Best site for blogging
January 2, 2015 8:42 AM   Subscribe

What, in your opinion, is the best site for blogging?

So in your opinion, what is the best site for blogging? I may end up getting a domain, but for now I am looking at the free options.

As you may have seen in some previous posts, I am looking to start a fishing blog site that will allow me to post about cool spots to fish, new techniques, gear reviews, etc.

What I was wondering is, with all the different sites out there, what one would work best for what I am trying to do? I'd like to customize the site, colors, etc. Obviously I will be posting pictures and videos so it will need to be able to do that well. So far I have looked at Medium, Blogger and Wordpress, so far Wordpress is winning in my mind.

Let me know what you think and if there are any I missed!
posted by MMiller3669 to Technology (18 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
I use (well, intermittently, I should write something) Wordpress hosted on my own domain. Really the only difference as far as I can tell is what URL you type in--Wordpress is easy, there are a jillion plugins for whatever functionality you want, and updates are frequent and rarely break things.

I'd go with Wordpress is what I'm saying.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:46 AM on January 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

I've used WordPress a lot, but I find that I struggle to get posts to look exactly the way I want them to look (even editing the raw HTML doesn't always work, because Wordpress over-rides my changes). Also, I think the WordPress dashboard is a bit daunting for people who are encountering it for the first time.

If it were me, I'd pay a little bit of money and go with Squarespace.
posted by alex1965 at 8:50 AM on January 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

Medium seems pretty popular.
posted by Ideefixe at 9:04 AM on January 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Medium seems like it is quite popular, but looking at most of the posts, there really isn't all that much customization. Seems pretty bland, idk maybe it's me.
posted by MMiller3669 at 9:10 AM on January 2, 2015

Wordpress is the typical go to answer for questions like this but there are others. Some people like using Blogger or Tumblr for various features that they offer or because of familiarity with the platform.
posted by SamMiller at 9:13 AM on January 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'm likin' Wordpress thus far; it has a good variety of free templates, and I'm kind of digging the cross-promotional bits (both The Bloggess and Mefi's Own Jscalzi have Wordpress blogs, and when I comment there I have the option of it auto-linking to my own blog, which is awesome).

(Oh, and my own blog is linked in my profile if you wanna have a look at a sample of "how someone uses wordpress".)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:17 AM on January 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Squarespace is popular too. I've always self-hosted my blogs, starting with Blogger back when it was an ftp tool for site updates, through Greymatter and Movable Type and Wordpress and Drupal. I'm back to using flat files with Pelican now, because I got sick of doing more Drupal updates than blog posts in a month.
posted by COD at 9:22 AM on January 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Seems like Wordpress is a pretty clear choice so far, is Squarespace a free service or paid?
posted by MMiller3669 at 9:35 AM on January 2, 2015

I'd advise against self-hosted Wordpress in this instance because of the maintenance burden. Self-hosted Wordpress installations get hacked. A lot. Working out which combination of plugins get you the precise thing you want takes time; working out why that combination of plugins breaks something else or makes your site really slow to load takes even more time.

The hosted option with a custom domain might work; paying for Squarespace might work.
posted by holgate at 9:49 AM on January 2, 2015 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I started a blog this past fall, using a hosted with a custom domain. I like it because there is customization possible (I haven't done a lot, but I know it's there if I want to head that way), but being hosted by Wordpress means I don't have to spend a lot of time on maintenance, just on content. I'm tech-friendly, but by no means brilliant at it, and Wordpress seems to be in that sweet spot of "you can figure this out if you want to, but don't need to" in terms of getting things working as far as setting up different styles (they have a multitude of free and paid templates, and then I'm pretty sure if you know some coding you can go deeper). Embedding media has been easy so far (using imgur to host images, then linking them into posts, but you can upload them as part of your Wordpress site); I haven't tried video yet, but I don't think it would be any harder to do.

