If you don’t have all the money to cover the costs of a self-hosted blog or you are not planning to monetize it, you are welcome to start a free blog. Most established bloggers began with a free blog before venturing into professional blogging.
It is recommended that you start with a free blog if:
- You are a beginner who wants to learn about blogging
- You don’t plan to make money blogging. You can still make money from a free blog, but you will have limited potential
- You don’t have money for hosting and purchasing a domain name
Keep reading for a step-by-step guide on how to start a free blog
Choose a blogging platform
Essentially, all blogging platforms allow you to set up a free blog. These platforms include WordPress, Blogger, Wix, Tumblr and so on. The most commonly used are WordPress and Blogger although Tumblr also has its own success story.
WordPress comes in two versions, wordpres.com and Wordpress.org. Wordpress.com is what you use if you want to start a free blog while Wordpress.org is for those going for a self-hosted blog, that is, they have purchased hosting and a domain name.
WordPress does not allow monetization of free blogs, especially through affiliate marketing or advertising systems such as AdSense. The only way you can make money with a free WordPress blog is by selling your own products such as eBooks or physical products and other services that don't involve the use of integrated payment platforms like PayPal.
Blogger allows you to monetize your free blog, but it has limited functionality and themes as compared to WordPress. If you want to sell affiliate products or use Google AdSense with a free blog, you should go with blogger. However, it is recommended to only utilize blog monetization with a self-hosted blog. This is because people tend to find self-hosted blogs more credible than free-hosted ones and therefore more likely to make purchases.
Choose A Blog Name
After deciding which blogging platform you want to use based on your personal preferences, you need to choose a blog and a domain name. Unlike with self-hosted blogs, you won’t need to purchase a domain name for a free blog. All you have to do is create an account, name your blog and set the domain address, install a theme and you are ready to start blogging for free.
For a free blog, your web address will have the name of the blogging platform you are using. For example, if you are using Wordpress.com your web address or domain name will be something like www.blogname.wordpress.com. If you are using blogger, it will be www.blogname.blogspot.com. If you decide to self-host, the company subdomain i.e WordPress or Blogspot is removed so that your domain name changes to www.blogname.com.
Even though it is not recommended for purposes of SEO, your domain name can be different from your blog name. For example, you can have a domain name such as www.blogname.wordpress.com with Super Blog as your blog name. For a free blog, you can change the domain name and blog name any time, so you should not worry about getting it right the first time. However, if you depend on organic traffic, changing your domain name too often will affect your blog stats and ranking.
Install A Theme And Start Designing
Immediately after setting your URL and blog name, you will be required to choose a theme or a template that will determine your blog format and design. Both blogger and Wordpress.com have a lot of free themes you can use on your free blog, although WordPress themes are more elegant and visually appealing.
The type of theme you choose should be inspired by the purpose of your blog. There are themes for fashion, news, sports, e-commerce blogs (possible with a free blogger blog) and so on.
Blogger allows you to access the full source code of downloaded themes which you can copy and directly paste into your blog. WordPress is more reserved when it comes to giving free bloggers access to the theme source code.
After you have installed your favourite theme or template you can start working on designing the blog. You can change colours, add a logo, create pages and menus. Once you're satisfied with your design work and the look of your theme, you can write your first blog post.
Although free blogs offer limited freedom when it comes to design, functionality, and monetization, it is the best option to start your blogging journey. If you are a business owner, however, it would be imprudent to create a free blog for your company. Do not get stuck with a free blog forever. After you have gained enough experience and are ready to blog professionally, by all means, upgrade to a self-hosted blog.