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Many small businesses and internet entrepreneurs are looking for a way to start blogging - but without spending much money. In this article, you will learn about the top five best free blogging platforms.
Free Blog Warning: There is a drawback to using a free blogging platform. You have very limited control of your content and it can be hard to download or export should you decide to switch to a self-hosted blogging platform. It is important to decide which is more important: price or flexibility.
Generally speaking if you are just looking for a place to express your thoughts and have no commercial intent, then a free blogging platform can be right for you. However, if you have any intent to make money online then you must go with a paid blogging solution.
Another huge consideration is whether you are starting a blog to make money online. If you plan on having a blog with commercial intent, many free blogging platforms restrict that or are not flexible enough to support all the tools you'll need to market and sell online.
There is no shortage of blogging platforms. While some are free, others charge a small monthly fee. And others start free and offer premium services for a cost.
Top 5 Free Best Blogging Platforms
The world's most popular blogging platform, WordPress offers a free and premium platform. Learn the difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com.
While WordPress is free on both sites, you'll have to purchase web hosting if you download from WordPress.org. For the free version, visit WordPress.com and open your account.
Like Blogger.com (see below), WordPress.com offers a huge set of free themes and the ability to customize your site/blog.
Benefits to WordPress.com Platform:
- Ability to use a custom domain (although this does incur an annual fee)
- All maintenance is taken care of for you: security, upgrades, spam filters and backups
- A huge set of free blogging themes
- A platform that many bloggers are familiar with, so there are a lot of tutorials for it.
How to get started with WordPress.com
Visit WordPress.com and setup your free account. You'll need to give some thought to your domain name. If you choose to use the completely free version, your site URL will look like this: yourdomain.wordpress.com. This is an important part of your brand and you should give considerable thought when choosing your domain name.
Once you have your blog up and running you'll want to start driving traffic to it. Here are 5 ways to drive massive amounts of traffic to your new blog.
Again, if you have any commercial intent or are looking to make money with your blog you'll want to go with the self-hosted WordPress.org solution. This means that you will buy a beginner hosting package that you can usually get for under $10.00 a month from a company like Hostgator, and install WordPress on your own host.
Note: Another big advantage to owning a self-hosted version of WordPress is that you own the asset, so you can collect contacts in the form of email addresses or put premium advertising network display ads on your site as you gain more traffic.
Blogger is a free blogging platform by Google. And it is extremely popular. Millions of blogs run on this free platform.
Benefits to Blogging with Blogger.com:
- Easy to setup
- Lots of free templates and designs
- No need to know or use custom code
How to get started with Blogger
Visit Blogger.com and setup your free account. If you already have a Google account (Gmail, YouTube, etc) it is best to use that account and link them together.
Once you have setup your free account, you can get right to work designing your blog. Within a few hours, you should be able to have your first post published.
Blogger is best suited for informational blogs and for people wanting a platform to stay in touch with friends and family. E-commerce functions are limited on this platform and not an appropriate solution for any type of business activity.
Blogging on Tumblr is probably one of the easiest ways to start blogging. The options are fairly limited allowing you to begin blogging right away. Because of how the network is setup it is actually a mix of Twitter and WordPress. Considered a micro-blogging platform, you can blog just a sentence or a full dissertation - it's up to you. Many Tumblr blogs focus on sharing (reblogging) photos on a specific theme.
See also: 3 Simple Steps to Twitter Success
Benefits of Blogging on Tumblr.com:
- Use a custom domain
- Blog directly from your mobile device, desktop or via email
- Enjoy shared traffic from their network - opening your content to their huge audience
How to get started with Tumblr.com
Visit Tumblr.com and setup your free account. Click "Sign-Up" to start your blog. It would be best to spend some time learning how the site works. It is part blogging platform and part social media network, and it is different from any other that I've seen.
If you do decide to use Tumblr for your blog, I would still recommend using a separate website for your main business pages, products, etc. Basically you'll have your own website to handle the business end of your web presence and use the Tumblr blog as a traffic source to your main website.
Wix is usually thought of as a website builder, and it has premium programs that you can purchase on a monthly basis. It also has a free blogging platform that is powered by Wix ads.
With Wix you can choose from a variety of blog templates to set the look and feel of your blog.
How to get started with Wix.com
Go to Wix.com/start/blog and click on "create your own blog." You then create an account with your email or a Facebook or Google log in. After that you'll be taken to a page that asks you a few questions about what you are trying to accomplish.
You can select from many different customization options in an easy to use interface. At the end the Wix platform will try to get you to upgrade. There are some advantages to upgrading, including being able to connect your own domain name and removing ads. But you don't have to in order to get your site online.
See also: How to Get Free Traffic from the Search Engines to Your Blog
Medium.com is a relatively new blogging platform that is growing quickly in popularity and audience.
The Medium platform is very minimalistic with a focus on the quality of the content and viewpoints being written.
How to get started with Medium.com
Simply go to Medium.com and click on the Sign In / Sign Up button. You can create an account using your existing social media accounts including Twitter, Facebook, and Google.
A nice feature of signing up using your existing Facebook or Twitter account is that Medium will automatically import your followers into the network on Medium.
Similar to Tumblr, I wouldn't necessarily recommend using Medium as your primary place of business online, but would consider using it as a traffic source; blogging to reach new audience that wouldn't know of you otherwise -- and drive them back to your website.
Other Free Blogging Platform Options
While this article focused on the most popular / newest blogging platforms, there are literally hundreds if not thousand of options to choose from. These days there is little difference between a "regular website" and a blog so you may find that you don't necessarily need a separate solution for a blog vs website.
Some other options you way want to look at include:
These are certainly all more commercial friendly options if your goal is to make money online.
Alternatives to a Free Blogging Platform
My recommendation when it comes to blogging is to get your own paid hosting account (such as Bluehost) and install WordPress on your hosting account. This gives you complete freedom and flexibility to control the content and commercial intent of your website.