How to Choose the Best Blogging Platform in 2021

Blogging has become a crucial component in successful content marketing. Blogs are an excellent way to share your expertise and opinion with the world, while building credibility. The potential for blogging is vast as it can be used for so many different purposes; from having a voice on social media to creating your own e-commerce website!

In the world of blogging, one can never be too careful when it comes to choosing a platform. There are so many platforms out there that seem like they would work well for your blog, but how do you know which one is right for you?

In this article we will take a look at 10 popular blogging platforms and compare their features to help make sure that you get the best possible experience.

In this blog post, we’ll be discussing the merits of these popular blogging platforms.

Choosing The Best Blogging Platform – Key Features?

Before beginning a search for the right blogging platform, there are several considerations to keep in mind.

The perfect choice will be cost-effective, straightforward to set up and use, visually appealing with plenty of formatting tools and widgets, and ideal for beginners without advanced coding skills.

You’ll have to consider what kind of blog you would prefer in the long-term. In addition, you should think about which blogging platform is the best choice for your needs now and that will grow with your needs as time goes on.

When starting a blog, it's important to choose the right blogging platform. Blogs evolve as they grow and you need one that can accommodate those changes so you don't get bogged down by problems with your setup later on.

Finally, it’s worth noting that even if you don't plan to make money blogging right now, it's wise to find a blog platform with the potential for monetization in the future.

As such, let's look at 10 of today's premier options and discuss their features.

1. Blogger

Blogger is a free blogging service that does not require any HTML knowledge. The interface for the platform is user-friendly and easy to use.

Blogger was first launched by Pyra Labs in 1999 and has been around for over 20 years now. It's still popular among bloggers because of its ease of use, affordability, and lack of training required.

Blogger is a free blogging platform with few limitations. With your Google account, you can start a free blog on Blogger with only minutes of effort.

Pros

  • Blogger is a cost-effective option.
  • It’s easy to use and fast even if you are not technical.
  • Google’s secure platform and reliability help make it a standout among blogging platforms.

Cons

  • You only have access to basic blogging tools, and can’t add any new features.
  • Blogger makes it easy to customize your blog, but design options are limited with only a few templates available.
  • Blogger is updated infrequently and does not receive new features very often.
  • Google can suspend your blog account or cancel the Blogger service at any time.

Pricing

Blogger is free and easy to use (unless you want a custom domain name).

2. WordPress.org

WordPress.org is the world’s most popular blog publishing platform. More than 39% of all websites on the internet are powered by WordPress technical blogs, according to a self-evaluation request in 2006.

WordPress.org is a free, self-hosted blogging platform that you can use to build your website or blog within minutes.

It has many features which make it great for beginners and professionals alike: a customizable layout with built-in SEO options, quality themes and design templates to suit different niches, easy installation on any hosting provider

Pros

  • WordPress.org lets you customize every detail of your website.
  • When creating your blog, you have the option to extend it with features like forums or online stores. WordPress has many of these features and often people use it for advertising purposes.
  • WordPress offers a variety of free themes to choose from, so you are able to customize your site.
  • You can also discover more than 58,000 free plugins with WordPress like the contact form plugin.
  • WordPress is the most search engine friendly blogging platform. WordPress makes it easy to produce highly SEO-friendly URLs, categories and tags for posts. Furthermore, there are a number of useful SEO plugins that can enhance your content.

Cons

  • Managing your own website requires time and effort.
  • You’re responsible for managing your own backups and security.

Pricing

WordPress software is free to download with a few caveats. Namely, you will need a domain name and Web hosting service before you can start writing.

3. Squarespace

Squarespace is a website building service that offers an easy drag and drop design interface. Squarespace is designed for small business owners looking to easily create a website.

Pros

  • Squarespace is a blank canvas that can be as simple or complicated as you want it to be.
  • It has some of the most beautiful templates on the market.
  • Squarespace's domain name features include SSL and HTTPS.

Cons

Squarespace’s proprietary platform does not provide a number of features that other blogging platforms include.

Integrations with third-party services is limited to a select few

Pricing

Squarespace offers a range of pricing plans for both websites and online stores.

