The Best Self-Hosted Blogging Platforms

If you have been toying with the idea of starting a blog, there is no better time than the present to get to it. But before you start, it is important to know what your agenda is with the blog. Is it just something you want to do as a hobby? Or do you have plans of taking it a notch further, at least sometime in the future if not now? If you pick the latter option, you may want to consider using a self-hosted blog instead of a free, hosted blog. Sure, it requires some initial investment. You may even need some technical support to help set the blog up. But in the long run, this would be much better for your income prospects. If your blog starts doing well, but it is on a free platform, you may find it difficult to shift your blog to a self-hosted space later and divert all that traffic you are getting. For these reasons, it is best to start with a self-hosted blog if you are sure of the direction you want to take your blog. This article will introduce you to the best platforms:

Update: I’ve been blogging for over 3 years now, and every six figure blogger I know uses self hosted WordPress. (literally, every. single. one. that makes $10k/mo or more.)

I’m not saying it’s the only choice, but if you’re serious about ever making a dime from your blog, it’s the only logical choice. The best way to do that is to use either Bluehost or Siteground.

Update: I’ve been blogging for over 3 years now, and every six figure blogger I know uses self hosted WordPress. (literally, every. single. one.)

I’m not saying it’s the only choice, but if you’re serious about ever making a dime from your blog, it’s the only logical choice. The best way to do that is to use either Bluehost or Siteground.


Best Self-Hosted Platforms

The following are some of the best self-hosted blogging platforms. Each platform has something unique to offer and differ in terms of features, ease of use and compatibility with different web hosts. But they do cover a large spectrum of features you will find useful for your blog. Take a look:

WordPress.org

WordPress.org is one of the most popular and vouched for self-hosted blogging platforms. It is a free, open-source platform. You can download the interface with a single click of a button. WordPress.org also recommends using the platform along with hosting services like Bluehost which offer a one-click integration.

WordPress is known to offer a variety of templates. In fact, the kind of choice WordPress offers, no other self-hosted platform manages to scrape up. There is incredible flexibility with the look of the site you are building, the features and add-ons you want to use and how much control you want to have over the backend. Of course, using a self-hosted blogging platform means you need to be at least slightly well-versed with coding and WordPress.org is no different. If you are new to coding and managing the technical backend, you may find the learning curve a bit steep. Regardless, WordPress.org is one of the easiest self-hosted platforms to use.

While some other self-hosted platforms may offer you email and telephonic support, WordPress.org lacks in the aspect. But the fact that it is so popular means that there are enough and more programmers who specialize in WordPress support. So you do not need to worry about encountering any problems.

The great part is that there is a variety of hosting options, ranging from low to high in terms of price. Some of the popular hosting options include Bluehost, SiteGround and One.com.

Ghost

Like WordPress.org, Ghost is another popular self-hosted blogging platform. There are several different places you can host your Ghost blog on, including Ghost Pro, which is the platform’s own hosting service. But if you find the Ghost Pro plan too expensive or not exciting enough, the platform boasts of helping you make the transition to another, external host.

Ghost also has a vibrant and rich editor. You can experiment with the look of your blog in several different ways with Ghost. Your ability to customize your blog is incredible with Ghost, with a flexible tagging functionality which allows you to break your content down into as many recognizable categories as you like.

Ghost can also be a great collaborative experience as you can invite members of your team to contribute and make changes to the site simultaneously. Each member gets a dedicated public user profile. The platform also boasts of powerful tooling, allowing your data to be infinitely portable.

Joomla

There are several ways you can use Joomla in. You can download it and use it on your own server and also sign up for a free and fully functioning Joomla website on launch.joomla.org. The platform has been around since 2005 and has only been getting better.

Joomla has several benefits and features. It is SEO-friendly, is accessible through the mobile and even offers the option of having multilingual pages. The platform is easy to use for which it finds mass appeal. Using Joomla may be slightly trickier than using WordPress.org. The backend may require a little more technical prowess and may take a while longer to figure out than WordPress.org. But what sets Joomla apart the most is its multilingual feature. With WordPress and several other blogging platforms, you will need to download a separate extension to avail a multilingual feature.

The platform is flexible and fully extensible. The platform is being constantly worked on and improved by a global community of volunteers. Some of the web hosts Joomla is compatible with include Kliken, A2Hosting, Hostpapa and SiteLock.

Drupal

One of the most popular content management systems (CMS) in the world, Drupal gives tough competition to the other platforms mentioned on this list. The platform has a great potential for building elaborate, complex and vibrant websites. No matter what your technical prowess with coding, you can build a website that coincides with different kinds of skill level. If you are an absolute novice, however, you may experience some snags and challenged while using Drupal.

