In the past, expressing yourself in a written form meant keeping a diary and adding entries to it as you seem fit, where you would describe your thoughts, feelings, and talk about the events that happened to you.
The thing is, while many people keep diaries nowadays, too, (because they’re palpable and having a notebook you can flip through and stick pictures to is somehow more appealing than typing on a keyboard), the thing with diaries is that you cannot publish their contents unless you type out everything you wanted in some sort of program and then putting it online on some platform.
Of course, writing journalist pieces for a local newspaper or trying to publish your diary as a memoir is also an option, but making money this way can be tough in the beginning – even if you’re very good at writing.
That said, luckily for anyone interested in keeping sort of an online diary where you can express yourself, write about the stuff you care and know about, and then make some money doing it, too – there’s a thing called blogging.
The word ‘blog’ came from the word ‘weblog’, which is fairly self-explanatory. As the format started becoming more and more prominent and attractive with all sorts of audiences worldwide, the shortened version of ‘weblog’ which is ‘blog’ soon took over as the preferred way to refer to this form of online diary.
On the Internet, anything that has a sizeable following and that can muster a certain number of readers regularly, can be monetized. Blogs are no different here, as finding a niche and an audience that will care about what you have to say can mean you can add ads to your blog pages and start earning some money if people venture to see those ads while reading your content.
In this article, we’re going to talk about the different platforms you can use to start a free blog. As you will see, these different places all offer some sort of unique bend on the main principle of publishing written content online, while containing their drawbacks and flaws, too. So, choosing the perfect platform to house your blogs is all about understanding what features to look for and how to make your job of publishing constantly easier.
Here, we will list ten most commonly-used platforms for blogging and describe each of them in detail, so that you can get a clearer idea of what these are all about. Also, we’ve ventured to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about blogging and starting your blog and we’ve included a brief guide about what to do to start a blog for free from scratch.
Here’s the deal.
Steps to Start a Blog for Free
1) Choose a Niche
Before you do anything else when it comes to setting up a new blog, determine what sort of niche you’d like to talk about and explore.
The great thing about choosing a niche is that it gives your content focus and it allows you to expand on the written pieces you’ve already published knowing that if your audience liked one piece, they are probably going to like the ones following it, too.
For example, if you have a pet mink and you’d like to talk about the implications of keeping minks as pets, starting a blog about it can be a great idea. Once you’ve written a couple of articles about the mink behavioral patterns, the food they eat, the housing for them, etc. – you can add other related articles where you can talk about various closely or loosely related topics such as ‘Where can I buy a pet mink?’, or ‘Does it pay off to keep a mink as a pet in 2020?’, or ‘Are pet minks legal in my state?’, and so on.
These articles can be a great way to add some advertising and get some funding from Google or Amazon, for example, depending on which affiliate or ad program you enter.
2) Choose a Platform
While virtually all platforms will allow you to talk about pretty much anything you want, the tools some of these online venues give you can be quite different, so this can be a point of differentiation between them you may want to look into before you set up a blog proper.
The thing is, you can try setting up a blog on the first platform you hear about, but you can grow to resent this decision as to the lack of visual tools or special features you may need starts impairing your ability to grow as a blogger, so to speak.
Therefore, take your time and pick the online platform that’s the most suitable for your interests. Whether it’s WordPress.com, Tumblr, Wix, or some other solution, as long as the thing you’re considering building your blogging platform on has the assets and features you need for it to work, you can rest assured you’ve set yourself up for success down the road.
3) Set up a New Account
Thanks to the fact that many online platforms offering a blogging venue will go out of their way to make this offer as attractive as possible, setting up a new account on any of these platforms won’t be that difficult.
More often than not, what you need to do is simply enter your credentials, push a couple of buttons here and there, and your account is ready to go for free. Once you’ve done this, you can start writing, using the different tools these places may have, and then publishing your content for the entire world to see.
4) Pick a Catchy Blog Name
Or, to be more precise, your domain and subdomain names.
The thing about these domain names is that they represent the thing you type in your browser when you want to find a website online, so the goal is to make this name as catchy and as easy to remember as possible.
As far as publishing content online is concerned, the domain name is something you typically need to pay for, as these are leased usually for one year, although there are other deals you can opt for.
Also, it’s recommended that you pay attention to the fact that once you’ve chosen your domain name, you won’t be able to change it without having to buy a new one, so make sure the one that you choose initially counts.
5) Customize Your Blog Design
While blogging is primarily about texts and writing, most blogging-friendly platforms also come with extensive sets of visual themes you can choose to make your blog pages look more appealing, and the texts on them easier to follow.
Usually, there is a certain number of free themes you can use for your blog, but there are also a large number of custom ones you can buy for a small price. What’s more, it is also possible for you to hire someone to make you a brand-new theme, but this isn’t necessary for the blog to be fully functional, of course.
If you have the money and some interesting ideas, however, buying a custom-made theme for your blog pages can be a great way to distinguish yourself from the competition and to attract a larger audience.
6) Promote the Blog
Once you’ve written a couple of pages of content for your blog, it is time for you to let everyone know about it and to attract new audiences to it.
There is a multitude of ways of accomplishing this, but the most common ways include setting up special social media pages and groups where you can let people know in advance about the new blog posts and other stuff you’ve ventured to post on your blog pages.
If you have some money you’re willing to spend toward this goal, you can also perform special advertisements through videos, visuals, and some other types of content.
