How to Start a Blog for FREE without ending up Disappointed in 3 months

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how to start a blog for free

Did you just end up here while searching for “how to start a blog for FREE”?

Then, you are going to be utterly disappointed.

Because while I show you how you too can start your blog for free, I would ABSOLUTELY not recommend doing it.

Why?

Let me give you a backstory.

The blog you are currently on was started just the way you are planning to start your blog – for FREE.

Yes! that’s right.

It’s our tendency to look for things that are FREE, not realizing that in the process we end up paying much more than we really should be.

I too searched on how to start a blog for free and finally came across a hosting provider who was offering everything for free – a domain name, a hosting and an email.

The next minute I had picked a domain name and was all set with the hosting.

I was so excited with launching my first blog that I went about writing articles as if there was no tomorrow. In about 3 months I had written about 32 articles, spent hours researching how to get them ranked (though it wasn’t very difficult to rank articles, in those days) and was all preparing myself to collect my first cheque.

Then one day, I try to login to my blog and I find that I am getting a “website suspended” message (Couldn’t have expected anything better, after all the hosting was FREE).

I kept trying to reach out to somebody but my emails received no response and there was no other option to reach a support team (I was enjoying the fruits of “FREE”).

5 days after frantically trying to reach out to somebody, I finally get a response from someone saying that there was malicious code injected into the website and hence they had to pull down my blog. They weren’t ready to unblock it because they suspected I was a hacker.

So, I ask them to give me a backup of all my articles, so that I can take my blog elsewhere.

And they responded saying they had no backups and would be unable to give me any copies of my articles..

Guess what I would have felt.

Yes. I felt devastated. All my efforts of 3 months had just been flushed down the drain because of my quest for FREE.

I had no choice but to start all over again and write all of those articles again.

Imagine the time and effort that went waste.

If you were to put a money value to both my time and efforts, then do you really think that the so-called “FREEBIES” I got were really freebies. In fact, I ended up paying much more and not getting anything in return.

There is this saying that I slightly modified to fit this tendency of ours –

When you pay peanuts, you get monkeys. But when you pay nothing, you get SHOCKERS.

Now, that story would have given you an idea on why you should stop searching for how to start a blog for FREE and get into the real world and start a blog the right way.

But if you still want to know how you too could start a blog for free, then here are a few suggestions on how to do it.

While there are a lot of services that offer free domain names and free hosting, I wouldn’t really recommend them because of the many problems that come along with these.

If you are really looking for a good hosting provider, I would recommend Hostgator for shared hosting and if you are looking for a good Managed WordPress Hosting solution, I would recommend Stores4Domains.

How to Start a Blog for FREE – A word of Caution

A successful blog is a result of your efforts.

There is a lot of efforts that go into writing each article and then promoting it to an audience, let alone the research that goes in before even starting to write the article.

And all of these efforts that you put in eventually translates into a brand – a personal brand that you build for yourself.

All throughout the rest of the life of your blog and your business, it is this brand that you carry with yourself.

People recognize you because of this brand. They identify you as the brand and all of the business that happens from thereon is between the customers and this brand.

Now for a minute, think about one of those big brands out there and imagine how you relate with them. Think of what comes to your mind first when you think of the brand.

I am sure it is the “NAME” and a “LOGO”.

Just as you are connected to your name, the brand is connected to the brand name.

And that is precisely how you identify Pat Flynn to his blog at smartpassiveincome.com or, Dave Ramsey to his blog at daveramsey.com.

In the world of the internet, this brand name is your domain name. You would have noticed these in the 2 cases that I just spoke about.

So, why are we talking about brands and domain names when we are looking at how to start a blog for FREE.

Because, if you are planning to start your blog for FREE it basically means that you will not be investing the $9.00/year on a domain name. And that also means that you are foregoing your brand value and your brand name.

In the event of your blog becoming successful and you wanting to cash in on your brand name, it will mean starting all over from the beginning with a domain name that has no real value.

So my advice will be to start with a domain name at the bare minimum.

With that out of the way, let us look at how to start your blog for FREE (albeit, it will not be free if you choose to buy a domain name).

How to Start a Blog for Free – The Steps

There are 3 options that I would suggest, if you are to start your blog for FREE. Here they are –

Of these, you can add a custom domain for FREE with Blogspot. But in both WordPress and Wix, you will have to upgrade to a paid plan in order to add a custom domain name.

Let us now take a look at the step-by-step method on how to start a blog for free on each of these 3 platforms.

Wix – The Multi featured Platform

Wix is an excellent platform that is a many-in-one. If you want to start for free and then once your blog is established, you want to upgrade then Wix is the best platform.

It offers you the functionality of adding subscription forms, send email campaigns, run an eCommerce store and do many more such things with their premium plans.

So, from a scaling point of view, Wix is an excellent option.

