Updated: 29th September 2019
It’s a question I see frequently when I’m browsing the Internet. I’ve seen the question asked so many time it’s almost as if it’s the most important thing people want to know about blogging. Can you start a blog for free?
Well if you want a straight answer without caveats, you absolutely can start a blog for free.
However, if you want an answer with caveats, you can start a blog for free… but you might want to think about whether you should before you invest your time and effort into it.
This post will provide you with information about:
- Free blogging platforms.
- A recommendation for which one I’d use.
- Reasons why you shouldn’t start a free blog.
After you’ve read through these you can make an informed decision about whether starting a free blog is right for you.
Starting a Blog for Free: What Platform?
For the purposes of this article I’ll work on the assumption that a free blog includes:
- A blogging tool or content management system (CMS). This is the actual place where you create and edit your posts and all content.
- A host where blog software can run. This is the physical location where your blog and all its assets are saved.
With this assumption established, let’s take a look at some of the more respected free blogs available.
WordPress.com is a very popular free blogging platform, offering a blog and hosting. If you’re a new blogger it’s a great platform since it provides an awful lot of functionality, ample free storage space (200MB) and unlimited bandwidth.
Choosing the free hosting option with WordPress.com is a great way to learn how to use the WordPress CMS. It will prepare you for managing your own paid hosting of a WordPress site if you decide to do so at a later date.
If you decide in the future to find your own paid host, the WordPress CMS software to run your blog is free to install and you can easily import your blog and all your posts into it.
Pros & Cons of Free WordPress.com Blogs
- Lots of free customizable designs (themes).
- Very search engine friendly.
- Secure with high performance.
- Mobile friendly.
- 200MB of storage and unlimited bandwidth.
- You can’t edit theme files to further customize your blog exactly the way you want.
- WordPress-based ads appear on your site, which you can’t switch off.
- You can’t add to the functionality of your blog with plugins.
Another very popular contender, Wix.com also offers a free CMS and hosting combined.
Free Wix.com blogs give you 500MB storage and 500MB bandwidth. As with WordPress.com, you can upgrade your package to a paid version when your blog outgrows the free version.
I’ve never personally used Wix so can’t comment on how easy it is to use. However, many supporters of Wix say it’s drag-and-drop options make it fairly straightforward. If you’re not comfortable with this, you can let the Wix AI create a site for you based on a series of questions
Pros & Cons of Free Wix.com Blogs
- Over 500 designer-made themes.
- Intuitive and useful interface.
- Mobile friendly.
- 500MB of storage and 500MB of bandwidth.
- Wix-based ads appear on your site, which you can’t switch off.
- Plugins do not load directly into your theme but instead the functionality the deliver appear in iFrames.
- Search engine friendliness is not very sophisticated.
Like WordPress and Wix, Weebly it’s a big player in the blogging world.
The Weebly free blog package provides 500MB storage and bandwidth, so potentially this gives you a permanent solution if you want a free blog forever.
As with Wix.com, Weebly is based around drag-and-drop components. I have experience of using it and it’s true that it’s easy to use, but personally I don’t like the interface and find it a little clumsy.
That said, it’s a very popular free blogging platform.
Pros & Cons of Free Weebly Blogs
- Simple to use.
- Free plan lasts forever.
- 500MB of storage and unlimited bandwidth.
- Weebly-based ads appear on your site, which you can’t switch off.
- Difficult to migrate to another CMS system or host.
- Weebly branding appears on your blog.
Blogger is a free blogging platform that Google provides. It’s long established having been taken over by Google in 2003.
Google hosts the blogs, which reside on a subdomain of blogspot.com (so you’d have something like myblog.blogspot.com).
However, Blogger free blogs can also run from your own custom domain (like www.example.com), but you need to edit your DNS settings to redirect it to Google’s servers, which is a bit fiddly if you’re new to all this.
Pros & Cons of Free Blogger Blogs
- Simple to use.
- Easy to migrate to another platform.
- Revenue share through Google Adsense.
