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The best free blogging platforms in 2021

Best free blogging platforms
(Image credit: Pexels/Tony Schnagl)

The best free blogging platforms make it easy to build an online presence where you can show off your work or share your hard-earned knowledge, without having to pay for hosting. Even if you have zero web skills, you'll quickly be able to create a professional-looking site using ready-made templates, while those of you more comfortable with web technology will be able to customise your sites to get exactly the look and feel you require.

Whether you want a simple blogging option that does everything for you, or a more advanced option where you'll need to get down and dirty with some code to reap the best results, you'll find just what you need here. We've found all the best free blogging platforms available right now, from quick and easy templated solutions to full online publishing platforms that can do much more besides blogging (and if you suspect that you want more than just a blog in the long term, check out our best website builder guide). 

Not really sure about how to get into blogging? Our guide to how to start a blog can help you out; otherwise simply read on see our selection of the best free blogging platforms available now.

The best free blogging platforms

The best free blogging platforms: Wix

(Image credit: Future)

01. Wix

The best free blogging platform for beginners

Reasons to buy
+Wide range of templates+Scalable over time
Reasons to avoid
-Site includes ads -Limited storage on free plan

If you need a quick and easy way to get your blog online and you don't really have any web skills, Wix should definitely be your first port of call. It's a drag-and-drop website builder that provides plenty of free templates to play with, including many that are specifically designed with blogs in mind. You'll get 500MB of online storage and 1GB of bandwidth with a free Wix account, and once you've signed up you can get started immediately, even if you've never built your own website before.

Note, though, that with a free Wix website, you'll have an ad for Wix inserted into it. If you want to remove this, and unlock other features such as your own domain, online store and Google Analytics, then you'll need to take a look at Wix's paid-for plans. If you don't, though, you can carry on having a free website for as long as you wish.

The best free blogging platforms: Weebly

(Image credit: Future)

02. Weebly

The second best blogging platform for beginners

Reasons to buy
+Easier to use than Wix+Nice responsive themes
Reasons to avoid
-Not as feature-rich as Wix-Not as customisable as Wix

If you fancy something that's a little easier to use than Wix and don't mind having fewer features, Weebly is the way to go. The two platforms are close rivals and offer a largely similar experience, but if you're new to blogging you'll likely find that Weebly will get you up and running faster; the downside is that you don't get as many options for customising templates and stamping your own personality on your blog.

Like Wix, Weebly is based around drag-and-drop components, which enable you to quickly create a website – featuring a Weebly ad. Hosting is included, even in the free plan. You get access to customisable layouts, a bunch of free themes, and the usual sharing features you'd expect, to help spread your blog posts far and wide.

The best free blogging platforms: Substack

(Image credit: Future)

03. Substack

Blurring the line between blogs and newsletters

Reasons to buy
+Easy to use+Potential to earn money
Reasons to avoid
-Basic layout options

Substack is actually a newsletter platform designed to give writers and creators a way to communicate directly with their audiences, so why's it here in a list of the best free blogging platforms? The simple answer is that it works perfectly well as a blog (and indeed a lot of its users seem to treat it as such). While its primary purpose is sending out newsletters by email, when you sign up for a free Substack account you'll get free web space included where all your newsletters will be archived for anyone to read them and hopefully subscribe for further updates direct to their inbox.

If it's a beautiful blog with cool web features that you're after, however, Substack is probably a hard pass. Its focus is on the written word that looks good in email format, and so it provides a basic CMS with text formatting tools and the ability to embed images, video and other web content to spruce things up a bit.

What really makes Substack interesting, though, is the potential to start earning money from your posts. While you can publish for free, if you start to pick up a following then you may be able to turn that into paid subscriptions. It's not a path that everyone's going to take, but if you have something to say and you're prepared to put in the hours to build your own personal brand, Substack's a straightforward and low-risk way of making it pay.

The best free blogging platforms: wordpress.org

(Image credit: Future)

04. WordPress.org

The best blogging platform for fine control over your design

Reasons to buy
+Huge community+Very customisable
Reasons to avoid
-Steep learning curve-Site building takes time

Launched in 2003, WordPress.org now powers roughly a third of the world's websites and is easily one of the best free blogging platforms in the business. It's not entirely free; its open-source site-building software won't cost you anything, but to get your site up and running you'll need to pay for your own web hosting and domain name; the plus side to that is that any ads that appear on your blog will be ones that you've added and which you're profiting from.