10 Best Free Blog Platforms
1) Blogspot.com (BEST FOR BEGINNERS)
Representing one of the oldest blogging platforms still in operation, Blogger.com (or Blogspot.com as it’s also known as) has seen many changes over the years, so it should by no means be considered obsolete or inferior to other blogging platforms nowadays.
What makes this platform so popular even nowadays would certainly be the fact that it comes with all sorts of useful tools and features that can help you start your blogging journey relatively easily – even if you’re a complete rookie. The way this works is via a simple and intuitive drag-and-drop mechanic that helps you get all the necessary ‘pieces of the puzzle’ exactly where you want them. So, you can see how different themes, fonts, images, and other media interact with each other in real-time, and make the necessary adjustments right there on the spot.
While this may not seem as much for those who aren’t that experienced with blogging and think that everything should be readily available to you in terms of improving the design and other features of your blog, wait till you see what other platforms have in store.
The thing is, although most blogging platforms support roughly the same array of features and additional structures (such as the comment sections, various visual themes, etc.), in many cases other platforms force you to add these to your blog in an often complicated manner that is somewhat daunting to new users.
With Blogger.com, however, customizing your blog so that it looks and feels unique is a piece of cake, so if you’re a beginner and you want to start typing right away, setting up a Blogger.com account may be a great way to commence your blogging journey, so to speak.
Advantages of using Blogspot.com
- Pricing – It’s completely free to set up an account and adding more features (such as a domain name) can also be done for a small fee
- Simplicity – … represents one of the strongest suits of this blogging venue as even a complete beginner can get a hang of it relatively easily.
- Integration with Google – Since Blogger.com is owned by Google, you will have an easier time ranking your content on this search engine than with other blogging platforms. Also, if you are already using a Google product or have a Google account, you already have Blogger.com automatically set up for you.
Disadvantages of using Bogspot.com
- Non-existent Customer Service – This can be a bit of a problem, as a lack of comprehensive and easy-to-contact customer service is a common issue for all Google-related platforms. So, if something goes wrong with your blog pages, for example, your best bet of fixing it is searching the various forums, where you can ask your peers about their experiences.
- Format Limitations – While Blogger.com is certainly an excellent choice for beginners, it does come with its limitations that typically become more apparent the more proficient you get with blogging, in general. For example, you cannot control the order of the display of links to various blog pages, and trying to add different features to make your blog more of a website will not be possible.
2) WordPress.com (BEST FOR A PERSONAL BLOG)
Before we describe WordPress.com in more detail, let’s just explain the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. The two may look pretty much the same, but there is one crucial difference between them that makes many people confused.
The thing is, WordPress.org is a community-run platform where you can start your blog, but where you will have to find hosting and purchase a domain name separately. Using WordPress.org instead of the .com variation will give you more freedom, but will also mean you will get to work with fewer features and that getting new features and assets onboard will be a bit trickier than it would be with .com – especially if you’re a rookie.
With WordPress.com, on the other hand, you get all the features you want as a part of a single bundle, but al of this commodity and ease of use does come with a price. While setting up a WordPress.com account is free, making a blog with it will require you to choose a domain name and pick a hosting deal, both of which will cost some money, depending on the length of the subscription and what features you want to get. (There are many different features you can buy including advanced analytics, special tools, as well as additional security measures for your blog or a website.)
Speaking of which, WordPress.com can be an excellent solution for bloggers who not only want to blog but also either set up a website parallelly or turn their blog into a website at one point in the future. Since all the tools and assets are readily available to you within your WordPress.com account, making any changes you desire will be a piece of cake.
Advantages of using WordPress.com
- Easy signup – If you’re a beginner, or just interested in setting up a blog where you can keep your ‘digital diary’, so to speak, using WordPress.com would make getting started quite easy. Since there is a fairly simple signup process containing only 6 steps, you can complete it in minutes and start writing straight away.
- Excellent Onboarding Process – Not only will the signup itself be a piece of cake with WordPress.com but once you enter your blog for the first time, the platform itself will immediately start bombarding you with helpful tips, so you can get acquainted with a great many features of this site quicker.
- All-Inclusive Bundle – … of different features and assets you can use straight away. This is the difference between WordPress.com and .org we talked about above – you don’t have to worry about trying to find perfect hosting and domain name as this software will do all the job for you.
- Design Options – When it comes to customizing the appearance of your blog and choosing different themes, WordPress.com would certainly rank among one of the best blogging and website-building platforms on the Internet. There are plenty of free themes you can choose from, but if you want something more advanced, there is a myriad of themes you can buy, too.
Disadvantages of using WordPress.com
- Limited Scalability – While WordPress.com does offer several useful features that can make life easier for the folks looking for a blogging platform they can start using straight away, when it comes to expanding the features and options you want your blog or website to have, you will end up hitting a few snags. This is because the goal of WordPress.com is to shield you from the ‘tough stuff’ and do everything for you. This typically works like a charm for inexperienced folks who are only starting, but if you want something more advanced, you would probably be better off using WordPress.org.
- The Pricing – … with WordPress.com can represent a bit of a problem if you’re working with a smaller budget. While this platform isn’t so expensive that it’s not worth it, it is somewhat pricier than its competitors, so if you’re looking to start a blog for as little money as possible, you may want to look into some other options on this list.
Representing a curious blend between a blogging platform and a social network, Tumblr holds a special place in the blogging world thanks to its uniqueness and popularity. The thing with Tumblr is that it allows you to create unique-looking blog posts that contain as many images and animated gifs as written content, which sort of changes the entire format and allows you to express yourself in more original and creative ways.
