- Updated on August 17, 2014 -
If you happened to stumble upon this article, that likely means you’ve been searching tirelessly for some kind of help in finding a great blogging platform for your blog or brand-in-the-making, and haven’t had any luck. Either that or you think you’ve found the right one, but you’re still not 100% sure.
You’re not alone.
These days, you can’t depend on Google or any other search engine to find yourself a good blogging platform anymore. Search results are skewed by the one-two punch of outdated ‘Top 5' lists and sheer redundancy.
“I’m not going to insult your intelligence and assume you have no earthly idea what WordPress, Squarespace, Tumblr and Squarespace are.”
Simply put, there’s a huge void when it comes to finding pertinent blogging platform recommendations, and I’m going to do my absolute best to help fill it with periodic updates to this article whenever new options emerge or when top platforms undergo revisions or enhancements.
Before we delve into which blogging platforms deserve your attention, I want to make one thing very, very clear. I’m not going to insult your intelligence and assume you have no earthly idea what WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr and Squarespace are. Chances are, you’ve already tried them, but realized they don’t quite do what you need them to do. And trust me… I don’t blame you.
However, if you are eager to explore other avenues, you’ll have to accept that the alternatives are much more different than you think. The core principles behind modern blogging platforms are cleanliness, responsiveness, and varying degrees of minimalism — a far cry from the cluttered, widget-laden, ‘bell and whistle’ backdrops you‘re used to.
It’s all about nullifying complication and emphasizing usability, readability and simplicity, and without further ado, here are the blogging platforms that stand out as unequivocal elites amid this exciting new trend.
A Better Place to Read and Write.
Cost: Free, but Twitter account is required
Pros: Readability, community interaction, built-in analytics, great SEO, best UI of the bunch
Cons: No custom domains or sense of ownership, no customization options, no mobile dashboard access, sparse options, horrible post editor update, poor Chrome OS compatibility
Twitter’s new blogging platform Medium (which is where this post is being presented) is a free and incredibly functional platform that finally went public in late 2013. Now a couple of versions in, Medium is still turning heads with its smooth, sophisticated appeal and community-driven backbone.
Its post editor, which was once one of Medium’s standout components, has been altered in a recent update… and not necessarily for the better. While Medium’s new post interface does succeed at offering a variety of new styles, it comes with a incredibly counter-intuitive learning curve that relies too heavily on sidebar tools to do what was once effortless in its previous post editor.
Medium’s lack of custom domain support and its tendency to refer your readers to articles from other users instead of yours will hurt those eager to develop their own brand or identity — although some will appreciate Medium’s vision simply for its ability to get as many eyes on their work as possible. Still, it’s a disappointing trade-off that doesn’t exist with some of Medium’s main competitors. With enough kicking and screaming, maybe Medium’s team will make personal branding a reality. Not for now, though.
If you can stomach those two detractors, Medium has all you’ll need to be one of the best backdrops for your blogging needs. It’s great.
Own Your Brand
Cost: $29.99 a year special, $49.99 a year at regular price, 14 day free trial
Pros: Best ‘About’ and archive section in the blogging scene, great blog layout, excellent user interface, Markdown, multiple authors, custom domains, great post preview feature
Cons: Image uploads in post body require needless cut & pasting, mobile/tablet scaling needs improvement
Silvrback came out of the gate with one simple, but arduous goal in mind — becoming the blogging scene’s anti-Medium and Svbtle, in that users could establish their own brand instead of being an accessory for another.
Lead by esteemed UI designer and founder of AppRaptor Damian Sowers, Silvrback offers a near-flawless blogging experience that includes an incredible feature-set that’s sure to make your brand and your content shine — all at the digestible price of $29.99 a year.
Sowers’ recent launch of Silvrback 2.0, in particular, improves upon the platform’s already impressive foundation by adding a new blog layout with beautiful new typography, tasteful header images and super-intuitive navigational improvements that makes each blog as pleasant for writers as it is for its readers.
On the back end, Silvrback’s array of ingenious features and configuration options remain second-to-none among its rivals. This includes, but is not limited to Silvrback’s oddly compelling archive and bio pages, nifty real-time post preview tool, custom favicon support, UI schemes and even an image dimming slider for blog title readability. You name it, and odds are it’s in.
With shots fired at its competition and no stones unturned when it comes to features, Silvrback has taken its rightful place as the single best blogging platform on the market today. So, what are you waiting for? Go “own your brand” today.