WordPress.org is incredibly powerful, but you'll have to put the hours in if you want to wield that power effectively. This isn't an easy blogging solution; the CMS takes time to get to grips with, and getting the best results really means levelling up your web design skills. You can pick up the basics in our article on how to make a website, but you'll also need to acquaint yourself with WordPress's extensive documentation, not to mention our guide to the best WordPress tutorials, to go further. 

For anyone wanting a great mix of power, customisation and usability, though, WordPress.org is the absolute gold standard. Also check out our guides to the best free WordPress themes and best WordPress plugins. Finally, make sure you don't confuse WordPress.org with WordPress.com, as they're quite different: we'll look at the latter next.

The best free blogging platforms: wordpress.com

(Image credit: Future)

05. WordPress.com

Free blogging platform for hobbyists and enthusiasts

Reasons to buy
+Totally free+Easy to use
Reasons to avoid
-Limited features-Third-party ads

While WordPress.org offers a powerful web design platform with no hosting, if all you want is a straightforward website building tool with hosting included you should simply hop next door to WordPress.com. It's a separate service from the same company, and just the thing if you're after one of the best free blogging platforms but don't fancy immersing yourself in documentation.

WordPress.com is aimed more at beginners than its more heavyweight counterpart, so it's easier to use but doesn't give you anything like as much control over your site's look and feel. With its free service, you get free hosting, 3GB of space and a branded domain name (ending in .wordpress.com). Be aware, though, WordPress will insert third-party ads into your site that you have no control over. Nor will you be able to add ecommerce features or run your own ads. That said, if you're a beginner or casual blogger who just wants to get a site up and running easily, WordPress.com can be a good option. 

The best free blogging platforms: Joomla

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06. Joomla

The best blogging platform for scalability

Reasons to buy
+Open source +Good customisation features
Reasons to avoid
-Not as popular as WordPress-Steep learning curve

Joomla is a versatile and powerful web platform that can be turned to just about any sort of website you require, and it's one of the best-known alternatives to WordPress.org. Just like WordPress, though, it's one that demands time and effort if you want to get solid results. It's free and open-source, but as with WordPress.org you'll need to pay for your own domain name and hosting  (although there is an option to create a site on launch.joomla.org). 

Joomla has hundreds of templates to use and customise, as well as extensions for adding extra features and getting your blog looking just the way you like it. You won't find as many themes and add-ons as you will with WordPress.org, but if you don't mind rolling up your sleeves and doing your own coding, you might well find Joomla to be the better bet, especially if you want to create large, complex websites. So if you foresee your blog growing over time into something bigger you could potentially make money from, it's probably a more scalable solution.

The best free blogging platforms

(Image credit: Future)

07. Site123

The best blogging platform for nervous newbies

Reasons to buy
+Excellent customer support+Simple and clean templates
Reasons to avoid
-Only good for personal blogs-Limited free storage

Site123 describes itself as the easiest free website builder by far, and it's not hard to see why. Getting your blog up and running is incredibly straightforward, and if you need some help along the way it offers a 24/7 live chat feature to save you from headaches. It provides you with a selection of ready-made styles and layouts, and gives you prompts to help you turn them into the site you need. 

Don't expect miracles; the results can look a little basic compared with what you'd get from more advanced platforms, but if all you need is a simple blog with comments, post scheduling and social media integration then it should suit you just fine. And as with other free blogging platforms, Site123 makes its money by placing ads on your site.

The best free blogging platforms: HubPages

(Image credit: Future)

08. Hubpages

Share your blog posts with the Hubpages community

Reasons to buy
+Start blogging instantly+Creative focus
Reasons to avoid
-Can't customise look-Don't get a website

Don't want to get bogged down in web design or code? Hubpages could be the solution that you're looking for. It's a blogging network with plenty of sections to choose from, including Arts and Design, and it's made to help bloggers share their posts with a large community, connect to a wide audience and even earn some money from advertising and affiliates.

However, with a Hubpages blog you're tied into its system and you don't get any control over your blog's look and feel. On the plus side, this means you can get going pretty quickly and easily. So if you're only interested in expressing yourself through your words, and not through design, this could be worth investigating.