While you can also add images and other media on other blog platforms such as WordPress.com, for example, the visual part of Tumblr is one of its strongest suits, so you can even create blog posts that contain more images than text and still attract a large audience of folks that will like it.
Another great thing about Tumblr is that it focuses on the creative side of publishing online rather than ‘authoritarian’, so to speak. For example, if you’re using some of the other blogging platforms that are primarily text-oriented, the best bet for you to attract a faithful audience that will stick around for the long haul would be to publish extensive blog posts with a big word count where you will talk about a niche topic at length. With Tumblr, on the other hand, the focus is on shorter, more creative posts with plenty of visuals that can both entertain and inform the reader.
Many people consider Tumblr a ‘trendy’ version of a blogging platform because keeping up with the modern artistic developments and other cultural phenomena represents a big part of the appeal of this platform. So, if you like to be able to publish enticing content on your blog and be a part of a big and bustling community of colorful folks that like art and culture, Tumblr can be an excellent place to start your journey.
Advantages of using Tumblr
- Popularity – Home to over 188 million users worldwide, Tumblr represents one of the most popular blogging platforms where you can find an audience for virtually any niche you can think of. Although this blogging venue may not have all the advanced features of some of the more professional-looking platforms such as WordPress.com, for example, the sheer number of users guarantees that you will be able to find an audience more easily than on other blogging sites.
- Younger Audiences – While there are people of all ages and walks of all using Tumblr, this platform is also well-known for its appeal among younger Internet audiences. This is probably the case because, as we said above, Tumblr is fairly big on art and culture, which tends to be a more palatable setting for younger folks than just enormous slabs of text with little to no images. So, if you fancy keeping your blog posts exciting and up-to-date with the latest fashion, arts, and cultural developments, Tumblr can be a great place to start.
- Simplicity – In case you’re worried about complex setup processes and setting up different features all the time, Tumblr is where you want to be. (Of course, if you’re a more advanced user, you may want to look into some other way of finding a new audience.)
- Ease of Marketing – As we mentioned above, one of the things that makes Tumblr so popular would certainly be the way it’s paired up with social media. This means that you don’t even have to set up separate accounts on Facebook or Twitter (although these would certainly help) to advertise your blog posts. All you need to do to make your blog posts easily available to your audience is to post a link leading to them on your Tumblr social media profile and your followers will immediately know about it.
- Compatible with Google Analytics – Although Tumblr is not directly affiliated with Google, you can use Google Analytics to keep track of how well your Tumblr blog is doing. This is great news because you don’t have to buy additional analytics-related features just to know how many people viewed your posts.
Disadvantages of using Tumblr
- Limited Formatting – Tumblr works wonders for users who plan to publish often and publish small-to-medium-sized articles for a specific audience. That said, if you plan to publish something more advanced and in-depth, you may encounter a couple of snags, the biggest of which is the often limiting formatting of Tumblr blogging. Since this platform is built for fast publishing and snappy, easy-to-consume posts, posting anything more in-depth and demanding will be more difficult to pull off.
- Reputation – While Tumblr can be a great place to publish mainly visual content and short to-the-point articles, this blogging platform is not exactly well-known for many bloggers that have expertise in a certain field, which is often important for folks who hope to monetize their niche blogs. (Of course, you can still monetize Tumblr, but only for a certain type of content.) As far as the type of content you can expect to see here, you can count in pop-cultural stuff such as arts, music, and comedy, as well as a fair share of adult content. So, if you’re on a lookout for a reliable platform where you can showcase your expertise in a field that does not necessarily fall into any of the aforementioned categories, you might be better off opting for a different blogging venue.
Representing one of the fastest websites, and blog-builders currently on the Internet, Weebly can be a great solution for anyone in need of a simple-to-use and easy-to-edit blogging platform. As long as you only need a subdomain for your website or blog, the great news is that Weebly is completely free of charge, too. (Of course, if you want to register a domain name and add advanced features, you have to pay for those to get them.)
As we hinted at in the paragraph above, one of the biggest strengths of Weebly would be its remarkable loading speed, which is often as good as any Google page. In case you’re setting up your blog in the US, the speed you’re going to experience would be the best that Weebly can muster, which means you’re getting some of the best blog loading speeds in the world.
That said, this speed does seem to wane off a tad if you’ve set up your blog from somewhere outside of the US, the pattern typically is that the farther you are away, the worse the loading time is going to get. On the other hand, thanks to excellent speed optimization the folks at Weebly are doing regularly, even if you’ve made your Weebly blog in the middle of nowhere, chances are – the loading speed is going to still be fairly decent.
One other positive aspect of Weebly would certainly be that its downtimes are few and far between, so you don’t have to worry about your blog being inactive for protracted periods through no fault of your own.
Advantages of using Weebly
- Plenty of Available Themes – In case you like to change your blog themes often and make sure they are up to date and well optimized, Weebly is the place to be. There are several beautiful themes readily available at all times on Weebly, so you can change up the appearance of your blog whenever you feel like it without worrying that it will bring down the speed of the blog or otherwise mess up your formatting in any significant way. What’s more, in case you don’t like any of the themes that the folks at Weebly are offering, there is also an ‘import’ option, so you can get your custom theme onboard this platform whenever you feel like it, too.
- User-Friendly Editor – For beginners, Weebly’s intuitive and easy-to-learn editor can be a lifesaver, because it allows you to alter the appearance of your blog and add different assets with ease. This ease of use and convenience is mostly thanks to its great drag-and-drop feature, which allows you to easily add or get rid of assets and build up the homepage so that it looks exactly like you fancied it up, so to speak.
