Do you want to learn how to start a blog for free?
I’ll tell you the best sites where you can start a blog for free as well as how to set up paid blog hosting if you want to start a successful website and make money blogging.
Read on for a step by step guide to setting up a blog with pros and cons for each option.
Assuming you already have your blog idea in mind, this guide will explain how to set up a blog for free or with paid hosting. If you need help deciding on your blog niche, ideas for domain names or blog names check our handy guides.
If all of this seems too overwhelming, you can take a course to walk you through the steps. Here’s a list of the top 10 blogging courses for beginning bloggers.
Free Blog Sites
Are you just getting started with blogging and you’re not sure where it will go? Then a free blog site might be the best way for you to try it out without risking your wallet.
There are many free blog sites, but here are the top choices you should consider:
These sites are pretty simple to set up and have their pros and cons.
FREE BLOG SITE PROS:
- Easy to set up and start blogging right away
- No cost
- No committment
- Offers simple features that will help you start your blog
FREE BLOG SITE CONS:
- Lack of customization in appearance and functions
- Blog name is often unappealing like blogarama.wordpress.com or blogarama.blogspot.com
- Advertising is sometimes not allowed
- Lack of control over your own website
If you are really worried about spending money to launch your blog but are excited to get started, I recommend beginning with one of these free platforms. After a few months see how it is going. If you plan to continue or see the possibility of the blog growing, then you can switch your site over to one of the paid platforms. Read on for more information on the ones I recommend.
Blog Builder Platforms
Awesome! You are ready to invest a bit of time and money to set up a professional blog.
Do you like the idea of the free blogging platforms not because they don’t cost anything but because you are not very tech savvy?
Then platforms like SquareSpace and Wix are excellent options for you. These blog builders allow you to have a gorgeous, professional looking site in minutes.
BLOG BUILDER PROS:
- Easy to set up and start blogging right away
- Professional looking templates without the need for technical expertise
BLOG BUILDER CONS:
- Less customization
- Can be slightly more expensive than hosting and building a site on your own
These blogging platforms can be an excellent way to get started building your first blog or starting a business blog. If blogging is not your #1 goal but instead you would like one as part of your smart business strategy then these stylish templates are an excellent option.
If your blog grows you may want more customization options than these platforms can provide. But if you don’t already possess a lot of technical expertise, Wix and Squarespace can provide an excellent solution. Later you can always switch to a self-hosted site. Read on for more!
Blog Hosting Providers
Are you ready to take your blog to the top? It is not that difficult to create your perfect blog, it just requires a bit of knowledge and some time spent getting things set up.
If you love learning new things then you can take the simple steps to learn how to create your own website.
Another option is to hire an expert to get things set up for you, then learn the ropes of how to post new content and how to make basic changes to your site. There are plenty of technical experts out there who can build you a simple or complex website with all the bells and whistles.
If you started out with a free blog site you will need to purchase a domain name to get started. This is an easy process as long as the name you want is available. If you would like tips for how to purchase a domain name click here.
Once you have a domain name, you need a place to host the content for your blog. This is typically a shared server where all that code will be stored and shown to visitors when they stop by your blog.
If you are just starting out you can look for the most basic level of hosting that is usually very inexpensive. Companies also offer special deals on their hosting packages quite often. Here are a few packages I recommend:
Namecheap offers some of the lowest priced hosting around. They currently have a deal for $9.88/yr for basic hosting that even includes 3 domain names. This hosting package is simple but allows you to set up your website with just a few clicks.
For this lowest cost hosting you will need to install WordPress (or Joomla or another platform) yourself through their CPanel. It is not that difficult and there are many tutorials on the Namecheap site that will walk you through it. They also have online chat available 24/7 to answer questions. I love Namecheap!
If you go for their next levels of hosting you can opt for WordPress to be installed and updated for you. You’ll also get access to faster servers and more storage. Click here to see the prices and options currently available at Namecheap.
Bluehost also has excellent 24/7 customer service and competitive pricing. Their web hosting is currently only $3.95/month. This includes one-click WordPress installation. It also includes a free domain, so if you haven’t registered yours yet this is a great deal.
I have used GoDaddy as my hosting provider for years. They have several options for blog hosting including the basic level as well as managed WordPress where they install and update the software for you each month. GoDaddy has great customer 24/7 service over the phone which is ideal if you are based in the USA. Otherwise it is difficult to reach them over chat or email. That is the one negative I have with GoDaddy as I do not live in the United States and calling my local number is not free with my cell phone provider.
- Set it up and start blogging within 24-48 hours
- Totally customizable and scaleable as you grow bigger
- Can be very inexpensive
- Requires a bit more research and technical expertise
- Costs a few dollars a month, or can be pricier depending on your choice of options
WordPress Blogging Platform
WordPress is the most popular blogging platform in the world with 82 million users. I love it! The platform is open source and allows for almost any design you can think of. Unless you have expertise with another platform or framework I recommend using WordPress.
Once you install the WordPress platform you’ll need to pick a theme. The theme is the functionality, look and feel of your site.
There are many free themes available but typically the paid themes are easier to use and offer more options for customization. If you’re a beginning blogger do not worry too much about finding the perfect theme. Choose one of the free themes and start publishing posts. Later you can find a theme that fits with your style.
Once you have been working with a free theme for a while you’ll get a better idea of the features you want. The Envato Marketplace Themeforest is a great place to shop for WordPress themes.
Plugins are another way to add functionality to your WordPress website. These are useful little apps both free and paid that you can add via the dashboard of your WordPress blog. Popular plugins can add social media buttons or help you with SEO.
If you’d like to see some of the plugins I recommend for travel bloggers then take a look here.
So now that you have your blog set up you are ready for the next part of the process, adding content. Check here for our tips for how to write a blog, or read about where to find images and photographs for your website.
Other important aspects of building a successful blog includes a social media strategy and SEO. Lastly, if you want to make money blogging you will also need to learn tips and tricks for monetizing your website. Look for our helpful guides on these topics soon.
Learn how to make money on your blog with Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing.
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Wanna learn to blog like a pro? Check out this blogging course from the awesome women of A Beautiful Mess.
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