Can You Start a Blog for Free?

I’ve been blogging for almost a decade, and I didn’t pay anything to start. If you’re new to writing, I’d recommend that you start a blog for free.

Can You Start a Blog for Free? | Hannah Haefele

You can compare a few popular blogging platforms, and some even let you earn money without having to pay. Read on to learn if you can or should start a free blog.

But first, this post contains affiliate links. Read my full disclosure policy to learn more.

Free Blog Platforms

Depending on the platform you choose, you may be able to start a blog for free. I’ve used some popular free blogging sites that allow you to write content without having to spend any money.

The following platforms are fantastic if you’re looking to give blogging a try but don’t want to invest any money.

Blogger

Back in 2013, I started my first blog using Blogger, formerly known as Blogspot. Google now owns the platform, which is nice since you can use your existing Google account to get set up.

You can also connect to tools like Google Analytics and Google AdSense to track your traffic and make a bit of money. It’s the most flexible free blogging platform I’ve come across.

If you have a bit of money, you can connect your own domain to Blogger. Otherwise, your blog URL will be something like example.blogspot.com.

WordPress.com

WordPress.com is another excellent free blogging platform. You can get started with a subdomain of WordPress.com, or you can connect your own domain to make your blog look more professional.

It’s a nice platform because you can upgrade to a paid plan for more features. However, it has more limitations, such as not being able to make money without choosing a paid tier.

There’s also another version of WordPress that’s free (but requires paid hosting from a third party). Compared to WordPress.org, WordPress.com has a ton of restrictions, especially if you aren’t willing to pay a ton per month.

Medium

I only started writing on Medium back in 2020, and it’s been a pretty good platform so far. Unlike Blogger and WordPress, Medium also has a social aspect, so you can easily find and connect with other writers.

Medium calls articles “stories,” but you can use it as any other blog. It’s also nice because you can start to monetize your articles once you reach 100 followers. Before that, you can make money from affiliate marketing.

You can publish stories to your profile, or you can submit them to publications. That way, you can get exposure to more people since your articles will get shown to users who follow the publication, not just those who follow you.

If you want to become a Medium member, you can use my link and a portion of your membership will support me at no extra cost ot you.

Vocal Media

Another platform you can look into is Vocal Media. It’s similar to Medium in that there’s already an audience to read your work, but it’s not as social since you can’t leave comments.

You also have to pay for features like being able to edit your articles after publication. And you have to wait for Vocal to review your work before they publish it for the world to see.

Anyone can get paid from the platform, and you’ll earn a flat rate. However, you have to get a lot of views to make a good amount of money, so most writers make the bulk of their income from bonuses that Vocal provides.

HubPages

I’ve tried using HubPages, but I haven’t been able to successfully publish anything. They require that your first five articles go through manual review and that they follow certain standards.

That can make it hard to get started on the platform. I thought I followed their requirements, but my articles never seemed to make it past their review stage.

If you’re willing to really put in the time to understand their process, you could pass. Then, you can write about a lot of different topics and make money from ads and affiliate links.

Why Start a Blog for Free

If you want to start a blog for free, you can do so. I was blogging for at least a couple of years before I invested any money into it, so it’s a great way to test the waters of the blogging world.

Consider the following advantages of using free blogging platforms, at least as a beginner.

No Financial Risk

One of the most significant advantages of starting a free blog is that it doesn’t cost you anything. Blogging can be very cheap, but it often involves recurring costs, such as for a domain name and hosting.

If you’re not sure if you’ll stick with it, use a free blog for a few months. That will give you time to make sure you enjoy writing for the web and that you’ll want to continue.

After a few months, you can switch over to a paid blog and start with an affordable website hosting package from SiteGround. Or you can decide to stop blogging if you don’t like writing and promoting your articles.

Easy to Start

Starting a blog for free is also a lot easier than paying to set up your own website. That means you can focus on writing, and you could get your first post up within a couple of hours.