The Personal website plan starts at $16/month, or $12/month if you pay for a 12-month subscription.

Business plan pricing is from $26/month, or $18/month on the annual payment plan..

Online stores are priced from $26/month and at the top end of their plans, it's $40/month.

Some users end up switching from Squarespace to WordPress to lower their costs and add more features on their sites.

4. Gator by HostGator

The Gator platform allows bloggers to create a wide range of content on their own website using easy-to-use tools.

Do not confuse Gator builder with HostGator website hosting. The two are unrelated and will only serve to confuse you.

If you are looking for a platform other than WordPress, then Gator is the perfect option.

Pros

  • Build your blog website with the best drag and drop builder ever.
  • The initial setup is incredibly simple.
  • HostGator is the easiest, most trustworthy way to get started with a new blog and have all aspects managed by them.
  • All plans include a free domain and SSL certificate.
  • With just a few clicks, your blog can have an online store.

Cons

  • They have a 45-day money back guarantee, but it is not free.
  • Ecommerce features are only available within higher priced plans.
  • Limited quantity of apps and extensions.

Pricing

The Starter plan costs $3.6/month and includes a few key features like a free domain and SSL certificate.

5. Tumblr

Tumblr is a blogging platform that includes social networking features. Follow other blogs, reblog them, and share via the built-in toolkit.

Pros

  • The platform has an integrated social media component.
  • A free blogging platform.
  • Tumblr allows its users to quickly blog text, images, videos, and audio formats.

Cons

  • None of the themes can offer additional functionality.
  • Tumblr has a limited feature-set that that you can't upgrade.
  • Migrating your Tumblr blog to a different platform can be tricky.

Pricing

It's free to use.

6. WordPress.com

WordPress.com is a blog hosting service offered by Automattic, WordPress.org’s parent company.

WordPress.com offers free basic blog hosting, as well as a multitude of other hosting options including paying for customized domains and storage.

WordPress is a blogging platform that is less advanced than self-hosted WordPress.com but easy to use and great for beginners with little knowledge of HTML or CSS because it doesn’t require coding.

Pros

  • Straightforward to use and easy to manage.
  • No setup needed.
  • The cost of this one is free if you’re happy with a WordPress.com subdomain.

Cons

  • Your blog accounts may be banned for violating the terms and conditions of your host.
  • Limitations to customizing your blog. There is no ability to use customized themes or plugins for designing your blog.
  • You cannot run commercials on your blog; WordPress.com instead shows their ads on your free website.

Pricing

WordPress.com is a free blog, but has branding.

WordPress.com lets you buy your website’s URL, a custom domain and removes their branding for $4/month.

The $8/month is a great deal for extra storage and design tools.

7. Medium

Medium (launched in 2012) is a content sharing website that allows people to share their ideas, insights, and expertise.

Medium is one of the most popular blogging platforms on earth.

Pros

  • It provides you with a network of other bloggers in the same field.
  • Medium does not require any installation or coding skills to get started.
  • You don't have to worry about design.

Cons

  • Your audience is owned by Medium, if you decide to move platform, you lose all your followers.
  • Limited features for design or building a brand.
  • Even if you have your own domain name, you cannot use it for a Medium blog.
  • Your blog cannot run ads to make money.

Pricing

Free.

8. Wix

Wix offers hosted platforms to build websites with a drag & drop website builder. You can add the Wix Blog app to your site for content that will create more engaging pages, attract visitors, and convert them into leads or customers.

Founded in 2006, Wix.com allows anyone to create their own stunning website with no coding skills required. There are currently over 110 million users across the globe.

Pros

  • Setup is fast and painless.
  • You've got plenty of templates and third-party apps at your disposal.
  • No coding experience is required to build a site with easy drag and drop tools.

Cons

  • Users of the free account are limited in features and functionality, and are also branded with Wix adverts. Free third party apps are limited.
  • Choosing a template to start your blog can be tricky, but once you choose one it cannot be changed!
  • Paid plans are required for any features related to ecommerce.

