site-builders-for-bloggers

Website Builders for Bloggers

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You might have thought making your own blog would be hard.

But then Keanu Reeves showed up in a Super Bowl commercial for Squarespace, hanging ten on a motorcycle. You saw Keanu making the impossible look easy. Simple, even.

Keanu Reeves Motorcycle Squarespace Ad
Squarespace ad from Super Bowl 2018

Whoa.

Maybe Keanu made you think, hey, maybe a site builder like Squarespace, Weebly, GoCentral by GoDaddy, or Wix could help you get your blog online faster.

You’d be correct.

Whether you’re new to blogging or you’ve been a blogger for years, getting your blog on the web has never been easier. In the early days of the web, blogging required a level of technical skill that prevented many people from starting a blog. Researching hosting providers and wrestling with raw HTML coding just wasn’t on a lot of people’s bucket lists.

However, we’re in the midst of a golden age of blogging where nearly everyone, regardless of age, technical skills, or design experience, can get a professional-looking blog online with a minimum amount of fuss, thanks to a robust crop of available “site builders.”

Site builders for bloggers

What’s a Site Builder?

Site builders are web apps that bring website creation down to earth with drag-and-drop functionality and WYSIWYG designs. Using a site builder, almost anyone can get a blog (or an entire website) up and running in a matter of minutes.

Blogging Used to Be Difficult

In the early days of the web, getting a blog ready for its closeup usually meant expensive consultants or struggling with coding for days, if not weeks.

In those days, if you couldn’t afford to hire a web developer, bloggers had to settle for free blogging options like Blogger, WordPress.com, or LiveJournal. These free apps used a one-size-fits-all approach to blogging design and functionality — ensuring that almost no one gets exactly what they want for their blog.

And Custom Blogs Were Even More Difficult

If you wanted to branch out from a free blog, it was even more complex to pull off. You had to learn about hosting providers, bandwidth, blog codexes, and content databases before you could get your first post up. In many cases, a hosting provider was simply too expensive for most aspiring bloggers to bother with.

Site Builders Get Bloggers Online Faster, Easier, Cheaper

Site builders have revolutionized blogging by reducing or eliminating the biggest barriers to adoption: time, technical and design skills, hosting complexity, and cost. If you’ve been considering a blog for personal or business purposes, site builders let you get started posting in minutes, often for free.

Since many current bloggers are new to the concept of site builders — and aspiring bloggers don’t know what’s possible — we’ve researched site builders from a “blogger’s eye view.”

WordPress isn't the only way to blog
WordPress isn’t the only way to blog.

What’s Your Blogger Profile?

We’ve tried out a bunch of site builders and categorized them according to how useful they are to various types of bloggers. Use your blogger profile to help pick out which site builders are best for you.

Here’s a high-level summary of what we found. Read on for more details!

Site BuilderBest ForMonthly MSRPFree Plan?
GoCentralBeginners and non-technical bloggers$6.99 to $29.99 (for store)1 month
WixAny Blogger$11 to $2514 Days
WeeblyExperienced Bloggers$8 to $38Forever*
WebstartsNew Bloggers$4.89 to $19.99Forever*
VoogE-commerce Bloggers€8 to €5030 Days
SquarespaceAny Blogger$12 to $4014 Days
SnapPagesNew Bloggers$4 to $1514 Days
DudaCorporate Bloggers$7.20 (mobile only) to $36.75Forever*

*Limited features

New Blogger

  • A new blogger is someone who’s just getting into blogging, regardless of age or occupation.
  • You may know a little about what makes for a good blog, but you need to rely on suggestions or tutorials to get there. It helps if blog setup is quick and easy so you don’t get discouraged fighting with designs or technology. New bloggers can be interested in personal, freelancing, or consulting blogs.

Experienced Blogger

  • An experienced blogger has been around the block on the internet highway.
  • Although you’re not a power coder or a web designer, you probably already know a lot about blogs and their capabilities, even if you haven’t yet tried all of them.
  • You might be unhappy with your current blog host or you’ve outgrown it and you’re looking to transfer your blog elsewhere with as little headache as possible.
  • You’re also willing to put in a bit of time to make sure everything works exactly the way you want it to.

