I first started creating web pages on Yahoo GeoCities, Tripod, etc. back in early 2000s. It was fun. Later, I tried blogging platforms like Blogger.com and WordPress.org and also started creating HTML web pages without any coding skills (thanks to Microsoft FrontPage). And that’s how I started web development.
Now with the advent of web 2.0 people want more. People no longer like static HTML web pages with dull designs. They want rich features with a great user experience. That’s how blogging platforms became massively popular.
I get a lot of emails (because of this Make Money Writing blog post) from my readers asking for a platform to share their articles or work online. And I used to recommend a blog — a WordPress blog to be more specific. But then I realized that a blog may not be relevant for everyone as things changes from one person to another.
If you’re a technology enthusiast then starting a blog makes sense. But if you’re a writer and want to contribute articles randomly, then publishing on Medium.com makes better sense — yeah, you don’t have to be a tech-savvy person for that!
Start A Blog
A blog is the best way to showcase your awesomeness. Why? Because, it’s your personal brand. No matter what you do or want to do, if you CAN write, then you should start a blog.
And it must be about something that you’re passionate about — and for the long term. Here is a comprehensive list of some of the best blogging platforms.
Free Blogging Platforms
They’re free and will be free. Forever.
WordPress.com is the best place to start a personal blog (or even a business website). Starting a blog on WordPress.com is so easy that your first blog post is just a few clicks away.
The best thing is… you don’t have to worry about its backend or development or security. It’s already taken care of. And the problem is… its features are somewhat limited so you can’t customize it the way you want. But you can always upgrade by purchasing add-ons.
If you’re looking for an easy-to-use platform to publish your daily/weekly articles then WordPress.com is the best option. Later, when you’re confident enough you can upgrade it, and take your blog to its next level.
Blogger.com (also known as Blogspot.com) is one of the most popular blogging platform and is owned by Google. The best thing? It’s 100% free. If you have a Google account then you’re ready to go.
Blogspot blogs are usually preferred by those who want to start a personal blog as managing a blog on Blogger.com is just like managing our Facebook account. If you want to make it professional then you have to hire a developer to customize it the way you want (yes, it’s possible too).
Note: When you start a blog on WordPress.com, you will get a a blog address like example.wordpress.com and when you start one on Blogger.com, you will get a blog address like example.blogspot.com.
I would say buy a .com domain name and map it with your Blogger.com or WordPress.com account (it’s free) so that your blog will have a brand name (even if it’s a personal bog).
Honestly I never came across a blog hosted by Blog.com before but the reason why I included them here is because I liked some of their free templates. They also offer premium features though I won’t recommend it.
If you’re considering premium features then the best thing is to start a self-hosted WordPress blog (see WordPress.org below).
Even More Blogging Platforms
Premium Blogging Platforms
Unlike Blogger.com or WordPress.com, the following platforms doesn’t have a free hosted version. If you want to host a blog on any of the following platforms then you have to pay.
Typepad is yet another powerful blogging platform — just like WordPress. The free hosted version of WordPress (that is, WordPress.com) is very limited in features and you have to pay extra for each add-ons. So, if you want more features you’ll have to buy add-ons or will have to switch to WordPress.org.
Switching to WordPress.org is a fantastic option except that it may become somewhat complicated (unless you’re familier with themes, plugins, upgrades, backup, etc.). Typepad makes sense for those who want a professional blog that’s easy to manage. Pricing starts at $8.95/month.
5. Movable Type
Movable Type is an alternative to Typepad but they are targeting business organizations.
6. Ghost Pro
Ghost is a new open source publishing platform that anyone can download and install on their server. But they do not offer a free hosted version (like Blog.com or WordPress.com). If you want to try their hosted version then the pricing starts at $10/month. Also try, Ghost (open source).
Posthaven is a blogging platform that rose from Posterous’ ashes. Posterous was started as a simple blogging platform and it was later acquired by Twitter — only to be shutdown.
The founders of Posterous then launched a paid blogging platform called Posthaven and pledged that they wouldn’t sell it. Posthaven costs $5 a month.
Be A ProBlogger!
It’s everyone’s choice — and is among the best online publishing platforms.
WordPress is the big daddy of the blogosphere and is the most popular Content Management System (CMS). WordPress is a state-of-the-art semantic personal publishing platform with a focus on aesthetics, web standards, and usability. The good thing is… your favorite blogs are (most probably) powered by WordPress.org.
Jut in case if you’re wondering about WordPress.com and WordPress.org,
WordPress.com is the free hosted version of WordPress. You can sign up immediately for a free WordPress blog and start blogging within seconds. You don’t have to download any software or pay for domain or web hosting.