- Mobile App – Representing one of the rare website-and-blog-builders that allows you to do this, Weebly comes with its mobile app, allowing you full editing functionality for your blog – on a mobile device. This can be a great option for folks who travel a lot or are otherwise often away from a computer. Other than editing, you can use the mobile app to check the various analytics on your website and see how many visitors you have this month, among other things. (Both iOS and Android platforms are supported, by the way.)
Disadvantages of using Weebly
- Formatting Limits – While Weebly’s drag-and-drop feature works wonders for most purposes related to editing and building up your blog, there are some limitations when it comes to the way you can fashion your blog posts. The thing is, setting up a blog post is also done through a drag-and-drop system and although this does make it easier to get a hang of for beginners, advanced users may find the system limiting, as you can make any formatting changes outside the layout the folks at Weebly provided.
- Underwhelming Photo Editor – One of the biggest shortcomings of Weebly’s editor would be that the options you can work with for photos are quite limited. There’s only a handful of features including zooming, darkening, blurring, and adding a color filter. Now, these four are not as bad as they are, but you don’t get to do anything else outside of this arrangement. As far as photo editing is concerned, you may be better off editing the images you want to include in your blog in some other program with more features and then just upload it to Weebly once you’ve finished all the tweaking.
Boasting excellent functionality thanks to its inbuilt SEO capabilities, as well as an interesting system for building up your blog that comes in the shape of an ‘app market’ within the Wix platform itself, Wix can be a great solution for both beginners and advanced users alike.
Similarly to Weebly and some other platforms on this list, Wix also uses a drag-and-drop feature to help you shape up your blog in whatever way you deem important. The thing great thing about Wix is, this system can be used by both complete amateurs and advanced users. The reason behind is that the visual aspect of it resembles a simple mobile app, as its highly visual and easy to follow, so no matter how inexperienced you are with website building, the intuitive design of these drag-and-drop options will help you get to what you want in terms of adding features to your blog.
On the other hand, advanced users will also have a great time with this drag-and-drop feature because there is a large number of options to choose from. So, if you’re looking for some special features to enrich your blog with them, chances are – the Wix’s drag-and-drop editor already has them available for you.
Advantages of using Wix
- Wix App Market – What makes Wix stand out from its competition would certainly be the inventive way in which you upgrade your blog’s features on this platform. The thing is, Wix allows you to import different features to make your blog better from a thing called ‘Wix App Market’, which is similar to Google’s App Store, but instead of complete apps, you get different sections you can add to your website all wrapped up in bite-sized chunks, so to speak. For example, some of the ‘apps’ you can set up on your Wix blog include ‘chat’, ‘forum’, as well as ‘e-Commerce’ one in case you have something to sell. So, if your blog doesn’t have a chat and you’d like to be able to communicate with your customers this way, all you do is go Wix’s ‘app store’ and get yourself an instant ‘chat’ on your blog you can use right away.
- Inbuilt SEO Parameters – … which will represent the most potent weapon for getting noticed and for attracting new customers to your blog. The thing about SEO is, it is used for any sort of written content on the Internet, regardless if it’s a blog or some other format. Even images and videos often have small descriptions and captions that can be optimized for SEO, so that a search engine can pick it up easily and make it easily available to your potential customers. With most blogging platforms, optimizing your content for search engines is something you have to do separately, but with Wix, this part of publishing posts is included in the entire package, so you won’t have to worry about it when you publish your content. There are even some guidelines there that can teach you how to make the content you’re creating more SEO-friendly.
- Social Media Posts Creator – As we’ve probably mentioned above, social media represents a crucial part of letting your followers know you’ve published something new on your blog. Now, the thing about social media posts and blogging is that they don’t obligatorily go hand in hand, meaning that you need to create exciting social media posts yourself to make your followers click the link to the blog post you’ve published. With Wix, you can make these social posts in an editor that will help you tailor the appearance and the content of the social media post, to increase the likelihood of folks clicking on it and visiting your blog. That said, this social media post creator is not the most cutting-edge piece of software you can lay your hands on, but it does the trick, especially if you can’t be bothered to create new social media posts from scratch.
- Plenty of Additional Tools – Whether they’re inbuilt in the Wix’s system already, or you need to pick them up from the aforementioned Wix App Market, Wix is a blogging platform with tons of useful features and tools you can use to make your blog better-looking and more efficient than your competitors is. For example, one of the tools that Wix comes with allows you to create logos. This means you won’t have to pay for a separate logo maker to come up with creative design, so you can unleash your full creativity to create the perfect logo for your blog. Another feature helps you make quotations for your potential or existing customers. In case you are monetizing your posts on Wix, this quotation option can save you a lot of trouble, as you can directly enter the info about yourself, the customer, the product, or service into the template provided by this tool and then just ship it away to your customer to consider.
Disadvantages of using Wix
- Transferring Your Blog or Website Outside of Wix – What makes Wix such a great tool for creating brand new websites and blogs also tends to limit it in the sense that you can go through some hoops and pony up considerable amounts of money just to transfer the website or blog you’ve created with Wix – outside of Wix. Of course, the reason behind this is that the folks at Wix don’t want to just give you all of the great tools they’ve created for free, but this also means that you will have to brace yourself for the time when you feel like your business can grow outside of Wix confines, so to speak.
