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If you’re wondering how to start a blog for free, I’ve got good and bad news for you.
Let’s start with the good news. It is possible to start a blog for free with zero upfront costs whatsoever.
But here’s the bad news. If you go with a free blog plan, you won’t own your domain. As a result, you’ll have a hard time ranking on Google and limited options for making money.
This is totally fine if you simply want a creative outlet to share your writing, photography, videos, or other work with the world.
But if you’re looking to make money with your blog, I highly recommend purchasing hosting from a provider like Bluehost or Siteground.
Fortunately, the cost isn’t extravagant; you can purchase hosting for as little as $3.95 per month.
Before we talk more about hosting plans, let’s take a closer look at how to start a blog for free, along with the limitations of opting for a free plan.
How to start a blog for free
Even if you have no tech experience, it’s easy to get a new blog up and running in a short amount of time. These are the steps you’ll need to take:
- Choose your blog and domain name
- Sign up for a hosting plan
- Design your blog with a free template
- Write and publish your first posts
- Get more eyeballs on your blog
- You can start a blog with very little investment upfront
1. Choose your blog and domain name
First, you’ll need to brainstorm a name for your blog. Aim for something catchy and memorable that indicates what your blog is about.
For instance, Pinch of Yum is a food blog with lots of yummy recipes. Clever Girl Finance is a personal finance blog geared toward women.
Alternatively, you could choose your name as your blog name and URL if you’re looking to be the face of your brand (e.g., Melyssa Griffin of melyssagriffin.com).
Spend some time brainstorming ideas with a pen and a piece of paper. Don’t be afraid to write down any and all ideas in the brainstorming phase.
A blog name generating tool can help, too, such as this AI Business Name Generator tool from Zyro.
Once you’ve come up with your blog name, check that it’s available. Bluehost has this handy tool you can use to make sure your blog name isn’t already taken. Simply type in your idea below to check if it’s available.
2. Sign up for a hosting plan
Your next step in figuring out how to start a blog for free is signing up for a hosting plan. Your host is where your website lives.
It’s sort of like paying rent, except instead of renting an apartment, you’re renting a space on the internet.
If you’re looking to start a blog for free, there are free hosting providers where you can start your blog.
Two of my favorites are Weebly and Wix. Both offer free blog hosting and website builders with well-designed, easy-to-use templates.
You can simply drag and drop features on the pre-made templates to design a user-friendly site. By signing up for one of these sites, you can get your blog up and running in no time at no cost.
Drawbacks of a free hosting plan
As I mentioned, there are some drawbacks to free blog hosting plans.
For one, you won’t own your domain or have your own domain name. Let’s say you’re naming your blog, My Awesome Blog, and you want it to live at myawesomeblog.com.
On the free Weebly or Wix plan, your blog URL will actually be myawesomeblog.wix.com or myawesomeblog.weebly.com.
See how that doesn’t look as professional as having your own URL?
What’s more, Weebly, Wix, and other free hosting providers might place ads for themselves on your site.
As a result, your blog becomes a walking advertisement for them, and you don’t have as much control over its design or appearance.
And finally, your blog is unlikely to rank well on Google on a free hosting plan. Even if you write amazing content, it isn’t likely to outrank a blog that lives on its own domain.
Now, none of this might be a problem if you’re simply blogging as a creative outlet or want to create an online portfolio to impress an employer.
But if you want to make money on your blog, you’ll be better off purchasing a hosting plan.
Consider purchasing a hosting plan
If you spend any money on your blog, I recommend spending it on hosting.
When you buy a hosting plan, you’ll get your own domain name (e.g., myawesomeblog.com) and actually own your website.
A third party won’t place ads on it (unless you add them yourself). And you’ll have a much better chance of ranking on Google and making money off your site.
Plus, you’ll have total control over the design and appearance of your site, and you’ll find that it’s much more customizable.
Fortunately, hosting plans don’t cost much. I recommend either Bluehost or Siteground for new bloggers.
Both offer fast site speeds and strong security. Bluehost is a bit more affordable, but Siteground has a reputation for faster customer service.
You can get started with Bluehost for as low as $3.95 per month or with Siteground for as low as $6.99 per month.
Note that both of their basic plans come with a free domain name for one year, so you can get your domain name at the same time that you sign up for hosting.
Once you’ve purchased your hosting plan, you can install WordPress (it’s free) and pick a theme to design your site.
WordPress powers 39% of the web, so it’s a great choice for new bloggers who are looking to grow their traffic and make money online.
3. Design your blog with a free template
Whether you choose to start your blog on a free hosting plan or a paid hosting plan, you can design it at no cost.
As mentioned, website builders like Weebly and Wix come with a variety of pre-made templates that you can use to design a beautiful site. Here are some examples from Weebly:
If you decide to sign up for hosting with Bluehost, Siteground or a similar site and install WordPress, you’ll also find that WordPress has a ton of free themes to design a gorgeous site.
Note that there also paid themes available for purchase. The benefits of a paid theme is that it will likely have more options for customization and better customer support.
But if you’re looking to minimize costs as much as possible, you can use a free theme to design a great-looking site.
Depending on your host, you can also delay making your site live until you’ve finished designing it.
On WordPress, for instance, you can download an “under construction” plugin that will hide your site until you’re ready to show it to the world.
For more on this process, head to this guide on how to start your blog, step by step.
4. Write and publish your first posts
Now for the fun part — writing and publishing blog posts!
As you can see, it doesn’t take long to sign up for hosting and create your blog. You might spend some time getting the design just right, but the whole process doesn’t have to take long at all.
Once you’ve gotten your site ready, it’s time to focus on writing and publishing your first blog posts. I recommend having 5 to 10 articles ready to go before you make your site live.
