I’ve said it a million times lately to my instagram friends that only have an IG account, but I’m going to say it again right here, really loud. YOUR WEBSITE IS YOUR BEST INVESTMENT.
You need, need, need to have a website if you are serious about blogging or having a business. Hell, even if you’re not that serious about it, it’s a small investment to make in order to protect your content because it’s the one thing that you own!
Now that I’ve got my you-need-a-website pitch out of the way for now, let’s talk about the nitty gritty- how to actually create your website and which platform is going to be best to help you do that!
I’m not going to pretend to be a total expert about site-building and code and all of that jazz, but I’ve been in the blogging game for a lot of years now and I’ve learned a thing or two about having to build your own site from scratch with no knowledge.
**And guess what, if you’re like me, and don’t know anything about building a site, I want you to know that YOU CAN DO IT and no, it’s not too hard to do alone! **
If you want to build your blog, start here!
There are several different platforms for building your website and a lot of them are great for blogs. I’m going to share some of the top 3 here and talk about the pros and cons of using them based on my own research and personal experience, so you can make an informed decision for yourself!
First up, WordPress!
In general, WordPress is kind of the powerhouse of all site builders and dominates the market. For a long time, WordPress was really the only option bloggers had!
It’s important to note that WordPress does have a free blogging platform (wordpress.com) but if you want to truly own your content and site, you’ll need to go through a site host and install wordpress.org to build your website.
You’ll need a hosting service.
Think of your host as the place where your site is stored, you use your hosts servers to store the information and you’re purchasing your little slice of the internet through them.
There are tons of hosts out there, but some common popular ones to start for new bloggers are bluhost, godaddy, hostgator, and ipage. Once you have your host, you’ll be able to build your site using WordPress.
The Pros of WordPress
The great thing about WordPress is that it’s completely customizable, you could literally code a site from scratch if you wanted to. There are thousands upon thousands of plugins, widgets, and themes that all work with WordPress, so you can find nearly anything you might want for your blog easily and can modify your site easily yourself.
PS I recently did a post about the best places to shop for cute WordPress themes! Find it here!
Once you learn it, the system is fairly easy to use, and it integrates with other platforms you might use (such as google analytics!)
The Cons of WordPress
The downside to WordPress is that especially for a brand new beginner, it’s a pretty steep learning curve. I have spent literally hundreds of hours researching how to do things and watching youtube tutorials trying to figure things out on my own, and they don’t really have a support team to help you. They do have support forums so you can type in your question and hope someone responds, but I’ve never had much luck finding results with those.
Of course, there is always the option to hire someone to help you get your blog started or to help with some of the coding stuff. I once had a coding problem with my redirects that I had NO clue how to fix, and I was able to find someone to help me fix that one little problem for fairly cheap.
If you don’t have the time to spend figuring out certain aspects of wordpress or need some custom coding, hiring someone to help is a great option. Otherwise, you might spend some time learning how to do it yourself, and that’s great too (build those skills, right?)
Overall, in my experience I’d say the majority of bloggers and small businesses tend to use and recommend WordPress because it gives you the most power in terms of complete customization and options.
Now let’s talk Squarespace!
I’ll just put this out there right now, I really wish I had known about Squarespace when I was starting out.
The Pros about Squarespace
Squarespace is an ALL IN ONE platform for site hosting and creating, so you don’t have to have a separate host and install a builder (the way you do with WordPress). 100 points for convenience, right there!
Squarespace is also built to be used by people who don’t know what they’re doing and don’t know the first thing about code, which means it’s a lot of easy to install templates, drag and drop features, and a super user-friendly interface. My grandparents could build their own site with this thing, it’s THAT easy to use. And if you get stuck? 24/7 customer support – it’s bomb. (No wading through hundreds of forums trying to find your answers!)
The Downside of Squarespace
Now, the downside to Squarespace is that because it’s a newer platform and entirely its own thing, there are not as many options for customization. There is a large library of templates, but I’ve only just recently started seeing outside people selling templates that will work with Squarespace, so your options are limited.
All of their templates are beautiful and mobile responsive, but you lack a lot of customization that you can get with WordPress.
What about Wix?
Wix is the new girl in town, and I think she’s going to be pretty popular! I don’t have quite as much experience with Wix as I do with Squarespace and WordPress, but it’s another platform that has the host and site builder all in one, which is awesome for new bloggers.
Wix is also an option that is fairly cost effective compared to some hosting sites and usually allow you to have your domain free of charge for the first year. If you’re looking to start on a budget, this might be the solution for you.
The downside is that because Wix is newer, it doesn’t have quite as many options in terms of templates and customization as you would find with Squarespace, so your design will have more limitations, but if you’re newly starting out and don’t want to fuss with figuring out how to design a site, the simplicity of their templates and user interface is awesome!
How to choose the best option for YOU
Now that we’ve talked about all three platforms, it’s important to stop thinking about what “everyone is saying” and make the best decision for YOU. Do you know any coding or want to learn? Do you want something easy to use without too much learning? Is budget a factor? Where do you hope this blog will be in a few years, and will the platform you’re considering support that?
It’s also important to remember that NOTHING IS PERMANENT. So if you make a decision today, and decide later it’s the wrong choice or that you want to switch for one reason or another, you can do that! Transferring sites and hosts can be a pain in the butt, but it happens ALL the time, every single day! So don’t let the fear of making the wrong choice slow you down or stop you. If you want to start a blog, then there’s no better time than right now!
For more blogging and social media tips, come find me on instagram!