- Analytics not Included in the Free Plan – … meaning that you won’t be able to keep track of your visitors and other important analytics unless you upgrade to a paid plan. This would probably be the greatest drawback of this platform, as analytics represents one of the most important parts of running any sort of business using a blogging platform. That said, Wix is compatible with Google Analytics, so it’s not like it’s completely impossible to do any analytics on this platform – it’s just that you will need to upgrade to a paid plan to do so.
- Obligatory Wix Branding for Free Users – Another major spanner in the works for anyone who considers using Wix as their blogging platforms of choice would certainly be the thing where you have to have a ‘Wix’ branding as a part of your URL if you’re on a free plan. Of course, your blog will work fine and you will have access to most features you need to make your blog run well, but if you plan on developing a personalized brand that your customers will recognize and remember, the fact that you have Wix as a part of your address will surely dampen the spirits of a large part of your audience.
Falling into the category of all-inclusive website builders such as WordPress.com, Weebly, and Wix, Jimdo is an all-encompassing platform you can use to build your website or blog entirely from scratch and then include monetization and payment options, too, once your blog has become popular enough that you can sell stuff through it.
The thing with Jimdo is this – its main principle of existence, so to speak, is user convenience. In terms of how easy it is to make your blog from the ground up and to dish out blog posts complete with professional and modern-looking formatting, Jimdo scores fairly highly.
That said, as is the case with WordPress.com and Wix, for example, there is quite a trade-off here, too, as creating stuff with Jimdo means you are going to give up a large chunk of control you have over the website down the road. In the beginning, everything will likely seem rosy thanks to the easy way you can build up your blog, but as the thing starts growing and you get a desire to make this website truly your own, you will find that the process can be tricky and pricey.
Of course, if you’re just a beginner and the only thing you’re interested in is just getting some blog posts up on the Internet, Jimdo can be an excellent solution. That said, in case you plan to make money with it and work in it in the long run, you should pay attention to their pricing policies, as well as what it takes to go ‘independent’ one day.
Advantages of using Jimdo
- Simple Signup Process – … that doesn’t typically take more than a minute or two. The thing is, all you need to do is fill in your info, verify your account via e-mail, and then you can enter your account, choose the website builder you want and start building your website or blog right away. In case you’re a total rookie, the best option for you can be to go with the AI web designer – a special type of beginner-friendly builder that guides you through the website-creating process step by step. This concept behind this process is questions and answers. So, you get a question prompting you how you want some part of the blog to look, for example, you choose an option, and the builder does the rest for you. Once you’ve gone through all the questions and you reach the end of this process, your new website or blog will be ready for you.
- Access to European Audiences – Since Jimdo is a German company, it has its headquarters in Germany, which is a part of the European Union. What this means for someone from the US, for example, who wants to expand their business ventures outside of their borders, is that you will be able to make a fast-running and elaborate microsite you can use to communicate with and attract a European audience. What’s more, thanks to the new EU’s improved online data security laws, your website is going to probably be even safer than it would be in the US. (Assuming you’re from the US. The same goes for the rest of the world, too.)
- Website Builder – When it comes to website-building itself, Jimdo offers two different ways to get your blog or website up-and-running if you’re starting from scratch. The first one is simpler and more beginner-friendly, as it asks you a bunch of questions to which you need to provide answers. Once the AI part of this system takes in all of your answers, it will automatically come up with a template that would suit your needs. This approach can be a great option if you’re an absolute rookie and your main concern is to be able to publish blog posts as soon as possible. Alternatively, there is the second way, which includes a more elaborate process where you are given the option to choose between different templates that are suitable for the industry you’re planning to startup. Once you’ve chosen your preferred template, you can continue adding different assets to your liking so you can organize a highly personalized website for yourself.
Disadvantages of using Jimdo
- Confusing Pricing System – Arguably one of the worst aspects of running your blog using Jimdo would be the steep prices and the confusing pricing system. The thing is, if you choose a paid plan right away, you can get one for as low as $9 per month. That said, if you start with a free plan and then somewhere down the road desire to upgrade it, you will get a different set of options with higher rates. Overall, upgrading your account from a free one to a paid one is possible, but the prices tend to be higher than if you were using Wix or Weebly, for example.
- Formatting and Design Limitations – To be fair, Jimdo is not the only blog-making platform that ‘suffers’ from this problem. It seems that the majority of platforms give you the option between maximum convenience on one hand and some stark limitations on the other. With Jimdo, the website builder can be a great tool for beginners and intermediate users as the website building process is simple and intuitive. That said, once you’ve created your website or blog, changing things can be tough, especially if you have high expectations in this regard. For example, outside of changing the font, the color of the theme, as well as certain variations on the main theme, you don’t have much else to work with, which can be quite frustrating if you’re an experienced site builder.
7) Linked-In (BEST FOR PROFESSIONALS)
In the world of blogging, LinkedIn represents a special sort of platform that cannot be considered a 100% blogging online venue, but which can nevertheless get you quite a following if you use it correctly. The great thing about writing articles on LinkedIn would be that you can not only attract an audience but also attract a special sort of audience that will be able to do business with you or at least connect you with someone who can.
The thing is, LinkedIn is a platform for business people. Whether you’re an entrepreneur yourself, or you’re working for a company, having a respectable following here can probably get you more valuable contacts than other platforms, simply because the folks who are on it are already business-oriented, to begin with.
That said, this also means that you will be up against some pretty tough competition from the very get-go, meaning that you will have to double down on your efforts to produce high-quality content your audience will appreciate.
