I decided to go with WordPress and using a self-hosted domain. You can always easily create a blog and have it as a wordpress subdomain (i.e. bestblogEver.wordpress.com)
Here is how I set up my blog. I first tested my interest in writing and wrote five days a week for eight weeks using blogger. It was tiring but totally worth the exercise. After that I moved to a self hosted site using wordpress. I bought the domain iamvp.com and then bought a theme on themeforest. Set up self hosting on wpengine.com and hosting is 29$/month
The Great Migration
Then I imported all of my blog pieces from blogger where I had to re-categorize each entry and update the SEO which was a major pain. Formatting was lost and images had to be updated. Depending on the theme you select, there will be different ways to setup different pages vs posts vs other formats of pages. The dev notes detail how to make these changes and googling a lot of your questions will lead you to forums to find your answers.
Mind you selecting a theme, setting up hosting and migrating my blog and getting images, formatting etc working, plus writing a piece, took about 8-9 hours on a Sunday. It was cold and raining all day so that helped
Below are the plugins I use and highly recommend
Disqus Comment Page
Simple Tags – Give a cool tag cloud effect so people can click on the tag you blog about and see all related
Google Analytics for wordpress
Social Share Buttons – It took me a few plugins to find this one as the others did not work with the theme I selected.
I do not use an email distribution system today or email newsletters.
You don’t need to set up a self-hosted domain to get start blogging. You can just set up a subdomain.wordpress.com and use a basic theme from wordpress and start blogging. Other blogging services are Medium or tumblr.
Image Sources: http://cdn2.asthebirdfliesblog.com/; http://www.jessicaschmeidler.com/