When it comes time to choose a content management system (CMS) that is appropriate for your blog, it can bring a variety of questions to surface. Will this platform sustain growth over time? Does it support image galleries? What about optimization for popular search engines?
All the questions above are legitimate concerns, especially if blogging long term is important to you. You will want to choose a platform that you're comfortable with. And because there are so many to pick from nowadays, the process can sometimes feel a little overwhelming.
Each platform is excellent in its own way, but there are also some cons to both sides. Thankfully, I have had plenty of experience with both WordPress and Squarespace. Allow me to elaborate.
Let's talk about WordPress
WordPress is a free and open-source CMS that was released in May 2003. Currently hosting more than 75 million blogs, WordPress is easily one of the most popular content management systems to date. That's 25% of all global websites that exist today.
As a platform, WordPress is fairly easy to use. It's not as easy as Squarespace (more on this later), but it's extremely capable at creating some truly awesome results. You just need to know what you're doing.
There are many pieces that make up the WordPress scene, two of them being themes and plugins. Because WordPress is open-source, this means that anyone with coding knowledge can create themes and plugins to further enhance the user's experience.
Thanks to this open approach, there are quite literally thousands of options to choose from. But this also means that security can be a concern. Before using any type of theme or plugin, it's important to verify where it's coming from and whether the developer can be trusted. Most of the time you'll be fine, but it never hurts to be safe.
To learn more about what's available to download for WordPress, check out my in-depth post here.
So, about blogging
There is still so much more that I can say about WordPress, but this particular post is intended to focus on using the platform as a blogging tool. And let me tell you, WordPress does not disappoint in this area.
The WordPress experience is quite extensive, offering bloggers plenty of tools to experiment with. From an easy-to-use WYSIWYG editor to drag-and-drop galleries, blogging is actually really simple — once you get the hang of it. The user interface, in my opinion, is not always immediately obvious, but put a little bit of practice in, and you'll be getting some serious work done.
If composing drafts is your thing, then you'll feel right at home with WordPress. The CMS makes it very simple to draft and schedule posts for later publishing. Though this is common for most blogging platforms, it's still a nice way of organizing your work and remaining on schedule.
WordPress also has full support for multiple users. Running a multi-user blog is as easy as creating new users and assigning them with unique passwords. This can be done in the WordPress Dashboard, the go-to hub that you'll find yourself working in 99% of the time. This is where pretty much everything happens.
Because the WordPress Dashboard has so much to explore, I suggest bookmarking this guide and referencing it whenever necessary.
Search engine optimization
WordPress is excellent for users who are looking to take advantage of search engine optimization (SEO). While the rules of SEO have changed dramatically in recent years, that doesn't mean the days of optimizing your content are over. Far from it, actually.
Just like themes, WordPress has a vast amount of plugins to choose from — and a good majority have to do with SEO. From keyword research tools to page optimization tips, there is a ton of information to take in.
SEO is certainly not for everyone (and it doesn't need to be), but if you're looking to discover what kinds of plugins are available, check out the official search directory here.
WordPress.com or WordPress.org?
There are a few key differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. The primary difference that always comes to mind is the use of an actual domain name. Going the WordPress.com route, you're presented with a limited domain. For example, your website's domain would be something like mywebsite.wordpress.com — rather than mywebsite.com.
This is reason enough for me to always recommend going the official WordPress.org route. Not only do you have the ability to use your own domain name, but it's also completely open to anything you throw at it. In other words, there are no limitations.
If you don't yet have your own domain name, I highly recommend using Bluehost. Prices are affordable and the setup process is just seamless. But of course, if you ever need a helping hand, please don't hesitate to contact me.
Let's talk about Squarespace
Launched in 2004, Squarespace is a lot like WordPress, but much easier to use and far more user friendly. The only catch? Unlike WordPress, it's not free. I'll touch upon that further in a bit.
Squarespace is perfect for a variety of content creators. Whether you're looking to open an online store or create a gallery for your photography work, you are guaranteed to find a use for the extensive and diverse platform.
But what makes Squarespace unique? For me, it comes down to several things. The most effective has to be its intuitive drag-and-drop editor. Squarespace makes it incredibly easy to add a variety of content blocks to your website. From image galleries to an email list sign-up form, it's all there.
This alone makes building a website on Squarespace not only manageable, but also quite enjoyable. Seeing your website visually come together while you build it definitely brings a good feeling of accomplishment. While this is technically possible with a few WordPress themes (Divi 2.0 is a great example), the experience simply does not compare.
However, going back to the original question...
What about blogging?
Blogging on Squarespace, to put simply, is a pleasant experience. Because the user interface is consistent across the platform, this means that composing a new post is the same as building a page. You have the freedom of adding any content blocks that you so choose.
Are you blogging about a specific video that you would like to share via YouTube or Vimeo? Not a problem. Embed it. Do you want to create an image gallery right on the spot? Go for it. Are you interested in embedding an episode of your podcast? Make it happen.
While bloggers on Squarespace don't have access to thousands of plugins like they do on WordPress, the platform still provides plenty of tools to work with. Click here to see a full list.
Don't worry about hosting
One factor that separates Squarespace from the competition is the fact that hosting is fully included. And to make things even easier for the user, Squarespace automatically scales their hosting to accommodate for the size and popularity of your website. This is critical if the content on your website suddenly takes off and attracts higher traffic numbers.
Pricing isn't too bad, either. Signing up for an annual account will cost you $8/month, which I think is reasonable — especially considering you're getting the convenience of a website powered by scaled hosting that works exactly as advertised.
Search engine optimization
If managing SEO isn't your thing, then you are in luck. Squarespace pretty much takes care of this portion of your website for you. As long as you continue to create quality content, then you'll have nothing to worry about.
Of course, Squarespace still gives you a bit of control, so you're not completely limited to their way of doing things. It's not quite as extensive as to what WordPress has to offer, but it's definitely enough to pique your interest.
WordPress or Squarespace?
Ah, the question of all questions. So, which is better for blogging? As I mentioned earlier, both WordPress and Squarespace are great for their own reasons.
Thanks to its virtually limitless themes and plugins, WordPress is the better choice for users who are looking to expand their brand over time through a variety of tools. You also have the freedom of choosing whichever web host you prefer.
Squarespace, on the other hand, is kind of a walled garden. Users are limited to a predefined set of tools, but they're also promised a quality experience thanks to in-house hosting and a controlled environment.
In many ways, choosing between WordPress and Squarespace is like deciding whether to use Android or iOS. The former is open and prone to user error, while the latter is a closed system and easier to use.
But then again, you could be like me and use both.