If you are well-versed with tech and can navigate all the exciting features and possibilities Drupal offers, you will not be disappointed. But these conditions make it a less chosen blogging platform than WordPress.org or Ghost, owing to their ease of use.

Nevertheless, Drupal has several redeeming qualities. For example, it has been designed keeping in mind SEO so with Drupal, you will enjoy great search visibility. Drupal also has an attractive, minimalist interface. It requires fewer plug-ins so it performs smoothly as the interface is not as resource-intensive then. Drupal can also be heavily customized if you get a hang of how to navigate the coding. If you have the capital to invest in a professional to help with Drupal coding, the user experience is nearly unparalleled. Often, however, this is not a cost most people would like to bear.

Postleaf

Postleaf is a fairly new entrant to the market and is one of the only blogging platforms that offer inline editing. This is a huge advantage as no other platform offers you this privilege. Inline editing means as you are writing the post, you will be able to see what the final edit is going to look like in real time. You do not need to stop and click on a preview button to assess your writing or layout. Everything happens in real time.

Other than this feature, Postleaf is entirely decentralized, so you own all your work. It also has a dynamic images option so you can forget about resizing photos. The interface is smart enough to do it for you automatically. There are also several custom themes, you can tag and categorize posts, simple backups of all data, etc.

If there is one drawback, however, it is that there are not many hosting options. Typically Postleaf is compatible with Nginx, but if you would like to change the most you can do is switch to Apache. The website offers a sample configuration you can deploy immediately but other than that does not leave you with too many options. Postleaf also uses JSON feed instead of RSS feed, which some bloggers may be hesitant to explore since RSS is tried and tested and is used by all the biggest platforms.

Self-Hosted vs Hosted Blogging Platforms

Having gone over some of the best self-hosted blogging platforms out there, let’s try to understand what the big hullabaloo is about self-hosted blogging platforms. Self-hosted platforms, as has been made evident above, are platforms where you can pick a server to host your own blog. Most people buy an external server, like Bluehost or HostGator, to host their blog. It is quite akin to renting space on the world wide web to host your website.

This is different from a hosted blog, where you have little control over where the blog is hosted or what the domain name is. Everything is taken care of for you – this includes coding, backend, domain name, templates, etc. While this method of blogging will not cost you any money, you will also have to give up greater control over your blog.

Some other important differences between self-hosted and hosted blogs include:

Free vs Paid

Hosted blogs, like the ones on WordPress.com, are absolutely free unless you upgrade to a paid plan. You can make use of all the features that the platform has to offer but you have limitations regarding how much you can change things around. Self-hosted blogs, on the other hand, can vary in terms of price depending on where you choose to host it. For example, WordPress.or allows you to download the CMS for free, but you will have to pay for the third-party service that will host your blog.

Monetizing the Blog

With a hosted blog, you own your content but you will have trouble if you try to monetize your blog. For example, with WordPress.com, you do not have control over the logo, banner, advertisements, etc. Even if you are part of an affiliate program, you will not be able to draw an income from your blog as easily. With a self-hosted platform, you have greater control over your blog. In fact, you are building the interface, layout and content of your blog from scratch. So it is only fair that you should get to use it professionally. If you are looking to monetize your blog, a self-hosted platform is the way to go. Serious professionals, companies and entrepreneurs tend to go the self-hosted way.

Access to Codes

The main difference between a hosted and self-hosted blog, as explained above, is the server. With a hosted blog, the server is managed by the platform you have your blog on. With a self-hosted blog, the server is hosted elsewhere and all the backend coding is in your control. This makes self-hosting tricky. If you have some experience with coding, it could be a smooth sailing experience. But often novices or people who are new to the software find it hard to navigate the technical codes. With self-hosted blogs, you may find the learning curve to be steep. But if you have the time and patience to pick up the skill, it is a fruitful experience.

Final Thoughts

Starting a blog can be a courageous path to embark upon. After all, it is like putting a part of yourself out there for people to judge and assess. It is not always easy but once you start doing it, the experience of it overshadows all other apprehensions. As a professional, however, you may want to have greater control over what your blog looks like, what you can achieve with it and the kind of things you can display on your blog. Besides, if you want to make money from your blog, the only smart way to go about it is to own the domain. The best way to do that is to have your blog on a self-hosted blogging platform. Doing that hands the reins of control over to you. You can pick up important skills like coding if you do not already know how to do that. You can also add all the plug-ins and features you like on your blog to give it the look you want.

But choosing a self-hosted blogging site can be tricky. After all, even if you are out there on your own, you require the best support you can get. While there are several such platforms out there, only a few boast of a reputation you can rely on blindfolded. Now, it is only a matter of choosing which one is the best fit for you.

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