Pricing

The basic Wix website builder is free to use. With a free account, you’ll receive a Wix subdomain that looks like this: https://username.wixsite.com/example

The domain costs $4.50/month and the premium plans start at $8.50/month to $24.50 monthly, depending on your needs.

9. Ghost

Ghost is a blogging platform with many features that focus on writing blog posts. Ghost has a hosted service or you can install the software on your own server.

Pros

  • Ghost is all about writing/blogging.
  • The most noticeable thing about this blogging platform is its clean and uncluttered user interface.
  • The hosted version requires zero setup.
  • It's very fast.

Cons

  • You cannot customize the template with your own app.
  • The site can't be customized to match personal style.
  • The self-hosted option involves a complex installation and setup procedure.
  • The simplicity of Ghost means there are few options.

Pricing

The self-hosted version needs a custom domain and web hosting, with the price varying depending on the provider.

The hosted version for 2 staff users starts at $29/month.

10. Constant Contact Website Builder

Constant Contact Website Builder is a free blog or business website creator that allows you to create your online platform in minutes.

It has the largest templates assortment and offers a drag and drop system to customize your website design. It also includes other helpful tools such as a logo maker, an online store, and access to high quality stock photos.

Pros

  • You build your blog through inventive and varied templates that require no coding abilities or knowledge to use, regardless of what you’ve planned ahead of time for your content.
  • Constant Contact is a great choice for the Non-tech savvy folks out there. You can have your blog up and running in no time, as Constant Contact will host it for you!
  • All Blogging plans include a free SSL certificate.
  • 60 day trial to try out the service.

Cons

  • Limited integrations
  • The number of third-party plugins, and support for them, is small.
  • Exporting your site from Constant Contact website builder to another platform is difficult and time-consuming.

Pricing

Constant Contact offers more than just a blog, and there's no better way to find out which parts of their service are worth its monthly fee than with their 60 day free trial.

The $10 per month Web Builder Plus plan gives you a custom domain, free SSL certificate and 24/7 phone based support.

Constant Contact would be more than sufficient for most small businesses thanks to the wide variety of features that come with it.

Our choice for 2021's Best Blogging Platform

There are many blogging platforms to choose from, but we believe that WordPress is the best option.

WordPress impresses on all fronts, it is extremely popular with more themes and plugins than any other platform, its UI is easy to use and together with caching plugins and the use of CDNs it is high performing and scalable.

 

Essential On-site Optimization Tactics to Increase Conversion Rates

Source: Unsplash

The amount of traffic you generate doesn’t matter if you don’t manage to get part of that traffic to take a specific action, like generating sales, signing up for a newsletter or clicking on specific links. 

In other words, you should convert your traffic. 

A good conversion rate sits around 2% to 5%. Although this might not seem like much, note that most websites have a conversion rate of only about 0.2%. 

To calculate your conversion rate, simply divide the total number of conversions by the total number of your website’s visitors and multiply it by 100. 

If you happen to find yourself below the 2% mark, it might be time to consider conversion rate optimization.

With that said, let’s talk about some CRO tactics you need to know about.

1. Optimize loading speed 

Your website’s loading speed can play a major role in influencing its conversion rate. The slower your web pages are, the fewer people will convert. 

The first five seconds of your website’s loading time are the most important. Furthermore, each extra second will lower your conversion rate by around 4.4%. With that said, start by speed testing your website.

https://pixabay.com/illustrations/speed-internet-high-download-4028234/

If loading speed is a problem, one of the quickest ways to fix it is by compressing the images on your website. 

If compressing the images didn’t get the job done, you should consider getting in touch with a custom web development company as there are a lot more things that may be slowing down your website.

2. Display social proof 

Displaying social proof can improve your conversion rate noticeably. After all, nobody wants to be the first person to buy a product or a service from you. That’s because people often seek reassurance. 

In other words, visitors are more likely to trust you if they see that other people have already tried your products. 

Over 83% of consumers make their purchase decision based on recommendations from their peers. That’s one of the reasons why displaying social proof is so important. 

With that said, you can integrate a scoring system add a review section, or even display testimonials by getting in touch with previous customers. 

