13 Platforms for Blogging

Writing a blog is one of the best ways to establish expertise within an industry and drive traffic to your website. There are a variety of platforms available to launch and manage a blog at little or no expense.

Here is a list of platforms to launch a blog. There are content management systems to create a blog and full-featured website. There are also minimalist blogging tools to publish a clean, modern blog. Nearly all of these applications have free plans.

WordPress

Screenshot of WordPress.orgScreenshot of WordPress.org

WordPress.org

WordPress is a free and open-source content management system (CMS). WordPress is the internet’s most popular application – 43% of the web uses it. With nearly 60,000 plugins available to extend and customize your site, build a blog with an ecommerce store, forum, gallery, mailing list, analytics, and more. Price: Free.

Medium

Screenshot of Medium home pageScreenshot of Medium home page

Medium

Medium is a publishing platform where experts and undiscovered writers publish and share content. Individual writers publish from profile pages. Collaborate with others or post under a brand name. Use Medium’s story submission system and expressive customization options. Add a custom domain name to your space to help visitors find, share, and return to it. Join the Partner Program to earn money by making your stories part of member-only content, or allow free access to anyone. Price: Free. Partner Program is $5 per month.

Ghost

Screenshot of Ghost home pageScreenshot of Ghost home page

Ghost

Ghost was founded in April 2013 after a successful Kickstarter campaign to create a new platform for professional publishing. Ghost comes with modern tools to build a website, publish content, send newsletters, and offer paid subscriptions to members. The platform includes a marketplace for free and premium themes, custom integrations, and help from experts. Use native signup forms that turn anonymous views into logged-in members. Get detailed engagement analytics. Connect your Stripe account and deliver premium content to your audience. Price: Free. Hosting plans start at $25 per month.

LinkedIn

Screenshot of LinkedInScreenshot of LinkedIn

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network. It’s also a great place to generate a blog. Demonstrate your expertise, and develop content to keep your profile fresh. To create a blog on LinkedIn, click the icon “Write an article” on your front page. Add your text and images, then publish and promote. Price: Free. Premium accounts start at $29.99 per month.

Squarespace

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Squarespace

Squarespace is an all-in-one platform for building a flexible website for a blog and more. Access image-rich, award-winning designer templates and integrations with Getty Images, Unsplash, and Google Amp. Increase traffic to your blog with Squarespace Email Campaigns and connected social media accounts. Enable commenting through Squarespace or Disqus. Price: Plans start at $14 per month.

Wix

Screenshot of Wix.comScreenshot of Wix.com

Wix

Wix is a website builder to quickly launch a site with 500+ customizable website templates to meet your business needs. Choose from 200+ blog templates, or use a blank canvas to create your own. Use advanced SEO tools, set up automatic emails, promote on social media, and invite your followers to become members and start discussions. Monetize with subscriptions, display ads, paid events, and ecommerce features. Price: Free. Premium plans start at $16 per month.

CMS Hub

Screenshot of CMS HubScreenshot of CMS Hub

CMS Hub

CMS Hub is HubSpot’s content platform for launching a blog. Use one of HubSpot’s pre-built website themes with the option for custom development. An SEO recommendations home screen allows you to improve your site and take action, all in one place. Track every visitor to your site and create personalized digital experiences leveraging CRM data. With adaptive testing, choose up to five page variations, and HubSpot will monitor and serve up the best-performing option. Price: Plans start at $23 per month.

Craft CMS

Screenshot of Craft CMS home pageScreenshot of Craft CMS home page

Craft CMS

Craft CMS is a flexible, user-friendly CMS for creating custom digital experiences. Choose from a large variety of built-in and plugin-supplied field types. Manage multiple sites from a single installation. Update content easily with Craft’s built-in management features, including an image editor, collaboration tools, and a localization feature. Easily integrate with popular payment gateways, CRMs, and fulfillment services. Price: Free. Pro is $299 per project.

