The Best WordPress Alternatives for Bloggers


If you’ve been blogging on WordPress, whether the self-hosted kind or a WordPress.com site, you’re not alone. WordPress was originally seen as a blogging tool—although it’s outgrown that identity, it’s often the go-to for people who want to set up a blog. That said, WordPress, if you’re self-hosting, can be hard to maintain. You may also be bothered by the news that WordPress.com blogs that haven’t opted out may have their content sold to AI training libraries.  If you’d like to make a move, there are several alternatives to WordPress. They generally come in the form of hosted platforms, but a few roll-your-own content management systems exist as well. 

Blogger

Even before WordPress, there was Google’s Blogger. And it didn’t suck. While it lacks features, design or a lot of bells and whistles, it still does a good job at one thing: being a place to blog. You can even purchase new themes on places like Etsy. While Google does tend to be a little cavalier with their product closures, Blogger still has a big user base, and it would be hard to imagine Google doing them all dirty that way. 

Drupal

An open-source CMS like WordPress, Drupal used to compete with WordPress for the same user base. Twenty years in, Drupal has a strong but much smaller usership. Still, it’s open source, so free, and any web host with cPanel has a one-click installation. Even without that, it’s relatively easy to install on any web host and doesn’t operate entirely unlike WordPress. There’s a templating system, content is stored in a data base, and you can plug in extensions to do a lot of additional functionality. Still, if you just want a blog, Drupal will do that out of the box. 

Ghost

The thing about open-source projects is that people can “fork” them at any time: They can simply take the tech, branch it and start building it into something entirely new. While people have long threatened to fork WordPress (and nothing would stop them), only Ghost has successfully done so. About 10 years ago a developer of WordPress decided it has become too complicated and wanted to free it to create a more pristine writing experience, and Ghost was born.  Like WordPress (and Ghost still looks a LOT like WordPress on the backend), you can self-host the CMS or pay Ghost to host it for you, starting at $9 a month. 

Livejournal

I assure you, no one is more excited to learn that Livejournal still exists than ’90s fangirls like myself. The original self-confessional blog home, Livejournal is a hosted solution that allows you some basic theming—and, from the looks of it, many, many ads. It certainly doesn’t give the vibe of safety that the original owners, Six Apart, once imbued before selling to a Russian firm many years ago. Still, if you’re looking for nostalgic gifs, LJ has you covered. 

Substack

If you’re looking for something a bit more modern and professional-feeling, Substack is a good possibility. A hosted solution, Substack offers the ability for you to charge for your work via subscriptions, and offers a clean-looking blog and newsletter and even podcast hosting. Your blog won’t look personalized, and you don’t get a ton of blog functionality, but it allows users to have a unified, expected experience, and focus on the writing. So long as you don’t charge readers, Substack doesn’t charge you. Once you do, they’ll take 10% of the pie. 

Medium

Medium has a lot in common with Substack in that you don’t get to personalize the look of your blog, and you can choose to monetize your content or not. While it doesn’t offer the same newsletter and podcast hosting, Medium is a bit better at promoting your work to its own internal audience than Substack and has a larger user base. The algorithm that figures what you get paid feels a little like TikTok, it’s based on some fuzzy math involving how long people spend reading your work and how many of them become paying users based on your work. You can write for free on Medium, but many people report that having the $5 a month membership offers access to a greater audience. 

Tumblr

Tumblr, one of the original competitors to WordPress, was saved by Automattic, who own WordPress.com, when it was bought in 2019. If Livejournal feels a little too sketch for you, you can get roughly the same gifs and cuteness—with the security of Automattic behind it—at Tumblr. Due to the ownership, it has the same issue with content being sold to AI learning engines, but again, this is a simple setting you can turn off. You can’t theme a Tumblr blog to the same degree you would WordPress or Drupal, but you can gloss it up a bit with color and fonts. Your blog won’t feel professional, but it will feel adorable.

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