Displaying the logos of the companies you’re collaborating with is also a good idea, as that will let new visitors know that your business is legitimate straight away.

3. Remove unnecessary distractions 

Having a website filled with all sorts of buttons, flashy graphics, etc., will do nothing but disperse the users’ attention, ultimately driving them away from what’s really important, your call-to-action buttons. 

Your website needs to be clear and concise. Remember that you need to direct the users’ focus strictly towards the goal you are trying to achieve, like make them buy your products or getting them to sign up for your newsletter. 

With that said, when designing your website, prioritize headings and subheadings, highlight the benefits and features of your products/services, include testimonials or reviews, and add visual elements that show people what you’re offering.

After you’ve got all of that figured out, you can think about integrating some other features, like chat bots. These sophisticated computer programs can simulate human conversation, and you use that data to increase your conversion rates.

https://unsplash.com/photos/wD1LRb9OeEo

4. Remove unnecessary form fields 

If your goal is to grow your email list, you should avoid adding too many form fields. 

Although lengthier forms might help you figure out which leads are actually worth pursuing, you may still be missing out on plenty of conversions. 

That’s because, by having too many form fields, you’re likely to scare most of your website’s visitors away. Keep the number of fields at a minimum to determine whether the leads you are getting are viable or not. 

Giving visitors some sort of incentive, like a free e-book, is also a good idea, as that will get you more leads.

5. Work on your CTAs 

Your call-to-action messages are very important when it comes to conversions. 

After all, CTAs are what get users to accomplish the goals you want them to. With that being said, you shouldn’t treat them as just an afterthought. 

Firstly, you’ll have to place them strategically. Now, at first glance, the top of the web page might seem like the most viewable position. 

However, a study conducted by Google has shown otherwise. The best placement for your CTAs is right above the fold, the part of the page a user sees before scrolling down. 

Secondly, the copy of your calls-to-action matter as well. Generic CTA copies, like “Sign-up” or “Start Trial,” won’t work as well because most people have already gotten used to them. 

Your calls to action need to stand out. Even small changes like “Sign-up for Free” or “Start Free Trial” will positively impact your conversions. 

Another trick you could use is starting with the word “Yes,” as it sheds a positive light on your offer, like “Yes, I want to Sign-up,” for example. 

And lastly, you’ll also have to think about the color of your CTA buttons. As we’ve previously mentioned, the CTAs need to catch the users’ eye. 

So, using a color that increases the contrast between your website’s background and its CTA will make it more visible. 

To make the most out of your call-to-action, you will need to do quite a bit of experimentation, which brings us to our next point.

6. A/B test constantly 

A/B testing is key for improving your website’s conversion rate as it will allow you to see which changes are effective and which ones aren’t. 

In short, during A/B testing, you would take two different versions of the same web page and see which one performs better.

For example, you could have a version with green CTAs and another with red ones. 

Now, when A/B testing, keep in mind to change only one thing at a time. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be able to figure out what changes have altered your website’s performance. 

7. Analyze your competition 

And finally, don’t forget to analyze your competition. Here’s the thing: people do their research before buying a product, meaning that they will also look at your competitors to see how you stack up against them. 

That’s why analyzing your competitors is important. To outperform them, you’ll first need to know their strengths and weaknesses and then use that information to get ahead of the curve. 

Final Words 

All in all, these have been some of the best tips that you can use to make the most out of your website’s traffic. 

Remember that often, less means more. The fewer distractions on your website and the less time it takes for it to load, the more conversions you will get. 

Author bio

Travis Dillard is a business consultant and an organizational psychologist based in Arlington, Texas. Passionate about marketing, social networks, and business in general. In his spare time, he writes a lot about new business strategies and digital marketing for DigitalStrategyOne.

Holiday Marketing Ideas for Sales Promotion

Holidays. They bring joy and happiness to every corner of the world. It is a time when families and friends share excitement and exchange gifts showing how much they love and care about each other.