You can start small and then as you gain experience and build your audience, you can decide to upgrade.

The best part is that you don’t have to worry about hosting, autoresponders, eCommerce etc. Everything is taken care off by Wix. And almost all of their premium plans come with a free domain. So you save on the domain name cost as well.

Their high-end plans come with unlimited bandwidth, a site booster app and a professional logo included. These are some cool features.

There are some extremely good and nice looking templates as well, which you can use to build your websites.

But all said and done, you are still relying on a 3rd party and giving them the control of all of your content.

Now, that’s all available to you, if you plan to upgrade.

What if you continue to stay with the FREE plan?

There are many downsides to it.

  • You have to live with a pathetic site address
  • Wix will show their branding and ads at various places
  • Limited availability of templates
  • Limited bandwidth and storage space

If you are okay with all of these, then get ready to learn step-by-step on how to start a blog for free with Wix.

STEP – 1 : Create a free account with Wix and click on “create new site”.

wix 1

STEP – 2 : Pick the kind of website you are planning to create. In our case it will be a blog, so I selected “BLOG”.

wix 2

STEP – 3 : You will see 2 options now –

The first one is an intuitive website builder that builds your blog for you just by asking you a few questions. This is the easiest and the simplest way to start. I found it quite accurate and it builds out a nice looking blog with pretty much everything you will need. That saves on a lot of time that you would otherwise have spent on building your blog.

The second option is to build your blog by yourself. It starts by picking a template and then adding every element using the drag and drop option.

If you are starting out, then the 2nd option can be a little overwhelming. So I would recommend going with the first option.

wix 3

STEP – 4 : In the next step you decide on your website type. There are some initial suggestions to begin with but you can always type in yours, if you don’t find one of these initial suggestions useful.

I was planning to setup a business blog, so I selected than from the suggestions.

wix 4

STEP – 5 : In this next step, you enter the name of your blog. This should be pretty simple, because you would already have thought about the name for your blog by now.

wix 5

STEP – 6 : The next page is about importing already existing content. Since that isn’t relevant to somebody just starting off, you can click next and move ahead to the next step.

STEP – 7 : This step is about adding a little more information about your blog like a logo, your social links etc.

BTW, if you plan to create a logo for yourself, you can always do that with Wix. If you want a custom logo created, do reach out to me using the contact button and I can get one done for you.

wix 6

STEP – 8 : In this step you pick a theme. There are 6 themes available. I am more of a minimalist guy, so I picked the clean theme option.

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STEP – 9 : In this step you are presented with 3 homepage designs. You can pick one of these 3 depending upon which one suits your need.

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STEP – 10 : In this next step you have options of adding pages to your site. The about page and contact page templates are already available, which is something you can directly select from the options.

wix 9

STEP – 11 : In this final step, you have an option of further customizing your site and pages.

wix 10

Now that your blog is setup, the next steps are all about further customizing your site design, adding any other pages you want and finally adding your content.

So, that was Wix and how to start a blog for free with Wix.

WordPress – the blogging platform

WordPress is a synonym for blogging. They are the ones who revolutionized blogging and today majority of blogs on the internet run on WordPress.

Their platform is the perfect one for blogging – both free and paid.

The FREE option comes with a lot of limitations though like –

  • WordPress.com blogs does not permit running ads. The folks at WordPress might right their ads on your blogs but you are not permitted to run any ads including that of Google Adsense. So there is practically ZERO earning opportunities.
  • You cannot upload plugins. WordPress is all about the additional features and customization options that you get with the help of plugins. But in a WordPress.com blog, you can upload your plugins. You are limited to using the plugins that are available on the WordPress repository.
  • You cannot upload theme or, custom build themes. Your blog design is determined by the options that are available in the WordPress theme repository. While there are a lot of themes in there, you still do not get the option of custom designing your blog.
  • WordPress is particularly strict about the content and any abuse according to their policies, will mean a ban on your account and your blog with a very rare possibility of reinstating it.

If you are okay to live with those limitations, then WordPress is something I prefer in comparison to Wix primarily because of the following benefit –

  1. WordPress.com blogs have a clean address because the blogs are hosted as a subdomain to the WordPress.com domain name. So if you start a blog by the name “How to Start a Blog for free”, your blog address in all likelihood will be howtostartablogforfree.wordpress.com (that is if that address is available).

If you wish to use a custom domain, you will have to pick up one of their premium plans or, buy the domain from them. In the latter case, your website address will still remain the xxx.wordpress.com and your domain will only redirect to this address.

For a full removal of the subdomain blog address and use your domain name, you will need a premium plan.

With that out of the way, let us look at step-by-step on how to start a blog for free on WordPress.com.

STEP – 1 : Once you are on WordPress.com click on “Start your website”.

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STEP – 2 : You can then create an account using your email address or, using your Google account. You can also use your Apple account if your prefer.