WordPress.com has hundreds of themes, and includes the functionality of many plugins, but you can’t upload your own plugins or themes.
WordPress.org is an open source and free blogging software. You can upload and install themes and plugins, run ads, and edit the database. It is completely customizable and you can literally transform your blog into anything you can imagine.
WordPress.com blogs will have an address like http://example.wordpress.com address (unless you upgrade) while WordPress.org blogs will have a custom domain name like example.com, example.net, example.org, etc.
There’s 99% chance that WordPress.org is the publishing platform that you’re looking for. But still… Joomla is a nice alternative too and is the preferred Content Management System (CMS) by many corporates.
Drupal is another open source Content Management System (CMS) that can be used to create forums, blogs, and enterprise applications.
Share Your Writings Online…
If you don’t want to create a blog or website then the following platforms should give you a great start. It’s a perfect choice for wanna-be writers who would like to see some of their writings online — yes, you can show your work on the following platforms to your potential clients as well.
Meidum is an awesome content platform with an intuitive design and user experience. Now what makes Medium stand out from a blog? A blog is worthless without readers (unless it’s our personal diary) and without enough traffic our blog posts will go unnoticed.
Medium takes a different approach to publishing. It’s a publishing platform to express yourself — in words and pictures. There are no plugins or widgets to customize and it’s super-easy to get started.
And the best thing? You content can go viral even if you don’t have hundreds of thousands of followers. If you’re looking for a platform to publish content occasionally without the hassles of managing a blog then Medium is the one to go for.
12. LinkedIn Publishing Platform
If your LinkedIn Network is large enough then you can try LinkedIn Publishing Platform as it’s the easiest way to showcase your writing skills to your LinkedIn connections. Also try, Klout (you can now share content on Klout), Quora (yes, you can create a blog on Quora).
13. Storyboard That
Storyboard That is a free online storyboard creator. Pricing starts at $9.95/month for the premium version.
Create A Free Personal/Portfolio Website
Sometimes it makes a better sense to start a personal or a portfolio website. Like, when you want to showcase your services, portfolio and write few pages about you and your experiences. In such cases, you don’t have to start a blog — as a blog appears best when it’s updated regularly.
If you’re just a professional who just an online presence then consider the following website builders. Most of them offers a free plan (and you can upgrade later) with a drag and drop website builder — as they want people with zero coding skills to have a free website.
Weebly lets you create a website, or a blog, or even an online store in an easy way — for free. Pricing starts at $4/month for the premium version.
SnapPages lets you build a website with drag-and-drop simplicity. Pricing starts at $8/month for the premium version.
Wix is very popular but its free plan offers limited features only. Pricing starts at $4.08/month for the premium version.
Webs also offers a free plan with limited features. Pricing starts at $5.99/month for the premium version.
Squarespace doesn’t offer a free plan. Pricing starts at $8/month with a 14-day free trial — no credit card required.
Got something to promote online? Then try Smore! Pricing starts at $15/month for the premium version.
Even More Website Builders
Create A Free Social Website
Free personal website services like Tripod or the old GeoCities were actually good to show only a simple web page — with very little customization allowed.
Today, showcasing our services, portfolio, content, and social media channels is the primary purpose of having a personal website. So, I guess the following services makes perfect sense.
About.me is a fantastic place to create a one-page personal website. I also have one here. It allows us to create a personal page with our bio, picture, social media links, experience etc. — all in one-page.
When you sign up for a free account you will get an address like about.me/example. And if you want to use a custom domain name and want to remove their branding then you can go for their premium version. Pricing starts at $4/month.
Flavors lets you create a free website in minutes to show your social media updates, photos, videos and more into a unified web presence.
Pixelhub is a premium platform to create your social website.
Contently is a platform that connects freelance writers with publishers and brands. Contently for Journalists lets you showcase your work with a free online portfolio. Go here or here for sample portfolios. Also try, Muck Rack (Premium).
Create An Online Store
If you want to sell something online then what you need is an online store and not a blog. Of course, you can create an eCommerce website by using WordPress but it’s somewhat a complex process — and you will need a web developer to do that.
If you want to create an eCommerce store by yourself then these are the best options:
Create an online store for free on Square and start selling. You can list your products for free and pay 2.75% per sale as their commission. The payments will be in your bank account in less than two business days.
Pricing starts at $19.99/month with a 15-day free trial — no credit card required.
Pricing starts at $25/month with a 30-day free trial.
29. Big Cartel
Pricing starts at $9.99/month for the premium version.
Promote Your Products/Service
If you want to sell online but don’t want to open an online store (or create a blog or website) then you can try the following services.