Besides all the festivities and holiday rush, businesses have the most significant opportunities to increase their sales during the holiday periods. However, competition is high here, so to stand out, you have to create strategies, campaigns, and content that would ensure your success during the holiday season.

Do not worry; we got you covered! Let’s look into some ideas on boosting your business and increasing sales for the upcoming holidays.

Promotional Holiday Campaign Ideas

Christmas, Easter, Halloween, Black Friday, St Patrick's Day, Mother's Day – you name it. Countless opportunities lay here and are waiting for you.

Depending on your strengths and weaknesses, you might want to run holiday campaigns on social media, emails, or any other marketing channels.

Here are a few ideas on how you can market your business during this year's holidays.

Arrange a giveaway on your chosen social media platform.

Who doesn’t like gifts, right? By running a holiday-themed giveaway, you will gain new followers and increase your brand awareness. If you are a new business, this is your chance to grow and introduce yourself to your audience. For the already existing businesses, it will not only help to gain potential clients but also will help to build up customer loyalty and create interest.

Before arranging a giveaway campaign, make sure you plan it well: identify the final aims and goals, clearly establish the rules and regulations for the competition and finally, ensure that your giveaway product fits well with the holiday theme!

Launch a new product or service

If you are looking to release a new product or service, there is no better time to do it than a holiday. Besides all the awareness you will get on your new addition, you will increase the chances of this product or service being purchased during that holiday.

People like to try new things, and with your launch, you might be able to ease their headache while looking for something to surprise their loved ones with. It might be precisely the thing your customers were looking for. 

Arrange a Google Ads or Social Media Ads Campaign.

As people will be searching for gifts, being visible on social media platforms and Google search is vital if you want to get the sales going.

You might want to create a seasonal campaign with the products your business is offering and select the keywords to make sure your target audience can see you.

For example, if you are promoting your brand on Valentine’s Day, you might want to include keywords such as love, boyfriend, girlfriend, couple, husband, wife, etc.

To make sure that the potential clients select your business to purchase their holiday gifts, add a little extra incentive such as free shipping, discount for first-time buyers, or a special offer if the customers purchase for more than a specified amount.

Use email marketing to offer your best deals

Emails have become one of the most effective marketing strategies, especially during the pandemic. They are one of the best ways to approach your clients directly.

Besides that, you are able to personalize the content of your email for the segmented groups and increase your chances when boosting your sales. Add your holiday campaign into emails and showcase your offers and deals.

Ensure you attract your recipients with eye-catching, funny, engaging subject lines and appealing content that would be useful and valuable. You can also use email marketing if you are launching a new product or service for the holiday season. It will inform your audience and create interest. To send your holiday season emails we recommend to use Sender email marketing platform.

Holiday Content Ideas

Creating an effective campaign can only be achieved with valuable and engaging content. Let’s look at some content ideas you might want to implement when establishing your holiday campaign. 

Offer LAST MINUTE delivery

It will help to convince the customers who are looking for gifts with very little time left. FREE shipping might also be an option if you are willing to persuade your buyers even more.

Create a to-do list

People are busy with their lives, and sometimes they need effective planning and guidance. With a to-do list, your audience will be able to keep up with all the things they must complete before the holiday.

Arrange special offers

To attract the customers, you might want to provide them with discounts and deals, making them purchase from your brand. People are looking to save money and still surprise their loved ones, so use this chance to increase your customer base.

Suggest holiday gifts

Customers are overwhelmed with the variety of products and services brands are offering. Ease their pain and provide them with a list of top gifts they can purchase for different segmented groups (Top gifts for kids, him/her, mother/father, etc.).

Let’s Recap The Best Holiday Marketing Practises

We have now provided you with ways to boost your holiday sales by using strategic marketing campaigns and content.

Remember, with excellent planning and preparation, you will be able to deliver stunning holiday ads, deals, and offers to your potential and existing clients.