Weebly

Screenshot of Weebly home pageScreenshot of Weebly home page

Weebly

Weebly is an easy-to-use website builder to create and manage your blog. Create posts with drag and drop, manage comments and schedule future content. Instantly respond to blog comments and form entries, reply to customer inquiries and stay connected to followers from anywhere. Drive traffic with integrated social media marketing, SEO tools, and AdWords credit. Price: Free. Premium plans start at $6 per month.

Write.as

Screenshot of Write.asScreenshot of Write.as

Write.as

Write.as is a modern, simple and clean platform for blogging. The editor only gives you what you need to write and auto­ma­ti­cally saves while you type. There are no comments, spam, likes, or dis­trac­tions — just your words in your own digital space. Write.as does not collect personal data, so you can write freely. Publish anonymously or under any name you choose. Price: Free. Pro plans start at $6 per month.

Blogger

Screenshot of Blogger.comScreenshot of Blogger.com

Blogger

Blogger is Google’s content management system. Choose from a selection of customizable templates with background images, or design something new. Get a blogspot.com domain or buy a custom domain. Connect directly to Google Analytics. Use AdSense to display relevant, targeted ads to get paid. Price: Free.

Tumblr

Screenshot of Tumblr.comScreenshot of Tumblr.com

Tumblr

Tumblr is a micro-blogging platform for media content. Tell stories through text, photos, GIFs, videos, live streams, and audio. Tumblr features free custom domains and hundreds of free and premium themes. Price: Free.

Contently

Screenshot of a web page from ContentlyScreenshot of a web page from Contently

Contently

Contently is an enterprise content marketing platform. Contently provides expert content strategies to tell you the content topics, formats, channels, and voice and tone your audience craves. It can make intelligent content recommendations, align your teams, and create better content faster. Access its talent network of 160,000+ writers, filmmakers, designers, and editors from Wired, The New York Times, Popular Science, and more. Contently’s high cost puts it out of the reach of most small businesses, but it may be an ideal solution for brands with larger budgets in need of editorial support. Contact for pricing.

Lesser-Known And Underused CSS Features In 2022

After reading Louis Lazaris’ insightful article “Those HTML Attributes You Never Use”, I’ve asked myself (and the community) which properties and selectors are lesser-known or should be used more often. Some answers from the community surprised me, as they’ve included some very useful and often-requested CSS features which were made available in the past year or two.

The following list is created with community requests and my personal picks. So, let’s get started!

all Property

This is a shorthand property which is often used for resetting all properties to their respective initial value by effectively stopping inheritance, or to enforce inheritance for all properties.

  • initial
    Sets all properties to their respective initial values.
  • inherit
    Sets all properties to their inherited values.
  • unset
    Changes all values to their respective default value which is either inherit or initial.
  • revert
    Resulting values depend on the stylesheet origin where this property is located.
  • revert-layer
    Resulting values will match a previous cascade layer or the next matching rule.

aspect-ratio for Sizing Control

When aspect-ratio was initially released, I thought I won’t use it outside image and video elements and in very narrow use-cases. I was surprised to find myself using it in a similar way I would use currentColor — to avoid unnecessarily setting multiple properties with the same value.

With aspect-ratio, we can easily control size of an element. For example, equal width and height buttons will have an aspect ratio of 1. That way, we can easily create buttons that adapt to their content and varying icon sizes, while maintaining the required shape.

I assumed that this issue cannot be fixed, and I moved on. One of the tweets from the community poll suggested that I should look into font-variant-numeric: tabular-nums, and I was surprised to find a plethora of options that affect font rendering.

For example, tabular-nums fixed the aforementioned issue by setting the equal width for all numeric characters.

Render Performance Optimization

When it comes to rendering performance, it’s very rare to run into these issues when working on regular projects. However, in the case of large DOM trees with several thousands of elements or other similar edge cases, we can run into some performance issues related to CSS and rendering. Luckily, we have a direct way of dealing with these performance issues that cause lag, unresponsiveness to user inputs, low FPS, etc.

This is where contain property comes in. It tells the browser what won’t change in the render cycle, so the browser can safely skip it. This can have consequences on the layout and style, so make sure to test if this property doesn’t introduce any visual bugs.