Geeky Blogger

  • A geeky blogger knows a lot about web technologies or tech in general, but may not be too concerned about design details.
  • You’re on the lookout for a site builder that comes with plenty of themes but also lets you dig around behind the scenes to switch up CSS coding or add Javascript.
  • You can probably code your own contact forms, but you might need a bit of help on the SEO and social media aspects of blogging.

Artsy Blogger

  • An artsy blogger is focused on the design elements of blogging but may be less knowledgeable about programming functionality or content marketing.
  • You want a stunning visual look to your site to display your portfolio, information about your business, or for a personal event like a wedding.
  • You may be able to design your entire blog yourself, but you’ll need a little help spreading the word.

E-commerce Blogger

  • An e-commerce blogger needs shopping cart functionality and other elements that support their store.
  • You also have needs that align with a new, experienced, artsy, or geeky blogger. (See other profiles.)
  • Ease of getting products to sale and the technical aspects of the sales process are your primary needs.
  • Your blog supports your online store.

Corporate Blogger

  • A corporate blogger supports a larger enterprise as a content marketing tool.
  • It doesn’t matter how large your company is, you need an online presence to interact with customers, but you don’t need an online store to sell directly to consumers.
  • You may have in-house tech or design help, but you also need the blog to be used by people who have less web savvy.
  • Analyzing data from your site is paramount.
Site builders like Weebly can make blogging easier
Site builders like Weebly can make blogging easier.

Features That Matter to Bloggers

To help you determine which site builders are best for your profile, we categorized the features most important to bloggers into several buckets:

Design — How your blog looks, including available themes, portfolio or photo gallery displays, the ability to edit CSS, responsive designs, and stock images or art.

Tech — How your blog performs, both for visitors as well as behind the scenes. These features include the availability of domain registration, ease of setup, available widgets (like contact forms or maps), transferring an existing blog, storage and bandwidth available, updating your blog from mobile devices, and whether or not you can implement your own code (like Javascript). It also includes podcasts or video blogging, when available.

Marketing — How your blog attracts visitors. Marketing features that site builders can offer include SEO help, ease of social sharing, creating site memberships, and creating mailing lists for newsletters.

Support and Billing — Features in this category include money back guarantees, comprehensive tech support, the availability of free subscription plans, or free trials, and whether a credit card is required for a trial.

Wix has helpful online documentation
For many bloggers, good online documentation is crucial to success.

Best Site Builders for Your Blogger Profile

Here are the best site builders we’ve found that meet bloggers’ needs in particular. For comparison purposes, we looked only at the lowest-priced plans (plus the free plan when offered). We’ve stamped the site builders to indicate which profiles they’ll work best for along with an explanation for their ratings. None of these site builders required a credit card to try them out, making it easy to try before you buy.

GoCentral by GoDaddy

Best for: Non-technical bloggers

GoCentral is the name of GoDaddy’s website builder. It can be used to create blogs, websites, or e-commerce stores.

If you sign up with GoDaddy, you’ll have a one-stop source for:

  • Buying a domain
  • Building and managing your website
  • Getting an SSL certificate for your site
  • Web hosting

First, you’ll pick from pre-designed websites called “templates.” You can customize the colors, fonts, and layouts easily.

With a click of a button you can add features like:

  • Photo galleries
  • Appointments and services
  • Price lists
  • Menus
  • Calendar
  • A store

You can also access stock photos from within the website builder dashboard.

GoCentral has set up basic SEO so it’s automatically applied to your site. Social media buttons are ready to add to your site. If you don’t have a Facebook page already GoCentral will create one for you based on your website.

The builder can also extract information automatically from your site to create an email marketing campaign.

Tools and Services for Small Business Bloggers

GoDaddy prides themselves on supplying solopreneurs and small businesses with everything they need to succeed in digital. Think: accounting apps, email marketing, SEO and local business listings, and much more.

You can hire GoDaddy professionals to manage your social media marketing and create content and graphics for you.

So if you’re planning on launching a blog then selling products later, or if you’re launching a blog to grow awareness of your small business service, then this may be a good choice for you.

gocentral builder dashboard
In less than a minute we created this site. The dashboard is simple and easy to use. You get a one-month free trial – no credit card required.

Check out GoCentral & sign up for your free one-month trial – no credit card is required.

Wix

Best for: Any blogger

Wix is a great all-around site builder for bloggers. It’s incredibly easy to use, especially when you use “ADI” their artificial design intelligence to create your blog. ADI asks you a few questions about the content you’ll write and your personal style and then whips up a blog based on your answers.

