One of the best known and most popular domain-hosting platforms is WordPress. While there are paid plans and add-ons that can cost up to thousands of dollars, they also have an option that is 100% free. WordPress boasts that it is used by over 60 million websites, including 33.6% of the 10 million most popular websites in the world. As a WordPress user for more than 10 years, I can personally recommend this platform.
There are many benefits of choosing WordPress over other platforms. The main one is that even though it is a completely free website, it is easily found by Google. Additionally, WordPress provides a lot of free SEO resources to help you get more visitors. The entire process of creating the website takes minutes, and setting everything up is incredibly user-friendly.
The cons of creating a free website with WordPress include having to add “.wordpress.com” to your URL. You also have to put up with ads that you can’t monetize or control. There is a limited list of themes to pick from. Finally, because WordPress is so simple, it’s not as customizable as other platforms. While the simpler designs can be good for SEO, it can be frustrating to not be able to create the look you want.
Wix is another big name in the world of website-building platforms. It also offers several options when respecting plans and costs. Of course, you can also create a Wix website for free. Out of their 154 million users, only 4.3 million are premium users who pay for their sites. It is an incredibly popular platform, with 45,000 new signups every day.
There are many reasons to pick Wix as a website platform. But above anything else, it’s customizability makes it really stand out. While WordPress has rigid templates, Wix literally lets you drag anything wherever you want. If you want your website name twisted vertically across the screen, Wix will let you do it. This flexibility allows your creativity to run wild and allows anyone to create a unique site.
I used Wix to create my second website. After a smooth experience with WordPress, I had a harder time with Wix. It is not as user-friendly, and it took me a long time to get the hang of it. It took hours to position everything in a way that didn’t look crazy or glitchy. Having a more complex design is also damaging for SEO. Plus, the URL for a free Wix website is obnoxiously formatted: username.wixsite.com/siteaddress.
Webnode is another popular website builder. There are currently 40 million registered users, which makes this one of the more popular platforms. Webnode is known for its modern editor and for having support in over 20 languages. This is a great choice for anyone who wants to create a multilingual website.
The benefits of using Webnode include easy-to-use themes that are responsive and stylish. There is, of course, a completely free version, but they also have a really cheap plan for just $3.95 per month if you want some extras. While this is still limited, it allows you to use your own URL. Another bonus is that Webnode has a great photo editor that features various effects, enhancement, blemish removal, and even overlays. This is way more advanced than the editor in other platforms such as WordPress.
Some of the cons of using Webnode include not being able to change the theme after initially picking it. The free version comes with ads and a typical free-website URL format: customname.webnode.com. It doesn’t have great storage, and the free version is more limiting than other platforms.
Weebly isn’t as well-known as some of the other platforms that are out there. It currently has 30 million websites, and it is probably the most user-friendly website platform that currently exists. It is a drag-and-drop website builder and is even simpler than WordPress. It takes only a minute to create an account and start building your website. It makes every aspect as easy as possible, including editing, resizing, and repositioning the elements on your site.
Another huge bonus is that Weebly offers 24/7 customer support. This is only offered with the business plan on WordPress in comparison. If we keep comparing the two sites, it also needs to be said that Weebly has less customization than WordPress. There also isn’t as much SEO support on Weebly as there is on WordPress using the Yoast plug-in. However, if you are simply looking for a free, simple, and easy-to-use website, Weebly is an amazing choice.
It is impossible to compare Tumblr to the other platforms on this list. However, it should be mentioned as an option for content creators. It is a micro-blogging and social media platform, which makes it a unique way to publish content. As of August 12, 2019, Tumblr hosts over 475 million blogs. Although its number of monthly new users has dropped since its peak popularity in 2016, there were still around 400 million by August 2019. It is great for shorter writing and for content such as photos and videos.
Tumblr is great because it is easy and free to use. While it has more of a social media feel to it, it still has all the tools you would expect from a website. This includes an easy-to-use dashboard and the ability to queue as well as schedule posts. It is also easy to link to your other social media to automatically share your posts. They also use hashtags so that people on Tumblr can find your content based on the topic.
The main con of using Tumblr as a website is that it isn’t very professional. It isn’t appropriate for just any type of content. It is best for more creative content and shorter texts. Another factor to consider is that there is a lot of adult content on Tumblr. While it’s not impossible for other platforms to feature this type of content, you don’t want someone to click on your hashtag and end up somewhere unexpected.
There are dozens of website-building platforms available for aspiring writers to pick from. Virtually every free option on these platforms is in some way limited and has a longer URL. Connecting a website to a domain always requires a paid plan, which can be expensive. However, it is still possible to do a lot with a free website. It is a great way to test a website-building platform and begin your journey as a content creator.
Personally, I have used WordPress, Wix and Tumblr. I love to use Tumblr for photos, but my true passion is writing. I do not feel like it is a great platform to publish writing, especially longer texts. Currently, I have one website on WordPress and another on Wix. Both have paid plans and unique domains. I find WordPress ideal for blogging because of its simple formatting and SEO assistance. Most of my visitors find my website by searching in Google. I use Wix as an author website which doesn’t produce regular content. I love that I can make it unique by editing every single detail.
It is really important to consider all the different features when you select a platform. Be prepared for a learning curve, and stay patient if you are using a free, limited plan.
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Photos: Shutterstock / Edited by: Martina Advaney