- 15GB of storage shared across your Google Account.
- Google has a reputation for changing functions with little warning.
Joomla offers a free blogging an hosting deal at Launch.joomla.org.
Launch.joomla.org gives you a competitve 500MB of storage and your blog will be on the launch.joomla.org subdomain.
With useful features such as FTP, PHPMyAdmin, and the ability to install extensions it gives you some flexibility that some of the others don’t offer.
Setting up a Launch.joomla.org free blog is simple and quick… you can have a blog up and ready for publishing within a matter of minutes.
Pros & Cons of Free Joomla Blogs
- 500MB of storage
- Variety of free themes and plugins.
- You have to renew your free subscription every 30 days.
- Old-fashioned post editing interface.
Unlike the other free blogs in this post, Penzu is a private online journal tool… so not a traditional blog that you open up for the world to see. It’s effectively a private online diary.
Penzu is a freemium tool: the basic functions are free (software and hosting) which you can extend with special paid features such as fonts and rich text formatting.
If you’re looking for a private blog that you don’t want to use to get visitors, Penzu might be a good option because this is what it is specifically designed for.
Pros & Cons of Free Penzu Blogs
- 100% privacy.
- It’s not a public blog by default.
Tumblr inhabits the space between a blog and a Twitter account. This is because really it’s a microblogging and social networking website.
Tumblr’s interface is easy to tackle. The sign-up process is simple and you can begin posting very quickly.
If you’re looking for a full-blown blog solution, Tumblr might not be right for you because it’s fairly basic and doesn’t offer much in the way of customization options.
Pros & Cons of Free Tumblr Blogs
- You can display ads on your pages.
- Tumblr can integrate with Google Analytics.
- Basic customization.
- Not the best blog for in-depth, text-heavy blog posts.
Medium is principally a community blogging tool in that it’s like having your blog posts appear in a magazine rather than your own blog per se.
Content quality on Medium tends to be very high and well researched, so it’s not perhaps something where bloggers can just post the odd funny!
Hosting is free and there are no storage or bandwidth limitations. However, customization is pretty much locked down as well as your content too: content belongs to the community and you cannot export it to another blogging tool if you want to move away.
Pros & Cons of Free Medium Blogs
- Unlimited storage and bandwidth.
- Very secure.
- You don’t own your content and cannot export posts you’ve published to a blog elsewhere.
- Little ability to customize.
What Free Blog Do I Recommend?
For me it’s WordPress.com every time.
To be honest all free blogs are fairly limiting. They all lock down the functionality and offer a fraction of what a standalone CMS installation on a paid host can offer. Practically all of them display ads and branding that you can’t switch off.
This isn’t a complaint… after all they are free!
My rationale for choosing WordPress.com is it’s my preferred tool when it’s self-hosted. The software is always free, you just need to find a host you’re prepared to pay for… and that needn’t cost the earth. SiteGround is the host I use and it’s priced very reasonably:
StartUp UK Year 1: £2.95/month and £8.95/month after the first year (prices exclude VAT).
StartUp US Year 1: $3.95/month and $11.95/month after the first year.
I never have a problem with people starting off on a free platform to learn the tools and processes of blogging. However, when you become comfortable, you should move to self-hosting as soon as you can.
There are so many advantages to a self-hosted blog that I’ll leave them for another discussion.
Suffice to say if you want to start a blog for free, my recommendation would be to start with WordPress.com.
- There are many providers offering services where you can start a blog for free.
- Free blogging and hosting combined may seem attractive at first but they will limit your growth long-term.
- You can run free blogging software on a paid host.
- My recommendation to blog for free would be WordPress.com, but I appreciate others will have a different opinion.
You can start a blog for free but think carefully about where you want to be long-term. It may be that you are not thinking about trying to grow organic traffic, you just want to start a blog that you don’t want to use to make money… and that’s just fine.
However, if you’re serious about trying to make a side hustle, free blogs will not provide you with the best tools to do so.
That’s it for now.
Please let me know your thoughts on starting a free blog below in the comments area.
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