If you don’t like what ADI creates, you can change color palettes or start over from scratch — a feature that designers will like. Wix gives you access to free stock photos, icons, and buttons, or you can upload your own. SEO fields are easy to change and provide guidance on what goes there.

Wix is so committed to bloggers that it recently revamped its blogging capabilities.

  • Creating a blog takes only a few minutes.
  • Add or edit posts — or even your theme — with any device.
  • Add categories and tags to your posts.

Wix’s blog even comes with features that aren’t included in vanilla, out-of-the-box WordPress, like:

  • People can follow your posts and leave gifs (or even video) in their comments.
  • Create reader engagement with “memberships” to your site and even let members create profiles and follow each other.
  • Use hashtags to further help your readers find content they’ll enjoy.

Geeky bloggers will love all the technology packed into Wix: update your blog via mobile app, grab plugins (which Wix calls “apps”) that can display your Twitter feed, add chat functionality and lots more.

You get 14 days for a free trial.

Wix's blogging interface
Wix’s blogging interface is the same as the dashboard for the rest of your site: clean and intuitive to use.

Build your blog on Wix.com »

Weebly

Best for: Experienced bloggers

Weebly is close on the heels of Squarespace and Wix, but it’s probably better-suited to experienced bloggers than other types. If you know what you want out of your blog, you can find it on Weebly. However, new bloggers may be intimidated by too much choice.

You can add widgets for content anywhere on your blog home page. For example, as shown in the image below, you can separate out posts by category to give them their own spotlight on your front page.

You can also get apps which are plugins that extend your blog’s functionality with things like Facebook comments, MailChimp lists, marketing automation, and customized code. Some apps are free, others require purchase.

If you’re interested in making money off your blog, you can add an online store or add a donation button that lets readers send PayPal money to you.

You can also provide your blog in multiple languages automatically.

Weebly's blogging categories
Weebly lets you create entire pages that feature posts from specific blogging categories or tags

Build your blog on Weebly »

Webstarts

Best for: New bloggers

Webstarts is a great way for new bloggers to get started quickly. There’s an extensive 9-minute tutorial when you sign up. It’s so easy to use that it’s difficult to make mistakes.

Although its simplicity is great for beginners, if you have any blogging or web development experience you might be frustrated. You can, however, choose your own theme, change all of its colors, and add mixed media.

Webstarts lets you create a newsletter via their own mailing list app. (Webstarts doesn’t integrate with external mailing lists like Mailchimp.)

Webstarts color palettes
Webstarts gives you pre-selected color palettes so that all your design elements blend well together — and you can change the palette whenever you like

Build your blog on Webstarts »

Voog

Best for: E-commerce bloggers

Voog is a great blog for people who want to sell stuff online. That’s because Voog forces you to have a “Home” page that’s not your blog page. Since it’s super simple to set up an online store, you can use your Voog site as a launching pad for both your blog and your store. You can even add items for sale on your blog posts — a great way to create interest in your products.

Voog’s blog is better for bloggers than those offered by e-commerce sites like Shopify. That’s because Voog places more emphasis on how your site looks than on what you’re selling.

Think of it this way: if you want a store that happens to have a blog, Shopify is a good choice. On the other hand, if you want a site and a blog that happens to sell some merchandise, choose Voog.

The downside is that Voog doesn’t integrate with external mailing list apps like MailChimp and, unlike Webstarts, it doesn’t have one of its own.

If you’re targeting multiple countries, you’ll love Voog. It has an automatic translator that you can enable so your visitors can choose which language they prefer.

Voog lets you add items for sale on any page
Voog lets you add items for sale on any page

Build your blog on Voog »

Duda

Best for: Corporate bloggers &  Mobile focused blogs

If you’re a business or corporate blogger, you’ll find Duda to be a good way to test out the feasibility of whether a blog works for your company. They have a lot of beautiful, responsive themes to choose from and access to free icons and stock photos.

In fact, photos are right in Duda’s wheelhouse. It has a built-in photo editor with lots of functionality you’d normally get from a Photoshop clone — like overlays, enhancement, and a red eye fixer.

Another nice feature for business bloggers is that your blog comments can be connected to your Facebook page. Additionally, if you’re running ad campaigns, Duda allows you to embed tracking codes into your blog’s pages.

