Pros: You don't need to start from scratch and build HTML pages and External Style Sheets. Here are a few sites that offer free downloads of attractive website templates:
Cons: It can be time consuming to try to change a template created by another developer because you have to do some detective work to find out what CSS rule applies to what element.
Pros: These sites have become popular because of their easy interface and good-looking templates. If you need e-commerce, these are good options, too.
All of these cost money. The platforms offer different pricing plans.
These examples and the ones in Step 3 are popular options to give you different options. I have no stake in any of these sites or companies, and you might want to look around yourself for templates.
If you're going to pay for a template, you're likely to find more polished options. $30 to $40 is an average template price.
Here are the questions I would ask before I spend money on a template.
1) Does this template do something extra that I can't do myself? Can I get the same kind of template using a free option?
2) Are there clear, comprehensive instructions on how to modify the template? Are there help links or forums if I run into trouble?
Pros: The core functionality of Tumblr is that it lets you curate a feed of posts by following other Tumblrs. Those posts are really easy to reblog. It looks good, and is the most customizable of the major blogging platforms.
Cons: That reblogging means that your content can very quickly lose its tether to your name or the idea of intellectual property.
Tumblr can also be a little blue, so if you're worried about users stumbling across bad language or NSFW content, it's not the best choice.
Pros: There are many template options using the Wordpress CMS.
Cons: Started in 2003 as a blogging platform, Wordpress has become extremely popular without necessarily becoming more user friendly. The interface is notoriously finicky.
Pros: In Lesson 11, you'll meet developer Bri Hermanson. Her recommendation for a comprehensive CMS is Drupal. It lets you create all sorts of server-side functionality.
Cons: Getting oriented in Drupal is an investment, and so I wouldn't start from scratch unless you have some serious free time or can hire a programmer.
The image below comes from the Emily Dickinson Museum.