The Evernote Powered Blogging Platform
Cost: Free for basic service, $4.99 a month for premium service (Evernote account required)
Pros: Perfect for Evernote users, Social Network integration, custom domains, Google Analytics, Disqus support, tags, source editor, Markdown, nice incentives for premium users
Cons: Poor theme support, Evernote integration blocks out regular bloggers, platform lacks polish
The blogging scene has an elephant in the room, so to speak, and it happens to be the team behind Evernote — the popular and powerful note-taking platform with over 35 million users and counting.
The Evernote Corporation’s “crack” at blogging is none other than Postach.io — a nifty new platform that pulls your thoughts out from your Evernote account and into the open… at your discretion, of course. Whether its a personal journal or public soapbox, Postach.io offers all the right features to give your words a nice and functional new home.
However, all of that is contingent upon you being an avid Evernote user. If you don’t happen to utilize the note-taking service, you’ll fail to appreciate the ‘two birds, one stone’ premise of Postach.io. And regrettably, even if you are an Evernote user who is intrigued by this new blogging service, you might come away slightly disappointed with the platform’s slacking theme support and lack of polish.
It’s clear that this Evernote-powered platform is more an ongoing experiment than a blogging mainstay, but that doesn’t take away from Postach.io’s usefulness as a thought-sharing stage. As niche and as unfinished a product as it is, bloggers still ought to take note. Get it?
A New Kind of Magazine
Cost: Free, new premium service for $6 a month coming soon
Pros: Writing is the centerpiece, custom domains, super responsive, fantastic Kudos system, great mobile layout, nice new dashboard
Cons: Magazine-like home page doesn’t filter content by category, image uploading doesn’t always work, needs tags/pagination
For the last few years, Svbtle has been one of the more commonly talked about blogging platforms in the market, but more so for its stiff selection process when it came to memberships. Thankfully, the platform’s strict invitation-only premise is a thing of the past.
With the Svbtle platform now open to the public, its stripped-down take on layouts and post creation will be quite inspirational for anyone looking for a focused and responsive and clear-cut experience. Writing, in particular, feels tremendously inspiring despite the platform’s overly simplistic post editor, and page/post layouts do well with trimming off all unnecessary fluff and filler.
However, this soothing simplicity does come at a cost of disparity. With so few customization options available, creating a distinct look and feel for your blog is out of the question. And despite the platform’s custom domain support, your work — much like Medium — is still under the Svbtle banner instead of your own. But with a new update soon to come, more features will be arriving for the platform shortly; however, it appears that these unannounced additions will only be available for users willing to join their premium version at $6.00 a month.
It’ll take having a blog concept falling right in line with Svbtle’s slim and restrictive premise for this platform to be a suitable home for your work. But at least now, all bloggers now have the chance to find that out for themselves. So, take advantage of Svbtle’s open registrations to see first-hand why this free platform is one of the absolute best.
The Easiest Way to Blog
Cost: Free if using Roon sub-domain, $12 a year for custom domains and Google Analytics usage
Pros: Incredible back end UI and post editor, free iOS app, clean, custom domains, nice post layout,
Cons: One of the blander layouts of the bunch, sparse with options/customization, large typography in mobile landscape view, no comment system, needs tags
With the added bonus of an easy-to-use iOS app on its side, Roon is quickly becoming one of the best and most popular modern blogging platforms available.
Throughout the second half of 2013, Roon chipped away at adding some simple, but welcome features to the platform — all while managing to stay free of charge alongside a cheap annual plan that adds custom domains and Google Analytics support. But, the real star of the show is Roon’s post editor, which is one of the clear frontrunners in Markdown-based writing.
Roon does, however, have a few small caveats. Using your custom domain won’t rid your blog of the Roon logo at the top of your page. And the blogs themselves look and feel a little too minimalist — bordering on bland. Roon’s designers promised a better looking layout in a future update; however, not much really changed. Other than that small disappointment, Roon is an absolutely amazing platform that every modern blogger ought to try.
The Zen Garden of Blogging
Cost: $5 a month
Pros: Great post editor, Markdown option, writing-oriented, nice front page layout, built-in comment system, custom domains
Cons: Terrible typography, lacking in new additions and improvements, needs tags, may have jumped to premium service model too soon
Postagon isn’t called “The Zen Garden of Blogging” for nothing. Spend a few minutes tinkering with the platform and you’ll immediately feel both at ease and inspired by its clean and welcoming vibe.
