Blogging is a great way to communicate. It lets you express yourself, inform people about a cause your passionate about, and you can even use it to promote a business. Starting a blog today is easier than it has ever been.
But if you’re low on money, you’ll probably wondering if there are any cash-saving tips to get you started with blogging. In this guide, we’ll look at how to start a blog for free, the best free blog sites and pros and cons of starting a free blog. (Note: All prices and features in this article are correct at time of publication.)
How to start a blog for free
Starting a blog for free is surprisingly easy. All you need is an idea, an email address, and to choose which free blogging platform you want to use. Oh, and you’ll also need to decide on your blog’s name.
Once you’ve signed up to the platform of your choice, you can start writing straight away.
Here’s a brief run through of some of the most popular free blog sites around.
WordPress.com is one of the leading free blogging platforms. It’s been around for 13 years now, and it has a significant user base.
WordPress.com provides an easy-to-use blogging interface, and also lets you change the appearance of your free WordPress.com blog.
It’s important not to confuse WordPress.com with WordPress.org. WordPress.org is a content management system (CMS) which needs web hosting and a domain name to run. So while the CMS itself is free, you still need to pay for web hosting and a domain name.
If you decide to set up a free WordPress blog, you can connect it to a domain name, but you’ll have to pay for a domain name.
The Blogger service was launched in 1999, before being acquired by Google in 2003. It’s one of the platforms that helped popularise blogging, and it retains a dedicated user base to this day.
Like WordPress.com, it offers a straight-forward interface and the look of the blog can be customised.
There isn’t much difference between Blogger and a free WordPress blog in terms of writing and publishing posts, but you may find that overall a free WordPress blog offers more features.
Medium is a newcomer on the blogging scene, having launched in 2012. The company has tried bringing something different to the world of blogging, but in attempting to do so it’s had several changes of direction in its short life.
But, at its heart, Medium remains a blogging platform with a simple interface. On the downside, it offers little ability to customise the look of your blog.
Medium is most strongly associated with the digital marketing and tech niches, although there’s nothing to stop you using it to blog about other issues.
One of the benefits of Medium as a blogging platform is that you can actually use it to make money. You can learn more about Medium’s payout policies here.
Tumblr is a hybrid between a blogging platform and a social network. It’s not the best for long-form writing, but it’s good if you want to include prominent visual elements.
The fact that it also has something of a community built into its platform is also another attractive feature, as it can make it easier to build an audience.
Why shouldn’t you use a free blogging platform?
The benefits of using a free blogging platform are pretty clear: They cost nothing and are easy to use.
But the downsides to free blogging platforms outweigh their benefits in almost every case. Here’s why.
You can’t monetize a free blog
Want to use your blog to earn money via advertising? You can’t do that with a free blog. Although adverts can be found on some free blog sites, they’ll be generating income for the owner of the blogging platform, not the blogger.
They’re bad for business blogging
Professionalism is key in business, and using a free blogging platform doesn’t look professional. On top of that, if you use a free blogging platform to create a business blog that’s separate from your main website, you’ll miss out on the main benefits of business blogging. Your articles won’t drive more traffic to your website, and they won’t help you site rank better in search engines. Put simply, free blog sites aren’t suitable for professional use.
You risk losing everything
If you’re using a free blogging platform, the simple fact is you don’t have complete control over your blog. And if you don’t have complete control over your blog, you could be in for a nasty surprise.
Although all the blogging platforms we’ve talked about here are well-established, others have come and gone.
That means people have put time and effort into building a blog on a platform, only to have that platform disappear.
If the platform you use shuts down, you may be able to back up your posts, but you’ll still face the prospect of building a new audience from scratch.
Alternatives to free blogging platforms
Free blogging platforms are great for small blogs, but if you’re serious about things you should always spend a little bit of money to set up your own blog on your own domain.
One of the easiest ways to do this is by using GoDaddy’s WordPress hosting. With prices starting at £4.99 a month, with a free domain and free email for a year it’s highly affordable.
Just a basic WordPress starter plan will let you unleash the full power of modern WordPress, which beats even the best free blogging platform. You’ll be able to monetize your WordPress site, connect it to a custom domain name and add all the extra features and functionality you need.
There are also instructional videos and free step by step guides to help you get started.
If you’re looking to add a WordPress blog to an existing website, then it is possible to install WordPress on a subdirectory, but some technical knowledge is required so you may want to speak to your web designer about this.
If you’re worried even a WordPress starter plan will push your technical skills to the limit, you could move your website over to the GoDaddy Website Builder, which allows you to create a mobile-friendly business site with a blog via an easy to use interface.
Once you’ve got your blog set up, check out this list of 50 blog post ideas for inspiration.
Opting for a paid blogging platform won’t break the bank. It will also give you the power and flexibility needed to make your blog a success.
As with most things in life, free doesn’t always mean good. And that’s true for free blogging platforms.