Now, Vocal Media and HubPages can take a day or two to approve or reject your post. But the other platforms I’ve used and recommend give you control over when you publish content.

Unfortunately, Blogger and WordPress don’t come with a built-in audience. If you want traffic, you’ll need to promote your website yourself, but Medium offers more control over posting and an audience that can read your articles.

Explore Something New

A lot of bloggers quickly learn how lucrative it can be and so work to turn their blog into a business. However, it can be just as great of a hobby, and you don’t have to worry about making money.

Or maybe you decide to start it as a hobby and turn it into a side hustle later on. Either way, starting a blog for free allows you to explore a new passion.

Sure, that passion might be writing, but it could be whatever blog niche you choose. As you learn about another hobby you have, you can write blog posts on that topic to help others.

Built-In Audience

I’ve touched on this already, but it bears repeating. Some blogging platforms, like Medium, help distribute your content to an existing audience, so you can get traffic and views right away.

That means you can spend more time writing and less time marketing and promoting your content. Now, you can do the same with a Blogger or WordPress blog, but it takes time for search engines to recognize your blog and start showing your content in search results.

If you’re looking to write, consider starting on a free blog platform with an audience. Medium, Vocal Media, and HubPages are all fantastic options.

Why Not Start a Blog for Free

Just because you can start a blog for free doesn’t mean you should. Whether you want to start a blogging business or promote your existing business with a blog, consider why it pays to pay for your blog.

Here are a few drawbacks to starting a free blog.

Many Limitations

Probably the biggest downside to starting a free blog is all of the limitations that come with it. Except for WordPress, most free blogging platforms only allow you to blog.

That may not sound like an issue, but it means you can’t sell products on your blog at a later date. And if you use WordPress.com, the free version doesn’t even let you make money from ads or other sources.

When you first start a blog, you might not worry about that stuff. However, you should think long term and consider if you might want more flexibility in the future.

Migration Problems

After starting my first and second blogs on Blogger, I decided to move them to self-hosted WordPress. That’s different from WordPress.com, and the migration didn’t come without problems.

In both cases, I had to point the domain to new servers, and that took a few hours at least. I also had to export the content from my Blogger blogs and import everything into WordPress.

That takes time, and things don’t always transfer over quite as you expect. I haven’t migrated from WordPress.com or any other free blogging platform, but I imagine they have other issues.

For one, you can’t delete Vocal Media articles. So if you move a blog from there, you’ll have to add canonical links to your Vocal articles to avoid a duplicate content flag in search engines.

Unprofessional Appearance

Many free blogs are also hard to customize and make look professional. You have to choose from one of a few available themes, and you might not be able to change the colors or fonts.

I had this happen when I started one of my blogs on Blogger. Also, a lot of free blogging platforms require you to use a subdomain based on the platform’s domain.

Visitors will be able to tell your blog post is on that platform. You can connect a domain to Blogger or WordPress, so that can help your blog look more professional, but there are still design issues to worry about.

Is It Smart to Start a Blog for Free?

It can be a smart decision to start a blog for free. If you’ve never had a blog before, I’d recommend starting with a free one to make sure you enjoy blogging and that you’ll keep up with it.

Once you determine you’ll stick with blogging, you can start to invest in a domain or more professional hosting. But if you decide to quit, you don’t have to totally delete all of your hard work.

How Much Money Should You Spend to Start a Blog?

The amount of money you should spend to start a blog depends on your goals. If you want a new hobby, I’d suggest starting for $0 and only paying after you get some experience.

However, if you’re looking to start a blog as a business or to add a blog to a business you have, you should pay. You can add a blog to most existing websites, but new blogs cost anywhere from $3 to hundreds of dollars per month.

Domains cost around $10 to $15 per year. I’d recommend saving up around $60 for your first year to cover a good hosting plan and to pay for your domain.

Final Thoughts

If you want to start a blog for free, you totally should. However, you should also consider the pros and cons, especially if you think you may want to make money from your blog in the future.

Then, you can make sure you set your blog up for success, and you can avoid issues like migration later on.

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