It won’t take long for new users to wrap their minds around Postagon’s service. Its simple post editor and minimal customization options ensures that writing remains the top priority of the experience. However, Postagon is yet to add anything beyond the basic functionality users have had shortly after its inception, and its becoming increasingly unclear as to whether it ever will.
The only noticeable difference that Postagon has shown is a typography refinement in response to criticism about it’s former, abnormally large look. But despite it’s more digestible size, the new font types the platform now utilizes downgrades the visual appeal greatly.
Postagon’s lack of updates and questionable typography may not result in the platform becoming a permanent home for bloggers. But, even if this isn’t the quintessential blogging platform out there, it’s still one of the best.
Just a Blogging Platform
Cost: Free if using as CMS, $4.99 a month for Ghost hosting
Pros: Long-term roadmap sounds amazing, Markdown, theme support, simple to use, very modern, tagging, custom domains, multiple authors
Cons: Game-changing features are a ways off, post editor is herky-jerky, sorely needs true pagination and multiple authors
With the help of a highly publicized Kickstarter campaign, Ghost went from being “just a blogging platform” to the talk of the town — crushing it’s funding goals and going live at the tail-end of 2013. And bloggers eager to utilize the platform without the headaches of self-hosting should be pleased to know that Ghost’s hosting service (along with a bevy of third-party hosting companies) is now at users’ disposal.
With its sights set on future blogospheric domination, Ghost is already turning heads with great forward-thinking ideas that’ll make blogging more modern and seamless than ever before.
Thing is, many of those novel concepts aren’t due to go live just yet. Version 0.4.2 barely scratches the surface of what the platform intends to achieve, so writers that are too impatient to play the waiting game might need to explore other avenues while Ghost’s features continue to brew.
In spite of its infancy, Ghost is already one of the most powerful open-source blogging platforms on the market. The tech-savvy team (and community) has helped keep annoyances to a minimum — not to mention fueling the platform with remarkable themes that set each blog apart from the other. If quality and disparity is what you look for in a blogging service, Ghost either has you covered already, or will soon.
Simple, Easy Blogs for $5 a Month, Forever.
Cost: $5 a month
Pros: Pledges that it won’t go out of business, tags, solid post creation tool, custom domains, tagging
Cons: Desperately needs theme support, outdated compared to competitors, additions come in spurts
After Posterous Spaces padlocked its doors in 2012, it’s two founding members teamed up once more to create a new platform in the spirit of their former one, except with a promise to never leave their users in the cold again. So far, so good.
Posthaven’s pledge is simple — lasting forever. Of course, lasting forever meant asking for $5 a month to sustain its server costs, but many will find that price to be money well spent when looking at what the duo has already achieved with their budding spiritual successor. If only it wasn’t “budding” for such a long time.
Posthaven is a long, long ways off from picking up where Posterous Spaces left off; but if this really is a forever type of thing, Posthaven will get there eventually. It just has to be careful that it doesn’t get too outdated before it hits its stride — a la theme support and a more modern dashboard UI. But in the mean time, Posthaven has many of blogging’s most important basics down, and that counts for a lot.
Simply the Best Showcase for You
Pros: Stunning page/post layout, high-res images, beautiful fonts, versatility, custom domains
Cons: Company instability, still no new features, clunky writing pop-up tool, lackluster SEO support, mainly photo-oriented
After surviving a near-death experience in early 2013, this New York-based team received enough financial backing to help the ailing Jux platform get a second chance. And although the Jux team has shown little, if anything new since its revival to move the platform forward just yet, the fact that it still exists is still enough to warrant its place on this list.
If you’re looking for a little more eye-candy for your blog or official website, put Jux on your radar immediately. Its gorgeous front page, as well as post layouts offer a wide range of spectacular looks for your written work. The only issue is that while it’s beautiful on the outside, it’s anything but on the inside.
Spotty browser functionality and a counter-intuitive pop-up post editor takes the Jux experience down a few notches, as does it’s somewhat disappointing SEO. So, I’d only look into this platform if you already have a strong following that’ll go wherever you go (or have an affinity for photography), but consider other options if you’re a newcomer trying to ease your way into the blogging scene.
Keep an eye out for a major update in the coming months, though. Jux might end up being just what you need.
Current Top 5 Blogging Platforms of 2014
Written by: Marco Strzeszynski
Founder of Rendr.us: Short-form gaming coverage that gets to the point.