China’s top blogging websites





With many foreign blogging sites blocked in China, it can be tricky getting your words out to the world. If you don’t want the fuss of messing with a VPN, or just want to jump directly into the blogging pool with the 37 million other Chinese-language blogs on the net, then one of the following blog hosts might be for you.

 

Things to consider

According to Alexa, a website that provides data on website usage, the top five blog providers in China are Qzone (with 97,582,320 individual IPs registered as visiting the site each day), Sina Blog (49,183,200), Hi Baidu (3,275,340), Sohu Blog (1,281,120) and NetEase Blog (1,034,964). 

That means both great opportunities to attract visitors, but also a lot of competition. Also, of those five, only Qzone provides an English-language service – and that is very limited – so some degree of Chinese comprehension will be necessary if you’d rather use another host.

And, of course, blogs on Chinese hosts are subject to scrutiny and censorship by both the company and the authorities. The details of exactly what constitutes a ‘bad’ post are outlined at the bottom of this article. But first, let’s check out those sites!

 

1. Qzone: The biggest Chinese blog site

If you live in China for a while, you’ll no doubt come across QQ and its little penguin mascot at some point. One of the most popular instant messaging services/apps in the country, with more than 700 million active users, QQ also offers its own blogging service, “Qzone”. 

Accessing Qzone is as simple as registering a QQ account (see below), and once you’re in – assuming you take the Chinese-language route – you’ll be able to write blogs, upload photos and play games with your friends. The QQ client program also provides easy access to the blogging platform.

It also provides an English service – unlike its top competitors – but it is limited in that your blog can only be updated and accessed from the QQ client, though it can be read online like any other Qzone blog.

Also, while signing up is free, there are micro-transactions for features beyond the basic package, and some may find the web interface cumbersome and unintuitive.

Price: It’s free to sign up and use the basic functions, although access to fancier options for the Chinese-language web blog, such as attractive design templates and embedded background music costs extra. Alternatively, a ‘yellow diamond’ package that gives users access to all additional blog functions and options costs 171 yuan a year. Other ‘diamond’ packages allow access to other, non-Qzone QQ products, including QQmusic and various games.

Photo uploading: You can upload photos either directly into your blog posts or to special photo albums, from which they can be inserted into posts.

Appearance: Qzone provides a large base of templates for users wanting to personalize their blogs. Users can further alter the templates to make custom appearances.

How to sign up: You can point your browser here to register in Chinese, or go to this page to register in English and download the smartphone app or computer program (you will need to click the characters in the top-right corner of the screen to change the language to English). You will need to input your email account, user name, birthday, gender, password, location and verification code to sign up an account to use Qzone.

If you would rather sign up to the Chinese site, you can click here; you can use the image below to help you complete the form.

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Once that’s done, go here and fill in your details to log in.

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2. Sina Blog: The celebrity hub

Sina offers free blogging accounts to anyone who either registers an email account with them or is a registered user of its hugely popular Sina Weibo site (if you’re unfamiliar with Sina Weibo, it’s the Chinese equivalent of Twitter). It has the second largest user base in China, and has a larger number of active celebrity bloggers than its competitors.
 
Price: Free sign-up and no further costs.

Photo uploading: Photos can be uploaded directly into posts, or placed in albums for later use.

Appearance: Sina provides a large base of templates that are free for all users and offer a wide range of styles and uses; template categories include “nature”, “sports”, “cartoons”, “entertainment” and even “finance”. Blogs can also be customized with various color and module combinations. 

How to sign up: The Chinese-language-only sign-up page can be found here. Use the image below as a guide to help you sign up; you may need to click the ‘Register an Email account’ tab before you can input the info.

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Once you have a Sina email account, you can log in at the Sina Blog website and start writing:

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3. Hi Baidu: The easy-use blog

Hi Baidu’s interface and design is lighter and more user-friendly than traditional blog websites like Sina and Sohu Blog, which can be more baroque and confusing. The site allows users to upload photos and attach videos and music to their accounts, as well as writing blogs. Friends can be found via interest tags, and it also offers easy access to Baidu Knows (aka Baidu Zhidao), a user-generated question-and-answer site that is similar to the American site Yahoo! Answers.

Price: Free to register and use most of its service, though users need pay to play its games and print photos (see below).

Photo uploading: You can upload photos directly into blog posts or to your albums; the site also offers a photo album printing service, with the printed photographs being delivered direct to your home.

Appearance: There are just 16 templates available to users, but they are all free. Customization is possible by changing background photos and color schemes, and adding background music, but the options are more limited compared to some of the other sites.

How to sign up: Go to this link and use the image below to help you fill in your details. 

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Visit this link and use the details below to log in.

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4. Sohu Blog: The blog for all

Anyone signing up for a Sohu email address is offered a blog account for free – but for added convenience it’s also available to anyone wanting to log in with their QQ, Baidu, Renren, Weibo, Taobao, Kaixin, Alipay, Tianya and Douban accounts. 

Price: Free to sign in; no further payments for services.

Photo uploading: Photos can be uploaded directly into blog posts, or placed in photo albums and used later.

Appearance: Sohu provides a large number of templates that are all free to use to all users, and can be altered with new colors and modules.

How to sign up: Registration is Chinese-only and can be performed here. Use the info below to help you create an email/blog account – or to log in using one of the other accounts that are available.

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Notice: Unfortunately, the Sohu verification code is only available in Chinese characters, so you may need help from a Chinese friend to register. 

 

Once your account is set up, you can log in here and start blogging.

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5. NetEase Blog: The artist’s choice

Netease claims that its blogs are the most artistic on the web. It attracts many fans of literature, art, photography, cartoons in both its blog service and its simplified blog service, Lofter. It also has a large number of fènqīng (young nationalists). If you are interested in art or the exchange of opinions, it might be the place for you.

Price: Free, from sign-up onwards.

Photo uploading: Photos can be embedded in posts or, as with the other blogs here, added to albums.

Appearance: NetEase provides the largest number of templates of all the top five blogging sites, and they’re free to use to all users. They can also be customized with colors and modules. 

How to sign up: You can sign up (Chinese-language only) here

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Once you have registered successfully, you can visit the blog page and sign in with your email address and password.

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Content restrictions

Hi Baidu, NetEase Blog, Qzone, Sina Blog and Sohu Blog all share a basically similar restriction on the content, as follows: 

You should not publish any content that…

  • Could be deemed violent, vulgar or pornographic.
  • Promotes or sells illegal items like guns, spying devices, drugs, fake products or hacking tutorials. 
  • Contains commercial advertisements.
  • Contains politically subversive content against the country or against Chinese politics.
  • Instigates ethnic hatred.
  • Promotes cults or superstitious worship.

The restrictions also apply to users’ photos, nicknames, introduction texts and signatures.

Most of the contents will be published automatically. However, if your content contains sensitive words related to content mentioned above, you blog could be suspended. In the case of Qzone the site may refuse to submit your blog if your post contains key words or content mentioned above, or require it to be reviewed by the site’s administrators. 

In the worst case scenario on these sites, your blog account could be blocked by the website’s administrators.

 

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