.container { /* child elements won't display outside of this container so only the contents of this container should be rendered*/ contain: paint;
{

This property is quite complex, and Rachel Andrew has covered it in great detail in her article. This property is somewhat difficult to demonstrate, as it is most useful in those very specific edge cases. For example, Johan Isaksson covered one of those examples in his article, where he noticed a major scroll lag on Google Search Console. It was caused by having over 38 000 elements on a page and was fixed by containing property!

As you can see, contain relies on the developer knowing exactly which properties won’t change and knowing how to avoid potential regressions. So, it’s a bit difficult to use this property safely.

However, there is an option where we can signal the browser to apply the required contain value automatically. We can use the content-visibility property. With this property, we can defer the rendering of off-screen and below-the-fold content. Some even refer to this as “lazy-rendering”.

Una Kravets and Vladimir Levin covered this property in their travel blog example. They apply the following class name to the below-the-fold blog sections.

.story { content-visibility: auto; /* Behaves like overflow: hidden; */ contain-intrinsic-size: 100px 1000px;
}

With contain-intrinsic-size, we can estimate the size of the section that is going to be rendered. Without this property, the size of the content would be 0, and page dimensions would keep increasing, as content is loaded.

Going back to Una Kravets and Vladimir Levin’s travel blog example. Notice how the scrollbar jumps around, as you scroll or drag it. This is because of the difference between the placeholder (estimated) size set with contain-intrinsic-size and the actual render size. If we omit this property, the scroll jumps would be even more jarring.

See the Pen Content-visibility Demo: Base (With Content Visibility) by Vladimir Levin.

Thijs Terluin covers several ways of calculating this value including PHP and JavaScript. Server-side calculation using PHP is especially impressive, as it can automate the value estimation on larger set of various pages and make it more accurate for a subset of screen sizes.

Keep in mind that these properties should be used to fix issues once they happen, so it’s safe to omit them until you encounter render performance issues.

Conclusion

CSS evolves constantly, with more features being added each year. It’s important to keep up with the latest features and best practices, but also keep an eye out on browser support and use progressive enhancement.

I’m sure there are more CSS properties and selectors that aren’t included here. Feel free to let us know in the comments which properties or selectors are less known or should be used more often, but may be a bit convoluted or there is not enough buzz around them.

Further Reading on Smashing Magazine

Fed-up Toy Company Responds to Knock-offs

Having founded Viahart, a manufacturer of educational toys, in 2010, Molson Hart learned his products were being illegally produced and sold by others. He realized the problem, intellectual property theft, extended far beyond Viahart. And that prompted the launch of his second company.

He told me, “I founded Edison Litigation Financing in 2017 with my brother, a computer science guy. Our company finds businesses experiencing intellectual theft. There are a lot of crooks knocking off products.”

Edison locates potential infringements, contacts the infringed party, and arranges lawsuits for damages. It earns a fee for that service. Viahart sells mainly through Amazon. It recorded nearly $9 million in sales in 2021.

Molson and I recently discussed both companies. The entire audio of our conversation is embedded below. The transcript is edited for clarity and length.

Eric Bandholz: Tell us about your business.

Molson Hart: I founded Viahart in 2010 as an educational toy brand. For the most part, everything we sell is about inspiring confidence and capability in children. Our primary sales channel is Amazon, although we do have an ecommerce site. We sell a building toy called Brain Flakes, which does things that Lego can’t. It’s for kids between three and 13. We also sell Goodminton rackets and Tiger Tale toys.

I have a second company, Edison LLC, that does ecommerce-focused litigation financing for intellectual property theft.

We’re based in Austin, Texas.

Bandholz: Let’s start with Goodminton. How did you come up with the name?

Hart: When selling online, you’ve got to have a brand. One of the best ways to create a good brand and to take full advantage of word of mouth is to have a catchy name that sticks with you. We were selling a racket game similar to Badminton, and I thought, “Can we make a name that’s funny, memorable, and makes people laugh?” We decided on Goodminton, instead of Badminton.

Bandholz: What are the pain points of selling on Amazon?