Wordpress0a

STEP – 3 : It’s now time to pick your blog address. Type in the name you wish to use for your blog. If you are installing a niche blog then, use the keyword term. But using a WordPress.com blog for a niche blog is something I do not recommend.

Once you enter the term of your choice, you will see an option to select the free WordPress.com URL or, use a domain of your choice. Pick whatever suits you.

wordpress 1

STEP – 4 : The next page gives you the different premium plan options that are available with WordPress. Since we want to use the FREE option, just click the “Start a free site” option and proceed.

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STEP – 5 : You have almost completed the setup. You can now customize your site with the various options available like giving a name to your site, setting up a site menu etc.

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STEP – 6 : When you are finally ready, you can click on launch your site and your site is live.

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STEP – 7 : You now have many options to manage your blog like writing a blog post, adding a page, changing the theme etc.

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That’s all it is to starting a free blog with WordPress.

Now go ahead and publish your posts. You can add relevant affiliate links to your blog posts if you plan on doing affiliate marketing.

Affiliate marketing?

That’s right. WordPress permits adding affiliate marketing but with a small caveat. Here’s an excerpt from their guidance.

Affiliate links are allowed on WordPress.com as long as the primary purpose of your blog is to create original content. We do not allow sites that exist primarily to drive traffic to affiliate links. Affiliate links should be related to your site’s content in some way.

You can read their guidelines on adding affiliate links in this support thread.

Now, let us look at the 3rd option on how to start a blog for free with Blogger.

Blogger – Where it all started

Blogger along with WordPress were first ones to support people who wanted to start a blog. There were many other options like Typepad, Livejournal, Tumblr etc. but these 2 were the most popular ones.

A lot of bloggers that we know today started off at blogger and then migrated over to WordPress self-hosted blogs.

Over the years, blogger has evolved and the platform today has a ton of customization options. You can even add a custom domain without all the hassles like in Wix or, WordPress.

Of the 3 options available above, I would recommend Blogger to anyone who plans on starting off for free and continuing for the long term. With blogger, you can choose to continue your blog without a lot of transfer related problems.

Now let us look at the step by step process on how to start a blog for free with Blogger.

STEP – 1: Go to blogger.com and click on “Create your blog”.

blogger 1 1

STEP – 2: If you already have a Google account, which I assume you should, then just select the account you want to use to create your blog. Else you can click on “Use another account” and proceed.

blogger 2 1

STEP – 3: In the next step choose a name for your blog.

blogger 3 1

STEP – 4: In the next step you select a URL for your blog. This can be a keyword or, a brand name of yours that you want to associate with the blog.

blogger 4

STEP – 5: In the next step choose a display name. This is what will show up as the author of the blog.

blogger 5

STEP – 6: And finally you have your blog setup. It is now time to customize the looks of your blog.

Firstly pick a theme that suits you by going to the “Theme” option on the right hand side. There are a variety of themes available that you can choose from.

Secondly go to the “Layout” option and customize the layout of your blog. It is here that you will add items to your sidebar, change the blog layout, add ad blocks etc.

And finally go to the “Pages” section and add the necessary pages like Privacy policy, Disclaimer, About, Contact pages etc.

blogger 6

And your blog is ready to be publish.

Go ahead and publish your first post.

Which of these is the best Platform to start a blog for FREE?

Now that we have seen the 3 recommends options for how to start a blog for free, it is time to look at which out of these 3 is the most preferred one.

Each of these have its own advantages, but when we look at it from a blogging perspective there are a lot of things that you might need and some others you might not need.

Things that you might need but comes included with a service, make handling systems a little too complicated.

This is what happens with Wix. There are quite a few options available but not all of that is required if you are primarily focused on blogging. These makes the entire system a little complicated and you might feel overwhelmed with the many options.

WordPress has a ton of functionalities that are important from a blogging perspective. But the many restrictions that they put on you and your blog, just because you are hosting with them makes the platform a little less desirable from a long term perspective, if you are planning to grow your blog.

Finally, it is Blogger. If you are looking at how to start a blog for free, then the answer lies at Blogger.

It is the best, easiest to use and comes with a ton of functionalities if you are starting out. They don’t restrict you on monetization methods, so that makes it ideal to monetize as well. And if you plan to grow your blog in the future, you can easily add a custom domain as well.

So Blogger it is.

How to Start a Blog for Free – Conclusion

All said and done, when people come to me asking how to start a blog for free, my answer is quite straightforward.

If you are thinking free, then you are never going to make any money. If you aspire to make money, think like a businessman. Invest the bare minimum and start off on the right foot.

But if you are still looking to start of free, then this post is for you.

So, I hope that the post helped you and was valuable.

If you found it valuable, please do share it with your social media circles. And do comment on what your thoughts on these 3 platforms are.

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