So if you’re reading this, chances are that you’re looking to start a blog for free. There are many ways to do this, however, you need to bear in mind whether a free blog is actually the best option for you or not—paid blogging options won’t necessarily break your bank! Either way, blogging for free or spending a little investment, the choice is yours.
Luckily for you, just below, I’ve highlighted both sides of the coin.
Best free blogging options
With upwards of a dozen blogging platforms available, they require no investment and, for the most part, have identical features. So how do you know which one to choose? I’ve shortlisted 3 that are thought to be the most popular, are well-established in the market, and offer a decent level of stability and security.
If you pay attention to TV advertisements or social media, you’ve probably seen an advert for Wix. Their focus is on small business owners, offering a very simple interface that requires very little technical expertise. There are hundreds of templates to choose from, all operating from a drag and drop system, enabling you to customize your blog as you wish.
Whilst Wix sounds like it’s flexible, once your template is established, you are, sadly, unable to switch to another one, so you need to make sure that you’re happy with your choice from the start.
You’re also tied into the company’s advertising and self-branding, which isn’t necessarily a problem but can potentially put your readers off, and adds to the already-lacking personal touch. If you wanted to push your blog up the personalized ladder there is a paid option to have your own custom domain, so instead of having wix.com/yourdomainname, you could have yourdomainname.com
The awesome thing about Blogger is that it’s completely free. It’s also probably the go-to blogging platform if you were to ask someone what free blogging option they would recommend—this is likely due to it being well-established in the blogging marketplace and piggybacking Google’s Fort Knox-esque security levels.
As is the case with all free blogs, it can be taken away from you though. Google is well-known to bring down the hammer on blogs that they’re not fond of, and so you’re at risk of this if you decide to set up your blog with them. You’re also restricted to very basic and somewhat unfashionable templates, so you can forget about customizing your blog as you see fit.
A further plus-side to Blogger is that you can monetize it through your AdSense account, using targeted ads to reward you for blogging what you’re passionate about.
Medium differs from the above two platforms in that it isn’t a traditional blogging platform; it’s more of a hub for writers and journalists and is fast becoming a hot-spot to pick up the latest hacks, digital marketing trends, and current affairs.
Template design capabilities are completely out of the window with a Medium blog in so far as they’re non-existent. What this does mean, however, is that you can focus on providing excellent content for your own brand and blog, rather than idling away precious time searching for the perfect color scheme. It’s also worth noting that the standard template and design is rather aesthetic and basic, using neutral colors to ensure reader engagement.
Again, bear in mind that you don’t own the blog, so if you’re a budding freelance journo or are looking to build a large following, you could wake up one morning with it all having been taken away.
The counterargument to free blogging
It’s affordable to buy your own
If the cost of buying a domain, hosting, and a premium template were extortionate, then free blogging would be insanely popular. While the above 3 blogging platforms are popular, there are, arguably, greater and more significant benefits to owning your own blog. An excellent example of a paid-for layout and successful blog is Start Blogging Online, a decent resource for you to check out if you were serious about content creation, format, and blogging.
Ownership and control
As has already been mentioned, with any free blog, you do not own it, and it could all be a waste of time. For as little as the price of your daily coffee intake (depending on how addicted you are), you could have your own blog up and running within a day, especially with the highly customizable and easy to use likes of WordPress or Squarespace.
Most free blogging platforms severely constrict you in how you can monetize your blog, with some not allowing you any adverts at all; those that do can constrict you to their own ads, rather than relevant third-party ads.
By owning your own blog, you can link it to your AdSense account and trust Google’s algorithm to place targeted and relevant ads on your blog, or you can approach smaller independent ad companies who will meet you or chat to you over the phone as to ideas for your advertising campaign.
Because you have more control over your own blog you can customize the widgets and plugins and features of it rather than relying on a rigid and inflexible template. It’s up to you to update the plugins to a beta release, or not. It’s up to how often you wish to redesign your blog posts, or not. It’s totally up to you how your blog is structured, which is the especially the case with WordPress and event more so for ecommerce plugins for wordpress.
Using any of the popular web builders out there is a good option if you’re just looking to write down your thoughts, use a blog as a means to get some release or just start something very small-time.
If, however, you’re serious about blogging, wish to build your own website, have full control over it, and are looking to start a serious business venture, then choosing to purchase your own domain and hosting should be your option, especially considering how easy it is to integrate e-commerce into blogs.