The best free blogging platforms: Contentful

(Image credit: Future)

09. Contentful

Future-proof your blog content with this unique platform

Reasons to buy
+Separates content from design +Future-proof
Reasons to avoid
-Not great for complex sites -No good for beginners

If you want your blog to keep pace with current design trends and don't want to have to go back in and redesign all your old posts, Contentful is definitely one of the best free blogging platforms to consider. It uses what it calls an 'API-first' approach: your content is separate from the design, and if you decide to give your blog a visual update, the new look will be instantly applied to all your old content. So if you want to build a completely different site in a few years time, it's easy to bring everything in as it's set up to be portable from the start. 

The best free blogging platforms: Jekyll

(Image credit: Future)

10. Jekyll

The best free blogging platform for developers

Reasons to buy
+Good for prototyping+Free hosting on GitHub pages
Reasons to avoid
-No user-friendly interface-No good for beginners

Not frightened by code? Jekyll is a blogging platform aimed at developers; give it some text files with optional markdown and it'll turn them into static site that you can host anywhere you like.

Jekyll is the engine behind GitHub Pages, which means you can host your blog on there for free. Making your blog with Jekyll avoids the need to work with technicalities such as databases, upgrades and so on, so there are fewer things to go wrong, and you can build something from scratch. 

The best free blogging platforms: Tumblr

(Image credit: Future)

11. Tumblr

Free blogging platform focused around pop culture

Reasons to buy
+Good for short posts+Easy to use
Reasons to avoid
-Not for 'grown ups'-Difficult to monetise

Tumblr may be showing its age and you might even have forgotten about it, but it's still one of the best free blogging platform around with some great social features, including the ability for users to follow your posts. It's nice and straightforward to customise a Tumblr theme to create your own look, and while there's little in the way of layout options, it's ideal as an easy platform for long-form blogs or image-based posts that you can upload from anywhere thanks to Tumblr's mobile apps.

The best free blogging platforms: Blogger

(Image credit: Future)

12. Blogger

Google's own veteran blogging platform

Reasons to buy
+Indexed by Google+Integrated with Google Analytics
Reasons to avoid
-Limited features-May be closed in future

If you have a Google ID (and let's face it, we all have a Google ID), Blogger is ready and waiting for you to sign in. Like Tumblr it's been around for ages, and it's simple to get your blog up and running, with plenty of themes to choose from. Don't expect much in the way of fancy design options; however for building a basic blog it's hard to fault. 

The best free blogging platforms: Medium

(Image credit: Future)

13. Medium

Twitter founders' blogging platform for longform content

Reasons to buy
+No set up required+Respected by professionals
Reasons to avoid
-You don’t get a website-Can’t customise the look of posts

Created by Twitter's founders as a platform for longer articles rather than snappy micro-posts, Medium is one of the best free blogging platforms if your main focus is on writing and you're not too fussed about having much control over the design of your blog. The average Medium site looks and feels like clean, well-designed magazine website; the difference is that anyone can publish their own articles there, and while Substack may well have taken a bite out of its market of late, it's still a prime platform for thoughtful scribes.

A place where tech CEOS and other thought leaders often share their thoughts, Medium is the place to blog if you want your words to be taken seriously, and offers a polished, streamlined experience. But you don't get your own site, as such, so if you're big on customisation and control, look elsewhere.

The best free blogging platforms: SilverStripe

(Image credit: Future)

14. SilverStripe

Niche blogging platform for experienced developers

Reasons to buy
+Open source+Strong security
Reasons to avoid
-Small community of users-Better for experienced developers

For experienced developers who value strong security and powerful features, SilverStripe could be one of the best free blogging platforms to check out. It's an free and open-source CMS that's easy to use once set up, but you'll definitely need web skills to get it up and running and you'll then have to arrange your own domain name and hosting. Key features include an out of the box web-based administration panel, which enables users to make modifications to parts of the website, a WYSIWYG website editor, rich-text editing, quick embedding of videos, and a drag-and-drop, tree-based navigation structure.

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Tom May

Tom May is a freelance writer and editor specialising in design, photography and tech. He is author of Great TED Talks: Creativity, published by Pavilion Books. He has previously been editor of Professional Photography magazine, associate editor at Creative Bloq, and deputy editor at net magazine.