Duda has a free plan so you can try it out before you commit.

Duda's powerful image editor
Duda’s powerful image editor

 

Squarespace

Best for: Any blogger

Squarespace is an outstanding choice for bloggers of any type. The best thing about Squarespace is that it actually respects bloggers enough that they don’t require you to have a “website” separate from your blog. (Most other site builders make your blog a subpage off of a home page.)

New bloggers will love how quick and easy it is to click through the wizard and just start typing a post. Even better, Squarespace starts you off with sample blog posts. Artsy bloggers will appreciate the automatic responsive design on all the themes and the gorgeous themes that put the focus on your work with galleries and slideshows.

You get integrated Getty images searches which will automatically add source attribution.

Geeky bloggers can syndicate podcasts, register domains, and integrate Disqus comments with the blog. Squarespace works with MailChimp mailing lists and lets you add on an e-commerce store.

Squarespace gives you a two-week free trial but it doesn’t support free subscriptions.

Adding a post is easy with Squarespace's interface
Adding free stock photo images is easy with Squarespace’s built-in search for Getty Images.

Build your blog on Squarespace »

SnapPages

Best for: New Bloggers

SnapPages has interactive tutorials for everything you want to do with its site builder. It’s got everything you’d want a blog to do: tag and categorize posts, scheduling, swap your theme, change colors, and add contact forms.

You can add custom code for advertising but you can’t do much else behind the scenes. Artsy or Geeky bloggers will probably be frustrated by the lack of control over SnapPages blog functionality.

You can try SnapPages free for 14 days after which you can stick with the free plan if you like.

SnapPages kicks off with a tutorial to help setup your blog
SnapPages kicks off with a tutorial to help setup your blog

Build your blog on SnapPages »

More Site Builder Reviews

Not sure if the builders above are the right fit? Check out even more of our site builder reviews to find the right one for your blog:

  • Adobe Spark: This is a free website builder designed to help create simple, one-page sites. Not ideal for most bloggers, but with tons of image and typography options, you can create a truly unique site.
  • BizWebs: An online store builder made specifically for bloggers.
  • Cindr: An easy-to-use site builder with plenty of performance.
  • Enjin: A site builder created with gamers in mind.
  • MotoCMS: A user-friendly site builder for fast, template based websites.
  • Readymag: A project creation tool to create professional ebooks, single page websites, and more.
  • Site123: An easy-to-use site builder with podcast support.
  • Sitebuilder.com: An in-depth site builder with plenty of options to customize.
  • Sitelio: A powerful site builder with free hosting.
  • SnapPages: A simple drag-and-drop designer with blogging support.
  • Strikingly: A smart website builder that is “strikingly” easy to use.
  • uCoz: A simple, no-frills site builder for bloggers.
  • Ucraft: A uniquely simple site designer with white label capabilities.
  • uKit: Easy-to-use builder with built-in tools for SEO, landing pages, and blog promotion.
  • VEVS:  A turn-key solution for building a website with a built-in CMS, free logo creation, and more.
  • Virb: With over 20 templates to choose from, Virb offers a wide variety of options. Highly recommended for creative bloggers who need an affordable, no-frills site builder created with their needs in mind.
  • Web.com: Basic, easy-to-use site builder with SEO features and access to stock photos.
  • WebStarts: Full-featured website builder made for bloggers.
  • Yola: A drag and drop site builder with premium support.
  • Zoho Sites: A relatively robust, free builder offered by cloud software company Zoho.

Conclusion

The latest batch of site builders let you create a blog in just a few clicks. They’re especially great for new bloggers. However, be aware that there are trade-offs when comparing site builders to DIY blogging apps like WordPress and Joomla.

Experienced, Artsy, and Geeky bloggers can find site builders that may meet the majority of their needs, but odds are that no one site builder will cover them all.

The good news is that the majority of site builders will let you try out all their features for at least two weeks. So, decide what blog features are most important to you — and what functionality you’re willing to sacrifice — before you start trying out site builders.

If you’ve tried a site builder for your blog, tell us about your experiences in the comments section!

Natalie has been blogging since before the word “blog” existed. Her work has been published on Engadget, Laptopmag.com, Tom’s Guide, and About.com. She lives in Southern California with her husband, their feline-American children, and a banjo.
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