as Blogspot, is great for newbies but lacks a lot of customization options, which means most users quickly outgrow its feature set. Tumblr has a huge and active community but it isn’t exactly blogging in the traditional sense.
Which should you use?
If you want power and reliability, WordPress is the way to go. There’s a reason why it’s so popular. Plus, its ubiquity means that if you ever run into a problem, there’s a good chance that you’ll be able to find a solution on the web in no time. Be sure to read James’s tips for starting a WordPress blog.
If you want a quick setup and you intend to write long-form posts but don’t care about flexibility, customization, or personalization, then you’ll want to use Blogger. You can get started in mere minutes and you really won’t need to worry about any sort of administration.
Tumblr is something of a micro-blogging platform. You can write long-form posts on it if you want, but most Tumblrs exist simply to post images and GIFs that others can quickly share. If you don’t intend to write long-form very much, Tumblr will serve you well. Adhere to the Tumblr etiquette guidelines to maximize your blogging experience.
Which free blogging platform will you use? Do you know of any others that deserve a mention? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!