Also, you shouldn’t expect LinkedIn to be some sort of place where you will be able to publish content in fancy fonts, and where you will get to edit small details about your posts. The formatting options on this platform are deliberately narrowed down so that the readers can concentrate on the content itself, rather than on flashy fonts or captivating visuals.
Advantages of using LinkedIn
- Easy-to-Share Posts – If you worry about being able to market your posts to your potential audience, with LinkedIn, this won’t be a problem. Since the goal of LinkedIn is to be able to talk to various kinds of people easily and share your content to as many interesting people as possible, all you need to do to make your newest blog post known to your followers is to simply click the ‘Share’ button that comes built-in as a part of the platform itself. The great thing about this button is not only that the post will get automatically shared, but that it will also be shared as a shortened URL, which plays a major role in how the post is perceived and how many people will be willing to click on the link to get there.
- Simple Analytics – While the analytics page represents one of the most important parts of running a blog, following through with all the itsy-bitsy details of how your page is running can be boring and confusing to new users. (Of course, if you like your analytics to be as complex and extensive as possible, you may consider this somewhat of a negative trait.) All the most important parameters regarding your analytics on LinkedIn can be easily found stacked neatly on a single page, so you won’t have to worry as much about chasing numbers across the entire platform, so to speak.
- Specific Audience – What sets LinkedIn from the rest of blogging platforms would certainly be the kind of audience it allows you to attract and interact with. The thing is, even if you don’t have as many followers on LinkedIn as, on other platforms, the fact that you are dealing with a group of people who are professionals interested in doing business with you makes a huge difference when it comes to the potential for earning money.
Disadvantages of using LinkedIn
- Tough Competition – Although this may not strictly be considered a ‘con’ per se, LinkedIn does have a lot of people who are writing excellent to-the-point articles, and chances are – the industry you’re dealing with already has a ton of content covering all possible topics that you want to cover. Of course, this shouldn’t discourage you from coming up with your unique content, like creativity, knowledge, and a fresh approach to old topics that are always welcome and rewarded. Now, the trouble is – if you’re a complete beginner, you may have a tough time making a presence for yourself and your blog on LinkedIn, but if you put in the effort and you know what you’re talking about in your posts, you will slowly but surely ramp up a respectable following in time.
- Severely Limited Formatting – As we already mentioned above, LinkedIn puts all the stress on the value of content and the expertise of the writer, so visuals and the style of formatting would not be the most important parameters when it comes to writing these articles. What this means is that, if you’re interested in your blog looking a certain way and improving on its design, LinkedIn may not be the best place for you. On the other hand, if you’re a professional looking to connect with other business-minded folks who are interested in your particular industry, setting up a blog on LinkedIn would certainly be a must.
8) Instagram (BEST FOR VISUALS)
As our entry number eight, we have a polar opposite to LinkedIn. Although Instagram is mainly considered a social network, it is perfectly possible to use it as a blog, too, and not only is it possible – but it also comes with some quite interesting options for you to work with if you do decide to publish blog posts on this platform.
For starters, Instagram is perhaps one of the most ‘visual’ online platforms currently on the Internet as it allows you to publish all sorts of content with ease and it allows you to reach a wide audience of folks interested to both looks at and read whatever it is that you want to write and publish photos about. The main unofficial sort of the premise of Instagram would be that one picture says a thousand words, so if you are into visuals and you want to share engaging and smart posts with your audience, Instagram is the place where you want to be.
Another great thing about Instagram would be that it’s essentially a social network, so you needn’t worry about having trouble pitching your blog posts to your followers. Since Instagram has sharing options built into as any other social network, as soon as you concoct a blog post you can immediately publish it and share the link so that all of your followers can see it. What’s more, your followers are way more likely to read what you have to say than just a random group of people who clicked the link to your blog post by chance.
Advantages of using Instagram
- Excellent Exposure – … for your content as there are currently around one billion accounts on Instagram. So, roughly one-seventh of the Earth’s population can be said to be using this platform, which is a number matched by only a few other social networks. If your goal is to create exciting primarily visual content, setting up an Instagram account can be a great way to start your journey toward acquiring a respectable number of followers who will not only be interested in what you have to say but who will also likely be more than willing to share your posts with their followers, thus increasing your reach even more.
- Polls Made Easy – One great advantage that social networks have over blogs and websites is that they give you a chance to poll your followers on just about anything that you want to know. The thing about polls is that they can be a major tool in determining what people like and what they don’t like. For example, you will have a higher chance of selling a product or a service via any sort of Internet portal or platform if you know that your followers are interested in it, and setting up a couple of polls now and again would be the perfect tool to find out what makes your followers ‘tick’.
- Optimization Tools – As any social media manager can tell you, one of the biggest problems with running a successful social media campaign is consistency and regular posting. Now, this has all been made easy thanks to the various optimization tools that Instagram is compatible with. For example, one of the tools allows you to easily pre-schedule posts, meaning you don’t have to sit there every day at the computer waiting around to post a link towards your blog post or something else you’ve planned to put up on your Instagram feed for all of your followers to see. By using one of these post schedulers, you can prepare posts in advance and then set up the schedule so that it posts them at the exact time you want and you don’t even have to be there.
Disadvantages of using Instagram
- Frequent Unfollows – As a blogger, the only thing more frustrating than having difficulties acquiring new followers is to have the old ones turn their back on you. Unfortunately, this tends to happen fairly frequently on Instagram. While the reason for this is not entirely clear, the biggest culprit would be the relatively short attention span of the users, who are mostly millennials. The thing is since Instagram is a fairly dynamic online venue, you’re expected to constantly deliver new engaging content, which can become difficult after a while. What’s more, Instagram imposes follower limits, which amounts to 7,500 people, so can’t follow more people than this number.
