Let me try to help as much as I can through some bullets:
Wordpress.com falls under category 2, it’s a managed service for a monthly subscription.
Self hosted solutions will increase the initial friction, and by the time you have the blog up and running, you’ll lose interest.
You can publish on medium whether you have paid subscription or not. However, you need paid subscription to connect your custom domain to your publishing.
Micro.blog is great, but it has a very limited set of features. Plus I don’t see the team adding any features, they still offer the same features that they were offering since the Kickstarter campaign many years ago, except for podcast hosting.
Medium: you don’t have control over what gets displayed on the page unfortunately and you can’t install any plugins or add any features down the road.
Ghost is amazing, but it’s more directed towards subscription for your readers, for instance, I could not find a way to remove the huge subscribe button on the page from any theme I tried.
Wordpress.com is more expensive, especially if you went up the tier that offers custom plugins.
I personally settled on Wordpress.com, again it’s more expensive but offers the most flexibility. I was hoping to use Ghost. I would recommend to quickly give a try to some of those options, and get a sense of what or what not work for you.
I would not use Medium. You want a platform where you control the data and access to that data. Medium limits readers who are not subscribers. Lovely writing UI, but I strongly dislike their content limitation.
I would suggest first trying a free option, using either a free WordPress.com or Blogger (Google’s blog spot) account, to see if you actually want to blog. Blogger is adequate, but hasn’t really been actively updated. Many new to blogging like it for its simplicity; you have minimal customization options.
WordPress is the dominant blogging system. You can try it for free at WordPress.com. You can host it there with more options, like a custom domain name, for free. Just try it first.
You can alternatively use an ISP and a hosting account with WordPress.org. This may be cheaper, and it does give you more control. It also requires more work on your part.
Squarespace is another option. It’s pricey, but for an income-generating site or storefront, it’s a super option.
Micro.blog is more affordable than many, at c. $60.00 for them to host. It’s actively maintained with a vibrant community. If I were just starting today, I’d look very very hard at Micro.blog.
I host my site on ghost and I am very happy with it. @mina I also managed to remove the huge subscribe button. Search on their forums for instructions specific to your theme.
However, I am managing my website myself so it does require a bit of maintenance every now and then (3-4 times a year).
I recently discovered https://bearblog.dev/ and it appears to be exactly what I was looking for when I started. If you are not looking to make money and want a simple blog on your own domain with no maintenance required from the user, please consider BearBlog.
I have looked into this many times over the past few years and come to the conclusion that there is no satisfactory platform.
Self-hosted platforms like Wordpress.org and hugo mean you’ve taken a part-time job as site-admin. Maybe that will be a fun hobby or side-hustle for you, but if not, then self-hosting is not a good option.
Small platforms like micro.blog and blot are run by one or two guys each, who are mortal or might just lose interest.
I went with Wordpress.com. I curse the bloat, but at least I don’t have to be a part-time site admin.
Also, I use the Lindy Effect as a rule of thumb. WordPress has been around 18 years, and is used by 43% of the Internet. It’s more likely to be a stable platform than anything else on the Internet.
But even WordPress has the “one guy” problem. Automattic, which operates WordPress.com, is an outgrowth of Matt Mullenweg, the way Apple was an outgrowth of Steve Jobs. Not all proprietor-run businesses survive the exit of their proprietors; Apple was the exception there. Consider the sad story of Tumblr.
Another alternative: Blog on Twitter. I’ve considered that.
I’m assuming that you’ve ruled out Facebook as unacceptable. I think if you were OK with Facebook you would not have started this topic.
For blogging in 2022 I recommend ghost.org. It is easier to use than WordPress and more focussed. Plus, it has a built-in newsletter feature. Just like WordPress, you control the content and that is not really the case with Medium.