You’ve decided you want to start a blog. You have ideas or creations you want to share with the world and a blog is the best way to do that. But if you’ve never built a website before and don’t know the first thing about it, it’s hard to know where to start.
For aspiring bloggers with limited (or no) technical skills, there’s an easy solution: a website builder.
Why Bloggers Should Use a Website Builder
Using a website builder brings a few key benefits that make it the perfect choice for newbie bloggers.
1. Website builders make website building fast.
With a website builder, you don’t have to start from scratch. You can choose a template you like that already has most of the design and elements you need in place, then make whatever tweaks to it you want to make it yours. If you’re not too picky and the changes are minor, it can take a matter of minutes to get your website ready.
Even if you want to go further and make the site more uniquely yours, having a basic structure in place to start and an intuitive website editor means the time commitment in getting there is still minimal.
2. Website builders are easy to sue.
You don’t have to know how to code or take time to learn a complicated new piece of software. Most website builders are designed to be easy for anyone to use, even someone with very little previous web experience.
If the main thing that’s kept you from starting a blog has been the worry that you won’t be able to figure out the technical side of things, a website builder can take that concern off the table.
3. Website builders are affordable.
While the cost of different website builders varies, you can find many affordable options — including some that are entirely free. Those that do charge a fee usually range somewhere from $4-$40 a month and some include additional features you need for your blog, such as domain name or web hosting.
If you don’t have the budget to hire a web designer – and most new bloggers don’t – a website builder is a much cheaper option that can still get you up and running with a functional website that looks good.
4. Website builders offer versatile design options.
One possible downside of working from a template is that dozens or even hundreds of other bloggers may be using the same template. You don’t want your blog to be confused for someone else’s because of a similar design.
The good news is that most decent website builders provide a lot of different templates to choose from and allow for nearly endless customization options for each one. You can change out colors and shapes, add new elements to the page, move things around to different spots, load original images and copy, and select your favorite fonts.
In short, you can make dozens or even hundreds of little changes that result in an entirely unique site that sets your blog apart from any similar ones out there.
5. Website builders make it easy to add media.
A good website builder will also make it easy for you to load your own media to your blog. You can add images, video, audio files, and animations. Whether your blog is about sharing your words with the world, getting your visual work in front of more people, or a combination of both, a website builder makes the process easier.
7 Features Bloggers Should Look for in a Website Builder
Once you’ve decided to use a website builder to create your blog, the question then becomes, “Which website builder?” There are eight main things to look for when choosing a website builder for blogging.
1. Easy to use
If the whole point of going with a website builder is that you don’t have to learn how to build and edit a website from scratch, then it’s obviously important that the website builder you choose not have a big learning curve. Look for a website builder that advertises an intuitive website editor that has drag-and-drop functionality and doesn’t require any real training to start using.
And while ideally, you’ll be able to start using your website builder from day one without trouble, check also that the provider offers useful resources to help you learn the different features and functionality available so you can get the most out of it.
2. Mobile friendly
More than half of all online use now happens on mobile devices. If your website isn’t mobile friendly, you risk visitors leaving your site before they read your posts and Google penalizing you in their search engine rankings. In short, it’s crucial that you make your blog mobile friendly.
When choosing a website builder for your blog, look for one that provides responsive templates that look as good on mobile as they do on desktop. If your template is responsive, you won’t have to do any extra work to make sure your blog works on mobile devices.
3. Lots of templates
The more template options you have, the easier it will be to find one that comes close to what you want. When you start out with a template you like the look and structure of, you won’t have to make as many changes and your job will be easier.
4. SEO features
You want people to find your blog, right? Otherwise, you could just start a personal journal. The main way people find content online is with search engines. To make your blog more visible to potential readers, you’ll need to do what you can to improve the site’s SEO.
A website builder that provides SEO features will make that process easier. It can help you customize your URLs, title tags, and meta descriptions on each page for better results in the search engines.
5. Media library
If your blog will be 100% written blog posts, this may not matter much for you, but if you hope to share videos, images, music, podcasts, webinars – any type of media — then you’ll want to make sure the website builder you choose makes loading and adding media to your pages a simple process.
And honestly, every blog should include images. Even if they’re not your strong suit, you should treat them as a necessary part of blogging. If you hate the idea of finding or creating a great image for every post you write, a website builder that provides an image library can make that part of the job easier.
Your blog is probably a passion project, but that doesn’t mean it’s entirely for you. You care about what people think of it and how they’ll interact with it. To understand how people find your blog and which posts they like most, you’ll need to pay attention to analytics.
Any website can set up Google Analytics to gain a lot of useful insights about their visitors, but a good website builder will also include an analytics feature that puts some of that information in the same place you go for website updates.
7. Social sharing options
SEO is one big part of getting people to find your blog, the other biggest tool for gaining more visibility is social media. You can encourage readers that like your posts to share them with their followers by making social sharing easy. You want to be able to quickly share posts out on your own social accounts and make it easy for visitors to do the same.
The Best Website Builder for Blogging
HostGator’s website builder provides all of these features and more. It’s easy to use, offers over 100 responsive templates, and comes with easy-to-understand analytics to help you improve your blog over time.
And for blogging newbies who could use some handholding, we offer 24/7 customer support to help you learn the ropes and address any issues that come up (although our builder is so easy to use, you probably won’t need it).
Stop just thinking about starting that blog and go ahead and get to work building it.
Kristen Hicks is an Austin-based freelance content writer and lifelong learner with an ongoing curiosity to learn new things. She uses that curiosity, combined with her experience as a freelance business owner, to write about subjects valuable to small business owners on the HostGator blog. You can find her on Twitter at @atxcopywriter.