- Controversy – Although Instagram isn’t necessarily a controversial platform as it is since it’s owned by Facebook, some of the problems this social network has had tend to bleed over to Instagram, too. In particular, Mark Zuckerberg has come under fire for ignoring certain issues regarding some users posting controversial content on Facebook, so Instagram has come under fire as well, although it has not ‘done’ anything wrong per se. So, even though it seems unlikely that Instagram will suffer any larger problems shortly, it’s worth knowing that this platform does seem to have some people who are willing to go to war against it, so to speak.
9) Penzu (BEST PERSONAL DIARY PLATFORM)
For those folks looking for an online platform where they can write texts and keep a journal, Penzu can be an interesting solution. This platform differs from all the others on this list because it’s not a place where you can earn money, but keep a personal journal from wherever you happen to be – as long as you have an Internet connection.
The thing with Penzu is that it allows you some interesting features for keeping an online account of your thoughts and feelings, as well as ensuring that these posts are well-archived and protected from unwanted viewers. Interestingly, with Penzu, the goal is more to protect your writing than sharing with as many people as possible, so if you’re looking to set up a blog that will become popular quickly – this platform may not be the thing for you.
The thing that attracts people the most to this platform would be the fact that it gives you a format that already resembles a diary, so you don’t have to fiddle with it too much to get the appearance right. At the same time, this also means that this format is fairly limited to this diary setup, so to speak, and there aren’t too many different options for you to choose from outside of that.
That said, as far as the diary option is concerned, you will get to play with a lot of interesting handwriting styles as well as different fonts, so if you’re interested in exploring those, Penzu will keep on giving. (Of course, some of the special fonts you do have to pay for, but there are still many features that you can use for free.)
Advantages of using Penzu
- Privacy and Convenience – Depending on what your goals are with starting a blog, this can be considered either a pro or a con. The thing is, what Penzu seems to be doing well is keeping your posts well-protected and safe from the eyes of unwanted visitors. So, as long as you have an access to the Internet, you can sit down, write up a diary entry and save it to your account. Also, since this platform is cloud-based, you will have plenty of storage to work with, so you can publish as many posts as you desire.
- Diary-Like Layout – Another feature of this platform that would appeal to folks looking for a simple online diary would be the layout for the entries, which resemble a real-life diary. Thanks to this layout, you can do concoct interesting posts for your diary, and rest assured they will be safely stored away for you to review whenever you like. Also, this layout comes with plenty of options for customization, so you can change the fonts, the different handwriting styles, and import pictures, for example.
- Penzu Classroom – … represents a special version of Penzu that teachers can use to open up virtual classrooms their students can access and get all the latest pieces of info from. This special feature can be quite useful for the present-day situation with the coronavirus, as you can easily organize online lessons with your students (if you’re a teacher) using Penzu to publish lessons one by one, just like they would be arranged in a coursebook, for example. The platform’s well-established privacy settings are of massive help here, too, as the data you post there will be safe from intruders and people who may want to steal your intellectual property.
Disadvantages of using Penzu
- Not Great for Businesses – The fact that Penzu concentrates on keeping track of personal diary entries and keeping them private and far away from any curious on-lookers is a great thing for people who don’t want their diary peeked into, so to speak, but it also means that this platform won’t be that good of an option for business people. The thing is, if you’re looking for a blogging platform where you can publish your content and where it can be widely read by millions of followers and potential customers, Penzu would probably be the last online venue to look into.
- Restrictive Formatting – Penzu’s strict formatting options that favor diary-type entries means you won’t get that much diversity other than this particular option. This is completely fine with folks who are OK with the format or who don’t care about it, but if you’re looking to attract an audience by moving things around, adding exiting gifs and pictures, and making your posts visually-unique, so to speak, Penzu may not be the best option out there.
Representing one of the simplest and most easy-to-use online writing platforms out there, Pen.io is a stripped-down blogging venue for folks who don’t need more than a bare-bones sort of online platform for publishing blogs. Of course, this doesn’t mean Pen.io is downright bad, as the blogs you write using it will come out well-formatted and easy to read. That said, Pen.io doesn’t offer nearly as many features as some of the better-rounded platforms such as WordPress.com or Wix do, for example.
One of the features that make this platform so popular would certainly be the fact that you can publish content anonymously. What this means in practice is that you don’t have to make an account to start publishing content. While many folks on the Internet prefer to have an account for themselves where they can operate their blog and make it more popular, for those who just want to have an open space to write stuff up without having to publish it in their name – Pen.io can be quite useful.
As far as the formatting features are concerned, you don’t get much to work with, but the stuff you do get will be more than enough for you to publish a decent-looking blog post that your readers will be able to read easily.
The editor on this thing is fairly simple, and its sole purpose is to help you write excellent content and then publish it in a well-formatted ‘state’ that’s ready for consumption, so to speak. This also means that you can’t add pictures or videos to your posts, which may not appeal to those who like to use infographics or images in their content. That said, you can add links, which can be useful, depending on what sort of content you’re posting.
Advantages of using Pen.io
- Anonymous Use – As we mentioned above, Pen.io does not require you to create an account to start publishing content. This is great news for folks who don’t need an elaborate sort of publishing platform where you need to stand behind your every post, as you can start writing stuff and making entries pretty much straight away.