That way, you can have some content on your site and build some momentum that will keep you creating on a consistent basis.
Start with cornerstone content
So what should you write about to start? Well, I recommend starting with “cornerstone content.”
Cornerstone posts are the essential, important articles related to your niche. They might be an “ultimate guide” a “how to get started with” your topic.
They’re usually long-form and evergreen, meaning they’ll be relevant for a long time at any time of the year.
These initial posts will be most helpful to your readers, and they’ll give Google a clear picture of what your blog is all about.
Now, if you’re blogging as a creative outlet, feel free to post whatever you want! But if you’re looking to grow traffic fast and rank on Google, sticking to relevant, cornerstone content is a great way to start.
Focus on money-making articles
And if you’re looking to make money off your blog, consider how you’ll promote affiliate products related to your niche. Some of the best articles to monetize are,
- “Best of” lists, where you review products for people who are looking to make a purchase
- Product reviews, where you go in-depth about the pros and cons of a single product
- Comparison (vs.) articles, where you compare one product or service with another to help a reader make a decision about which one to buy
- “How to” guides, where you guide a reader through a specific action or help them solve a problem (e.g., how to start a blog)
It might take time to find your niche
Although there can be a lot of strategy that goes into building traffic and improving your site’s SEO, don’t stress too much as a new blogger.
Sometimes it takes time to find the right niche, one where you have expertise to share and are interested in it for the long haul.
You might find that you start with one niche but hit a dead-end, or want to try something new along the way — and that’s okay.
Blogging can be a messy process of trial and error, and you might end up in a different destination than you pictured when you started.
Keep learning and experimenting along the way, and don’t be afraid to try new things or start over if something isn’t working.
While it’s useful to learn about best practices, don’t let them paralyze you. The best thing you can do to grow your blog is keep trying and creating.
As they say, “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.”
4. Get more eyeballs on your blog
When you first start blogging, it might feel like you’re writing into a void for no reason.
I get it, I’ve been there!
But remember, that’s where all new bloggers start.
You’re not going to have readers overnight. And if you’re going after organic traffic on Google, remember that SEO takes months to build.
Blogging is a long game, but here are a few tips to get eyeballs on your blog fast:
Make the most of Pinterest
Pinterest is an excellent way to attract readers to your blog right away.
Start a business account, link it to your blog, and start creating pins that link back to your articles.
Pinterest is a search engine just like Google, so don’t forget to use keywords and phrases in your Pinterest bio and pin descriptions.
Try to create pins that are visually enticing and easy to read (don’t cram too many words on one pin, for instance, and make the most of complementary colors).
Canva is an amazing free tool for creating Pinterest pins, and you can make both still and video pins on it. Here are some examples of Canva templates for Pinterest pins:
Since Pinterest’s algorithm prefers “fresh” pins (i.e., new pins) these days, it can be hard to keep up your Pinterest traffic if you’re not making new pins regularly.
But it’s still a great way to attract readers to your blog while you’re waiting for your articles to rank on Google.
Target keywords in your articles
Speaking of ranking on Google, you’ll have the most luck if you target keywords in your articles.
Keywords are words and phrases that people type into Google while searching for an article to answer their question or solve their problem.
If you target keywords, then you’ll be creating content that people are actively searching for.
There are both paid and free tools for keyword research, but one useful tool I recommend is UberSuggest.
You only get three searches per day on the free plan, but you’ll get a bunch of related suggestions and will see how easy or hard a keyword is to rank for.
You can also insert the URL of a competitor in your niche to see what keywords they are ranking for and try to compete with them by making your own guides.
For more on writing outstanding, keyword-driven articles that rank on Google, head to this guide.
Build backlinks to your site
Another way to build your site’s reputations in the eyes of Google is to get backlinks to your site.
A backlink is simply a link to your site from another site. The more reputable the site, the more valuable that backlink is.
These links indicate to Google that other sites trust your blog, so it should, too.
It can be tough to gain backlinks when you’re just starting out, but a few strategies include,
- Offering to write a guest post on another blog in exchange for a link back to yours
- Signing up to be a source on Help a Reporter Out (HARO) and offering quotes in exchange for a backlink
- Reaching out to blogs and offering to link to them in exchange for linking to you
As your blog grows, you might naturally gain some backlinks from sites that see your content is valuable. But it’s always useful to pursue backlinks to keep growing your site’s domain authority on Google.
Higher domain authority = better rankings in search results = more traffic you can monetize
So while going after backlinks might not be your favorite part of blogging, it can definitely pay off.
Focus on one social media site
Finally, you can get readers to your blog via social media.
But I don’t recommend spreading yourself too thin by signing up for every social media account. Instead, try to focus on one where you think you can do really well.
For instance, if you’re a beauty blogger, you’d probably have the most luck on the visual-heavy Instagram.
If you’re trying to bring people together in a community, you might go with Facebook. If you’re that rare Twitter whiz who’s able to gain a bunch of followers, try out Twitter.
(And of course, anyone making videos will likely use YouTube, but remember that YouTube’s a search engine like Google and Pinterest, so you’ll still want to consider keywords and SEO.)
Think about where your potential readers and customers hang out the most on social media, and bring your awesome content to them.
You can start a blog with very little investment upfront
While it can take a lot of work to grow a blogging business, it’s also one of the least expensive businesses to start.
You can start a blog for free with a free hosting platform and website builder, or you can own your domain by purchasing hosting for a small price.
There aren’t a lot of businesses that require such a small investment upfront. And as long as you have a computer and internet, you already have all the tools you need to grow your blogging business.
Are you interested in making money as a blogger? Head to this guide to learn all the strategies that successful bloggers use to make a full-time income on their blogs.