One of the questions I get asked a lot is this: “How do I start my blog for free, Mike?” And I completely understand why.
You’re new to blogging, and you’re not sure if it’s going to work. Rather than shell out thousands of dollars for nothing, why not find a free or inexpensive approach that lets you test the waters?
The good news for you is that I’ve tried them all, and with my help and guidance, you’ll be able to sort out what your options are and how to proceed!
For instance, there are lots of platforms you can use for free to start your blog, from WordPress and Blogger to Medium and LinkedIn. Which should you use?
The first question you and I have to ask though is this:
Why are you starting a blog?
If it’s for fun, I recommend Medium as it’s easy to use and requires zero setup on your part. Just create an account and publish whenever you wish.
Facebook Notes are gorgeous and easy to use, but they are buried within the user profile navigation, with the predictable result then of no one seeing or finding your content.
LinkedIn offers a great platform for creating and publishing long-form content, but that’s best suited for professional articles and thought leadership. I wouldn’t post about your hobbies and personal interests there.
You could create a free account on WordPress.com – and that’s not a terrible idea if you think you might want to take your idea further some day – but it’ll be a little more work to get started than Medium.
With Medium, you don’t have to think about site design or find a theme – you don’t have a choice. Unless you pay for a premium account, all Medium blogs look alike.
In fact, there are virtually no settings to deal with at all, and no plugins to distract you.
If it’s for business, then you need to re-think how you’re about to proceed.
Are you blogging to establish your authority? Are you hoping to promote your business? Or are you planning to monetize your blog content? Do you need more functionality than just publishing posts?
If any or all of those things are true, you cannot proceed with a free blog.
First, you do not own a free blog – it’s a free subscription somewhere that can be taken away from you at any time for any reason.
If you’re just blogging for fun, there’s not much risk there. But if you’re working hard at creating content to build a business and suddenly it’s all gone, that should be a terrifying and paralyzing thought.
Note: this is not dramatic hype designed to irrationally frighten you. Posterous, a free blogging site like Tumblr that was bought by Twitter and was the home of 4 million bloggers was ultimately shut down. At least those users had some notice and time to grab their content! Others whose accounts have been incorrectly flagged and suspended on various platforms aren’t as lucky.
Second, a free blog designed to build authority or make money will perform extremely poorly.
That’s because your audience can tell you’re using a free platform. They’ll question whether it’s safe to purchase from you, particularly when even the biggest brands and stores are being hacked. Your site must look completely safe and secure so that they’re not thinking about such concerns. You do not want to give visitors a reason not to purchase from you!
Just ask yourself, when was the last time you bought something from a Tumblr blog post?
And third, a free blog gives you approximately zero control over design and functionality.
- You cannot add your own branding to a free blog, or can only do so in a limited way.
- You cannot add advanced functionality like eCommerce or landing pages.
- You cannot control the user experience.
Those aspects mean, with a free blog, you’re immediately putting yourself, and your business, at a disadvantage. But it doesn’t have to be that way!
The Best Way To Start A Professional Blog
If you plan to use your blog for business purposes and want to set it up for success, there’s a process you’re going to need to follow. And it’s going to require a minimal investment on your part.
You need to determine:
- Who Is Your Blog For?
- What Is Your Blogging Voice?
- What Platform & Host Will You Use?
- How Often Will You Blog?
- What Will You Blog About?
- How Will You Grow Your Audience?
- How Will You Monetize Your Blog?
Worried about cost? Don’t be! You can start a professional-looking blog for as little as $2.95 a month! For less than the price of a cup of coffee, I’ll show you how you can own your content and make an exponentially better impression on your audience and potential customers.
This is something that I’ve written about and taught about at length. I actually put together a primer to help you navigate these questions: How To Start A Blog: The Ultimate Free Guide.
The point here is this: taking a few extra days or weeks now to think hard about what you want to accomplish and the best way to get there will save you tremendous amounts of time and energy in the future.
Rather than waste time using a free platform that has no long-term potential, or writing about topics that are off the mark, you can make sure that your blog gets the best possible start from Day One.