- Drag-and-Drop Function – … which is nowhere nearly as elaborate as the above-mentioned drag-and-drop option from Blogspot.com, for example, but which still makes it easier for you to create content quickly and efficiently. For example, although images and videos cannot be incorporated into your posts, what you can do is take a link that leads to some videos or pictures you want to share with your audience and then drag-and-drop them onto your page. What this will do is make an instant link you can use in your content, so that your readers can visit it if necessary.
- Automatic Formatting – This can be considered either a pro or a con, depending on how you’re looking at it. The thing is, Pen.io comes with an automatic formatting feature that lets you immediately create the sort of blog post that you want without having to set any formatting parameters beforehand. What this means in practice is that you don’t have to worry about page breaks, title fonts, and other common tasks related to setting up a blog post. At the same time, this can be seen as limited for some of the more advanced users.
Disadvantages of using Pen.io
- Lack of Formatting Options – … means your creative freedom with the way your blog posts look is severely limited and you cannot do much to alter the stock format that Pen.io comes with. While this is great news for beginners who just want to start writing without worrying too much about setting any advanced parameters, so to speak, more experienced users may feel suffocated, as the platform doesn’t allow for much customization at all. Also, images and videos are not supported on Pen.io (unless you have a user account set up), which can be seen as a major minus.
- Not Great for Making a Brand – Since Pen.io’s biggest strength is the fact that you can use it anonymously, this platform would not be the best option for finding and talking to a large audience of followers. While setting up a personal account with Pen.io is possible, the most common way people use this platform would be the anonymous way, so to speak, which isn’t necessarily the best option for attracting a sizeable following.
Frequently Asked Questions:
1) Is a paid or a free blog better-suited for an amateur?
If you’re a complete rookie, setting up a free blog would certainly be a better solution for your needs.
The thing is while having a paid blog will certainly grant you more options, you probably won’t need these straight away, so why waste money unnecessarily on something you won’t be using any time soon?
What’s more, pretty much all blogging platforms allow you to ‘scale up’ to a paid plan from a free one, so if you decide to switch to a paid plan down the road, you won’t have any problems doing it.
2) Is it possible to do affiliate marketing with a free blog?
Yes, it is.
That said, the problem with doing business on a free blogging account on pretty much all platforms is that you may experience some trouble scaling up.
While free accounts can work fine for you while you’re still small and winning over new audiences, if you decide to start doing this on your own, you may experience some trouble getting there, so to speak, because you will have to set up special paid plans and possibly also pay for other extra features.
Also, blogs that have been set up on free accounts tend to not be as trusted as those that have their unique domain names and that is completely independent.
3) Do any free blog platforms offer free custom domains?
The thing about free blogs is that many of them will allow you free subdomain names (WordPress.com, for example) that you can use as a placeholder until you can get a proper domain name.
Also, some hosting services may offer free domain names, but usually as a part of a broader offer that comes as a batch (hosting + free domain name, for example). Typically, domain names aren’t just given away for free, so be careful about any website that claims to give you a domain name completely free of charge.
4) Is free blogging good when it comes to earning money?
Sort of – depending on what you consider ‘good’.
For example, if you’re happy to earn any sort of money from blogging, then running a blog on a free platform can pay off, although you’d have to be persistent and publish high-quality content.
On the other hand, if you’re already an experienced blogger who already has a history of earning money this way, a free blog would be somewhat of a ‘suffocating’ prospect to you, as scaling up can be challenging with only a free plan.
5) Is it possible to rank a free blog on Google?
Yes, it is.
Although, the results may vary depending on how much effort you’re putting in the content of the blog itself, as well as how much time you’re spending promoting it on social media and other online venues.
The thing is, on Google, you’ll only get as popular as how much effort you put in, so this mostly is up to you. That said, the amount of competition you encounter along the way also plays an important role in how much traffic you can expect. (The more competitors, the tougher it will be to get noticed.)
6) What is the best free blog platform for monetization?
There are a couple of good ones you can try out.
Currently, about 25-30% of all blogs across the Internet are powered by either WordPress.com or WordPress.org, so this can be a great place to start. This platform is well-known for its user-friendliness and a massive amount of features you can look into.
Alternatively, you can also try platforms such as Wix, Blogger.com., Tumblr, and other similar online venues, as all of them offer slightly different approaches to free blogging.
7) Should a new small (local) business just use a free blog as its website?
Optimally, no – but if you don’t have other options to work with right now, it’s better than nothing.
Of course, setting up a website is not that expensive, so if you can afford it, a fully-functional website would always be a better option than just a free blog. That said, if you can’t do that right now for whatever reason, a free blog is better than nothing, so you might as well start there.
One other thing – if you have a company website, you can have a blog within it, too, so setting up a website for your business is like killing two birds with one stone.
8) Can I create a large audience with a free blog?
Yes, you can.
That said, creating a massive following with a free blog will take a lot of time and hard work, so you better prepare yourself for a marathon rather than a sprint, so to speak.
A thing to take into consideration, too, would be that scaling up can be tough if you gain a large audience with a free blog – and then you plan to move on to something more serious.
Overall, reaching a wide audience and gaining a large following is perfectly doable with a free blog, as long as you put in the long hours.
All in all, whether you’re planning on setting up a free blog platform just as an online space where you can archive your thoughts and feelings in the form of a diary, or you have something more business-like in mind, starting a free blog can be a great way to have your voice heard on the Internet. We hope this article helped you find the perfect free blogging platform for your needs and we wish you all the best in your blogging efforts.