Basically, I wanted to focus more on content and not so much on worrying about design at this point; Wordpress made that easy.
posted by nubs at 10:02 AM on January 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

I have used WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, and Weebly. WP is probably the best, but both it and Blogger have a way of expecting you to want all your eggs in one basket. Do you always want to comment on other people's sites using the same name and email address you use on the fishing site?

Tumblr is not really a blog site.
posted by SemiSalt at 10:12 AM on January 2, 2015

Response by poster: Pretty much, I'd like to build an identity among the community, maybe springboard it into getting companies to send me samples of gear i can test and review. Everyone wants free stuff right!? hah.
posted by MMiller3669 at 10:15 AM on January 2, 2015

I'd advise against self-hosted Wordpress in this instance because of the maintenance burden. Self-hosted Wordpress installations get hacked.

They get hacked if you don't take appropriate precautions. There are loads of articles on hardening WordPress (e.g. this one) and loads of plug-ins to help you harden. I get around 125 spam attacks and 2-3 hacking attempts a day. None get through because I have taken the appropriate steps to stop them.
posted by TheRaven at 12:17 PM on January 2, 2015

They get hacked if you don't take appropriate precautions. There are loads of articles on hardening WordPress (e.g. this one) and loads of plug-ins to help you harden.

Which people generally only read after they've had their WP sites hacked. (One might ask why most of the hardening suggestions aren't now baked into the core install.)

If you're using Wordfence or a similar plugin to automate some hardening and it interacts weirdly with another plugin, then you have some deep diagnostics in front of you. Additionally, hardening the core doesn't protect you from things like the timthumb remote execution 0-day, where the insecure file was distributed with themes and plugins, was exploited to pop a bunch of sites before anyone had a clue what was going on, and was still being hit, in new ways, a year afterwards.

Extrapolating the OP's level of experience from the question, and drawing on my own wearily-extensive experience of how WP installs are typically (not) maintained, I'm not going to recommend a self-hosted option.
posted by holgate at 4:53 PM on January 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Wordpress. Tons of themes to choose from and if you're willing to look up or learn how to do stuff, total customization. They make it easy for you though; you can add all sorts of plug-ins that do different things and add enhancements -- the plug-ins work like apps or widgets for your site. There's a reason Wordpress is so popular.
posted by AppleTurnover at 5:11 PM on January 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

I bought a custom domain ($40/year) through Weebly and I'm really happy with it. The themes are great, it's fairly easy to learn, and it gives you lots of options. The link is in my profile if you want to see mine.

My school uses it for all our students' work as well - they make digital portfolios by uploading work there. It is a great multi-use platform to start blogging from.
posted by guster4lovers at 6:36 PM on January 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

I have found Blogger much simpler to deal with and customize than WP, but Blogger's customer service is a joke and if something goes badly wrong good luck fixing it. (You absolutely cannot ever reach an actual person, and their outdated help pages will just direct you to their user forums, where you will find many other users with the same problem you have and no idea how to fix it.) Blogger works very well when it works, and that keeps bringing me back there. But if you want a custom URL, DO NOT USE BLOGGER. I have had endless headaches trying to renew domains and I lost a couple of long-standing URLs because Blogger's robots refused to take my money or even acknowledge I existed.

If you want a nice simple blog of pictures and videos and you don't care if it's at, Blogger should suit you very well. Anything more complex, look elsewhere.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 6:46 PM on January 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

I've been completely loving Ghost for blogging.

The live preview of posts is beautiful and it works across all devices so I can start a post with a few notes on my phone on the bus and finish it when I get home.

It was started by one of the contributors to Wordpress and (full disclosure) a lady I used to work with, which is where I heard about it, because they wanted to focus on giving the best experience for the writer to just write, rather than contend with multiple plugins and things. So for that reason it is not as full featured as WP, but it does have themes.

You'll want the hosted version, Ghost Pro which is not free, unless you have your own server and can install it/buy a domain etc.
posted by symphonicknot at 8:29 AM on January 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

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