Gumroad makes selling digital products easier. It lets you sell software, books, comics, music, films, etc. directly to your audience. There are no setup fees or hosting fees. You pay 5% + $0.25 per transaction. That’s it!
ClickBank is one of the most popular online marketplace for product creators who want to sell digital downloads (like eBooks, how-to videos, audiobooks, etc.).
Etsy is one of the largest marketplace for handmade or vintage items, art and supplies. There are no membership fees and it costs just $0.20 to list an item. And when it’s sold they collect a 3.5% fee on the sale price. (Don’t forget: eBay and Amazon!).
Fiverr is the largest marketplace for creative & professional services (and not products). Create your Gig (that is, your offer or service) and start selling. It’s free and only takes less than 5 minutes to get started.
It’s perhaps the easiest way to express yourself.
Twitter as you probably know is the most popular micro-blogging platform. But it’s not a good idea to call it just a publishing platform as it’s much more than that. For instance, you can use your Twitter account to reach an influencer or a brand — the easiest way.
Or, if you would like to regularly comment about a particular topic but don’t want to start a blog then Twitter is the best platform. Whatever do you there is public and that’s why it sometimes make overnight stars. Seriously.
Tumblr is another micro-blogging platform but comes with a lot of extra features. The best? It’s not limited to 140 characters and you can use a custom domain name for free. You can publish whatever you want — stories, photos, links, audio, quotes, chats, etc. — and can even follow others the Twitter way.
LiveJournal is much more than just a blogging platform. It’s actually a mashup of a blog and social network. On LiveJournal, you can express yourself and make new friends.
Share Your Ideas & Presentations
If you want to share a presentation online then look no further.
SlideShare lets you upload PowerPoint presentations, Word documents and Adobe PDF Portfolios and share them publicly or privately.
Sway is a web presentation app by Microsoft that allows you to create and share stories, presentations and more.
Share Your Software Projects
If you’re not sure about where to host your open source projects.
On GitHub, you can share your software projects with the world and get feedback, or can contribute to existing projects. It’s an awesome place to show your coding skills.
Showcase Your Design Skills
If you’re a designer then try the following services to get attention and inspiration.
Dribbble is a community of web designers, graphic designers, illustrators, icon artists, typographers, logo designers, etc. who shares the screenshots of their work and projects — to inspire and get inspired.
Behance is an online platform to showcase and discover creative work.
Carbonmade lets you create an online portfolio website where you can show off your best design, illustration, photography, and other types of creative work.
Visual.ly is a marketplace for data visualization and infographics. It connects you with brands looking to tell their story with visual content. If you’re a designer with 1 year experience then you can apply here.
Show Off Your Photography
If you’re looking for a place to share your professional photographs.
500px is a photo community where you can showcase your work and discover photos.
Flickr is web’s favorite photo sharing service, but it’s also an awesome platform to show off your photography skills.
Publish An Ebook
If you’re an experienced writer then maybe it’s time to publish your first eBook.
46. Kindle Direct Publishing
Kindle Direct Publishing lets you publish your books on Kindle stores worldwide within 48 hours. And the best thing? You earn up to 70% royalty on all sales.
Scribd is a digital library that allows users to download unlimited eBooks and audiobooks for $8.99/month. So, if you’re a publisher then you can publish your books on Scribd for free and earn a commission based on the number of downloads.
Podcast Your Passion
If you want to share audio or video then these are the best places to get started.
SoundCloud is an audio platform that allows you to upload and share originally-created sounds.
YouTube is not just a video sharing website. Think about it like a publishing platform for videos — say, as a video blogging platform. You create a YouTube Channel and upload all your videos for free.
Vimeo is another popular video sharing platform.
Create Your Online Résumé
It doesn’t matter what you do. You need an online résumé to tell the world what you’re doing.
Yes, LinkedIn is not just a social network. It’s also your online résumé.
SkillPages is basically a platform for finding service professionals. If you’re a professional then you can join SkillPages to showcase your skills, experience and services. It’s just like LinkedIn except that it’s a job platform and not a social network.
You don’t really need all the platforms that are listed here even if it sounds relevant to you. I would say just pick any five of them at most, and you’re good to go.
Again, you must pick the platforms based on what you want to do. For instance, if you want to become a freelance writer then you will need a blogging platform or a personal website to show off your services, portfolio (if any), and expertise.
Apart from that you must be “social” and must be active on LinkedIn, Twitter, and About.me.
Apparently, I was not able to give an in-depth review of each platform that’s listed here. But if you’re unable to get started then let me know as a comment below and I’ll be happy to help you.
So, which is your favorite digital publishing platform?
Image Credit: Flickr