Let’s recap the best holiday marketing practices which will help you stand out from your competitors and achieve your business goals:

  1. Use giveaways to attract a new audience and increase brand awareness.

  2. Use the holiday to introduce your audience to a new product or service.

  3. Create Google and Social Media Ads and add the keywords to be visible to your target market.

  4. Consider email marketing to present your offers and create valuable content with catchy subject lines to stand out.

  5. Offer free shipping or last-minute delivery to get the buyers who have limited time to purchase the gifts.

  6. Provide your clients with a to-do list and help them prepare for the holiday.

  7. Include special offers, deals, and discounts for each celebration to encourage purchases.

  8. Suggest gifts to be purchased by showing your clients what you offer based on different segmented groups.

  9. Last but not least - make sure the campaigns, content, and products/services you offer are relatable to that specific holiday.

How Small Businesses Can Protect Customers’ Data and Their Own Profits

Keeping your customers’ information safe is more than a security concern.  A data breach can mean lost productivity, embarrassment, reduced faith, expensive recovery, and it can even lead to a company’s failure.  Here’s how to make sure your small business is following best practices so you can protect customer data, as well as your bottom line.  

Notable numbers

While data-related mishaps by big companies tend to catch the most media attention, USA Today notes that it’s small businesses that are targets of cyber crime.  In fact, two thirds of cyber attacks are aimed at small businesses, and 60 percent of small businesses that fall victim are unable to recover, shutting down permanently within six months of an attack. 

Developing policies

As cyber crime advances, more states are requiring businesses of various types and sizes to follow strict guidelines to protect customers’ information.  As an example, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requires companies to protect private health information. Or New York now requires financial institutions to comply with NYDFS Cybersecurity Regulation. In order to comply, businesses must evaluate their own weak spots and proactively address concerns.  You can find out the requirements for various states by exploring data security laws in different areas.  Even if you live in a state with softer guidelines, businesses must notify customers of a data breach based on the customers’ locations.  In other words, if you have customers in Kentucky and your business is set in California, you must follow Kentucky’s notification rules for customers in that state should a data breach occur. 

Putting up defenses

It doesn’t take long to realize it’s in your best interests to make every attempt to avoid data breaches.  A data breach can come in many forms, so one place to start is to examine what you have that criminals would want to steal.  Evaluate your practices for handling sensitive data like credit card information and bank account numbers.  Note PCI compliance is required of all businesses that handle credit cards, so it’s important to assess related practices carefully. 

Installing appropriate hardware and software is another key to avoiding trouble.  Firewall protection is a crucial tool to have. Additionally, antivirus software protects your data from malware, ransomware, and the like.  Keep your software up-to-date with the latest security patches as well, and if your company hasn’t moved to cloud storage, consider doing so.  Not only does saving data in the cloud provide better security, there are other advantages, such as improved sharing, easy restoration, and reduced overhead. 

Training your troops

It’s important to ensure your staff isn’t a weak link in your company’s defenses.  Make sure your team knows to avoid opening suspicious emails from unfamiliar sources, and not to divulge sensitive information.  Also, develop a solid password protocol.  Train everyone to avoid using actual words, to make passwords reasonably complex, and to keep passwords strictly confidential.  Your staff can use certain “tricks” for their passwords which help with memorization.  For instance, they can use acronyms for memorable phrases, such as “TIMNPFW,” which could stand for “this is my new password for work.”  If you elect to incorporate numbers, they can exchange “for” with a 4, and so forth. 

If you want to take matters further, you could encourage your employees to further their education by taking online IT courses.  The best part of this approach is that they can complete the courses in their free time, which shouldn’t interfere with their regular work schedules.

Make plans for trouble

No system is foolproof, so having a plan in place in the event a data breach occurs ensures the best possible chance of coming through on the other side with a healthy company.  Develop a sound incident response plan, and train your staff how to proceed in the event of a breach.  If you have an IT team, they will likely be integral to recovery. If your business doesn’t have IT staff, you’ll likely have to hire a data recovery professional to help minimize the damage. Another resource would be a digital forensics specialist, which can potentially trace where a breach occurred, help restore data, and gather evidence against the criminal. 

Developing appropriate defenses is not only a smart solution, it’s a chance to ensure your company doesn’t become just another statistic.  Follow best practices and ensure compliance on all levels of your organization.  Protecting data is crucial to your small business’s success.