Hart: Sometimes Amazon falsely identifies sellers as doing search or review manipulations — a pain point that happens probably quarterly. If we’ve got a hero SKU like Brain Flakes, our bestselling product, Amazon says, “Yeah, we’re going to put that in position 32 when customers search your brand name because you manipulated search results.” There’s no recourse, and there’s no explanation for how you can solve that issue.

If you’re starting, it’s pretty brutal because shipping costs are high. For us, it’s not bad because we’re scaled up. When shipping from Asia to the United States. We’re using 40-foot containers, so we have reasonable shipping prices.

We used to be able to do an email blast for reviews and stuff like that, and now there aren’t early review rewards on Amazon, so you need pay-per-click ads and sponsored advertising. It can be expensive. We don’t do paid social marketing to drive customers to Amazon. We only pay for ads on Amazon. Launching a new product needs to be differentiated and innovative in some way.

Bandholz: How do you handle knock-offs and intellectual theft?

Hart: I used to have an office in China. The first knock-off we ever had was before our trademark was registered. Someone in China used our trademark, Brain Flakes, for an interlocking disc product. I couldn’t do anything because our trademark hadn’t been registered. It turns out it was someone in that office, one of my Chinese employees. I ended up suing her, and then two years later, she did it again, and I had to sue her again. I found out that another employee was doing it, too.

I had three employees in China, and two of them were counterfeiting me and selling our brand’s products on Amazon. The third guy wasn’t. When I finally found that out, he and I weren’t working together. I sent him $5,000 to say, “You’re the man for not doing that when the other two were.” He’s a good guy.

After suing my employees, I was able to stop infringement. I knew that other people had those problems, so I founded Edison Litigation Financing in 2017 with my brother, a computer science guy. Our company finds businesses experiencing intellectual theft similar to what I just described. There are a lot of crooks knocking off products.

We connect brands dealing with infringement with a lawyer, who does the filings. The brand doesn’t have to pay any money. We take a percentage of the money that comes back. Our business evolved and now offers reporting, which is cool because we sign up lots of clients to pay us for reporting, and when we notice an opportunity for a lawsuit, we can use our reporting data in the case. We have a growing SaaS reporting business, and since my brother is good at programming, we have an excellent tech suite. Our lawyers use it, and increasingly, our customers do as well.

We take all the risks. So in exchange for earning a chunk of the money when it comes back, we pay all the legal fees, and should you be counter-sued, that’s on us. That’s the value proposition. We are turn-key, so you don’t have to worry about it. We gather all the evidence, and we do all the analysis. I have a warehouse in Texas, and hundreds of counterfeit products go to that warehouse every day. The items get shipped to that warehouse, and we open them up and take photos. Those photos end up becoming the evidence.

Bandholz: So you use your software to scour the web and find infringers?

Hart: Yes. We’re always looking for people who have exceptional cases. When that happens, we’ll reach out. We also have a $99 per month marketplace reporting service. For instance, if you have a brand selling on Amazon, you pay us monthly, and we monitor Amazon and combine the regular reporting with everything that goes into our lawsuits. So you get the best of both worlds.

We monitor all the major marketplaces. We scour Shopify, Amazon, eBay, AliExpress, and Walmart for fake versions of products. One of our clients pays us for 15 different marketplace locations. Each business is structured differently. Some people are like us and mostly use Amazon. Others sell their retail with the big brands.

Another way our business makes money is by handling photo copyrights. People don’t know this, but if you take a photo and register its copyright, and then someone else comes in and uses that photo, it depends on what the context is, but the damages for that are high. If I were to steal one of the Beardbrand photos to sell Molson beard cream, I would get in a lot more trouble than if I buy Beardbrand from whatever store you have and then sell it on Amazon. It’s not cool to steal people’s photos. Photography is expensive. It takes a lot of time and a lot of work. You do get compensated when people steal your photos.

Bandholz: Where can people learn more about you and reach out?

Hart: My website is MolsonHart.com. You can follow me on Twitter, @Molson_hart. We’re also at Viahart and Edison Litigation Financing.