How To Start A Blog For Free
This is a guest post by James Ingles. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.
Learning to blog is fun and easy, and it doesn’t even have to cost a cent. In this post I’m going to show you how to start a blog for free (maybe you don’t need this info, but I am sure you know someone who does).
One of the great things about blogging is that anyone can do it and the barrier to entry is nill, nought, zip, zilch assuming that you have or have access to a computer with an internet connection. I don’t know many people without a computer that don’t have an internet connection. Blogging is as easy as playing with Lego.
I have always been the creative type. When I was younger I used to love playing with my Lego, I was totally awesome at it and could build models on the back of the boxes without any instructions. I even built a whole Lego land from scratch it was huge.
When I grew up and got my own PC I discovered web design. Back when I first got on the net blogs and blogging never existed so I would build my web sites from scratch. My first web site was horrible. Then blogging came along, it took off like a rocket and soon the net was soon littered with blogs. It didn’t take long before blogs became a great alternative source of information besides magazines, newspapers and other media outlets.
What I have learned over the years is that building a blog is pretty easy. You don’t need to be a designer or know how to code (although it does help if you can design and code) because building a blog is like building a Lego model.
How is building a blog like building a Lego model? Lego models are made up of lots of little Lego parts that fit together to make a model, you can even buy individual bricks and elements to build your own model. A blog is like a Lego model except that the themes, posts, pictures, plugins and widgets etc… are the building blocks. Although you still have to know how to put those blocks together and combine elements to build a good blog. And blogging is free, Lego is really expensive these days!
Anyone can play with Lego and build things without any knowledge but it doesn’t mean that they can or will build anything really cool. Blogging is the same, you can take a theme and build a blog but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be any good. I have seen plenty of good themes totally murdered by bad design choices, cheesy useless plugins, ugly colour schemes that make my eyes bleed.
When you first install WordPress you get a pretty plain default theme, themes are like a Lego base plate that you build things on top of. Plugins, widgets, and posts are the building blocks for your chosen theme.
Like Lego blogs, plugins, themes & widgets come with instructions but the instructions wont instruct you on building a great blog they will only tell you how to use the theme, plugin, widget or what ever it is. You will have to teach yourself how to build a good blog. There are plenty of blogging resources out there to read and learn from. Reading alone isn’t going to make you a good blogger, you will have to get your hands dirty.
Your first blog probably isn’t going to be the best and you will make mistakes but don’t let that stop you because you won’t learn without making mistakes or building bad blogs. Mistakes are good but only if you learn from them. Unless you learn from your mistakes then you are doomed to repeat your past mistakes like ground hog day until you learn from them.
I have built plenty of web sites and blogs, I have also made a lot of mistakes and bad design choices but I have learned from my mistakes and become a better designer. I still have a bunch of web sites, backups of old blogs and mock-ups of web sites that never got built sitting on my hard drive. If I were to look at some of them now I would cringe, one thing that I would see is that my designs and web sites got progressively better.
So you have decided that you want to blog, and you have chosen WordPress great choice! You have two options. Do you drop some cash on a domain name (so you can have www.yourblogname.com) and a web host so you can have full control over your blog? Or do you go with WordPress.com which is free but will get you stuck with www.yourblogname.wordpress.com and very little control over your blog?
The choice is basically WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org, one costs money the other doesn’t, one offers full control over your blog the other offers next to no control.
Neither of those options sound appealing? No money? No problems. There is a third option if you want full control over your blog but have no money to drop on a domain and web hosting. There are many free hosting plans out there. Just Google “free web hosting” and you’ll find them. Although there are a few things to be aware of.
- The host needs to support PHP version 5.2.4 or greater and MySQL version 5.0 or greater. What you will get is generally listed under “Features”, “What you’ll get”, “Spesifications” just have a poke around any decent free web host will list what they offer
- If you choose to find your own free hosting be aware that some free web hosts will require that you let them put advertisements on your site, there are some free hosts that don’t require you to advertise so check carefully before signing up.
- There is one trade off, because you are using free hosting you will get stuck with whatever URL they choose to let you have, usually it’s just a sub domain like www.yourblogname.zymichost.com, or www.yourblogname.freeaspwebhosting.org. Although it’s an acceptable trade off for having full control over your blog.
If you are starting a blog for the first time, want a personal blog and don’t care if the URL doesn’t look that professional or just want to learn before you drop some hard earned cash on a domain name and hosting this is a great way to get started. If you start a blog get lucky and it becomes popular you can always buy a domain some better web hosting and move your blog to your new host.
About the Author: James Ingles is a self taught web designer, blogger and computer technician who has been at it for 13 years. His blog Kulture is about computers, tech, and all things geeky culture including blogging.
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11 Responses to “How To Start A Blog For Free”
James, I loved your Lego / Blogging analogy and can totally second that. Just to add a couple of cents here: there are other blogging tools that are at times simpler than WordPress such as Tumblr and Posterous. I personally like WordPress for its flexibility but would recommend tumblr or posterous to those who are just starting.
A free blog is probably best for newbie bloggers to test out the features of blogging. Moving to the next level requires spending a little bit of money. Thx for the post.
I would like to add few more points to your article.
Some serious advice for the guys who want to start with free blog. It takes you a lot of work if you decide to migrate from free blog to paid wordpress blog. I know there are lots of plugin available which makes it easy but you still find plenty of work once you migrate from your free blog to paid of version.
If I would set up a free blog it would be with WordPress.com, Tumblr.com or Blogger.com (Google Blogs). You can easily get your own domain as an upgrade if you want to down the line, and you get lots of perks, plus they are super easy to set up and usually pretty stable.
I would like to choose Blogger because the easy-friendly functions that it offers and the “blogspot” domain is a branded domain too.
Btw premium domain and hosting is the best option at all 😀
Great info for the newbie. It should be noted that WordPress.com sites offer more customization than ever, with newer “themes” being highly customizable (though still not nearly as much as WordPress.org-based sites). I started my service, Webpressive, to help businesses get simple and affordable sites with no ongoing hosting costs; WordPress.com sites make that possible.
Also, even for the free (and free-hosting) sites, you can simply buy a domain and forward it with masking to the free site. It eliminates that long, ugly url. Even though WordPress.com will try to get you to buy a domain through them, it really isn’t necessary. (They’ll also try to get you to buy a video upgrade; again, unneccessary as you can embed the YouTube code directly into a static page or post.)
Ruth – Freelance Writing Blog
Free might be a good start, but it’s a pain in the neck to migrate down the road. It’s better to think long term and do some research before you take the plunge.
This was a great guide to getting started in blogging, and a way for beginners to “get their feet wet”. One of the good things about using free blogging services is that you can test out different niches and see which one catches on and creates a following, without spending any money, just investing your time. After that, then you can look at paid hosting if you need it.
Fantastic guide for a noob in the blog world like me. Free blog is definitely a good training ground for starters but not for the long run. Time will come you need to spend some cash to migrate to a paid blog site. It will come haunt you in the end!
Many people start blogging and then stop. I see this happen a lot. So, starting out with a free blogging platform is a good idea. First make sure it is something a blogger wants to stick with.
I would hate to invest in a paid blogging service and add premium (paid for) features only to find out in six months blogging is too much work.
I may at some point switch to WordPress, but I’ve been with Blogger for many years and like it.
Geet | HobbyIdeas
My hobby blog uses free hosting from Google’s Blogger on a custom domain which costs $10/yr only. I started with a free domain name. Using AdSense I’ve earned much more than what I’ll pay for the renewal 🙂
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